Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, awards the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. Stanley McChrystal as he is honored at a retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, Friday, July 23, 2010. His wife Annie stands at right. McChrystal's illustrious career came to an abrupt end when he resigned as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan after he and his staff were quoted in a Rolling Stone magazine article criticizing and mocking key Obama Administration officials. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
McChrystal takes blame for Rolling Stone article
First Published Jan 05 2013 06:09 pm • Last Updated Jan 05 2013 06:09 pm

Washington • Speaking out for the first time since he resigned, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes the blame for a Rolling Stone article and the unflattering comments attributed to his staff about the Obama administration that ended his Afghanistan command and army career.

"Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine," McChrystal writes in his new memoir, in a carefully worded denouncement of the story.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Rolling Stone article anonymously quoted McChrystal’s aides as criticizing Obama’s team, including Vice President Joe Biden. Biden had disagreed with McChrystal’s strategy that called for more troops in Afghanistan. Biden preferred to send a smaller counterterrorism and training force — a policy the White House is now considering as it transitions troops from the Afghan war.

McChrystal adds the choice to resign as U.S. commander in Afghanistan was his own.

"I called no one for advice," he writes in "My Share of the Task," describing his hasty plane ride back to Washington only hours after the article appeared in 2010, to offer his resignation to President Barack Obama. McChrystal was immediately replaced by his then-boss, Gen. David Petraeus.

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 media. The book, published by Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, comes out Monday.

The closest McChrystal comes to revealing his regret over allowing a reporter weeks of unfettered access with few ground rules comes much earlier in the book. "By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent. ... But such transparency would go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it."

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.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told McChrystal to request the number he thought he needed. White House staff signaled that the newly election president wanted to keep the levels down.

McChrystal describes 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.


story continues below
story continues below

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 the timetable would embolden the Taliban.

"If I felt like the decision to set a withdrawal date would have been fatal to the success of our mission, I’d have said so," he writes.

As for the Rolling Stone fallout, a Pentagon inquiry into the magazine’s profile cleared McChrystal of wrongdoing and called into question the accuracy of the June 2010 story. The review, released in April 2011, concluded that not all of the events at issue happened as reported in the article.

Rolling Stone issued a statement saying it stood behind freelance writer Michael Hastings’ story, which it called "accurate in every detail."

There is no bitterness or score-settling with the White House staff that had pushed for his departure over the article. McChrystal and the White House moved beyond the matter, and first lady Michelle Obama invited McChrystal to serve on the board of Joining Forces, a White House initiative for troops and their families.

The book details the general’s rise through the ranks, from his time as a West Point cadet to serving in the 82nd Airborne Corps and earning his Special Forces Green Beret, and then commanding a battalion of the 75th Ranger regiment.

McChrystal describes only briefly an incident that nearly ended his career years earlier: allegations of a cover-up involving the friendly fire incident that killed football-star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman. McChrystal approved a Silver Star for valor, with a citation that stated Tillman had been cut down by "devastating enemy fire."

But 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 U.S. military and political leadership that friendly fire was a possibility. The Pentagon later cleared him of wrongdoing.

In the book, McChrystal writes only that he followed "standard practice" to quickly process a Silver Star for Tillman’s actions on the battlefield, in time to present it to the family at the memorial service. He does not explain the incident further.

The man portrayed in the Rolling Stone article as arrogant comes off as far more down to earth in the book.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.