January 5, 2013

McChrystal takes blame for Rolling Stone article

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

The book details the general's rise through the ranks, from his time as a West Point cadet to serving in the 82nd Airborne Corps and earning his Special Forces Green Beret, and then commanding a battalion of the 75th Ranger regiment.

McChrystal describes only briefly an incident that nearly ended his career years earlier: allegations of a cover-up involving the friendly fire incident that killed football-star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman. McChrystal approved a Silver Star for valor, with a citation that stated Tillman had been cut down by "devastating enemy fire."

But as reports came in from the troops at the scene, McChrystal realized Tillman may have died by fratricide. He sent an oblique warning to his superiors that President George W. Bush should delete mention of enemy fire from his remarks, when presenting the award to Tillman's family at his memorial service.

McChrystal told the investigators that he believed Tillman deserved the award, and that he wanted to warn top U.S. military and political leadership that friendly fire was a possibility. The Pentagon later cleared him of wrongdoing.

In the book, McChrystal writes only that he followed "standard practice" to quickly process a Silver Star for Tillman's actions on the battlefield, in time to present it to the family at the memorial service. He does not explain the incident further.

The man portrayed in the Rolling Stone article as arrogant comes off as far more down to earth in the book.

McChrystal writes of his doubts when he was asked to take charge of the military's top counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command. He worried the troops would reject him because he had not served in any of its elite units such as the Army's Delta Force or the Navy's SEAL Team 6.

He says he helped JSOC evolve from a disconnected organization that was slow to catch targets early on in Iraq, because the operators lacked the manpower or communications equipment to analyze intelligence they gathered quickly enough. It eventually grew into closely networked teams that worked with the CIA and FBI and others to take down up to a dozen targets a night in Afghanistan, with intelligence gathered from the first target leading to the others.

At the request of Pentagon security reviewers, the former general made famous by his command at JSOC doesn't use that term, instead substituting "Task Force 714" for JSOC, "Green team" for Delta, and "Blue" for SEAL Team 6.

Those are part of the changes the general agreed to make, because those units and their missions are classified, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the security review. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The review process delayed the release of the book, which had been scheduled to come out in December. Pentagon officials decided to give the book another read, after a member of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden released an account of the raid without submitting the manuscript for a security review.

McChrystal said he "accepted many suggested changes and redactions, some reluctantly, particularly where public knowledge of facts and events has outpaced existing security guidelines," in order to "keep faith with the comrades I had served alongside."

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