McChrystal Out, Petraeus Takes Over

It’s a sad end to a distinguished military career, but as someone who recently worked for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and is a huge fan of the general, told me yesterday, the disparaging comments in the Rolling Stone article painted an ugly picture of a highly critical command element that had zero respect for its political leadership.

The comments showed a “cult of personality” had arisen among McChrystal that viewed the man as larger than the institution, and the war. McChrystal had already had a shot fired across his bow after his comments at the IISS conference in London a few months ago, and still, the public criticism of the political leadership continued. The elected civilian leadership is in control in this country, and that was what President Obama was forced to show today.

So Gen. David Petraeus will take over as ISAF commander in Afghanistan. The reality is the war there is not going well; if it was, perhaps McChrystal could have survived the careless remarks he and his staff made to the Rolling Stone reporter.

There has been a continued inability to develop a working relationship with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, whose government is seen as corrupt and predatory by many Afghans. The fabled “government-in-a-box” that was supposed to be inserted into Marja turned out to be empty; and, even the clearing operations in Marja didn’t go as well as expected, the one phase where the military is thought to have a real advantage in “clear, hold and build” counterinsurgency. Key allies are looking to the exits.

Can Petraeus work another miracle like he did in Iraq and salvage another war that many consider unsalvageable? That remains to be seen. Petraeus himself pointed out at a conference on counterinsurgency in Washington last year that one of the biggest lessons of Vietnam is not to be prisoner to past experiences; in the U.S. case, that means Iraq, and Afghanistan must be approached as a very different war.

Military operations are now focused on Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city and the spiritual heartland of the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs chair Adm, Mike Mullen told senators last week: “As goes Kandahar, so goes Afghanistan.”

— Greg Grant

  • Bob

    Obama is in control of the banking indurstry, the insurance industry, the health industry, the auto industry, big oil, his congress has suspended an annual budget. The president has declared war on two states and now he has complete control of the military brass. Gen Petraeus has been set up for failure, and I predict that within a year he also will be tendering his resignation. If you speak out against, or disagree with the president, you get your head on a platter. After all, he is the president and can do no wrong. Once Petraeus resigns, which general officer or admiral is going to be brave enough to go against this president on anything?

    • Max

      You moron, the constitution (which I presume you value) places the elected civilian leadership in control of the military. Indeed, the founders, many of whom were deeply skeptical of a standing army (including Jefferson) considered civilian control of the military critical. The president is SUPPOSED to have complete control of the military brass. That is the point. The military brass is not SUPPOSED to speak out against the president in public. It is a violation of military law to do so. Go read the constitution that presumably underpins your tea party’s platform, buddy.

      • Bob

        I may value the constitution, but Obama does not. When a leader shreds the constitution, he is no longer a leader. The military takes an oath to defend the constituion, not defend a politician. Obama has several times trashed the constitution, and shown himself to be an enemy of the constituion, in his own words no less. Yet you say an officer should not disagree with him. The oath is to defend the constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. I suppose that could include the CinC, if the CinC shows himself to be an enemy of the constituion, and to consider himself above the constituion.

        • Max

          Ok, well if you want to support a coup, then be my guest. Not sure how the health care bill and tarp are grounds for a coup, even if you don’t like them. Political disputes are for elections, not militaries. Also, the constitution establishes the political order of things, so defending the constitution means being subordinate to the elected executive, so long as the executive’s orders are lawful. With respect to military matters, I have seen no argument that the President’s orders have been unlawful. If McChrystal wants to run against Obama or speak out against him he is welcome to do so, as soon as he resigns his commission.

          • Brenden

            Also, the constitution establishes the political order of things, so defending the constitution means being subordinate to the elected executive, so long as the executive’s orders are lawful.

            Read more:…
            << That is what you said. The constitution, along with the bill of rights, gives a person the ability to disagree with the government, It isn't always a question, although it may not be the case in this instance, of wether it is lawful or not, but whether it is right or wrong. Choose your words carefully because it isn't a matter of just this instance, but what this country was founded on.

