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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 06/24/2010

Will McChrystal's intel staff survive his exit?

By Jeff Stein

In the shock wave following Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s abrupt summons from Kabul, word raced through Washington’s special operations circles that his senior staff had been relieved of duty, too.

“They were told to pack a suitcase and get on that plane,” one veteran of McChrystal's staff said Wednesday. “They said ‘We’ll forward the rest of your belongings, your danger pay is done.’ ”

Chief among those said to be ordered out was Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, McChrystal’s intelligence chief, who authored a controversial denunciation of U.S. spying efforts in Afghanistan early this year, and his brother, Charlie, an Army colonel who is the general’s chief of staff.

Charlie Flynn had a cameo role at the top of the infamous Rolling Stone piece that did his boss in.

But the fevered buzz was false -- or at least premature -- according to a McChrystal spokesman who was still on duty in Kabul as the cashiered general left the White House.

“Col. Flynn accompanied him back because he is the general's executive officer,” Tadd Sholtis said in an e-mail. “MG Flynn remained in Afghanistan to carry out his duties as our intelligence chief.”

Sholtis added, “The remainder of the staff continue to do what they did before -- spending 16-20 hours busting their humps each day to get this mission done.”

As for the two Flynns’ future, “That decision is between them and Gen. Petraeus and I am not qualified to speculate on the preferences of either party,” Sholtis said.

Like the rest of McChrystal’s inner circle, however, the Flynns are not just longtime spec-ops brothers-in-arms, but members of the Kabul camp that carelessly mocked President Obama’s team in the Rolling Stone piece. In normal times, they could be expected to be packing up fast.

But these, of course, are not normal times in Afghanistan, where anything resembling victory is well over the horizon while the clock ticks down to July 2011, when the military is to start drawing down.

Petraeus, McChrystal’s longtime mentor and hard-pressed for time, may well ditch the usual housecleaning and retain other key members of the sacked general’s war-fighting staff, particularly his deputy chief of staff for operations, Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, and, of course, Michael Flynn.

But it’s hard to imagine the younger Flynn, McChrystal’s closest aide, heading back to Kabul for anything but cleaning out his desk.

By Jeff Stein  | June 24, 2010; 2:49 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military, Politics  
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COL Flynn needs to retire. He forgot what COLs do for their Generals, they keep them out of trouble, keep the personal staff humming along like a well oiled machine, and always maintain professionalism. Retire wise-ass. Your sugar daddies can't save you. - Another Army COL who left ISAF HQs in Kabul prior to GEN McChrystal's arrival.

Posted by: kcdi78 | June 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

BeTrayUS will clean house and create a new HQ staff.

Hopefully he will analyze the facts from all angles and determine that the present plan is nuts and beyond our capabilities.

We don't need to be spending trillions of more dollars in Afganistan to create a country. What we need to do is get out and send all of our military to Iran to effect a Regime Change.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | June 24, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Under the given settings of all the crap that is happening in Washington these days I think
GEN McChrystal's performance in Afghanistan was above the top, This Presidential administration has so many weakness that it is scary, I think that He is just trying to move attention from his inabilities to do his job, I think and truly believe that He is in way over his head, his actions are showing it, he isn't able to be himself, until he falls back to his actives roots and starts talking about green energy and the like. This administration should support our troops 1000% on and off the battle field, period, their giving all they have their life's and for what ?

Posted by: adamsconsultinginternational | June 24, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Time for all to retire and then tell the world the incompetence of the WH staff.

Posted by: gmclain | June 24, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Defense Secretary Robert Gates just told a press conference that the statements of General McChrystal and his team were an "anomaly," and not a reflection of a more general disrespect for the chain of command -- and by extension, for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.





As the former head of the Army's Joint Special Operations Command, the General is believed to possess intimate knowledge of a worldwide cell tower- mounted microwave laser/radio frequency directed energy weapon system that is capable of precision-targeting of military or human targets...

... a system that this veteran journalist says is being used to silently torture and impair unknowing individuals -- abroad, and here at home. These "targeted individuals" also are victimized by GPS-enabled community-based vigilantes -- and by government-enabled financial sabotage.

Are political leaders "targets" too -- maybe even POTUS and his staff?
OR re: "U.S. Silently..." and "Gestapo USA..."
Vic Livingston is on Facebook ("Notes").

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 24, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

A CG is entitled to have his own picks for his staff if desired, so this would not be unusual. What is unusual is your comment that MG Flynn should be sent packing, simply because he "authored a controversial denunciation of U.S. spying efforts in Afghanistan..."

Huh? Since when was that agains the law? I'd say he was doing his job.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | June 24, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Time for all to retire and then tell the world the incompetence of the WH staff.


Do you really think they have credibility now?

Posted by: sr31 | June 24, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The McChrystal's contemptuousness, hubris and arrogance pervaded his staff. They would only be an extremely destructive force if left in place. If Petraeus is an honest broker, he'll get rid of them. It is possible, however, that the rot extends to Petraeus. He may be as contemptuous of and disloyal to his commander in chief as McChrystal is, only in a far more subtle fashion. His actions regarding McChrystal's staff will be a good indicator of his ultimate intentions.

