June 24th, 2010
07:55 AM ET
4 years ago

Gates advocated keeping McChrystal, source says

Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed keeping Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the job because he was vital to the war effort in Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed keeping Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the job because he was vital to the war effort in Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed keeping Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the job because he was vital to the war effort in Afghanistan, but he was overruled, a senior Pentagon official told CNN's Barbara Starr.

The official has direct knowledge of the events but declined to be identified because they are internal administration discussions.

President Barack Obama relieved McChrystal of command of the Afghan war on Wednesday, a day after Rolling Stone published critical comments about top White House officials by members of McChrystal's staff.

It's still unclear whether Obama had made up his mind before sitting down with McChrystal, but CNN has learned that during their one-on-one meeting, Obama gave the general a chance to defend himself.

"The president asked him about the (Rolling Stone) article," said a senior administration official.

McChrystal "tried to explain the situation," the official said.

Full story


Filed under: Robert Gates • Stanley McChrystal
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    And the military industrial complex marches on.

    June 24, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. Pkm

    Mc crystal is a traitor mr obama gates will hurt you get rid of gates

    June 24, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  3. Gates backed keeping Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the job

    from what I have read of Gates, he sounds like the right man to counsel the president on this

    June 24, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  4. Ancient Texan

    THe chain of command and Military Code Of Conduct mandates the firing, but common sense tells you a lot of ground will be lost by the firing. While I happen to think the general and his staff was correct in their assessment of the Commander in Chief and his people, the President did the only thing he could do with out appearing to be even weaker as a CIC.

    June 24, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. Uncle Sam

    Probably because the rest of the White House and Cabinet are clueless...and he knew the article was telling the truth, though it broke military code.

    June 24, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. DENNA

    With all due respect, Secretary Gates, McChrystal had to go. You just cannot have a General who disrespects his commander in chief out loud, and in Rolling Stone Magazine of all places. How can he effectively command troops when they now don't believe he's serious about the war they are losing their lives in. I hope the next time a president tries to start a war we Americans will stand up and say no! Bush snowed us with phony patriotism and we still can't get free of his wars. And Bin Laden? He'll probably die of old age before we catch him. I say we train the Middle East to take care of their own problems, pull out, then level the whole joint if they make trouble again. We seriously need to learn how to live together.

    June 24, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  7. GI Joe

    He didn't want to look bad for his hand-picked choice - that embarrassed himself so badly.

    June 24, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. RTB

    The chain of command is vital.

    Poor judgment by Gates.

    June 24, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    The general knew that when he joined the military, he subjected himself to a certain code of conduct adn behavior. He broke it, he's out. That's the way the military is played. The president was angry and had every right to be, and he has been gracious and polite during all of this. He's done what he had to do because this is the way this game is played.

    However, given his level of involvement in Afghanistan, his knowledge may still prove valuable to General Petraeus.

    June 24, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. Get A Grip

    This meeting sure must have been one tough meeting for Gen. McChrystal.

    It must have been like Albert Einstein (Gen. McChrystal) dealing with Mr. Rogers (Obama)

    Best of luck to you Gen. McChrystal and thank you for your service!

    June 24, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. The Only Thing Done Quick

    This decision was the only thing they have been quick to do, oh I forgot about the stupid moritorium.

    June 24, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. gary

    Gates is practical more than political and he's probably right on this issue.

    June 24, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. Gates was right; Obama is wrong to fire General

    Obama's decision was all about politics and personal ego – contrary to what the President has said. This could have been swept under the rug and buried in any number of ways, but Obama needed something to show he has leadership skills and "guts" He is losing face and approval ratings on every front and he needed something to show he is still presidential The problem is, he has no brains, and this decision shows it.

    If Obama had any leadership, he would have fired his ambassador to Afghan who does not get along with Afghan leaders; or his national security team who has no clue about anything; or maybe Joe Biden who is only good for making dumb crude comments.

    No, this decision will ultimately unwind any progress we may have made in Afghanistan and further drag out a War we can never win. When 50% of the country's population is made up of our "enemy" it is clear to anyone that we can never succeed miliotarily in afghanistan – not next July and not 50 years from now/ The Russians learned that after 9 years if deadly conbat; the british learned that a couple of hundred years ago when every single British soldier in country was killed. It is time to bring the troops home and let the Afghan people figure it out themselves – as they have for the past 2000 years.

    June 24, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. Servicemembers still need support

    Following the UCMJ offense, the correct decision was made by the Commander in Chief. However as a veteran, it's sad that it took this for tcivilians to even discuss anything related to the fact that this country is at war. We in the military are sworn to defend this nation and carry out the orders of our Commander in Chief. But explain why the war is hardly discussed on the news? Explain why most of the civilians in this country don't care about their young Americans dying overseas? Explain why most Americans are more concerned with "alleged" rights of terrorists and illegal aliens instead of supporting the men and women who defend this nation? Washington DC, the media, and the citizens of this nation need to do their part and make supporting the military a daily visible priority since we who serve have made it our sworn duty to defend you. Yes we took an oath, but it is your moral responsibility to support those who took that oath by remembering daily we are at war.

    June 24, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. Former US Army Officer, Kansas

    Sec Gates should know that no one man is critical to anything. If they are then Sec Gates has not done his job very well.

    June 24, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. JES

    People in the service don't have freedom of speech he was just telling the truth.

    June 24, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. TangledThorns

    Obama's feelings were hurt and now America and Afghanistan is paying the price. This has to be the thinnest skinned president in US history.

    June 24, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Right Leaning Independent

    I agree with Obama firing HIS hand picked General for BUSH'S General! Nothing like going with a winner. It seems like Obama is following Bush's lead more and more...

    June 24, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Riley

    Obama doesn't listen to anybody except Biden, Reid and Pelosi. That's exactly why his approval rating is so dismal.

    June 24, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. Carlton

    So keep an insubordinate General but give an insubordinate Private the boot? This crap doesn't surprise me at all!!!

    June 24, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. Cole Slattery

    McChrystal should have been investigated under the provisions of Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to determine if any laws had been violated or broke. The investigation findings would have helped the President to make a more informed decision rather that relaying upon a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine to render his uncorroborated assertions.

    June 24, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Watch out Gates... you'll wind up being next.

    June 24, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. johnnyhouse

    Smart man,Gates.

    June 24, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. johnnyhouse

    I think Gates now should get out of that mess while he can.

    June 24, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Afghan & Vietnam - Histror repeats

    President Obama's decision yesterday signalled the impending defeat in Afghanistanm but note before many more American soldiers are killed, wounded, and mained -and certainly not before the mide term elections.

    Afghanistan has become Vietnam II and the war will not be waged solely on the politics of DC - and not for the benefot of our fighting troops – and certianly not in any way that could be construed as waging a war to win. Obama will announce a pull ot of troops to take place sometime in 2013 (after he faes reelection - By then Afghanistan will have become – as General McChrystal described it - a very large bleeding ulcer.

    The US is terrible at regime chenge – and even worse when it tries to chnage a 2000 year old tribal run country into a US propped up Democracy with corrupt politicians. Half of the country's population are Taliban - and they are not going anywhere.

    There is no military solution in that country, so why not just pack it in and bring the troops home./

    General McChrystal is one of the most gifted strategist in the US military. His intervie with Rolling Stone was no accident. It as a strategically well placed story - and provided him with a way out. Smart move on his part

    June 24, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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