June 28, 2010

After the Sacking

McChrystal is out, but the war isn't going anywhere and the question of the day is what next. The respected milblog "Blackfive" highlights what are probably key concerns as the leadership in Afghanistan. They point out two warning signs:

Problem Sign #1:  GEN McChrystal was not invited to return for the strategy session at the White House yesterday....The decision to keep him out of that meeting was a mistake, and a bad sign for where the administration's head is on this.  Doubtless on the military side, they'll be doing the best transition they can under the circumstances, but the civilians need to be involved too.  It's the President's call, but he's doing himself, his soldiers, and the people of Afghanistan no favors if he doesn't at least ask for lessons learned from his outgoing commander, and make sure that those lessons are being learned by everyone on his team

 Problem Sign #2:  The CENTCOM transition.  I yield to none in my respect for GEN Petraeus, and doubtless he is intimately familiar with the situation because of his role as CDRUSCENTCOM.  In spite of his tremendous skills and intelligence, he is going to have quite a job jumping into a different billet and taking up the reins in time for the Kandahar missions.

The Washington Post notes in a recent article, quoted by Blackfive, that there was disagreement between the General's staff and Rolling Stone as to what the rules for this interview view were and Rolling Stone violated them repeatedly, meaning McChrystal basically got hosed in this situation. 

Its really regrettable beyond belief that this situation got to this point.  This is an overheated media world we live in.  To the extent that Obama is highly sensitized to the appearance of weakness and nothing substantive will really change in the strategic posture on the ground under Petraeus, this transition is quite possibly nothing more than a distraction and waste of time.