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Thread: The McCrystal collection (catch all)

  1. #161
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default Military-Press Relationship

    The way I see it the relationship between the Government and the press is a case of different principles that are in conflict with each other. The ones I can think of, and there are probably others, are as follows.

    1. Freedom of the press, like the Constitutional amendment on freedom of speech.
    2. The laws regarding the disclosure of classified information, and whether persons should suffer a penalty for leaking it outside of Government channels.
    3. The need for all people and institutions in a country involved in a war to "pull together" and be on the same team, if necessary putting aside their personal and organizational interests.
    4. Optional wars, when the famous statement by Clausewitz on the relationship between politics and war leaves many people either indifferent or actively hostile to the war.

    Let me tell a war story. The Pacific Stars and Stripes used to have a tradition of having its content censored and controlled by higher headuarters. Stories that the command thought would unsettle the troops, such as anti-American protests in Korea, were kept out of the newspaper.

    As an Army E-4 my late dad joined the staff of the Pacific S&S in around December 1945. He ran the composing room of the paper in the basement of the U.S. headuarters in the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo, where MacArthur had his penthouse on the top floor. (Mac's son Dougie, a kid around 8, used to visit the composing room. Dad said you could tell back then he'd turn out to be gay, which he did.) Anyway, around December '45 or January '46 there were protests in the Philippines and Japan by G.I.s against being kept in uniform after the war had ended. Pacific S&S ran brief stories on the protests. A few days later the newspaper was directed through command channels to publish an overwrought story by a civilian newspaperman who denounced the guys who wanted to be sent home and cited all the guys he had seen killed and bleeding to death on various islands in the Pacific Theater.

    The response of the enlisted G.I. staff of the newspaper was to sign a petition and hold a press conference for the Associated Press and United Press correspondents in which they said that the command in Japan was interfering with the editorial content of Pacific S&S, which meant it wasn't a G.I. newspaper anymore. Dad told me that within weeks of the press conference he and all of the other G.I.s on the staff of Pacific S&S received orders to go back to the States for discharge.

    Four decades later, around 1985, DoD reconsidered its policy regarding censorship of the Pacific S&S. Dad's old friend and colleague, Phil Foisie, Army officer combat veteran, former foreign editor of the Washington Post and editor of the International Herald-Tribune in Paris (also former Louisville C-J reporter in the '50s), was contracted by DoD as a "distinguished journalist" to evaluate the situation and submit his recommendations. When I last saw Mr. Foisie in around 1987 he was a bit pissed that DoD had granted editorial freedom to the Pacific S&S before his report recommending it had been submitted in final draft. (It was one of those bureaucracy things, DoD made a decision, had a study done to justify it, and announced its decision before the study had been released.)

    Well, that's the end of the war story ... and it's no shi*, as far as I know, I know this message won't settle this dispute but perhaps it might give some insight into the issures that are involved.
    Last edited by Pete; 07-29-2010 at 02:27 AM.

  2. #162
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    After all the attention this story received, it's a shame that the media didn't see it fit to spend a 10th of the time covering Gen McChrystal's retirement... he did spend 30+ years in uniform. The only outlet that covered it was CSPAN.

    PS- somebody tell the Army that the ACU is a bad choice for such occasions.

  3. #163
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The ACU

    is a bad choice for virtually anything...

  4. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by JarodParker View Post
    PS- somebody tell the Army that the ACU is a bad choice for such occasions.
    GEN McChrystal made his point- I would have done the same thing.

    The ASU (the blue replacement for the greens) looks pretty crappy, too.

