McChrystal Situation Hurts Nation, Retired General Says
An article in “Rolling Stone” cost America’s top military commander in Afghanistan his job and probably his career — but it may cost the nation even more, according to a local retired four-star general.
William F. “Buck” Kernan served as supreme allied commander, Atlantic, as commander in chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command and as commander of Fort Bragg. He knows Gen. Stanley McChrystal and most of the other top generals well.
He said he had hoped President Obama would have found some other way to deal with embarrassing remarks attributed to the McChrystal and his staff in the article.
On Tuesday, Obama accepted McChrystal’s resignation and appointed Gen. David Petraeus as his successor. McChrystal has been there since 2001.
“It was a very unfortunate event that occurred,” Kernan said Thursday in a telephone interview. “Personally, I was disappointed with the outcome. I was hoping there were other options available to the president that I was hoping he was going to take, but that did not occur.”
The report went viral in the media before the actual article itself could be read by the public. It appears in Friday’s edition of the magazine but is available on the Internet now.
“I’ve known Gen. McChrystal throughout his career,” Kernan said. “I respect and admire him very much. To say I was disappointed that the incident occurred is an understatement. It is out of character with the man. What I hoped would happen would be he would have the opportunity to make his apologies.”
At the time of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, McChrystal, as Pentagon spokesman, was often criticized for the way he backed the administration. He defended then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and supported the president’s “Mission accomplished” position. He helped spread the false report that former Ranger star Pat Tillman was killed by Taliban fighters when actually the result of “friendly fire” from his own troops.
“Given the importance of the mission, and the fact that he had been personally deployed since 2001 fighting this terrorist organization and his experience in counter-insurgency, the relationships he’d established with President Karzai, Minister of Defense Wardak, Afghan corps commanders, division commanders and his obvious personal awareness of the situation on the ground…” he said, “I’d hoped the president would have looked at that and said, ‘That’s more important,’ given him a good blistering so to speak, told the public, ‘Gen. McChrystal offered his resignation. I refused to accept it. The mission is more important. I’m sending him back.’ That’s what I hoped would happen. That did not happen.”
For more on this story, please read Friday's print edition of The Pilot.
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