Copyright by John T. Reed

Since General Stanley McChrystal was fired on June 23, 2010, I have received a number of requests for an article on the subject. I have done what I usually do: Let the media do their thing on the subject first. I do not want to replicate what they do. When they get it right, I generally say nothing on the subject in question.

They did not get the McChrystal firing right. In those cases, I write an article that corrects and/or completes the analysis.

The precipitating facts—an interview with Rolling Stone magazine—are almost beside the point. I read the article. It was excellent.

One point it makes is that McChrystal was the first U.S. general relieved from duty during war time in more than 50 years. Yeah, and I would add that we have not won a war since we stopped firing generals during the Vietnam war. However, in this case, the general was not fired for lack of military success, the type of firing that leads to victory. Rather, he was fired for purely political silliness.

Fox News hates the article and its writer claiming he agreed to make the comments quoted off the record. They also love quoting Hastings once saying that his job was to “f--- people.” I’d like to hear Hastings’ comments on whether he actually said that and whether it meant breaking a journalistic promise.

As a general rule, an investigative reporter is done if he breaks an off-the-record promise. I am a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Association and have taken a number of their training seminars.

If the reporter, Michael Hastings, agreed that certain comments were off the record then published them, he broke his promise and that’s wrong. I cannot tell if that happened. Fox’s evidence was hearsay from unnamed sources of a retired Army general. McChrystal and the other officers need to testify on that matter, which is not likely.

I must note that the longer record, much of which is repeated in the Rolling Stone, includes many leaks and public comments that undermine the various parties in the Iraq/Afghanistan drama going in all directions. Afghan ambassador Eikenberry or one of his staff leaked a memo that put McChrystal down. Biden spoke out publicly against McChrystal’s strategy. Hillary said Petraeus’s report on Iraq required a willing suspension of disbelief. Hillary voted against a Senate resolution to condemn the Petraeus Betray Us ad. Obama abstained from voting for or against that resolution.

In other words, every prominent person in the two wars, other than Petraeus, has leaked against or publicly denounced the others. Generally, the non-McChrystal transgressions of that nature are worse than anything from him or his staff in the Rolling Stone article.

So McChrystal did not get fired for the Rolling Stone article. Rather, he got fired for some unclear reason. The Rolling Stone article was a pretext or Obama got stampeded into firing McChrystal by media herd pressure.

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Stockman, not MacArthur

Many have said Obama had to fire McChrystal for the same reason Truman had to fire MacArthur. That’s total bullshit! MacArthur repeatedly committed serious insubordination related to possibly starting World War III.

McChrystal’s firing was more like the David Stockman incident. Stockman was the the Reagan Budget Director. Atlantic Monthly magazine published an infamous article, “The Education of David Stockman,” December 1981. Reporter William Greider wrote it. I read an 800-page book called Secrets of the Temple about the Federal Reserve as part of my research for my recent book How to Protect Your Life Savings from Hyperinflation & Depression. The Atlantic Monthly article resulted in Stockman being “taken to the woodshed by Reagan.” In other words, Reagan felt Stockman was a great budget director and that what he said in Atlantic Monthly, which was far far worse than anything McChrystal said, should not result in his being fired.

Many have said Obama had no choice. Bullshit! If Reagan could keep Stockman, Obama could have kept McChrystal. Obama caved to media pressure, his recent tough talk about BP and other issues, and to his own in-the-wrong-profession thin skin.

Speaking of in the wrong profession, Rolling Stone says McChrystal picked his staff in part for their “disdain for authority.” Oh, really!? Would the authority they disdain be the same one that just fired their asses? If so, what, pray tell, was the logic behind choosing staff for their disdain for authority?

