WASHINGTON — In a memoir, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, writes that tensions between the White House and the Pentagon were evident in the Obama administration from its opening months in office.
The beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term “saw the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the White House and the Department of Defense, largely arising from the decision-making process on Afghanistan," McChrystal writes in the book, titled “My Share of the Task: A Memoir." “The effects were costly."
The book by McChrystal, who was fired from his post in 2010 after an article in Rolling Stone quoted him and his staff making dismissive comments about the White House, is likely to disappoint readers who are looking for a vivid blow-by-blow account of infighting within the administration. The book does not provide an account of the White House meeting at which Obama accepted the general’s resignation. McChrystal’s tone toward Obama is respectful, and he notes that his wife, Annie, joined the crowd at Obama’s inauguration.
The book is to be released Monday. An advance copy of the book provides revealing glimpses of the friction over military planning and comes as Obama is weighing, and perhaps preparing to overrule, the troop requests that have been presented by the current U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.
The account is all the more noteworthy since McChrystal, who retired from the Army, remains a respected voice within the military and teaches a course on leadership at Yale.
According to the book, the tensions began before McChrystal took command in Kabul, Afghanistan. McChrystal describes how he presented his war goal to the White House as “defeat the Taliban" and was advised to lower his sights to “degrade" the Taliban.
McChrystal has little to say about the episode that led to the article in Rolling Stone. He writes that the comments attributed to his team were “unacceptable" but adds that he was surprised by the tone of the article.
As the controversy over the article grew, McChrystal did not seek advice before offering his resignation. The book does not say if he was disappointed when Obama accepted it.