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Gen. Stanley McChrystal retires in military ceremony

 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal reviews troops for the last time as he is honored at a retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, Friday, July 23, 2010. (Getty Images)

July 23, 2010

WASHINGTON  (KATAKAMI / MSNBC / AP)  — Gen. Stanley McChrystal was to end his 34-year Army career Friday in a retirement ceremony at his military headquarters here, marking the last chapter of his swift and stunning fall from grace.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who inspired intense loyalty among many of those who served under him, was fired last month after Rolling Stone magazine published an article titled “The Runaway General” that quoted scathing remarks he and his aides made about their civilian bosses.

McChrystal complained that President Barack Obama had handed him “an unsellable position” on the war. Meanwhile the general’s closest advisers mocked other government officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden, as fools ignorant of the complexities of war. “Biden? Did you say, ‘Bite me?'” one aide is quoted saying.

Photo : Gen. Stanley McChrystal reviews troops for the last time as he is honored at a retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, Friday, July 23, 2010. (Getty Images)

Shortly after the article was published, McChrystal was sent to pack his bags.

A close aide to the general, Col. Charles Flynn, says McChrystal plans to live in the northern Virginia area after moving out of his home in Washington’s Fort McNair.

“Presently, the general is concentrating on his transition, the move, his family and remains undecided about future employment options,” Flynn wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Senior military and defense officials said they agreed with Obama’s decision but were crestfallen by the loss of a gifted colleague.

During his rise to one of the nation’s top military jobs, McChrystal made many allies — including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen — who saw him as an honest broker with extraordinary self-discipline.

Mullen was among those who said he was crushed by the episode.

Photo : Gen. Stanley McChrystal reviews troops for the last time as he is honored at a retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, Friday, July 23, 2010. (Getty Images)

“He is a friend,” Mullen said of McChrystal shortly after McChrystal was fired. “He’s an extraordinary officer. He made a severe mistake.”

Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave McChrystal the job of turning around a stalemated war against Afghanistan’s stubborn insurgency.

McChrystal was a seasoned special operations commander who made his reputation hunting down members of al-Qaida in Iraq, and helping turn around the course of that war. He was named to replace Gen. David McKiernan, who was removed from his post by an Obama administration anxious to chart a new course in the war.

The White House is allowing McChrystal to keep his four stars in retirement, even though Army rules would have required him to serve another two years at that rank.  (*)

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