  5. #165
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    Default Washing the dirty linen of a dirty conflict in public could actually save lives

    This article 'Washing the dirty linen of a dirty conflict in public could actually save lives' by Max Hastings, a journalist and military historian, gives a seasoned UK viewpoint and is quite pithy:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...ave-lives.html

    Opens with:
    To understand how the White House feels about yesterday’s massive leak of 92,201 documents about the Afghan war, think how Downing Street would have felt about the same sort of disclosures during the Northern Ireland troubles. We might have learned about Blair’s talks with the IRA, SAS ambushes in Armagh, British intelligence penetration of the Dublin government, claims of torture of suspects, fire-fights in which the wrong people got killed, paramilitary links with politicians - the dirty underclothes of a dirty conflict.
    Ends with:
    Yesterday’s Wikileaks ‘revelations’ made a bigger splash than they deserved. But they will serve a useful purpose if they concentrate minds at the top. If we wait for military success before starting a political negotiation, a lot more good people will die uselessly. It is time to talk, and start packing.
    davidbfpo

  6. #166
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  7. #167
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    As an Army E-4 my late dad joined the staff of the Pacific S&S in around December 1945. He ran the composing room of the paper in the basement of the U.S. headuarters in the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo, where MacArthur had his penthouse on the top floor.
    Just a slight clarification here -- the Japanese Arisaka Model 99 rifle, 7.7mm, which hangs over the sliding-glass door in my living room, was an Occupation Japan souvenir of my Dad. Though it would be nice to say the souvenir is a testament to the valorous genes running in my family, if the truth must actually be known Dad won it at the raffle held at the Christmas party of the staff of Stars & Stripes-Pacific in Tokyo in December 1945.

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    Question McChrystal and airpower

    I'm a Norwegian Air Force officer writing an essay focusing on the changeover from McKiernan to McChrystal as COM ISAF.
    -What caused Sec Def. Gates to make the appointment?
    -What where the implications, especially from an air power perspective?
    -What were the major differences between McChrystal and the preceeding commanders?


    I really appreciate any help in finding some good sources which may help in answering my questions.

  9. #169
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pointer

    As the RFI header says use the search feature, just using McChrystal will find a number of relevant threads, including one on COIN & Air Power. There is another which may have escaped my eye on the changing doctrine, courageous restraint IIRC. Plenty to feast on and someone will be along shortly to add more.

    Welcome aboard and finally I am sure SWC would be interested in seeing the end product, in a thread or the SW Journal.
    davidbfpo

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    I am a US Army Captain currently in the Command and General Staff College and this discussion caught my eye as I was perusing the SWJ site. I’m not surprised to see that people have weighed in with their opinions (for 3 pages now) because it’s a very debatable topic. I’ve read the replies and I enjoy the back-and-forth of the Soldiers vs. the media about what’s on the record, off the record, and how Soldiers and leaders should conduct themselves around the media. And although I’ve never blogged or so much as replied to a post before, I’ll offer my comments.

    The Rolling Stone article broke when I was in Iraq. After reading it my first thought was “Oh hell… this is not going to end well for GEN McChrystal or his team.” What a shame that my first thoughts were not “Well said…” or “I disagree with that part, but agree with that part…” All of my peers in the Battalion saw his relief from command coming a mile away. I think everyone in the military did on some level. We’ve seen it before, after all.

    The military has had a long and habitual relationship with the media for several reasons. First off – they need each other. In times of war the public back home wants to know the story from the “front” and they rely on reporters to publish articles, interviews, and pictures to relay the information. For us in the military, we need reporters to record our stories so that the world will understand and accept us when we return home. We also need our story told so that Congress will divide the budget appropriately to which service is making the biggest impact at the time.

    The problem comes when the balance in this relationship is thrown off course, as I believe it is now. So how has this relationship changed over the years, and what made it change? In my opinion, it’s been the homeland involvement in wars overseas (i.e. national pride) and the desire to watch a train wreck (i.e. our obsession with reality TV).

    In WWII all of the United States had mobilized to provide for the war effort in Europe and the Pacific. In 1943, the Seventh Army Commander, GEN George Patton, slapped two Soldiers (one sick, one shell-shocked) for malingering, believing that all they needed was a swift kick in the butt to keep fighting. Reporters had accounts of the information, but at the request of GEN Eisenhower the story was delayed until he could get to the bottom of the issue. GEN Patton was reprimanded, ordered to deliver an apology, and then the story came out on a radio program. Everyone moved on.

