Yesterday I posted a blog entry about the President’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. Around the time I was posting that, apparently GEN Petraeus was testifying in front of the Senate committee which was confirming him as the head of the CIA. ‘
It appears that GEN Petraeus has the same reservations and concerns that ADM Mullen had.
Hours later in a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next director of the CIA, GEN. David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, nearly echoed ADM. Mullen word for word. “The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation than what we had recommended,” Petraeus said.
Gen. Petraeus said that over the past month he had a series of meetings with the president during which he recommended a number of different options for reducing the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, each with its own risk assessments.
Petraeus conceded that no general ever has all the troops and resources he wants, but when the president makes a decision “it is the responsibility of the military to salute smartly.”
So it is not just the SecDef, and Admiral Mullen warning that the President’s plan was too aggressive, but also the top combat commander in Afghanistan (the same guy that turned around and won Iraq and will soon be the CIA Director), GEN Petraeus. Yes it is ultimately the President’s choice, but that also means he can NEVER blame anything on anyone else, not on President Bush, not on GEN McChrystal, not on GEN Petraeus, not on ANYONE. This is HIS war to lose so I hope he realizes that and takes that to heart.
McChrystal said the first day was easy. Of course, as with any new job, he had to learn where to go, what to do, how to talk. He needed to learn the location of his office and classroom (conveniently, right across the hallway).
According to Knight, the most difficult part of the first day as his student was the first few minutes before he entered the room. She likened the experience to her first day of former British prime minister Tony Blair’s “Faith and Globalization” class.
“When General McChrystal or Tony Blair walks in for the first time your heart just kind of stops for a second and you’re like, ‘Wow. This is someone that I admire,’” she said. “He knows a lot more than we do, and I certainly respect him for that, but at the same time I don’t feel so awed by star power that I am unable to ask questions because he’s presented himself as someone really accessible … This is one of the most pleasant and cohesive groups of people that I’ve sat in a room with.”
Knight said McChrystal began the first class by shaking each person’s hand and then asking them to go around the table and introduce themselves. He learned their names almost immediately.
GEN Stanley McChrystal retired yesterday and in spite of the controversy that surrounded his resignation, he went out with style. We here at Bouhammer.com wish you the best of luck and good wishes in the next stage of your career, sir.
1. So McChrystal is gone ( a serious mistake on the part of the President) 2. Petraeus has been demoted down to lead the fight in Afghanistan 3. Who will lead CENTCOM or are they expecting Petraeus who fainted last week before a Senate Committee to do both jobs?
I never guessed that Petraeus would be asked to step down and do this job, and God Bless the man for agreeing to do it. He is the best choice to try and keep the disruption of this abrupt change of command to as low as impact as possible on the troops.
So now I am waiting for that POS Eikenberry to be fired along with that ineffective Holbrooke. The relationship between the military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan is a two-way street. If the Ambassador and Special Envoy don’t get along with Karzai and cannot influence him or even get a meeting with him then they need to be FIRED asap and some people need to be put into place that can be effective at their job and get along with the military leadership.
If the current administration truly cares about Afghanistan, the progress there and our ability to eventually leave then they need to fire these two impudent men right NOW!
For those that could not listen to the BBC’s World Have Your Say Radio program today, here is the link to the entire one hour show. A major part of the 2nd half-hour was taken up by the President’s speech announcing that he had fired GEN McChrystal.
If you have been watching the news lately then you know that GEN McChrystal is on his way back to Washington, DC to get his butt chewed by the President. Looking at the critical time we are in with regards to Afghanistan and the technologies we have today, I am wondering why the President can’t just speak his mind over a secure video tele-conference. We have those with Afghanistan all the time
Do we really need to waste the time of the Commander of the war in Afghanistan by spending dozens of hours flying back and forth? Save the money, time and the environment and do it on a damn con call.
It is a shame that GEN McChrystal spoke his mind to a Rolling Stone reporter, of all people. I can’t say I blame GEN McChrystal at all, and I know the General feels bad that he said those to a journalist as he has already apologized. We really don’t have time for all of these distractions as there is something more important to focus on….fighting the war. I mean even Sen John Kerry made that statement this morning.
Everything the General said is true, so you can’t blame him for making stuff up. He just spoke his mind. I have made my opinions of Eikenberry more than clear on this blog. You can click http://www.bouhammer.com/?s=Eikenberry&submit=Go and see a collection of blogs I have written about him. The most prominent one on that list is http://www.bouhammer.com/2010/05/the-war-between-mcchrystal-and-eikenberry/ which I wrote back in May. Not meaning to sound like the “Blame Bush” crowd, but I can tell you that what McChrystal and even McKiernan have dealt with are a direct result of Eikenberry’s inept leadership and misguided management of the war while he was in command from 2004-2007. It was Eikenberry himself that “faked” progress in Afghanistan and why we find ourselves still there today as engaged as we are.