Three perspectives

I am going to discuss the McChrystal from three perspectives:

• My usual “boy who says the emperor has no clothes” perspective
• What military officers are probably saying behind closed doors
• Measuring the firing and reasons for it against the Obama party line

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Big picture

The U.S. military should not be in Afghanistan at all. The original reason was 9/11. On that date, 19 hijackers crashed four airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a farm in Pennsylvania. Those hijackers were from:

• Saudi Arabia 15
• United Arab Emirates 2
• Lebanon 1
• Egypt 1

None were from Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, purportedly headed by Osama Bin Laden. He is from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan. He had previously been run out of Somalia and moved to Afghanistan where he was allowed to stay until the U.S. drove him out, apparently to Pakistan.

We should have left Afghanistan after we ran the Taliban and Osama out of the country.

Would the Taliban have returned and taken over again? Not our problem.

Would more attacks have been launched against the U.S. from Afghanistan if the Taliban retook control? I would not be surprised. We should take care of that if and when it happens. If you stop and think about it, Afghanistan is a horse shit base from which to attack the U.S. It is landlocked and barren and primitive and about as far away from the U.S. as it could be. I could make an argument that we should herd all the bad guys into Afghanistan. It would serve them right and probably make it harder for them to bother us than any other place on earth.

It is ridiculous for us to claim we are scared of Taliban attacks on the U.S. If they want to do that, we can bomb the Taliban areas of Afghanistan until we get tired of it—with no U.S. casualties at all.

Cannot afford it

We also cannot afford to be in either Iraq or Afghanistan. We collect $2 trillion a year in taxes and we are spending $7 trillion a year mainly on entitlements and paying off maturing U.S. government bonds. So we are borrowing $5 trillion a year and climbing to pay for a government we cannot afford and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a significant part of our suicidally not living within our means.

Whether we should be in Iraq or Afghanistan for military or war on terror reasons is moot. We cannot afford it. We cannot afford it. The world bond market is very unhappy with our spending already. We have to cut spending by around 50%, and the sooner we do the better. If we keep borrowing and spending, eventually the world bond market will go on strike with regard to buying U.S. bonds. When they do, we will be forced to either print money, which would cause hyperinflation, or default on the national debt and cut government spending by about 50%. We continue on our current fiscal course solely at the pleasure of the world bond market. The world bond market is in charge of U.S. foreign policy, not the American people or American government.

We are too poor to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan no matter the military merits. The American people are slow to realize that, but they will, albeit probably too late to forestall a sever economic crisis from our excessive spending and borrowing.

We are not leaving any time soon. So what will happen? Same old same old endless casualties and expense. No net progress. Ultimately same as Vietnam. An inelegant bug out off the roof of the U.S. embassy.

The Iraq war may be viewed as a success in the future. It’s too early to tell. But the Afghan war almost certainly will end as all other foreign incursions into Afghanistan have since Genghis Khan. The Rolling Stone article quotes a West Point graduate from McChrystal’s era saying,

The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.

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Is McChrystal a great general?

McChrystal is a piece of shit. I have already said that repeatedly in prior articles:

McChrystal's new rules for Afghanistan
• Tillman cover-up general promoted
Comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam
• General Petraeus' 7/9/09 speech in San Francisco
Lessons to be learned from Pat Tillman's death by John T. Reed
• Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' comments on military integrity ...
The morality of obeying stupid orders

McChrystal may be a member of the worst West Point class ever

Here is an excerpt from my long article “Should you go to, or stay at, West Point?”

Wall Street Journal article about the West Point Class of 1976

The 7/25/09 Wall Street Journal had a big article about prominent members of the West Point Class of 1976. The hook was it now has a lot of high-ranking generals in the current wars. The Journal compared the Class of ’76 to “the Class the stars fell on:” 1915, which had a lot of big shots in World War II. The article has a number of errors which I will point out mainly to show that the general media stories about West Point are almost always a little off. Also, the article contained some accurate information that the author did not adequately draw conclusions from.

To get right to the latter point, the Class of 1976, as a group, may be one of the worst to graduate from West Point in the 20th century. I do not make a comment about particular graduates of that class other than McChrystal (head guy in Afghanistan) and Odierno (head guy in Iraq). To see what I said about them, type their names into the “Search” box in the top right corner of this page.