    Ask yourself how that would be different today. Would reporters hesitate to break that story? I don’t think so. I’ve had many reporters attached to my unit in both stability operations in the US (Hurricane Katrina relief) and combat operations in Iraq. I’ve treated all of them with kindness and respect, but their characters have ranged from sympathetic and friendly to greedy and mischievous. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good: I’ve had a reporter turn off his camera or stop writing when I asked him to. The bad: I’ve had a reporter push the envelope and ask questions on camera I had previously agreed not to discuss with him. The ugly: I’ve had a reporter continuously provoke me and my men to commit illegal acts (all with his camera at the ready).

    Please understand this: the reporter is not 100% to blame for the shift in balance. While I think the idea of a sensational story is too good for a reporter to pass up, whether it does harm to Soldiers or not when it’s released, the fault also lies with the American public that eats up these stories as fast as they can. Where is the national pride that once united a country at war, where no civilian would pay attention to a negative story written about the military? No, those days are gone, I think. Why? Less than one percent of the United States population serves in the military now. That, coupled with the fact that everyone loves to watch a train wreck (i.e. the most deplorable reality shows that show the dregs of society), and the relationship between the military and the media is spiraling out of control. There is no more balance.

    I was a Company Commander in Iraq when Operation Iraqi Freedom ended and Operation New Dawn began. This was a HUGE media ordeal. So for that event (and the months leading up to the 2nd national elections), I took part in weekly media sync meetings. These meetings were centered on which reporters were inbound to the Battalion, what their agendas were, and where to place them to best tell our story. We also discussed at great length how to prepare our Soldiers for media interviews so that they didn’t say something that would hurt our mission or our reputation in Iraq. I rehearsed with my company for days for these impending media visits, making sure they could adequately explain our mission and what their role was. Ultimately, these media visits cost us any free time we might have had in Iraq and they caused a lot of frustration within the company, but we always came out clean as a unit on the other end. It was always a very painful process, but should it have been? Should an 18-year old Private live in fear of saying the wrong thing when a camera is placed in his face in Iraq? I don’t think so, but it’s normal now for us leaders.

    I’ll go so far as to bring up (and provide answers to) some of the counterpoints I can think of for those wishing to debate my points (which I encourage – please).
    -“Doesn’t the media keep the military honest?” Yes, but only if the military is dishonest to begin with. Please don’t confuse a Soldier’s job with your disagreement about politics and decisions made at the highest levels.
    -“The military has no right to cover up the truth.” Ahh… the truth. Such a slippery slope. On principal, I agree. And I’m not abdicating a cover-up, but the military ought to have time to react, investigate, and put measures in place to protect Soldiers before a story goes public and our enemies increase attacks in response.
    -“Doesn’t the American public have the right to know what the military is doing overseas and what their tax-payer dollars are funding?” Sure, but only if the report doesn’t put Soldiers at risk.
    -“The journalists are just doing their job.” Sure they are. I’m just asking for their goals to coincide with my goals as an Army officer, and for us not to get in each other’s way.
    -“Are you really saying America loves to read / watch terrible stories about military failures or blunders?” Yes, I am. Please don’t feed news channels by watching it. It’s in poor taste.

    My final thought: In the movie Apocalypse Now, CPT Willard (Martin Sheen) runs onto a beach and right into a journalist (the clever Francis Ford Coppola) filming him and screaming “Just keep going – pretend we’re not here – just keep fighting!” As the bullets zing by and the explosions sound off, Martin Sheen’s reaction is to stare at them in disbelief. He’s clearly not used to the media and he doesn’t see why they’re there, risking their lives to film them assault an enemy encampment. I dare say that we in the military are used to it now, but that surprised look on our collective faces is a feeling of disbelief and betrayal toward both the media looking for these sensational stories and the people we know will watch them.