          • Nathan

            I am not sure what point you are trying to make but as long as someone is in the military chain of command they are not afforded the same rights as civilians.

        • Sean

          You’re making several interesting points that you haven’t backed up. From what I can tell, you’re saying the following:
          1) The President is in charge and the unquestions civilian leader of the military (fact we all agree on. Obviously, this is a key component of the Constitution)
          2) Soldiers take an oath to defend the Constitution (also a fact we all agree on)
          3) Obama is an enemy of the constituation (very, very big deal of a comment that I would argue is very far from a fact)

          Since everyone here agrees with points #1 and #2, #3 is where you’re loosing everyone. Please provide solid examples of the following:
          A) How “Obama has several times trashed the constitution and shown himself to be an enemy of the constituion (sp)” which is a very serious accusation.
          B) State what you are specifically proposing is the appropriate action the military should take, such as are you condoning a military coup in America?

          You’ve thrown out very, very serious accusations and dropped hints of backing something virtually inconcievable in the US. Respectfully, please back up your statements with facts or apologize and acknowledge your errors.

    • Alan

      It’s easy to tell who Max voted for. He sounds like a disgruntled Democrat that had his ass handed to him after Obama was voted in. Showing his true colors as a traitor to our nation.

    • Wes

      Well Bob, if you were a military member then PERHAPS you’d understand that McChrystal’s actions DEMANDED that he resign. Maybe you should serve and if you are a servicemember I’d be inclined to believe that you are a racist. President Obama has had to make decisions that were jacked up well before he assumed his presidency. As to your false allegations about him controlling ALL of these industries are ABSOLUTELY ABSURD. You may need to re-evaluate your inner person.

  • Thud105

    Isn’t this going to be a demotion for Gen Petraeus? He’s going to go from CENTCOM commander to Afghanistan?

    • MCQknight

      I wouldn’t look at it necessarily like that. The Afghan mission is the U.S military’smost important focus right now. Therefore, General Petraeus is now probably the most important man in the military. I totally agree with giving Petraeus the job, as he has already shown he can turn around seemingly “unwinnable” wars.

      • Chris

        How they handle his relation with whomever takes over CENTCOM will be interesting to watch. Petraeus will have considerably more personal and professional clout than the person who’s technically supposed to be his boss.

  • Drake1

    Gen Petraeus better watch his back.

  • Tim

    US Ambassador to Afghanistan badmouthed the leader of a regime being supported by the US? And he’s doing that to make him look good just in case that regime fails?? Hmm… That sounds like a déjà vu… History does repeat itself…

  • AAK15

    Who is going to take over CENTCOM? Will he pull double duty?

  • Ebbe

    Will McChrystal be totally out of the military now, or can they just demote him and have him run the black ops in Afgan like he did in Iraq?

  • WTQ

    Tough gamble for Petraeus. He helped to win the day in Iraq but now if he fails here he will be remembered for his failure and not his success in 2007-08. I wish the best for this guy, he deserves my admiration.

  • Maxtrue

    If Petreaus can pull this off, he may be President one day. How ironic that General Betrayedus is now Obama’s last hope. Yes, I would watch his back, but McChrystal went over the top and Max is exactly right. I wish Obama and McChrystal could have worked this out, but Obama was clearly in bounds for accepting the resignation. Only the Taliban are laughing tonight.

  • @Earlydawn

    I’ve got two concerns; that the General may bring too many inapplicable lessons over from Iraq, and (more importantly) that he is being set up for failure to pave the way for a withdrawal.

    • daniel

      how to you place yourself on the level to “have concerns”, what are your credentials?

      • Maxtrue

        An internaut…..

  • Stephen Russell

    I blame his staff for NOT screening out Rolling Stone whose been anti war since Vietnam in the 1st place, dumb stafferrs OR unless under orders?

