Although General Stanley A. McChrystal may want to be known for enacting a counterinsurgency doctrine that changed the war in Afghanistan, the public may remember him more for his success in being part of the task force that captured Saddam Hussein and the accusations of insubordination that forced his resignation.
In his new book, McChrystal tells his side of the story. “My Share of the Task: A Memoir by General Stanley A. McChrystal” is not McChrystal’s outlet for criticizing government and the military, nor does it attempt to vindicate his highly publicized statements in "Rolling Stone." Rather, he simply tells his story and attempts to personalize the soldiers fighting in the war.
McChrystal details how he grew up in a military family and then spent six years as Commander of a special operations task force in Iraq. He remembers some of the thousands of raids, explaining how creating a network between different departments led to greater intelligence that quickened their operating speed. In 2009, McChrystal became the Commander of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan and took on the task of changing public distrust toward the government and the war. In addition, he had to convince the leaders of 37 countries, as well as over 100,000 troops, that the war could be won by counterinsurgency methods of effective communication rather than brute force.
What he learned, after years of forceful dealings with Iraqi and Afghan civilians, was that the most important task he faced was winning the trust of the Afghan people. The effectiveness of McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategies, focusing on communication rather than confrontation, are still being questioned.
Do you think his strategy in Afghanistan is effective? Is there an inherent culture gap between civilians and the military? How did McChrystal gain the trust of a people he had been sent to overpower?
General Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army, retired, author of "My Share of the Task: A Memoir" (Portfolio/Penguin)