Entered at a bad time

Why would ’76 be one of the worst? It all stems from when they entered West Point: 1972. Since the Vietnam war, West Point classes have “vintages” like wine. With wine, they stem from the weather when the grapes were grown, not unlike stemming from the public image climate of a college when it was receiving applications. 1972 was not a good year. Hastings says that in the Rolling Stone article as well.

That was perhaps the nadir of U.S. Army prestige among the American people. I got out of the Army on June 14 of that year shortly before the Class of 1976 entered West Point around July 1st. The Army was about to lose the Vietnam war, which had been commanded by Westmoreland and Abrams, both members of the West Point Class of 1936 (which also included Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. head of the Tuskeegee Airmen and to whom his West Point class refused to speak when he as a cadet because he was a “negro”).

The media were full of accurate stories about Army units in Vietnam refusing to go on patrol, heavy drug use, and militant black soldiers routinely exhibiting open hostility towards their white colleagues and superiors. In the Journal story, members of the Class of 1976 told of being spit on, having eggs thrown at them, and avoiding wearing their uniforms.

That sort of thing also happened to my class in our last year there and after graduation, but not before. We were surprised by that having entered in 1964, before the Gulf of Tonkin incident and Resolution that most consider the start of the Vietnam War. West Point prestige may have been at a peak in the late 1950s and early 60s because of the West Point TV series, the movie The Long Gray Line, and President Kennedy attending the Army-Navy Game each year.

The Class of 1976, however, applied when the anti-Vietnam War unpopularity of West Point and the U.S. military were already well known. Readers too young to remember the Vietnam era may think the current anti-war sentiment is the same as during Vietnam. Not even close. Also, the current anti-war sentiment is directed toward the top civilian leaders, not the military personnel themselves. During Vietnam, they spit on military personnel of all ranks. I suspect that many, if not most, of my class would not have applied to West Point in such a climate. Being careful to distinguish the war from the “warriors” today is a backlash from the way it was done during Vietnam. Baby Boomer draft dodgers—the majority of the generation—regret what they did during Vietnam as far as treatment of the military went.

I am not sure what years were involved, but I heard from classmates who were professors there around that time that West Point admissions had trouble filling all the spots in the classes in the 1970s. Normally, nine are rejected for every one admitted. For McChrystal’s class, it may have been more like 12 were accepted for every 10 that applied.

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Cheating scandal

The class of 1976 did not distinguish itself during their time as cadets either. They had the biggest honor scandal in West Point history. Time did a cover story with a photo of a cadet holding crossed fingers behind his back. That came out June 7, 1976, almost the day McChrystal graduated. Many of my classmates were there then as instructors and astonished the rest of us with tales of what was going on. One was that cadets would campaign for company honor representative (the jury members in honor investigations and trials) by promising never to vote in favor of expelling a companymate regardless of guilt. That would have been unthinkable when I was a cadet from 1964 to 1968. Indeed, the mere suggestion of such a thing would have resulted in the politician cadet in question being instantly expelled.

Lunar astronaut (Apollo 8—first to go around the moon and return) and West Point graduate Frank Borman was put in charge of the Borman Commission which investigated the 1976 West Point honor scandal. You can read his full report at The 1976 honor scandal centered on a junior class electrical engineering exam, but the Borman Commission found a pervasive “cool-on-honor” culture and the Honor Code is run by the cadets, not the officers, so the senior class of 1976 shares responsibility for the 1976 honor scandal with the junior class of 1977. For example, here is a comment from the Borman report,

Last year 16 first classmen [members of the Class of 1976] were forwarded to full Honor Boards, yet not one was found guilty by his peers on the 1976 Honor Committee.

That is an extraordinarily and suspiciously high exoneration rate. 16 of 20 accused freshmen were found guilty at the same time.

