It's been a long time since I've posted, but given recent events, I must come back online and throw in (throw down?).
With McChrystal likely going to resign this week (we are still working to confirm the UK's Telegraph article) or be kicked out, we must look at what transpired to bring us to this point. Right now, I'm of a mind to blame not only McChrystal, but Michael Yon for how this all turned out. This could likely have been prevented, or McChrystal could have done damage control beyond what's going on (or NOT going on) right now.
Yours truly has tried approaching powers that be over in AFG to help them sort out how IO/PA=STRATCOM is not effectively working. This is similar to the issues I faced in Iraq when I helped stand up STRATCOM as an entity. Seemingly, those with lessons learned are of no value to AFG chiefs. McChrystal's situation just reinforces my belief in this.
GEN McChrystal has surrounded himself with people he likely trusts, but not those in this realm that truly understand what he's facing. The GEN can face the enemy in AFG, but not the 'enemy' at home which is just as deadly to one's career. From the cursory look I've given to info on Duncan Booby Boothby, he was NOT the logical choice to be anyone's media aid. While other generals have asked non-military types to help, they just are NOT effective in any real sense.
First rule of thumb- and it's concrete: DO NOT TRUST ANY MEDIA. Not even if it's your twin sister/brother who's the reporter. THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND, and not even your frenemy. Their job is to sell media. There is no such thing as 'deep background' or 'off the record' around them. They know this. And they will use it.
Second rule: No 'interview' or session with a reporter will go unpunished. In the context they observe, they will report ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they hear/see/touch. IT'S THEIR JOB.
Third rule: LOOK AT PREVIOUS REPORTING TO GET CONTEXT OF WHAT THEY ARE LIKELY TO PUBLISH. Ya ain't gonna turn the NYT into WSJ, or the WaPo into TNR. When was the last time RS reported something even slightly favorable to the war efforts? What is the likelihood they'll spin something? Yeah, I've heard journo's arguing with editors about how articles came out, but editors are still editors- they will publish what sells, not necessarily WHAT IS.
How does Yon figure into this? I got word that RS editors approached Yon about some background on McChrystal and the command and such- over a month before this article was slated to run. If true, and Yon didn't give a heads-up (professional courtesy, I call it) to the PA for McChrystal, then Yon is just as nasty as RS, in my book. He's dead to me (again).
STRATCOM and PA/IO need some real fixing there in AFG. They are not as effective as they could be across all media realms- because they don't have anyone who 'gets it' or has done it on their teams. This is readily apparent, even at the higher levels.
In Iraq, I will say this- the one time I allowed a Rolling Stone reporter to embed, she showed up completely unprepared- lightweight sandals, t-shirt, and nice slacks. No water kit, no helmet, no anything. And was heading to cover the battle of an Najaf. Yeah, she was gonna be effective there. Couldn't convince anyone that she was more likely to be a burden than a benefit. Her comment? 'Well, this is how I covered Beruit'.
Kick out the media, send them home, and learn how to 'go around' them using the internet. It ain't hard, Sec'y Gates. Situations like this only go to prove we have enemies here as well as over there.