Retired general offers thoughts on Gen. McChrystal's interview

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SALT LAKE CITY -- American troops in Afghanistan have a new leader tonight. Out is General Stanley McChrystal, who bad-mouthed President Obama and his advisers in Rolling Stone Magazine. In is General David Petraeus, who was McChrystal's boss.

Democrats and Republicans are applauding the switch to Petraeus. McChrystal's comments have sent shock waves around the world. Here in Utah, those who served in military leadership positions are appalled by McChrystal's interview.

According to retired Army Brig. Gen. David Irvine, McChrystal's comments were much more than expressing a difference of opinion from the president's. They were incomprehensible in a line of work where trust from the White House is a necessity.

"You would expect officers in those positions to be extremely discrete, and he was not," he said.

When Irvine read the Rolling Stone article, he couldn't understand what McChrystal was thinking.

"I would guess that there are 2,000 general officers in active duty and 4,000 who are retired who are asking themselves that very question this afternoon. How could this ever have occurred? Because it's absolutely astounding," he said.

Astounding, Irvine says, because someone of McChrystal's stature should give the president their complete support.

"This is drilled into their training over and over and over and over again. They give their best advice, they give their honest opinion, and then when the presidential decision is made, they salute and execute. If they can't do that, they should not be there," he said.

Gen. Petraeus will fill McChrystal's position over Afghanistan. He spoke with KSL in March about military activity in the country.

"The overriding objective, of course, is to make sure, of course, that Al-Qaeda and other transnational cannot once again establish sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan," he said.

Irvine says Petraeus is overly qualified, and members of the military should feel no effect, other than a wake-up call.

"I think it will probably be an item of intense and probably helpful discussion at military war colleges for the next decade on how not to conduct yourself in a senior command position," he said.

Irvine says the article is surely a heated topic in mess halls around the world.


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Jennifer Stagg


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