I posed a question to a formerly military friend as to the probable reaction of the general (or any general) if a Colonel had made similar remarks about him.
Answer - out so fast you wouldn't have seen the officer move.
I also wonder how Chaney say would have reacted of similar remarks had been made about him that were made about Vice President Biden?
Cheney has a temper...might have been interesting. But the political setup was such that generals weren't sniping at Cheney. They damn well should have been, on the issue of torture, but they'd been pruned for political views in the preceding decades.
2010-06-23 07:05 pm (UTC)
I figured Gates was going to request McChrystal's resignation if Obama didn't. Gates has no patience with that kind of crap.
Needed to come from the top, as it did, though I also see an alternate line of reasoning that such things aren't even worth CINC's attention--you just remove the bur from the saddle blanket quietly.
I understand that he's brilliant and talented and all that, but a loose cannon is a loose cannon and they damage more than themselves.
Uniform Code of Military Justice; Article 88:
"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
He was lucky simply to have been asked to be relieved of duty.
You may disagree privately, but publicly you support the chain of command. Never undermine the authority of the command structure.
Really, it is no different from a corporate setting - can you imagine what would happen if an executive VP went around saying such things about the Board of Directors?
2010-06-23 07:48 pm (UTC)
My husband, then a 2Lt, corrected a three star General at a public briefing. His C.O. explained the hierarchy (and consequences) afterward; my husband did not make the same mistake again. Excellent life lesson and one which has stayed with him.
I once had my niece in law question why the military would support a certain President, and I looked at her and quoted the oath of enlistment to her. First and foremost, it states to defend and uphold the Constitution, not an individual by name.
"Salute the rank, not the man."
Public criticism of one's boss is what they call a "career-limiting move". Civilian or military, one keeps one's opinions on some things to oneself.
I'm old enough to remember the relief of Edwin Walker for much different reasons. He was a fine combat command, but when in command of the 24th Infantry Division in Germany in 1962 he revealed himself to be a racist extreme right-winger. He set up an indoctrination program for his troops in right-wing ideology and tried to influence them to vote for ultra-right-wing candidates in the 1962 elections. He resigned from the Army when relieved, and led racists in a riot against James Meredith's admission at the University of Mississippi, where he was arrested for sedition and insurrection. The charges were later dropped.
In the seventies he was arrested twice for making homosexual advances to men at the Dallas Airport.
What is it with right-wing zealots that so often leads them into these compromising positions? Nowadays, the more they emphasize some aspect of their agenda, the less likely I am to believe that they, themselves, actually subscribe to that tenet.
I'm on page 4 now of the Rolling Stone article, and it repeatedly says that the General had learned exactly how to game the system back at West Point, that he knew just how far to be a bad boy without getting into serious trouble.
He reminds me more and more of Colonel Flagg, in MASH. Everyone says McChrystal is brilliant, but he sounds like an action movie hero in his own mind.
"Brilliant" and "narcissist viewing himself as smarter, tougher, braver, etc. than others" are not mutually exclusive.
I've already heard "But he's a smart man; he wouldn't have done this unless he had a plan..." Maybe. But brilliant (in IQ terms) and talented (in some field or other) people who are also immature and self-centered do make exactly the kinds of mistakes he made. Maybe he had a plan; maybe he just had such arrogance that he thought he was above discipline and no one would dare slap him down.
Charismatic and brilliant men of this type are extremely dangerous. Their strong personalities attract followers; they can't stand restraint or opposition; they will rise quickly in organizations that prize their undeniable talents, but will run into trouble when expected to cooperate with others and compromise their ideas to find solutions that work for everyone. They are drawn to situations where they alone are in charge, or where they can overwhelm opposition.
Interesting to note that one of McChrystal's senior underlings - Canadian Gen Menard was relieved of his command recently for having an affair with a subordinate (Oh and he also accidentally fired his rifle while exiting(?) a helicopter).
I suspect that if McC had been more fir for command himself he wouldn't have tolerated Menard's behaviour which must have been pretty sloppy for a while.
Ex-military officer's wife. I had this discussion with my husband just last night. Inappropriate behavior that had to be addressed. This is a great writeup and some great comments on the thread.
Thanks for the link--yup, right down the line.
I do think it's worth a look into our education path for officers, esp. in the O-3 through O-5 section. Bold, eager, hotshot loudmouth juniors can be easily reamed out when it's called for, but if they're very capable, and fairly charismatic, they may slide through. A mistake of their COs, but mistakes happen, and it can be hard to savage a likeable, hardworking, intelligent, bold young officer who keeps pushing the limits. However, if they last past O-3, and look like having a future, they need (and we need) a careful look for flaws less obvious in juniors because the skillset isn't called on. Not many juniors are called on to work with high-level and multi-national civilians where they have substantial power.
I like to think (I could be mistaken) that early intervention works on more than autistic toddlers, and recognition of a problem and intervention could then prevent this and similar unfortunate events...or, if the junior proved impossible to retrain, that officer could be shunted into tasks where a high level of behavioral skills wasn't called on. People with character flaws do get into the military and sometimes aren't recognized for years. (A recent example from Fort Hood being the Army psychiatrist now in a nearby jail...another being that idiot woman in the Air Force, some years back, who not only started an affair with a married man, but lied about having ended it, apparently thinking lust conquers all. Not the UCMJ it doesn't.) For the good of the service, and the country, it's important to recognize when a simple mistake is symptomatic of a deeper flaw.