Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kabul, Afghanistan

The bottom line of what has happened to General McChrystal is that he was betrayed by his aides, who were supposed to be the ones protecting him from this sort of thing. The reporter from Rolling Stone was supposed to have two weeks of access to the staff, but because of the Iceland volcano and the resultant ash cloud he ended up getting stuck with McChrystal's team for a month. During that time the staff essentially "went native" with the reporter and started speaking too freely. If you read the article, all the bad stuff is said by McChrystal's aides, who imply that they are expressing the boss' feelings.

The rumor mill here in country speculates that perhaps McChrystal wanted out and this was how he decided to do it. But that is quite ridiculous, since there is really no bigger disgrace for a military man than to be fired by the Commander-in-Chief. While I understand the political reasons for why Obama removed McChrystal, I think a major blow has been struck to the effort here in Afghanistan. As we speak, instead of concentrating on the fight at a time of year that is the most kinetic we have seen in the past 9 years, the entirety of command is either packing their shit in boxes (as its not just the boss who gets fired but his whole staff) or preparing several weeks worth of briefs for Petraeus when he gets here.

On a different note, I personally feel that Petraeus is an over-rated American hero. Despite being credited with writing the COIN manual, I think most of us know it was actually written by John Nagl and Sarah Sewell, with oversight by Petraeus and Mattis. Most of the COIN that Petraeus "implemented" when he got to Iraq was already being carried out well in advance by Odierno and the Marines in Anbar Province. Plus overall, we entirely lucked out in Iraq when AQ started mistreating the Sunnis and they revolted in Anbar. There will be no such similar luck here in Afghanistan. From many discussions with troops who have done multiple tours in Afghanistan I have learned that the one thing they hate most is guys who come into this country having served in Iraq and think they know how things are done. If Iraq is a third world country then Afghanistan is a fifth world country. There is simply no comparison to be made. Most Afghans will tell you that they don't even understand this country and they have lived here their whole lives. Petraeus may have been briefed on all operations in Afghanistan as head of CENTCOM, but McChrystal was living the war here. He even started learning Dari two days ago. I actually met his teacher, who was all excited because once he became the General's teacher he got his living arrangements upgraded from a converted shipping container to a proper room with his own bathroom. I would bet they are kicking his ass out of there as we speak. Poor Guy.


Anonymous said...

A man who begins to take Dari is a man who doesn't think he is leaving anytime soon. Thanks for the post Jeremy, it is a helpful briefing.

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