What bothers me is not the fact that he was ‘loose lipped.’ Or any of that. That’s rhetoric.
What bothers me is what he said. And to who he said it. And the fact that he had to say it in the first place.
I know, I do not speak for myself alone when I say: Military life is different. It’s a whole different head set. It’s a culture. Military is military. Period.
I spent most of my adult life in uniform, whether as a reserve officer in the Israeli army, on active duty during the entire Gulf War, or a full-time enlisted officer in the Israeli Prison Service for over thirteen years.
Bottom line is: People in the military and law-enforcement are putting their necks on the line, daily. They are in life-threatening situations. And they are there to defend the people back home. That’s us.
There was one rule we always had in the military—you speak your mind. Staff meetings were daily, every morning. We went around the table, in organized fashion, for turns to report. Each officer had his or her chance to speak his or her opinion. To make his or her case. To ask for whatever he or she needed.
When the meetings were over, it was summed up by the commanding officer. He or she gave their decision for action.
At any given time, we had a chance to object. It could be spirited. If our opinion was overruled, we could write in. We could even bypass our commander, and have our objections seen by our commander’s superiors.
One thing was always clear—you could speak your mind.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal had a lot to say in that now famous interview. There is no need to repeat them, here, they’re all online.
He expressed bitterness. He expressed extreme discomfort with the competence of those ‘running’ the war back home. We’ve all read what he said.
Brushing him aside is a diversion from the substantial questions.
Here are the real questions:
1. Why did Gen. Stanley McChrystal need to say what he said in the first place? This is a man seeing his underlings die for this country. He felt no one back home was listening. What brought a man busy leading a war to have to express these feelings in the first instance?
2. Why did a military man feel that level of being alone that he needed to express himself through a magazine interview? There is supposed to be a chain of command, and an extremely open line of communication. Where was that?!
3. What will change in the modus operandi now that he’s been swept aside? Our soldiers are putting themselves in harms way, to put it mildly, or to put it more succinctly many are dying to keep us safe.
Sweeping this General aside is nice headlines, and makes a nice photo op. But, will any of the causes which brought him to that interview now change?
Our country is at war, one we did not wish for. Our military men and women need to know the above answers. They deserve to know them. And they deserve all this: Now.
Posted June 24, 2010