    The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

  11. #171
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    The main point I tried to make in this and other threads about the news media, such as this one, is that journalists aren't all people with horns on their heads who wake up every day with new ideas for how to slander the reputation of the U.S. armed forces. I'll grant you that my anecdotes on the subject are dated, 1945 to 1986.

    It is to the credit of the Small Wars Council that it allows persons such as myself, the son of a Washington Post reporter and editor, to be a member. (I'm certain that in future years I'll be allowed to use the same water fountains and rest rooms as everyone else here. )

    Oh well, World War II is ancient history to most people now, but when I was a kid the majority of newsmen I knew were combat veterans. When the Tet Offensive in '68 happened the Post foreign editor was a former Infantry officer in China in WW II who thought Westmoreland and MACV had been guilty of blowing smoke about "the light at the end of the tunnel."

    There isn't that much I haven't already said on this subject that I could add at the moment and I don't want to repeat myself.
    Last edited by Pete; 01-20-2011 at 12:38 AM.

  12. #172
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    First off, apologies if this has been covered before - I didn't have time but to scan the rest of the thread.

    McChrystal (and his boys) deserved to be fired, but not for insubordination.

    No, they deserved to be fired for idiocy. It takes an absolute idiot to:
    1. Agree to let a ROLLING STONE reporter embed with your staff and
    2. Talk with said reporter about anything, much less anything resembling "my boss (the POTUS) is an idiot."

    Did these hand-selected "smart" people on McChrystal's staff ever READ Rolling Stone? How could they not know that a "reporter" (I use the term loosely) from said publication would almost certainly have a biased, liberal, anti-military outlook on life? Nothing wrong with that, mind you; it's what the Rolling Stone readership wants.

    Do you really think Joe Civilian Rolling Stone subscriber is interested in serious, unbiased piece on Afghanistan between his article on Justin Bieber and his photo layout of Lady Gaga?!

    This isn't "the media's" fault. Rolling Stone is part of "the media" in the same way that Fox News is - i.e. we should not be expecting "journalistic integrity" or any "self-policing." IT'S ROLLING F*CKING STONE!

    Anyone who would let a debacle like this happen must be cognitively challenged in some form or fashion, and therefore deserves to be fired. If you fail this badly at the basic P.R. stuff, how can you be expected to run a war?
    There are two types of people in this world, those who divide the world into two types and those who do not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpt d.r. View Post
    i am a us army captain currently in the command and general staff college and this discussion caught my eye as i was perusing the swj site.
    stratcom......check!
    There are two types of people in this world, those who divide the world into two types and those who do not.
    -Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarian Philosopher
    http://irondice.wordpress.com/

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    Default Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn... then lead

    Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn... then lead

    Entry Excerpt:

    Via TED: Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning -- and addressing the possibility of failure.




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    Default McChrystal and Aides Cleared by DoD

    McChrystal and Aides Cleared by DoD

    Entry Excerpt:

    Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides by Thom Shanker, New York Times. BLUF: "An inquiry by the Defense Department inspector general into a magazine profile that resulted in the abrupt, forced retirement of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has cleared the general, his military aides and civilian advisers of all wrongdoing."



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  16. #176
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    Default McChrystal took the fight to Bin Laden

    Media perspectives following Bin Laden’s death have been good, bad and ugly. Many great organizational and individual efforts have been forgotten or overlooked with regards to their contribution in getting the world’s top fugitive. I’ve decidedly avoided being overly political or military in my blogging, but today, I’ll take a brief moment to discuss an unsung hero in this week’s events.

    General Stanley McChrystal brought the world’s greatest military unit, Joint Special Operations Command, to the pinnacle of its existence. Over the past ten years, U.S. Special Operations Forces have dominated every battlefield they have touched. While GEN McChrystal bore the brunt of what appears be unfounded allegations in Afghanistan, he should be recognized for developing an unprecedented military capability in world history.

    Common narratives of the Iraq “Surge” paint a picture of nation building and cultural engagement leading to stability. I argue instead that the decisive point (tipping point for civilians) in the Iraq campaign was McChrystal’s annihilation of terrorist and insurgent networks. McChrystal’s JSOC dismantled al Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups providing the operational space for the more commonly known counterinsurgency strategy to take root.