  • M.G.Halvorsen

    As was pointed out earlier, Gen. McCrystal went way out of bounds, speaking contemptously of the President ant the Administration. This was a clear violation of the UCMJ that wouldn’t be tolerated by ANY administration. The General has been a soldier long enough to not only know the rules, but to come down like a ton of bricks on anybody that would have the bad judgement to do the same in his presence. If you don’t like the current President, get off your duff and vote in 2012 for someone that you find more tolerable. Til then, Barack Obama is the President…which makes him the Commander-in -Chief. All ANY Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, or Coastguardsman can do is say,”Yes,Sir”, do their best and SHUT UP! Nuff Said.

  • H. Edwards

    Someone needs to send Biden a memo letting him know that there is no Vice- Commander-in-Chief in the chain of command. But, then we have a Commander-in-Chief that knows about as much about leadership as my 7 month old grandson. Stan’s biggest mistake is that he voted for this OJT president.

  • H. Edwards

    By the way let’s remember that Stan resigned. And, let’s spell his name correctly. It’s Gen. Stanley McChrystal. General’s of Stan’s caliber don’t make mistakes. I think he needed to make a statement just like General Fogleman did under Clinton. The Afghans only care about three things horses, opium and beating the crap out of their women. The Afghans learned from the State Department employees, “We were here before you got here and we’ll be right here doing the same thing we’ve been doing for a 1000 years when you are gone.”

  • Vicki

    I had the same question yesterday as Ebbe. So far I haven’t seen an answer to our question. Does this mean that General McChristal is now out of the Military? Will he just be demoted? Will he lose all of his retirement benefits? What are the conditions and protocal for this type of situation? I assume that General McChristal is no longer Military Personnel and that he loses his benefits, but I don’t know for sure and that is what I am trying to find out. Apparently, there are other individuals that are interested as well. I truly hope that he doesn’t lose his vested retirement benefits. He has such an incredibly positive and outstanding record in the Military, which should count for something!

    • Marshall Schiller

      If I understand the rules concerning general officer retirement, Gen. McChrystal does not qualify to retire at his present pay grade (O-10), as he did not serve in that grade for three years. He will retire as a LTG (O-9) IF approved by congress. If not, he reverts back to his permanant rank of MG (O-8). A shame that this warrior goes out this way. I just wonder what is going to happen to the members of his staff, who are throughly implicated in this debacle. My guess is that several field grade officers will be instructed to submit for retirement. IMHO, rightfully so.

  • Ninja03

    Well, I’d like to say that I’m surprised about General McChrystal’s status quo; but, given the current situation, as of late, I’d be lying. Something’s wrong when a warrior is treated as such. Didn’t something similar occur in the movie, “Valkyrie”, with another leader and his men? Enough said. God be with you, Gen. McChrystal!

  • John Xpat

    the only good thing about this mess is that no Australian's were quoted, then the president would really have something to bitch about.
    how about Petraeus is out of the next round of presidential elections and Obama can go ahead and shut down Afghanistan and not get flack back from the general.

  • joseph diggs sr

    First of all let’s set the record straight,Gen. McChrystal like all soldiers are subject to rules and regulations. The General bad mouthed the President and his admin. so he should be disciplined because those under his command was made to understand that all statements are to be cleared before you can speak to the Media. Too bad a man with such a distingush career should receive this type punishment however he deserves it after all he knew the “Regulations”, wish him much success in all his future indeavours.

  • Ann

    What drove this man to speak the truth? He knew he would be chastised .

    • Naomi

      perhaps the truth is more important than the politics in regards to endangering our men and women in uniform. Speaking out against policies that hurt our soldiers despite being subjected to chastisement or firing is honorable, and perhaps needed.

  • micrbu

    To H. Edwards,
    You are right on with your opinion as to why General McChrystal did what he did. He was making a statement, morally he could no longer accept the reckless policies that he had to enforce given to him by this administration. I am waiting for him to retire so that he can give us what really was going on.

  • AF Retired

    What drive people to do this?? First, frustration with civilian leaders (understandable), ill-trained and/or disloyal staff, PAO did not have control (ill defined ROE), and perhaps, Gen McChrystal has been hidden in Spec Ops too long.

    God bless, General, you are still an outstanding soldier/leader.

  • Jones

    General McChrystal resigned and now will be retired with all his benifits.

