KABUL, Afghanistan – General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, apologized during the daily military brief Tuesday for comments made by his aides mocking President Barack Obama and other administration officials in an upcoming Rolling Stone magazine article.
The briefing attended, in person or via secure connection, by the top military commanders across Afghanistan began at 7:30 a.m. sharp, as it always does. The first speaker was about to start his portion of the classified update, which covers the latest intelligence, military and media issues of the day, when McChrystal stopped him. He addressed the magazine article and issued an apology. The apology was quickly released to the media by McChrystal's aides.
It reads: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war, and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome."
‘This is mine’
McChrystal didn't issue blame or seem angry, according to a senior military official. He said, "this is mine," meaning the responsibility was his alone. After the apology, the military/ intelligence/ media briefing continued. McChrystal told the commanders not to be distracted by the magazine controversy and to "maintain their focus."
Aides say McChrystal will not be addressing the media or commenting on the issue at least until after his visit to Washington.
Some of the harshest comments made by the coterie of McChrystal’s aides are directed at White House National Security Adviser General Jim Jones, the National Security Council and the White House.
The question that emerges is: Is this a story of a blunt general getting out of line and disrespecting his “chain of command?” Or is it a case of an Afghan policy that is unclear, with the commanding military officers on the ground frustrated at the multiple strategies and political pressures coming from Washington?
Perhaps both issues are at play. McChrystal spoke perhaps too bluntly (he's not know to be a politically savvy general), but there are also great frustrations here among senior commanders that the White House is simply not committed or focused on the war and has not outlined a clear objective.