Fascinating Piece on McChrystal and the “Surge Decision”

From Mark Perry (h/t Steve Hynd):

Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan

McChrystal’s teams were told to identify the problem and find a solution. “They absolutely flooded the zone,” a US development officer says. “There must have been hundreds of them. They were in every province, every village, talking to everyone. There were 10 of them for every one of us.” Not surprisingly, within weeks of their deployment, McChrystal’s team leaders had concluded that the US was facing was an escalating insurgency that could only be checked with an increase in US troops. In-country State Department officials rolled their eyes: “What a shock. If you deploy a gang squad, they’re going to find a gang,” a senior State Department official says with a tinge of bitterness. “They were looking for an insurgency and they found one.”

“From the minute that McChrystal showed up in Kabul, he drove the debate,” a White House official confirms. “You’ll notice – from May on it was no longer a question of whether we should follow a military strategy or deploy additional troops. It was always, ‘should we do 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000, or even 80,000’? We weren’t searching for the right strategy; we were searching for the right number.”

The piece also goes on to mention how McChrystal used the traditional bureaucratic politics tool of controlling information in order to manage the debate.

As the director of the Joint Staff, a position he held just prior to arriving in Kabul, McChrystal established the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordinating Cell (PACC), a 70-person military-civilian operations group housed in the Pentagon’s National Command Center, one of the most secure offices in the world. “This isn’t a place you just wander in and out of,” a senior Pentagon official says. The “PACC” bypassed the normal command structure – and the State Department. It reported to McChrystal, who rotated its officers in and out of Kabul every three to four months.
The PACC people in Washington pass information to McChrystal without going through any channels and they take the best information from Kabul and they brief [JCS chairman Admiral Mike] Mullen – and he briefs the president. So during the run-up to the Afghanistan decision, the military always looked current. They had the best information.

And also:

It was no secret
in Washington that Vice President Joe Biden was one of the few officials who
questioned McChrystal’s call for more troops, but when McChrystal was asked
about it he fell on his face.

During a speech in London on October 1, McChrystal described Biden’s skepticism
as “short-sighted” – an embarrassing and bald abrogation of Gates’ oft-stated
rule that military officers should keep their mouths shut when it comes to
disagreeing with elected civilian officials. The result did not change the
military equation, but it had a huge psychological impact: “Stan really doesn’t
quite get Washington,” a colleague says, “and he was a little bit embarrassed.
He took a huge gulp. Before London he was on transmit, after that he wasn’t.”

Anyway, I don’t have much to add to this.  I think it pretty much supports most of my arguments about the process and Petraeus and McChrystal.

1 comment to Fascinating Piece on McChrystal and the “Surge Decision”

  • keith

    Doesn’t this have at least a little to do with your think tank post? It looks like McChrystal hired CNAS, et al, to convince us that we were facing an insurgency. I like Exum’s contributions, but he’s a 30-something with far too much influence on our war policy.

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