Tuesday, January 22, 2013

McChrystal takeaways

I've just finished former General Stanley McChrystal's memoir, My Share of the Task. The book is overly long, with too many incidental details, but it provides illuminating insights and revelations about U.S. civil-military relations and the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While his removal from command in Afghanistan was necessary and proper after his staff made numerous demeaning comments about their civilian superiors, it's a shame that the consequence was the loss of such a thoroughly professional officer.

My takeaways:
  • Rumsfeld's "famously abrasive style" led to an atmosphere in the Pentagon that was "often tentative and sometimes anxious." [80]
  • In early 2004, there was "counterproductive infighting" among CIA, State, Defense and others over how to pursue Al Qaeda. "No alliance could be as infuriating or as productive as my relationship with the CIA." [116, 118]
  • When he became Director of the Joint Staff in June 2008, JCS Chairman Adm. Mullen told him to "attack and destroy the network." Which one? "Ours." [Joint Staff and Pentagon] "Tear it down and rebuild it to be faster, more transparent, and more effective." [279]
  • The first months of the Obama administration "saw the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the White House and the Department of Defense, largely arising from the decision-making process on Afghanistan." [284] "I saw good people all trying to reach a positive outcome, but approaching the problem from different cultures and perspectives, often speaking with different vocabularies. I hoped time working together would create more trust and a common picture." [287]
  • In preparing his assessment and recommendations for Afghanistan policy, "The process of formulating, negotiating, articulating, and then prosecuting even a largely military campaign involved politics at multiple levels that were impossible to ignore." [351]
  • The supposed fight over whether the mission was to "Defeat" or "Degrade" the Taliban was not significant. Either term fit the plan McChrystal envisioned. [352-53]
  • He told the president he could live with Obama's decisions in December 2009, and said the announcement of a withdrawal date was not fatal to the mission. [357] "As with most presidential decisions in wartime, there was something for everyone to like and something for everyone to hate." [359]

No comments:

Post a Comment