Chuck Holton

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Who will replace the General?


UPDATE: At 7pm EST on Tuesday, the London Telegraph is reporting that General Stanley McChrystal has tendered his resignation to the White House.

The following was written tuesday morning.

Within 48 hours, I predict Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be putting the word "Retired" behind his name.

Gen. McChrystal's comments to a freelance writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, critical of his boss and the Obama administration were insubordinate, even if they happen to be true. The Commander in Chief cannot stand for that kind of public dissent, and therefore, McChrystal must go.

McChrystal's Media Skills

I've been mildly critical in the past of McChrystal's media saavy. As a lifelong Special Operations warrior, the good General has, until recently, never needed to deal with the media. Seeing as how the media battlespace is at least as important as the physical battlespace, its unfortunate that the General's media team has done such a poor job of getting the right messages out.

Two examples: a couple of months ago, McChrystal's staff kicked out Michael Yon, easily one of the most respected media voices coming out of Afghanistan. Yon is a former special forces soldier himself, and while he doesn't pull punches when it comes to telling it like he sees things on the ground, he has always been fair about it, never coming off as if he's pushing an agenda. 

The official reason he was given was that he'd been there long enough and they needed to make room for other journalists. But I think that's a lame excuse.  McChrystal would have definitely gotten fairer treatment from Yon than he did from this Rolling Stone yahoo.

The second example is personal: I myself contacted McChrystal's team while I was in Afghanistan in March and April. In the month I spent on the ground, the General's team couldn't find even an hour for me to spend with McChrystal, who commanded a company in the 75th Ranger Regiment when I was there in 1987. 

But somehow they had time to let a Rolling Stone reporter spend two weeks in the General's hip pocket? Did they really let themselves believe this guy would give them a fair shake? 

'General' Assignment

So now, the Rolling Stone reporter cobbles together every damning off-hand comment and joking aside he heard while embedded with the top General in Afghanistan - he'll probably win a Pulitzer for his time. 

Gen. McChrystal, meanwhile, will get put out to pasture. In my opinion, his media relations chief ought to be lined up against the wall and tazered. 

Over the last several months, the sense coming out of Afghanistan has been that Gen. McChrystal has been drowning - and I wondered if he would be sacrificed on the political altar by the Obama Administration for bungling the "surge" and losing the war, even though the O-team refused to give the General the support he asked for to begin with. 

Now it appears the General may have committed ritual seppuku. If I were him, I would quit before the C-in-C could fire me.

In the Line of Fire?

The question now is, who will replace him? Protocol dictates the next commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should be a general from another country. If that happens, I believe defeat in Afghanistan is almost inevitable. 

But if, by chance, someone has the foresight to appoint Marine Gen. James Mattis to the post, things would look a whole lot better.  Mattis is the brains behind the Marine takeover of the southern part of the country - which some now call "Marinestan."

Gen. Mattis is a no-bull commander who feels no compulsion to defeat the enemy without offending him. If he becomes the new commander, we just may see a quick turnaround on the ground in Afghanistan.

Stay tuned. 

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 12:20 PM



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