Vandalism of the mess hall

There is a dramatic, priceless, huge mural in the mess hall at West Point. (I could not find a decent color photo of it on the Internet but there probably is one.) The Class of 1976 and the other classes there at the time (perhaps not the plebes) deliberately vandalized it during a riot in which they threw food at it. At their 25th reunion, the Class of 1976 donated $500,000 to restore the mural. I am no expert on removing food stains from a mural, but I suspect 25 years is too long to wait to do it. In the interest of full disclosure, I believe we heard when we were cadets that cadets before we entered West Point had also had a food fight, but that the damage to the mural in that case was collateral and minor, not aimed at the mural as with the Class of 1976.

First class of women at West Point

The first class containing women entered the year ’76 graduated. The hostility of West Point to women entering had been well known throughout ’76’s senior year there. Even the Superintendent, the head of West Point, publicly denounced the change in policy. I do not know what to make of letting women in, but I know any anti-women feelings at West Point should have been suppressed totally. You’re in the Army, guys. Shut up and follow orders.

Success is also vintage based

The Journal was highly impressed by the number of current big-shot generals from the Class of 1976. That is pretty much a vintage issue as well. The big shots in the Army at any given time hold the rank of four-star general. How long does it take to become a four-star general? About 30 to 35 years. Do the math. The big shots in the Army in 2009 became officers, that is graduated from West Point, 30 to 35 years before, namely 1974 (Petraeus’ class) to 1979.

The Journal quotes a West Point official saying the ’76 generals in that class “wield unprecedented influence over the battlefield.” Well, maybe if you define that title in a way that few other classes have a chance to compete for it—like during a time of two simultaneous wars. But it is pretty clear that West Pointers in the same class wielded enormous battlefield influence during the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, too.

I mean c’mon. West Point is the Army’s college. The Army runs the wars. Wars expand the size of the Army and the number of battlefield command opportunities. Cronies appoint and promote cronies. Since World War II, the U.S. military does not promote except from within. Whadya expect? If an unprecedented number of West Point ’76 guys turn out to be civilian college presidents, or Fortune 1,000 CEOs, that would be noteworthy, but classmates moving along the Army’s union-seniority sort of promotion conveyor belt and holding battlefield positions during a double war is not noteworthy.

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Errors in the Journal story

Error Correct version
McChrystal led a prank mock attack on Grant Hall which is described as an office building Grant Hall is a cadet reception snack bar and lobby on the first floor. It was where we met our friends, relatives, and dates for the weekend. I believe it was cadet barracks on the upper floors in the 1960s and 1970s.
about McChrystal’s prank attack using real but unloaded weapons and witnessed by civilians who thought it was real There were plenty of cadet pranks when I was a cadet, but nothing of this nature. It sounds middle schoolish—like McChrystal may be a bit off. The article says he was almost thrown out of West Point for it. Ten years before, I suspect he would have been.

“For a prank military raid on Grant Hall, an ornate office building in the hear of the school’s campus, General McChrystal borrowed vintage weapons from the school’s museum, for research purposes, he told professors at the time” That would be a violation of the cadet honor code. The punishment is instant expulsion. Technically, they ask you to resign and if you did not in my day, you got silenced by the whole Corps of Cadets. 99% resign. This honor violation is consistent with McChrystal’s lying in the Pat Tillman incident, which the Journal completely ignored in spite of having covered the Tillman story including identifying McChrystal’s central role in it.
Odierno was primary architect of “The Surge” See the book The Gamble and/or my review of it
Class of ’76 are the foremost evangelists on protecting civilian population comes first ditto above comment, Petraeus, Kilcullen, AEI, and others were the main evangelists
Gothic stone buildings at West Point They’re Tudor, not Gothic
’76 arrived at an opportune moment because the military academy had doubled in size a few years earlier Bull! That’s my class of ’68, not ’76. Congress doubled the size of the Corps of Cadet (West Point student body) in May, 1964 (after I had received my appointment but before my class entered on 7/1/64) 1964 is not a “few” years before 1972. It’s a whole other war before!
Army was becoming more professional because of ending draft draftees are much better soldiers, as a group, than volunteers. See my article on the need for a draft. I commanded both types. Petraeus, McChrystal et al never did.
quote yearbook write ups on Odierno and McChrystal Those are written by a friend chosen by the cadet in question. I would not be surprised if some guys wrote their own. No one checked. Mine was written by a roommate/classmate.

