Many of the news channels have been leading with this story abut General Stanley McChrystal’s comments in the Rolling Stone Magazine and nearly to a station the question was the same. How could this happen to a very intelligent military leader? Well I think that I may have the answer.
This strategy was that of McChrystal’s and it was one that he fought very hard for. He took on nearly everyone else to get his way and with the help of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he won. “Gates hand-picked McChrystal to take over the war last year, calling him a driven visionary with the guts and smarts to turn the war around. Obama fired the previous commander at Gates’ recommendation.” (Gearan, Anne; Loven, Jennifer; 6/22/2010, Associated Press, US general in Afghan war at risk of losing his job,Retrieved from news @yahoo.com). I believe that McChrystal allowed this to happen in order to withdraw from his responsibilities in Afghanistan without it appearing that he failed. No officer wishes a loss to show on his/her record of service. No officer wish to be seen as not being able to accomplish any mission set before him/her especially if he was so confident as to stand in opposition against everyone else and show extreme confidence that what he was proposing would work. If he is allowed to resign then he can walk away saying that he was forced to do so and there will not be any definite proof that his plan would not have worked. If he is fired then he walks away saying that it would have worked had he not been fired. What led me to this conclusion was the following.
“McChrystal has spent the past several weeks arguing that the U.S.-led military effort is gaining momentum against the Taliban, while Gates argued for time to show that McChrystal’s many changes in strategy and tactics can succeed” but “A majority of Americans now say the war is probably not worth fighting, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that public dissatisfaction means the U.S.-led international coalition must show progress this year.” (Gearan, Anne; Loven, Jennifer; 6/22/2010, Associated Press, US general in Afghan war at risk of losing his job,Retrieved from news @yahoo.com). That may prove problematic considering “a crucial military push to pacify the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan is going more slowly that McChrystal had planned, and showing fewer solid results. Marines in Helmand Province are in near-daily firefights, months after a push there was supposed to clear out the bulk of Taliban fighters.” (Gearan, Anne; Loven, Jennifer; 6/22/2010, Associated Press, US general in Afghan war at risk of losing his job,Retrieved from news @yahoo.com). If things remain as it appears they are it will be quite hard for McChrystal to show that his plan is a success and that may be more of a risk than he wishes to take. Now all of this is speculation but one of the most telling of why is the statement attributed to McChrystal about Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. “McChrystal also said he was “betrayed” by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner in Afghanistan.” “He accused Eikenberry of raising doubts about the reliability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed.” “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.” (Gearan, Anne; Loven, Jennifer; 6/22/2010, Associated Press, US general in Afghan war at risk of losing his job,Retrieved from news @yahoo.com).
Granted no one really knows for sure if this is true or not except for those closest to McChrystal and of course McChrystal himself but as a former leader of troops, I know that one of my biggest fears was to fail in a mission. There were times where I would consider using the fact that many of the decisions were made away from the battlefield and by those whose boots are still clean however McChrystal not only devised this plan and convinced others but were much closer to the fighting than those in my case. Again these are just my thoughts and I could be wrong.