Posted by: nicekid | June 24, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

The only incompetence is at the White House, Obama is the ultimate creep! you can tell he is lying his lips are blueish!

Posted by: astro2009 | June 24, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Evidently Jeff Stein doesn't know how the military works. Or he thinks somehow it works like a political organization. When a commander is relieved, or retires, or is transferred, there is a change of command followed by a short transition period. The Army is very good at this process and whatever team Petraeus settles on, will be the team he thinks has the best chances of success.

Boy! Here the Democratic Party (through the Washington Post) suddenly has all this interest in how the Army does things! And in reading articles like this, we all find out how ignorant Democrats are to military prcesses.

God help us all if the Democrats stay in power too much longer.

Posted by: Indpnt1 | June 24, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

TO: Hazmat77 who wrote:
“…What we need to do is get out and send all of our military to Iran to effect a Regime Change.”


Probably not.
Where will we find the money to do that?
The GOP and their followers have all but declared the USA bankrupt.

Plus, don’t forget, Iraq was a much easier target because first of all Iraq didn’t have any WMD and they were forced to get rid anything that looked like a weapon in order to try to avoid being attacked.

We do know that Iran DOES have WMDs, and a much larger population.

Not to mention Iran has the support of Russia and China who had been helping Iran build their bomb and protect Iran from further sanctions.

I think we need a whole lot of James Bond-type covert operators to move into Iran surreptitiously, on the QT and secretly seek and destroy any nuclear capabilities Iran may have. That seems like it might be a whole lot cheaper, and maybe even a little smarter.

Posted by: lindalovejones | June 24, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Call them columbus... they're history.

Posted by: whocares666 | June 24, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Jeff Stein is one of the very few WaPo writers who is not a leftist hack who is completely in the bag for Barry. That at least makes Stein unique and worthy of some respect.

Posted by: screwjob16 | June 24, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

It's very easy to identify who made what statements in the Rolling Stone interview...knocking the VP and ambassador will cost them their jobs also...

Although many statements were quoted from an aide to McDummie, insiders know who that aide is....bye bye....

Posted by: pentagon40 | June 24, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama's firing of General McCrystal on the basis of the General's staff's dumb comments, and maybe McCrystal's own to an anti-war reporter working for an anti-war magazine customarily devoted to rock music is bizarre.

Indeed Obama is Commander In Chief. But this intemperate mess could've been handled privately. As it stands now, this tragic end to an excellent Army career only reflects very, very badly on Obama's smallness.

Time is on General McCrystal's side, even if it doesn't look that way right now.

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | June 24, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

It is VERY SAD and unbelievable that an article in unreliable magazine with Lady Gaga on a cover and some references to the military personnel with the bad language as a norm can produce a result of such a scale. One wonders who and why orders this article to be written? And what has happened to the integrity of the top defense officials who supported his resignation?

Posted by: elhaver | June 24, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Will his staff survive? This is a question with a fairly easy answer: Hell to the No.

Posted by: mypitts2 | June 24, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

elhaver: Who cares who was on the cover of Rolling Stone? They do serious reporting, too. They also lean to the left.

McChrystal was in high command and should know things like that. I think he should have remained in Black Ops, where he was most comfortable. Some soldiers are great warriors but don't handle the political side well. Top commanders must be able to do both.

He'll have a nice retirement, write a book and get along just fine.

Posted by: mypitts2 | June 24, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, all those uniformed officers who have showed disrespect for their Commander and Chief and his Cabinet should be removed from office and retired at one lower rank. This kind of insubordination should not be tolerated. Get these idiots off the military payroll. In fact it is time to seriously cut the layers of clay in today's military by 35%. Our military is bankrupting this nation and what positive benefits do we see coming from it? NOTHING!

Posted by: kerryberger | June 24, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The leadership always sets the standard.... And if a bunch of field grade officers are setting and upholding this kind of sub-standard behavior then they need to be sent packing.

General Petraeus is the real deal. My guess is, he's cleaning house now so that he can have a competent and professional staff when he gets on ground.

Posted by: Debonair31 | June 24, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Elhaver sayeth: "It is VERY SAD and unbelievable that an article in unreliable magazine with Lady Gaga on a cover and some references to the military personnel with the bad language as a norm can produce a result of such a scale. One wonders who and why orders this article to be written? And what has happened to the integrity of the top defense officials who supported his resignation?"


McChrystal gave permission, and apparently WAY too much access, to the RS.

It was McChrystal who led his subordinates into breaking their sworn oaths and now living with the disgrace of being dismissed by their disgraced commander's replacement.

McChrystal does not deserve to retire. He should be investigated/court-marshalled, as should his oath-breaking subordinates.

We only know about the arrogant subordinates and McChrystal undermining their Commander in Chief by spewing to the RS. But how deep did this insubordination go? And was it limited to just using the RS to get back at McChrystal's civilian nemesis', Biden, Eikenberry and Obama, because he himself could not carry out his own strategies?