teachers gave tests almost every day

About once a week in each subject when I was there. I doubt it changed to more frequent.
attendance at Saturday intercollegiate sports contests was mandatory No. Attendance at about five home football games was near universal but not mandatory. I only skipped one in the pouring rain senior year. Two away games per season—Navy and one other—were mandatory. One year, we had a third at Chicago to play Air Force. Hardly any cadets attended any other sports events.
In Afghanistan, McChrystal plans to build small outposts in individual neighborhoods and towns to help protect the local population. Not according to what General Petraeus, who is McChrystal’s boss, said to an audience including me in San Francisco on 7/9/09. Petraeus said living among the people in Afghan villages, as was done in Iraqi cities, was “culturally impermissible” in Afghanistan.

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The real basis for the ‘great general’ reputation

There seemed to be a consensus in the media that McChrystal was a great general. How do you figure that?

I‘ll tell you how. It’s mostly Rambo Hollywood hype and darned few genuine accomplishments.

McChrystal graduated from West Point in 1976. What war was he sent to as a platoon leader?

None. We had no war in 1976. Vietnam ended for U.S. troops around 1972. McChrystal was a garrison platoon leader in the U.S. Garrison duty refers to the military as depicted in such Hollywood productions as the Sergeant Bilko Show (Phil Silvers Show) and Gomer Pyle USMC. In other words, it is hanging around some sleepy Army base in the boondocks of the U.S.

What war was he sent to as a company commander—a captain’s slot? He probably was a captain from around 1979 to 1986. We had no wars then either. More garrison duty in the U.S.

His claim to fame is that he spent a fair amount of time in special forces (Green Berets), a ranger unit, and airborne units. I am a graduate of ranger school and was in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he appears to have spent about as much time or more in ordinary, non-special ops units. His time as a platoon leader, company commander, and battalion commander was all in U.S. garrison duty—Beatle Bailey at Camp Swampy stuff. Not necessarily proof he was not a great officer, but neither is it proof that he was. As a test, his grade would be incomplete. Garrison duty is the most minimal preparation for combat command. You may think garrison mean maneuvers and war games. Not really. Those are extremely rare. I never saw any in my four years in the army.

His claim to have had actual success in combat operation was being a general for eight years in the special operations department of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Reportedly, he had some success, but we don’t really know. It was all top secret. That adds to his mystique among easily impressed laymen, but to me it just means we have no idea what success he had, if any. The Army uses the secret stamp for legitimate reasons, and to hide its failures.

Some may say he must have had success in that secret job because he got promoted out of it. If you think that, I guess you have never been in the Army. Promotion in the U.S. military means little other than political skills.

He allegedly was responsible for the rocket that was fired from a U.S. jet that killed Zarqawi, the self-appointed head al Qaeda guy in Iraq. OK. But wouldn’t that be a slow day for Patton or Eisenhower or MacArthur? I suspect a marine machine gunner lance corporal in the Pacific in World War II killed more guys than McChrystal.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Similarly, in the era of near total lack of success of the U.S. military in terms of winning wars, the guy who kills one enemy big shot is king. In other words, McChrystal may rank high in terms of combat success in the current era, but that’s not saying much. So describing him the same way you would describe Robert E. Lee, Grant, Patton, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Stonewall Jackson, and so on, is absurd.

Much of his public image stems from facts like he eats once a day, sleeps only four hours a day, and runs seven miles a day. Does that make you a great general? Seems to me it reveals that you are a bit nutty.

