This week’s firing of American commander Stanley McChrystal from Afghanistan was treated by most of the media in the US as the removal of a brave man to be replaced by another brave man, Gen. David Petraeus. Fawning and far too embedded in the mindset of military jargon. After all, what would a simple reporter know about war and conflict?
Some digging would help. Who exactly was McChrystal (we have to rely on London’s Independent to provide the history)?:
They called it the “Death Star” because according to one source who worked inside it, “you could just reach out with a finger and eliminate” somebody. On the walls were banks of television screens, known by the special forces boys as “Kill TV”, where footage from image-intensifier cameras of the enemy being blown up by air strikes, or being gunned down by undercover hit teams was shown.
This place was “the Machine”, a state-of-the-art military command centre hidden away in an airbase in Balad, a desolate stretch of land north of Baghdad. It was created by Major General Stanley McChrystal, the chief of US Special Forces, the most secretive force in the American military. Here, in the permanently darkened communications cockpit, dozens of US and British (SAS) personnel would gather around as nightly raids took place against al-Qa’ida and their insurgent allies.
Sometimes McChrystal would lead the raids himself, his squad of elite undercover combat troops, known as Delta Force, being told at the last minute that the commander was coming along for the ride. No one was quite sure what the Pentagon policy was on two star generals going on such dangerous missions, but then very few people in the US Department of Defence, and even fewer outside it in Washington, were even aware of these shadowy operations going on in Iraq.