  • Capt Bob

    President Obama needs to look in his own back yard.

    The searching of porn sites by SEC employees could open doors to the US Government computer databases allowing hackers to gain entry to sensitive government information. Opening these doors could be considered a Treasonous act. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech on February 18th 2010 to Indigent Defense Attorneys telling them how he has instructed his staff to ensure a fair trial. He said, “Although they stand on different sides of an argument the prosecution and defense can and must share the same objectives. Not a Victory but Justice”.

    While he speaks “fair trial” his US Attorney’s are doing the opposite. One sent a letter to the defense with, “Dear Numb Nuts” as a greeting. In the same case the US Attorney used government money to bring a well know Native America Chief to NY, found out he was going to speak in behalf of the defendant, sent him back with out letting him testify. In the sixties the Supreme Court ruled that the prosecutors must share all evidence with the defense. This must not apply to the Justice Department.

  • Maverick

    The Chain of Command is important. Gen. McChrystal’s immediate boss was
    Gen. Petraeus who should have said and done something, but obviously didn’t.
    Then after that it should have gone to the SEC. of the Army, then SEC of. Defense, then the last person would be the President.
    Bottom line if the chain of command is to work, it goes both ways up and down, down and up. The chain of command failed, it should have been resolved before the President acted.
    The comments made by Gen, McChrystal (I’m guessing) were from frustration.
    I remember our President and some of HIS staff making disparaging remarks
    towards the Tea Party people, Veterans, and others. By doing this they show that they have contempt for their BOSS “WE THE PEOPLE” and they should be held accountable for their words and actions.

    • Andy

      They will have to answer next election.

    • Nathan

      You do realize that McChrystal resigned. You know, that thing where you remove yourself from the chain of command rather than have someone else do it for you?

  • backinmyday

    Say hello to the Head of the next Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  • JHG

    Haven’t read the RS article, don’t know who said what, but the McChrystal team seems to have wallowed in a culture of complaint. Big thing now since General Petraeus was willing to step in as ISAF commander in Afghanistan is that he will either get us out of there or win it. An interminable in-between slog is unacceptable.

  • Ustare

    I guess I have the IQ of a rock. I’m not smart enough to figure out how we can begin pulling out troops by July 2011. Is there some magic formula that says we apply X number of troops on the ground time X number of months and we win the war? Or is there an all knowing crystal ball that POTUS and General Petraeus share? I understand the concept of goal setting and time hacks when it came to making personal changes but I didn’t realize it also applied to making it public record on our war strategy as well. Did I miss this chapter in Sun Tsu?

  • BEN

    Watch you back General … or are you The BIG YES man on the Block…
    Watch what you say and to whom you are conversing with.. They may also be a BIG Back Stabber…

  • Knightraptor

    McChrystal’s dismissal should be a surprise to no one. If MacArthur can get ‘fired’ then ANY General can get fired.

    • Nathan

      There are still people who consider MacArthur to be a stand up guy? Lol.

  • Pr3dator

    It’s extremely hard not to get frustrated when your superiors don’t know their head from their fourth point of contact! I’d rather have a General tell me the unadulterated truth than to suck up to some desk jockey that hasn’t been proven to be legitimately qualified to be the President of this great country. Right or wrong you have to live with yourself and your actions. Don’t sugarcoat a goatscrew!

  • Nathan

    Public disrespect of a military superior is a shameful act regardless of rank and regardless of how you spin it. McChrystal is man enough to admit this, it mystifies me how so many of the armchair mil-bloggers seem to see this otherwise unless their statements are seen through the lens of trying to score political brownie points at the expense of honesty and integrity. To all you read between the lines conspiracy theory nuts, if McChrystal was really trying to call out the administration he would have stood by his statements and he would have not offered to resign. I have my issues with Obama but his policy on the wars has been more or less indistinguishable from that of Bush. I wish there were more people around with enough personal integrity to judge a president on his actions rather than his party affiliation.

  • Kly

    Afghanistan can only benefit from Gen. Petraeus stepping in.

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