He looks lean and mean, a “warrior” straight from central casting, or like many guys who are obsessive-compulsive about fitness and body fat and who needs to get a life. You can spin it either way. He sounds like “Gerald Goode”, the father in The Goode Family to me—a characterization that is completed by McChrystal’s admission that he voted for Obama.

Neither Eisenhower nor Patton nor MacArthur were fit. Eisenhower and Patton were fat. MacArthur was old. When he was a cadet at West Point, MacArthur was the student manager of the football team. Fitness is largely irrelevant to being a great general. It is also overemphasized in today’s military.

Smaller units

His time as a general was spent in special ops. Special ops are lots of small, scattered, semi-independent units. Regular generals, like Petraeus, command divisions (12,000 to 15,000 men) or corps or armies. The first time McChrystal was a commander of a large number of regular troops was in his last job as Afghanistan commander. Although special ops is Hollywood hype that sends a thrill up the leg of journalists and the public, it is poor preparation for supplying, commanding, and coordinating normal infantry units which is what the commander of Afghanistan does.


McChrystal never won a Combat Infantryman’s Badge. That’s extremely lame for the Army’s real life supposed John Rambo.

You can see his medals at his Wikipedia bio. Click on each medal to see what it is. The best, or most highly regarded, are at the top of his rows of medals. I will tell you he has no, repeat, no, bravery medals. He has no purple heart. His medals are all what I call good bureaucrat medals or attendance medals. See my article on whether military people really earned their medals.

So McChrystal is John Rambo with regard to being assigned to macho military schools or being in U.S. garrison duty with “elite” units. But he is not John Rambo with regard to bravery or being wounded or pre-general combat experience. His collection of badges and medals is distinctly those of a stateside, garrison bureaucrat.
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The main liar in the Tillman cover-up

McChrystal was the main liar in the Pat Tillman cover-up. That alone was enough for me to dismiss him as a piece of shit. See the articles at the top of this page which are about the Tillman cover-up.

As far as McChrystal’s military career is concerned, he was in a lousy West Point class that had trouble attracting enough students to fill all the beds in the barracks. He acted like a jerk at West Point and sounds to me like he violated the honor code there. The punishment for that is instant dismissal. I am a West Point graduate of the class of 1968—eight years before McChrystal but a world apart from his class. See my article about my class and my discussion of why my class is arguably the best post-World War II class (Search for 1968 in your Web browser to go to that section of the long article at the prior link).

The Rolling Stone article said McChrystal was in the Century Club as a cadet. That may sound funny, but the typical West Point class only has about 10% of the class in the Century Club (100 or more hours of walking the area for punishment). Those are cadet juvenile delinquents or slobs. I walked the area about 3 to 5 hours total in four years, probably normal for average cadets. Some guys never walked the area including my classmate who later became dean of West Point.

McChrystal’s officer career appears undistinguished other than an emphasis on special ops, albeit still perhaps a minority of the time he spent as an officer. One of his jobs was Pentagon spokesman for Christ’s sake! He was the Robert Gibbs of the Pentagon. His time as head of Afghanistan showed no clear evidence of success or competence that I can discern. Mostly, the media reports were that he worked long hours. That means nothing to me about success. Indeed, it sounds like typical all-show-and-no-go first-in-last-out careerist behavior. He also adopted some very restrictive rules of engagement that the troops hated. One quoted in the article said,

I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.

Great warrior?

Rolling Stone makes much of him going out on a patrol with a unit in Afghanistan. He fails to mention that that may have been the first and last time McChrystal ever went out on a patrol in a combat zone in his life.

Generally, McChrystal’s reputation as a great general appears to be media hype, Hollywood “elite“ unit hype, and halo effect that caused the public and media to seize on a very few indicators then interpolate much greatness where the hard evidence simply does not support any such conclusions.

Behind-closed-doors version

When we were cadets, we were informally told,

If you are a West Point graduate, and you keep your nose clean, you’ll make full colonel. Making general is all politics.

