Story Pick: More McChrystal bad press
The Rolling Stone story on Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal features all kinds of brutally candid and sarcastic remarks made by him and his staff that have given a new reason for Washington politicians to get enraged. The devastating article, "The Runaway General" by Michael Hastings, is fast becoming one of the most influential pieces of journalism this year.
But another new story -- by C.J. Chivers in The New York Times -- is equally alarming, showing how troops on the ground are frustrated with the general's strategies that restrict the use of airstrikes, rocket attacks, and artillery barrages that might imperil civilians, but support Western soldiers. Paired with The Rolling Stone article, the Chivers piece, published online Tuesday night, only tosses more fuel on the McChrystal fire -- and his potential firing. (Or, his forced resignation.)
Chivers finds plenty of officers and enlisted soldiers who speak, of course, anonymously about their unease, and hatred for their leaders' guidelines and restrictions. ("Speaking Anonymously to the Press" surely could be a military training exercise that the troops could teach their boss.) In the lead of the story, an Army sergeant tells Chivers: “I wish we had generals who remembered what it was like when they were down in a platoon...Either they never have been in real fighting, or they forgot what it’s like.”
More than some of the caustic remarks laced throughout The Rolling Stone article, some of the passages in Chivers piece are truly depressing. Like this one:
Now, with fire support often restricted, or even idled, Taliban fighters seem noticeably less worried about an American response, many soldiers and Marines say. Firefights often drag on, sometimes lasting hours, and costing lives. The United States’ material advantages are not robustly applied; troops are engaged in rifle-on-rifle fights on their enemy’s turf. One Marine infantry lieutenant, during fighting in Marja this year, said he had all but stopped seeking air support while engaged in firefights. He spent too much time on the radio trying to justify its need, he said, and the aircraft never arrived or they arrived too late or the pilots were reluctant to drop their ordnance.“I’m better off just trying to fight my fight, and maneuver the squads, and not waste the time or focus trying to get air,” he said.
No doubt politicians will cite The Rolling Stone piece as a reason to change leadership and tactics in Afghanistan. But an equally influential source might be the Times story, which reveals the unvarnished opinions of those most intimately involved in the Afghanistan war.
Posted by: iamerican | June 23, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse
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