Some conservatives may feel a knee-jerk reaction to defend General Stanley McChrystal for remarks made about the Obama administration in a recent article in Rolling Stone. I’m not. The comments made by General McChrystal and his staff were unbecoming of officers in the United State Army. Even appearing in Rolling Stone shows a severe lack of judgment as far as I’m concerned, and apparently McChrystal didn’t object to the content of the article as well.
And so General McChrystal was summoned back to Washington to appear in a conference already scheduled, one in which McChrystal normally teleconferences for. Then he met with President Obama and was fired, The Washington Post reports today:
President Obama on Wednesday fired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and replaced him with Gen. David H. Petraeus, a White House official said.
Obama’s move came shortly after McChrystal met with him one-on-one at the White House to apologize personally for derogatory comments about top administration officials involved in the Afghan war.
The general departed the White House immediately after the meeting, leaving his fate in doubt.
Before this McChrystal had apologized and some of his staff were relieved of duty as well. Whether he should have been fired or not will be up for debate. Personally in the midst of a war I’d prefer to see a commanding officer tenure based on merit, and not based on a hurt ego. But all General Staff officers understand that they serve at the pleasure of the President. That’s just the way it is.
I think selecting General Petraeus as his replacement is a good move. I just wonder if this doesn’t seem like a demotion to him since he was the Commander of the U.S. Central Command. Perhaps he’d rather be on the front lines.
Another thing I find interesting is that McChrystal voted for Obama, and yet failed to connect with the President. As Rolling Stone reported:
Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f***ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed." (censored by me)
This is from somebody who supported him and voted for him. This demonstrates a disconnect that President Obama has with his military. While an officer should keep his thoughts about the Administration private, especially when serving at that level, there is still a private feeling of disrespect. The troops simply don’t trust President Obama. Contrast him with his predecessor President George W. Bush whom the military by in large supported and adored.
Firing one general won’t change that reality. Listening to commanders, stop treating the military as though their the enemies, and giving the boots on the ground the support they need will.