Or were there more overt attempts to undermine the U.S., including its president and ambassador to Afghanistan?

One thing--we finally know who McChrystal, always a Company Man, was serving (it's obvious he wasn't serving the U.S.).

Seems like he was more interested in kissing Karzai kiester than fulfilling his commission.

I wonder if he spewed his trash at Karzai's urging, or did McChrystal just keep his spewing attacks to discussions with Karzai about America's leaders and his superiors?

Posted by: Morgain | June 24, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

HazMat77 sayeth: "We don't need to be spending trillions of more dollars in Afganistan to create a country. What we need to do is get out and send all of our military to Iran to effect a Regime Change."

Now, now. Don't go reciting neocon talking points. It just detracts from your credibility.

Seriously, the neocons have been WRONG for nearly a decade, and the cost has been paid by American and international blood and dollars.

Why don't we just let these countries sort out their own issues, bring all of our soldiers/troops home, and enjoy a nice, REALLY FAT, peace dividend?

Posted by: Morgain | June 24, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Obama's War, Obama's Viet Nam...already broken the Viet Nam record for longest war and no end in sight.

Impeach Obama now, bring the troops home.

Posted by: JCM-51 | June 24, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The Military needs to learn how to fight & stop talking to hippie newspapers. With the Military's record over the last 60 years they all should be replaced. They have more experience taking kick backs from defense contractors than winning any war, no matter how small & backward the country is. Our Military is a disgrace, they get our solders killed needlessly. None of the so called "Brass" have any combat experience & they call Obama in-experienced. They're totally lost & it shows in how they run the wars we're in.

Posted by: wasaUFO | June 24, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

President Obama inherited these two wars and the economic mess the country is in. Need I say more.

Posted by: truth1 | June 25, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

The most important thing in Afghanistan is to prepare people to live each other peacefully before Allis had left the area.
We can see what is happening in Iraq: ethnics groups can´t until now live peacefully together.
So i think the war will not be won by weapons(air strickes), but looking for a just right system which will let room to all people in the Country and that will be reached by correct elected candidates for the government.

Posted by: Lawrence | June 25, 2010 2:53 AM | Report abuse

If McChrystal's staff has a plan that will elad to success, then Petraeus ought to keep them in place.

In other words, not only should ALL of McChrystal's staff be kicked out of the military, but so should the entire civilian leadership in Kabul.
Our efforts in Afghanistan, for the last 7 years, can be summed up as: EPIC FAIL.

Get some new ideas and some new leadership. And since the "McChrystal Strategy" was really the "Petraeus Strategy," let's rid ourselves of the genius who devised that loser, as well.

Posted by: BrianX9 | June 25, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

once again you show your lack of understanding of the military,,staff are tied ti career ending statements and actions of a commander,there people have already been described as oddballs anyway lucky to get pensions jf eligible.

Posted by: gonville1 | June 25, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Lindsay Graham strongly suggested that the unnamed McChrystal advisers who contributed to the Rolling Stone article need to severely reprimanded.

Posted by: zephyr99 | June 25, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I going to assume that if the existing staff is mostly retained (which does have merit, for the mission's sake) that Petraeus will giva them all a drop-dead serious "come-to-Jesus" talk. And next peep out of any one of them should mean an immediate, dishonorable discharge for the entire lot.

Posted by: KJR1 | June 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Gates is just another war mongering corporate lackey. We've been in Afghanistan for 8 years now with no end in sight. How many more of our kids need to die before admitting failure. Is there anybody out there tracking the numbers of new enlistments ?

Posted by: Eyeugize | June 25, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Time for the military to defend and protect the USA from enemies within and Foreign, from right here at home.
Start with a large troop movement from the Middle East to Arizona all the way over to Texas.
Aztlan already has California up to just South of Temecula anyway, so take away the Sur Sonora and Chihuahua from Mexico to remind them we are not to be messed around with,

Posted by: dottydo | June 25, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

kerryberger: "Our military is bankrupting this nation and what positive benefits do we see coming from it? NOTHING!"


Defense spending as a percentage of US GDP hasn't exceeded 10% in 50 years -- in fact, it's been 20 years since it even exceeded 5% of GDP. As a percentage of the overall federal budget, defense spending has generally hovered around 20% for the last 25 years (give or take a few percentage points). It's not the military budget that's going to bankrupt us -- it's all the ballooning mandatory entitlement spending that consumes well over half of the federal budget.

Posted by: jwright2 | June 25, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

This week on Basic Black: As we head into the July 4th holiday, Basic Black explores the question: what does patriotism look like when the president is black? We’ll look at several examples such as: General Stanley McChrystal’s remarks to Rolling Stone, the critical response to the administration’s handling of the BP spill, and African Americans gaining traction in the tea party movement. Watch Thursday, July 1 at 7:30pm on channel 2 in Boston or live at, where you can also join a live chat.

Posted by: Meg_WGBH | July 1, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

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