Looking back as a 64-year-old West Point graduate, based on both my experience and that of my classmates, the correct version was,

If you are a college-graduate Army officer, and you keep your nose brown, you will make lieutenant colonel (the rank below full colonel). Making full colonel or general is all politics.

So what are the Army officers, current and past, saying in private conversations about the McChrystal firing? Probably that McChrystal was a good behind-the-scenes guy, but not politically astute or politically instinctive enough to be out front. Making McChrystal head of Afghanistan was an example of the Peter Principle in action.

What about McChrystal’s lying? Lying is ambient, ubiquitous, and routine in the Army. It would not even be mentioned behind closed doors.

What about what McChrystal’s staff said in front the Rolling Stone reporter? Standard stuff. Dumb to say it in front of a reporter from a liberal magazine.

What lesson does the rest of the Army officer corps learn from the McChrystal firing?

That being political and noncontroversial like Petraeus is the way to get ahead in the U.S. military.

Rolling Stone said McChrystal and his staff got “shit-faced” (drunk) in an Irish bar in Paris. Reporter Hastings was with them. That sounds like their undoing. Why would they do such a thing? The military has a “work hard play hard” ethos which I hated when I was in the Army and condemned in an article. Work hard play hard is just an excuse to get drunk and have extramarital and/or paid sex. Plus, although military people work unbeliveably hard at times in combat, and some put in long hours to impress their bosses, on average, the claim that the military work hard is bullshit. Visit a U.S. military officer golf course with a camera during business hours and see how many golfers are willing to be photographed—and how long it takes MPs to escort you off the base.

The wonder is that McChrystal lasted as long as he did. He got into political trouble that would have killed the careers of most men at least three prior times: A problem with some detainees in Iraq, the Tillman cover-up, and an answer he gave after a speech in the U.K.

Hastings says in the Rolling Stones article,

But as he moved up through the ranks, McChrystal relied on the skills he had learned as a troublemaking kid at West Point: knowing precisely how far he could go in a rigid military hierarchy without getting tossed out.

Hastings wrote that before he knew the article was going to get McChrystal fired.

I coached 900 kids including teenagers. A few behave like this. They are rebels without a cause. They live to disrupt. “I disrupt, therefore I am,” is their credo. As a coach, part of your job is to identify these kids ASAP and cut them ASAP. They are the equivalent of a fire in your house in terms of the appropriate sense of urgency You can spot them because they break the rules with malice aforethought. Violating the rules more than once = malice aforethought. See ya..

Official Obama version

Obama, Gates, and Petraeus, among others, all said McChrystal was THE man for the Afghanistan job, and that Petraeus was THE man for the CentCom job. So why are neither of them in those jobs anymore?

Are competent generals so numerous that we can get rid of one for immature drunken staff members? We did not even fire Patton for slapping a soldier in World War II. The prior Afghanistan commander, McKiernan, was also fired. His offense? He was not as hot a hot shot as McChrystal.

Obama wishes we never got involved with Afghanistan or Iraq. He simply cannot figure out a way to get out that would not hurt him politically—soft on terror and all that. He would withdraw everyone from those countries in a New York minute if he knew how to avoid political fallout from it. We are there—and dying on a daily basis—to prevent Republicans from criticizing Obama for being weak.

Patton was called “Old Blood and Guts.” GIs then said, “Yeah. Our blood. His guts.”

By that standard, Obama is “Young Blood and Tough Talk.”

Who should be the Afghanistan commander?

If you accept for the sake of argument that we should be in Afghanistan, who should the U.S. Afghanistan commander be? A younger version of C.C. Myers, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Ross Perot, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Belichick, Jamie Dimon, people who actually have gotten real things done in their lives.

Is there anyone like that in the U.S. Army officer corps?

How damned likely is it that such a person would spend the best years of his life in a Kafkaesque nightmare of a federal military bureaucracy that selects its top “leaders” by way of a 30-year suck-up tournament?