Gates Gives No Hints to McChrystal’s Fate

June 22, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Just out from the secretary of defense, who has fired many a general officer during his tenure:

I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine. I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose. Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well. I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person.

*Update: *I kind of regret that headline. Gates is certainly leaving Obama’s options open for handling McChrystal and expressing to McChrystal that he’s got a lot of reassurances to give and little time to give them. But he’s also clearly not dismissing the severity of anything McChrystal said, and you could read the statement as basically giving McChrystal a fork in the road. Either he becomes a team player who can stay on board and on message, or a new commander “must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose.”