Friday, June 25, 2010

It is just amazing me how the truth of a matter can be rotated on an imaginary axis in order to “prove” (or support) a preconception that has nothing more than personal opinion in its foundation.

Take the raruraru about Gen McChyrstal as an instance in point.

As I have heard it, the facts are –

1. Rolling Stone magazine approached DoD for permission to interview McChrystal. That permission was granted.

2. The journo took up the task and ended up in a bus with McChrystal travelling to an American installation “somewhere in Afghanistan”

3. Both the bus and those on board were “well fuelled” for the trip – though I doubt that the personnel had been at the diesel, or that the bus was ethanol powered.

4. Most of the published article came from “conversations” on that bus trip.

The “right” are now blaming everyone from President to office boyo at the DoD for the screw-up and McChrystal losing his job as a result.

But in truth, whose “fault” should it be that Rolling Stone was able to print an article which in truth did not reflect well on the American effort in Afghanistan.

The President? Well, “the buck stops here” always should apply. In his position as CinC? He takes overall responsibility for the actions of the Armed Forces.

Secretary of Defence? As titular head of Defence, the buck rests on his desk for the fact that Rolling Stone was given direct access to McChrystal.

Well, how is about McChrystal, the man himself? Ask any person holding “office” in any organisation about their responsibility for presenting their employer to the outside word. What kind of answer would you expect? That they would start by giving the company line then, after a few beers start slagging off their boss, the Board, the Managing Director, The Chairman?

And this is where the “right” come off their trolleys. They ignore the reality of personal responsibility. “Someone” has to be responsible so rather than following events logically they lock the radar onto “the usual suspect”; primarily a person or position with whom they have a problem; whom they wish did not exist; whom they would want to see replaced by some other illiterate hick cowboy like their last.

So, rather than say “McChrystal lost the handle, dropped the ball, so he should take responsibility…”, his actions have to be the “responsibility” of someone else.

Well, let’s get real about this whole shenanigan for a moment. McChrystall is the equivalent of your “major corporate executive”. He should know his ropes. He should not lose the handle.

He did all of that.

He has done it before as well. Almost a year ago to the month.

So, who is right then comes to the fore. Is it McChrystal? His proposal a year back, his strategy then, required an additional 20,000 American troops. That does not seem to have changed. From 07/09 -

Even so, McChrystal has been instructed by his superiors -- including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen -- to conduct a thorough assessment of the war effort and articulate his recommendations. While McChrystal has indicated to some of his advisers that he is leaning toward asking for more forces, he has also emphasized that his strategy will involve fundamental changes in the way those troops are used.

One of the key changes outlined in the latest drafts of the assessment report, which will be provided to Gates by mid-August, is a shift in the "operational culture" of U.S. and NATO forces. Commanders will be encouraged to increase contact with Afghans, even if it means living in less-secure outposts inside towns and spending more time on foot patrols instead of in vehicles.

"McChrystal understands that you don't stop IEDs [improvised explosive devices] by putting your soldiers in MRAPs," heavily armored trucks designed to withstand blasts, said Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington who served on the assessment team. "You stop them by convincing the population not to plant them in the first place, and that requires getting out of trucks and interacting with people."

The report calls for intelligence resources to be realigned to focus more on tribal and social dynamics so commanders can identify local power brokers and work with them. Until recently, the vast majority of U.S. and NATO intelligence assets had been oriented toward tracking insurgents.

The changes are aimed at fulfilling McChrystal's view that the primary mission of the international forces is not to conduct raids against Taliban strongholds but to protect civilians and help the Afghan government assume responsibility for maintaining security. "The focus has to be on the people," he said in a recent interview.

Now that is a strategy which I fully endorse. It should have been to the fore in both Afghanistan and Iraq from the start.

The very great difficulty with the approach is that it puts American troops "in harm's way". They walk the streets; they talk to the locals; they present a totally different face.

The very big problem that McChrystal has with his military strategy is that runs very much against the political strategy of his CinC in the White House.

So, it comes to who is right?

The President, for whom his electoral mandate to minimise American losses in both theatres is paramount?

Or the man in charge on the ground, for whom a military solution to the Afghani theatre is a matter of personal and Service pride?

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