IS THE MILITARY DOMINATED BY POLITICS?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 24, 2010) — General Stanley McChrystal was the “first officer appointed” by Obama just slightly over one year ago to replace Gen. David McKiernan, who had been Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). McKiernan was Commander for one year, almost exactly the same amount of time as McChrystal.
McKiernan was reportedly asked to resign so that Obama could begin “a new strategy” in Afghanistan after almost eight years of U.S. presence there since shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. McKiernan had requested more troops which were eventually granted after he was dismissed.
Just two months after assuming the position, in August 2009, McChrystal reportedly told his superiors, “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term… risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible. Additional resources are required.”
However, it was also reported that McChrystal advocated movement “away from conventional military planning towards modern, asymmetric warfare.” He was expected to bring “fresh eyes” to the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan.
It has been reported that McChrystal did not embrace the strategy of counterinsurgency aided by “full military partnership with civilian government allies” which included the State Department.
Last year, Obama “made McChrystal wait before the general was invited aboard Air Force One en route to Copenhagen.
One commentator opined that McChrystal was not so much the problem as Obama himself, stating, “In the end, Obama adopted what is beginning to look like a bad compromise. He approved most of the additional troops that McChrystal sought, but attached the July, 2011 deadline for beginning withdrawals.” Perhaps Obama’s decision to send more troops yet maintain his plan to start bringing them home a year later created strained communications between McChrystal and him. Originally, Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed to indicate that McChrystal’s interview with Rolling Stone was not sufficient grounds upon which to fire him.
Some reports say that Obama dismissed McChrystal following their meeting today, while others say that McChrystal offered his resignation last night. A Reuters report states both, but begins with “Obama Fires McChrystal, names Petraeus.” In a statement following the meeting at the White House, McChrystal said he resigned.
An investigation into the death of Pat Tillman revealed that McChrystal had stated that Tillman had died due to enemy fire rather than “friendly fire.” An article written before McChrystal was confirmed by the Senate for the command of NATO forces in Afghanistan stated that McChrystal would not necessarily have an easy confirmation due to the incident. Mary Tillman, Pat Tillman’s widow, reportedly wrote in her book, “It is imperative that Lt. Gen. McChrystal be scrutinized carefully during the Senate hearings.”
Of McChrystal’s current situation, yesterday Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (Ret.) made the following statement on his website:
Afghanistan has been a major debacle based on an errant strategy since early 2002 when General Tommy Franks and the Bush administration decided to convert the war there from an unconventional to a conventional plan. They fell into a trap and erred with a strategy of counter-insurgency warfare, i.e. nation building, before the enemy is defeated.
Our currently top military leader in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his predecessors fell into the trap as well. And now we are in unwinnable situation.
Gen. McChrystal, as well as the troops, are in a total state of frustration. Rolling Stone magazine is an interesting media venue for McChrystal to vent his frustrations. If I were McChrystal and knew I was going to be fired, I would announce my resignation before being embarrassed by a White House photo-op. And I would state emphatically why I am retiring.
Added to the mess is incompetent political and diplomatic leadership.
Nine years. No victory, no clear winnable strategy.
According to a report in DEBKAfile, the eight-plus-year-old war in Afghanistan will end soon without a U.S. victory due to five major factors, including the acquisition by the Taliban from “an unknown party” of missiles capable of bringing down helicopters and other “low-flying aircraft.” Also, according to DEBKA, an offensive scheduled to take place in Kandahar was postponed indefinitely, and with that delay, “the bottom is about to drop out of Obama’s overall war strategy.”
Did McChrystal grant the interview to Rolling Stone to highlight Obama’s weaknesses? And could it be true that Obama is “more interested in a photo opportunity” than in discussing a winning strategy with a new commanding general? Just ten days ago, McChrystal had stated, “Violence is up, and I think violence will continue to rise, particularly over the summer months.”
Did Obama just make a huge mistake?
With disagreements and divisions between Joe Biden and Robert Gates on Afghanistan strategy, was McChrystal seeking to be relieved of his duties?
The fawning mainstream media has stated that with the choice of Gen. David Petraeus to assume McChrystal’s post, he chose a “a popular and press-savvy military leader.” Is that what is needed right now: a “popular” and “press-savvy” leader? What about someone who can win in Afghanistan? Are military promotions purely political?
What type of leadership would follow the orders of a usurper to the presidency? Are they protecting their own positions and income by denying discovery to Lt. Col. Lakin? Are they upholding the oath they took to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic, when the person giving the orders could be foreign-born with foreign allegiances? How could any general or officer operate under such conditions?
What has happened to our once proud military?