Retired Army Gen. McChrystal points out 'deficit of trust' in book
WASHINGTON — Speaking out for the first time since his Army career abruptly ended, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal speaks of a “deficit of trust” between the White House and Defense Department but takes the blame for a Rolling Stone story and contemptuous comments attributed to his staff about members of the Obama administration.
“Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine,” the former commander in Afghanistan writes in his memoir, which will be released on Monday.
McChrystal recounts in “My Share of the Task” how he learned of the article that Rolling Stone now touts on its website as the story “that changed history.”
“Sir, we have a problem,” McChrystal aide Charlie Flynn told the general on waking him at 2 a.m. in Afghanistan. “The Rolling Stone article is out, and it's really bad.”
Michael Hastings, a freelance reporter, had been given extraordinary access to the general's inner circle. The profile included a description of the first meeting with the commander in chief a week after Barack Obama became president in 2009.
“According to sources familiar with the meeting,” Hastings wrote, “McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated' by the roomful of military brass.”
An adviser to McChrystal dismissed the first one-on-one meeting between Obama and McChrystal, the newly appointed Afghanistan commander, as “a 10-minute photo op.”
The article anonymously quoted McChrystal's aides deriding, among others, Vice President Joe Biden, who had disagreed with the general's strategy that called for more troops in Afghanistan.
“I was surprised by the tone and direction of the article,” McChrystal wrote. “For a number of minutes I felt as though I'd likely awaken from a dream, but the situation was real.”
Obama recalled McChrystal to Washington. The general writes that the choice to resign as commander in Afghanistan was his own.
McChrystal devotes a scant page-and-a-half to the incident that ended his 34-year military career and soured trust between the military and the media.
McChrystal does try to explain the tensions that helped lead to Obama's decision to accept his resignation. At the center was the wrangle over McChrystal's recommendation for 40,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan — and conflicting guidance.
Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates told McChrystal to request the number he thought he needed. White House staff signaled that the newly elected president wanted to keep the levels down.
McChrystal writes of how he presented his war goal to the White House as “defeat the Taliban” and “secure the population,” and was advised to lower his sights to “degrade” the Taliban.
Obama approved the addition of 30,000 troops, while simultaneously announcing a withdrawal date of 2014.
McChrystal did not challenge those decisions, though he says he worried that the timetable would embolden the Taliban.
Tillman, ‘enemy fire'
McChrystal defends his actions related to the death of Army Ranger and NFL star Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
McChrystal was dogged by allegations of a cover-up because he had approved a Silver Star for valor with a citation that stated Tillman had been cut down by “devastating enemy fire.”
As reports came in from the troops at the scene, McChrystal realized Tillman may have died by fratricide. He sent an oblique warning to his superiors that President George W. Bush should delete mention of enemy fire from his remarks when presenting the award to Tillman's family at his memorial service.
McChrystal told the investigators that he believed Tillman deserved the award, and that he wanted to warn top military and political leaders that friendly fire was a possibility.
The Pentagon later cleared him of wrongdoing.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama reaches out to Jewish community
- Senate still works on NSA proposal as deadline nears
- Cuban talks to continue
- Senate OKs fast-track trade bill sought by Obama
- Suspect in killings of wealthy D.C. family arrested
- Coal’s worst fears affirmed in analysis of Obama climate plan
- Calif. farmers’ group will cut water use in historic deal
- Uncertainty pervades graduation at all-women’s college in Lynchburg, Va.
- W.Va. gets federal disaster relief for April storms
- 4 remain hospitalized in Marines plane crash
- As oil production soars, so do pipeline leaks