By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
I did not always agree with what General Stanley McChrystal said or did, but the man had an impressive military career and he did tick Obama off. Points for that. He’s a gentleman through and through, but he damns Obama in the handling of Afghanistan. No question about it and rightly so.
Obama’s promises concerning curtailing the war and his handling of it were bogus. Incompetence, arrogance and corruptness have shown through at every turn of his handling the war. In the end, he gave victory to the Jihadists and that was not by mistake or accident. It was planned for in my opinion. And Obama has surrounded himself with some of the creepiest, most corrupt and incompetent goons in history. The criminality is breathtaking.
McChrystal’s understanding of the war was to the point:
But his administration wasn’t quite up to the task. McChrystal recounts a meeting of the president and his senior staff, which the general joined via teleconference from Afghanistan. “I began the briefing by explaining the mission as I understood it: ‘Defeat the Taliban. Secure the population,’” he writes. “It prompted a participant on the other screen to ask why I interpreted our mission as requiring the destruction or eradication of the Taliban.” The following day, McChrystal presented “the sources from which we’d derived the mission we’d used for our assessment, including the president’s public speeches and the marching orders that flowed from the administration’s March strategy review” — which clearly mandated defeat of the Taliban. That information, he concluded, “seemed to surprise some of the participants in the session.”
There was an ongoing disagreement (if you can call it by that mild a term) on the number of troops deployed in order to win the conflict. Not having enough boots on the ground and the freedom to actually fight a war, guarantees the loss of any confrontation. Not even McChrystal is sure that we will prevail in Afghanistan. I’ll take it a step further – we won’t.
Having said that, I am deeply impressed with McChrystal’s career and his accomplishments. His book is very well written and those who enjoy military history and biographies will enjoy this memoir immensely. It is being passed around our household and it is jealously coveted. I salute and honor General McChrystal and his life. He served with honor and dignity. He was a renowned military leader and is an honorable man.
Here is a summary of the book from Penguin which sums up the book in grand style:
“Never shall I fail my comrades. . . . I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.” — from the Ranger Creed
In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeople crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting the townspeople and listening to their views.
That trip was typical of McChrystal’s entire career, from his first day as a West Point plebe to his last day as a four-star general. The values he has come to be widely admired for were evident: a hunger to know the truth on the ground, the courage to find it, and the humility to listen to those around him. Even as a senior commander, McChrystal stationed himself forward, and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand.
In this illuminating memoir, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career. He delves candidly into the intersection of history, leadership, and his own experience to produce a book of enduring value.
Joining the troubled post-Vietnam army as a young officer, McChrystal witnessed and participated in some of our military’s most difficult struggles. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. He paints a vivid portrait of the traditional military establishment that turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror.
McChrystal spent much of his early career in the world of special operations, at a time when these elite forces became increasingly effective—and necessary. He writes of a fight waged in the shadows by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which he led from 2003 to 2008. JSOC became one of our most effective counterterrorism weapons, facing off against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Over time, JSOC gathered staggering amounts of intelligence in order to find and remove the most influential and dangerous terrorists, including the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hunt for Zarqawi drives some of the most gripping scenes in this book, as McChrystal’s team grappled with tricky interrogations, advanced but scarce technology, weeks of unbroken surveillance, and agonizing decisions.
McChrystal brought the same energy to the war in Afghanistan, where the challenges loomed even larger. His revealing account draws on his close relationships with Afghan leaders, giving readers a unique window into the war and the country.
Ultimately, My Share of the Task is about much more than war and peace, terrorism and counterinsurgency. As McChrystal writes, “More by luck than design, I’d been a part of some events, organizations, and efforts that will loom large in history, and more that will not. I saw selfless commitment, petty politics, unspeakable cruelty, and quiet courage in places and quantities that I’d never have imagined. But what I will remember most are the leaders.”