I have made it very clear on this blog and to many that I have talked to that I never have and never will like Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. I wrote about him here, $5 billion unspent by the Anti-Morale Device as one example. When he was the Commander in Afghanistan (for 3 years) he grossly mis-managed the war effort. He tried to implement a false sense of success. This is why ADM Mullen stated in 2007 that the war was not managed correctly for the previous 3 years.
Eikenberry was known on Camp Eggers and by his staff as the “Commander, Morale Suppression Team”. When he was not on the Camp all of his staff celebrated. One time he came down to my FOB to talk to some of the guys on the “tip of the spear” my ETT team. We welcomed the chance to tell him the real deal ground truth. However right before he showed up we were told he did not want to hear bad news or anyone talking bad about Afghans. He only wanted “good news stories”. After my team spoke a few expletives, we all went back to our rooms and said to let us know when he was gone so we could come out again. If he didn’t want the truth, then we had no reason to talk to him. The I saw his path of destruction first hand and have ZERO respect for him.
So, needless to say this great Op-Ed from Trudy Rubin (who’s opinions and insight into Afghanistan I love to read) I knew I had to write about it.
Perhaps the most surprising divergence between the two men is their approach to Karzai. Eikenberry the diplomat (who is also a retired general and former U.S. commander in Kabul) has a strained relationship with the Afghan leader. McChrystal, the general, diplomatically praises Karzai in public and has encouraged him to take a more active role in efforts to stabilize Kandahar. The general has perhaps the best relationship with Karzai of any U.S. official.
After the unproductive war of words between the White House and Karzai, the administration seems to have adopted the McChrystal approach of public praise, while reserving tough talk for private meetings.
But it’s disconcerting to see the top two U.S. civilian and military officials working on such different wavelengths. If U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to be effective, they must work as a team.
She has outed some of the behind the scenes issues between a guy who was mistakenly put into place as an Ambassador to Afghanistan after he mis-handled the war there for three years and a guy who is there doing great things and oh by the way, got his fourth star out of this command. If you ask me Karl (E3) Eikenberry is just as full of hate and jealousy towards GEN McChrystal as he was towards US Military who tried to hold Afghans accountable for their substandard performance.
I talked about One of the Worst Ideas Ever! the other day on this blog when it was recommended to have a medal or award an existing medal to troops for NOT SHOOTING. In fact in that blog post I pleaded with GEN McChrystal to shoot that idea down.
I have a lot of respect for Gen McChrystal and know he is trying hard to avoid civilian casualties but there is no zero tolerance when you talk about the fluidness of combat. Gen McChrysal I plead to you to shoot down this dumb idea. You, as a warfighter yourself, know damn well that the troops on the battlefield don’t give a crap about an award. They need training, leadership and if applicable, the right technologies to try and avoid as many civilian casulties as possible.
I am not sure if he reads the blog here at Bouhammer.com (Lord knows I would be honored and flattered beyond all belief if he did), or if he is as smart as I though he is and employs common sense with all his decision. But I pleaded and he has voiced his opinion on the matter. I am glad to see him feel the same way I do. There are reasons and ways to recognize bravery and courage on the battlefield of all types without having to create a medal or categorize a justification as “not shooting”.
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal may have put the kibosh on plans to establish a valor award for troops who hold fire rather than risk the lives of innocents.
Talk of a so-called Courageous Restraint Medal has gotten a great deal of attention in the past 24-hiours, especially since radio talker Rush Limbaugh took the airwaves on May 12 to blast the concept. The story seemed to have merit since an Air Force officer was quoted in news reports as saying such an award “is consistent” with Coalition forces’ approach to defeating the insurgency while limiting civilian casualties.
But McChrystal, who is leading coalition forces in Afghanistan, told reporters during a press conference at the Pentagon today that the military does not need a new medal to recognize a particular kind of valor.
Today, however, in reply to a reporter’s question about the rumored medal, McChrystal said the military already has “a number of ways to recognize courage.” “And I think courage in uniform can come under enemy fire in the most traditional ways or if u come under actions that may not be as expected or as traditional and involve killing,” he said. “It may involve protecting civilians.”
He referred to a photo that came out of the fighting in Marjah, in which a Marine is seen using his own body to shield an Afghan man and child from harm. “He wasn’t shooting anyone, he didn’t kill any Taliban,” McChrystal said of the Marine, “but I would argue that he showed as much courage as any that I’ve seen on the battlefield.” “So when you talk about courage, I don’t’ think we need a ‘different’ medal to differentiate different kinds of courage.”
The idea for the medal originated with British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, NATO commander of troops in southern Afghanistan, according to a May 5 report in The Daily Mail. The British paper said Carter floated the idea during a visit to Kandahar in April by British Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall.
British and U.S. forces have accidentally killed innocents in the past, with those incidents sparking outrage among the civilian population that Coalition forces are trying to win over. While some have said there is merit to recognizing that courage is involved when a soldier does not open fire on questionable targets, the flip side is that troops may put themselves and allies in jeopardy by second-guessing threats or reacting too slowly.