New Commander in Afghanistan: A Risk-Taker?
The mainstream media is abuzz with chatter over Secretary Gates’ decision to place Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal in command of US forces in Afghanistan. See McChrystal’s work history here and the biosketch of the incumbent commander, Gen. David McKiernan, here. SWJ has posted an interesting essay entitled “The Pope,” by Dalton Fury, about his experiences with McChrystal.
This excerpt below caught our eye. Essentially, McChrystal wouldn’t have aborted Operation Eagle Claw, the failed 1980 attempt to rescue the Americans held in our embassy in Tehran. (Click here for Mark Bowden’s piece on the subject.):
I recall a conversation then COL McChrystal and I had in my office one afternoon. Colonels don’t commonly visit Captains so it was a slightly nervous, yet enjoyable occasion. He asked me what I thought about Delta founder COL Charlie Beckwith’s decision to abort the rescue mission of American Hostages held in Iran in 1979. It was an interesting and enlightening conversation. The essence of the discussion centered around COL McChrystal’s reasoning that Beckwith should have continued the mission with fewer operators and lift helicopters. Even though the risk would have increased significantly, COL McChrystal felt the embarrassment in the eyes of the world of failing to try was exponentially more devastating to our nation’s reputation than executing a high risk mission that might have even an outside chance of success. McChrystal believed the American people would never accept such a decision like that again. [emphasis added]
Does this mean that, with a commander who once jumped out of airplanes for a living, we are likely to see more risk-taking in Afghanistan? We welcome thoughts.