Obama Moves to Muzzle Top Military Commanders

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , |

By: David A. Patten

Sources tell Newsmax the Obama administration is muzzling its top military leaders, and keeping them from publicly airing their views on how to fight the war in Afghanistan.

The administration’s primary target: top Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose speech in London last week apparently caught administration officials off guard.

In fact, The Daily Telegraph reported that Obama’s advisers were “shocked and angered” by McChrystal’s speech.

“This is a food fight in the war room, and it’s getting ugly,” observed Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent and Manhattan Institute scholar Judith Miller, regarding the sharply contrasting views being aired within the administration over how to fight the war.

n his speech, McChrystal defended his request for 40,000 more soldiers to wage a counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, warning “a strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy.”

Without mentioning Vice President Joe Biden by name, McChrystal said the vice president’s proposal to scale back the objectives for the war would lead to “chaos-istan.”

Shortly after those remarks, McChrystal was summoned to a face-to-face meeting with President Obama aboard Air Force One in Copenhagen, where Obama was making his ill-fated attempt to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 summer Olympic games. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Jim Jones, described their discussion as an exchange of “very direct views.”

On Monday, in an obvious reference to McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Association of the U.S. Army that “It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations — civilian and military alike — provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately.”

That statement appeared to echo remarks on Sunday from Jones, a retired Marine general. He told CNN, “Ideally, it’s best for military advice to come up through the chain of command.”

The none-too-subtle message to America’s top military leaders: Don’t share your candid views on the war in public. It appears McChrystal received the message loud and clear. According to The Washington Independent, McChrystal spokesperson and Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis stated: “General McChrystal concurs with the secretary and shares his perspective that the president’s military and civilian policy advisers need to provide candid but private advice.”

Sholtis also said that McChrystal has no current plans for additional public appearances, The Washington Independent reported.

McChrystal became the top U.S. general in Afghanistan after Gates fired Gen. David D. McKiernan in May. McKiernan, who was criticized in some circles as insufficiently innovative, presided over a troop-strength increase of 21,000 soldiers. He had filed a request with the Pentagon for 10,000 more at the time he was replaced.

At the time, Gates ordered McChrystal to provide “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. But apparently it was McChrystal’s fresh tongue that got him in trouble.

The New York Times reported Monday that Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was widely credited with carrying out the successful surge in Iraq, has already toned down his remarks since Obama attained the presidency.

“General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him ‘David the Dull,'” the Times reports, “and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.”

The concern among some experts is that President Obama’s effort to tone down his military leaders may indicate he wants to triangulate a more politically palatable approach to fighting the war that may fall short of being militarily decisive.

Read the rest at NewsMax.com

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