In his new memoir (which I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal), General Stanley McChrystal was careful not to criticize the Obama administration even though he arguably got a raw deal from the president. Obama did not send him enough troops in 2009 (only 30,000 out of the 40,000 McChrystal thought necessary) and then fired him a year later after some of his aides (but not apparently the general himself) were caught by a Rolling Stone reporter making disparaging, bantering remarks about senior administration figures.
McChrystal is a little more forthcoming in this interview with New York Times military correspondent Michael Gordon. For instance, Gordon asked him about Obama’s plan to send only 30,000 troops and get the other 10,000 from allies–did those 10,000 ever materialize? McChrystal: “I was concerned about the allied 10,000, and at the end of the day I’m not sure how many of those came. … I know there was an intent to get the full 10,000.”
The entire interview is worth reading. but it’s especially notable for what McChrystal has to say about administration leaks that only a few thousand troops–or maybe none at all–will be left in Afghanistan after 2014: “We had 7,500 in Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 when I was first stationed there. And 7,500 wouldn’t do much, because by the time you had a pretty small headquarters at Bagram, you were running the airfield, you had some people starting to train A.N.S.F. (Afghan National Security Forces). … Pretty soon you don’t have much reach.”
Administration figures plotting to leave few if any U.S. troops would be well advised to ponder these words from a man who remains one of America’s most respected generals.