    GEN McChrystal enabled the force that executed this week’s legendary raid on Bin Laden. The techniques discovered during his tenure allowed JSOC to continually improve and achieve the most daunting mission. His leadership transcended his tenure and for this the United States should be forever thankful.

    I began this post two week’s ago after watching GEN McChrystal’s TED Talk on leadership. I watched the video on the way to work. By the time I got off the train, I was prepared to quit my job and reenlist. GEN McChrystal didn’t dwell on his recent fate, throw himself into politics or take this public opportunity to vindicate himself. Instead, he did what he has always done: inspired the next generation, provided an example for others to follow and led the way….gallantly prevailing this time for a new audience.

    So, today, a shout out to GEN McChrystal for being a key leader in one of our country’s greatest victories. In the military, officers often seek to emulate certain famous generals storied in TV and print media. I, however, found my greatest inspiration in the quiet professionals. While I no longer serve in uniform, I am still inspired in my current profession to emulate those that make transformational change by empowering their subordinates. I never wanted to be Eisenhower. I wanted to be a GEN Downing or GEN McChrystal. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others.

    Clint Watts

    SelectedWisdom.com

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    Default Well said

    Clint,

    Well said and I generally agree with all you wrote, but only suggest adding that victory has many fathers and the stablization (I use that term lightly) in Iraq was due to a confluence of several actions (to include the surge, diplomatic activities, Iraqis tiring of AQI, capacity building, the fact that integrated regions were already disintegrated due to the civil war, etc.), but agree if then LTG McCrystal's organization wasn't keeping tremendous pressure on the terrorist and insurgent groups that temporary stability wouldn't have happened. It was the glue that held everything together, and they were effective due to inspirational leadership, aggressive operations, and constant innovation. This is an organization that learns from the past, but doesn't live the past, and they represent more than any other the best America has too offer in the caliber of their people and their organizational practices (some of which M4 identified in his subsequent talks and articles, which were professional and void of politics).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Well said and I generally agree with all you wrote, but only suggest adding that victory has many fathers and the stablization
    You're right Bill, I probably over stated a bit. I just feel like most of the discussions on the "Surge" tend to leave out the important part JSOC played in eliminating these groups and allowing many of the other development programs to move forward.

    This is an organization that learns from the past, but doesn't live the past, and they represent more than any other the best America has too offer in the caliber of their people and their organizational practices (some of which M4 identified in his subsequent talks and articles, which were professional and void of politics).
    This is the key point. They adapted to change, every time obstacles or setbacks occurred they moved on and up.

    BTW, I just re-read this, I don't have any issues with Eisenhower, I'm sure he was a great general. Just wanted to point out that most inspirational leaders are often not given the credit they are due.

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    Posted by CWOT, Just wanted to point out that most inspirational leaders are often not given the credit they are due.
    As I'm retiring from Active duty I have been reflecting on a number of people in leadership positions I worked for, and in my opinion the best leaders suppressed their egos, and focused on developing their subordinates. They established clear objectives, gave their subordinates lattitude, and provided ample mentoring to their subordinates on how to be a better Soldier and person. I have watched good senior leaders focus on establishing infrastructure and systems that wouldn't come to into being during their watch, so they wouldn't get credit for it on their ORB, but their commitment to these future projects significantly improved the capability of the units they departed. When it was time to make hasty decisions (combat) they did so, when it wasn't they deliberated thoughtfully (even when I was impatient)or empowered their subordinates to make the call since they were in the best position to do so. Leadership is decisive, which is why developing good future leaders is the most critical investment we can make in our future. How we develop these leaders is debatable, but their impact on the military and the outcome of battle is not..

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    Default Mr Moore,

    from Bill,
    As I'm retiring from Active duty...
    a salute as well as it can be done virtually.

    Best et Bonne Chance !

    Mike

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