UPDATE 4: Telegraph reports that GEN McChrystal tenders his resignation. Two questions: Is this legit? If so, will the President accept it?
After reading McQ's post, LW's post, the Mudville Gazette and most importantly COB6's post at the Farm Team's place, I was going to write about how light I thought GEN McChrystal's comments to be...but Grim, as usual, got ahead of me. Here is what he said in the comments of McQ's post:
The reporter -- who was apparently there for a month -- did a very good job getting inside the circle of trust. "Team America" apparently talked to him just like they talk to each other; anyone who's ever been part of a headquarters unit will instantly recognize the tone ("those idiots at platoon," as Chuck Z likes to call it -- it exists at every level, with the next level up being the idiots and the next level down being the lazy slobs who just don't want to execute simple orders). Venting about this is part of the normal stress of war, and the remarks are in no way shocking or surprising. We've traditionally kept reporters away from it; I understand what you mean about the 'no-no line.' Then again, maybe it's just as well if we don't. One thing about new media is that it's stripped away a lot of illusions, and as far as I can tell we're better off once people start seeing the world as it is, and not the illusion that our institutions would like to paint for them. Once people develop an ear for it, they'll say: "Well, that's just what you always hear." Viewed in that light, Team America and McChyrstal come off looking good -- they're clearly a sharp group, and I was impressed by McChrystal's readiness to get out in the field and respond to the lowest-level complaints, letters from junior NCOs, and to talk plainly with every level about why he's doing what he's doing. The problem is that the American people haven't yet developed that ear, and the CinC is a thin-skinned lightweight. If he were a combat veteran himself, he'd shrug and say just what I said: "This is how every unit in combat talks. I guarantee you the brigade commander vents about Division, and Division about McChrystal. It's just part of war. I can take a little heat from my commander at those times when he's just got to blow off steam, but at the end of the day he has my complete confidence. I trust, in the final analysis, that's true of him and me, too." And if we had a CinC who could say that, it would be true.
1. GEN McChrystal should never have said he voted for anyone. In fact, I know General Officers who claim they don't vote for Presidents at all to avoid ever taking political sides. He voted for Obama?!
2. GEN McChrystal fired a subordinate for giving the reporter access to the general (in essence, he did his job - albeit, naively).
3. It is against the UCMJ to criticize the President, Congress, etc. Period.
4. This event is what the anti-war lefties want (we lost). This event is what the take-the-gloves-off right want (less ROE restrictions). However, this makes things in AFPAK infinitely more difficult.
I agree with Grim and I've heard that kind of talk around division headquarters and even from two and three stars. It's par for the course. Just not par in front of a reporter.
My thoughts are that GEN McChrystal will not be fired and will not resign.
He will be allowed to retire.
And for crissakes, get some professional PAO/STRATCOM/IO people inbound. NOW!
...Which makes me wonder whether we are witnessing McChrystal falling on his sword to get the word out on the Obama administration's folly in Afghanistan. I'm not 100 percent convinced of it, but it is a real possibility.
I also very much agree with Rich that the president would be well within his rights to dismiss McChrystal over this. I just don't think he can. The fact is that McChrystal has more credibility on Afghanistan than Obama does. And to the extent that Obama has credibility there at all (and higher approval ratings for his Afghanistan policy than his presidency generally), it is credibility imported from McChrystal. As such, I figure that firing the general would be disastrous for Obama, not just on substance but politically. Fairly or unfairly, it would make his administration look petty and prideful, willing to let an (admittedly serious) breach in decorum set back our best chance for success in the longest war in American history...
Update 2: The Telegraph has a blog post about this as a non-issue (McChrystal's professionalism).
Update 3: The CS Monitor reports on the Canadian troops in Afghanistan yawning over this...