June 22nd, 2010
08:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Sestak: McChrystal's fate hinges on his necessity

(CNN) – The highest ranking military officer to serve in Congress said Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal can retain his command if the president believes that McChrystal is necessary for the success of the Afghan war strategy.

Rep. Joe Sestak, a Democratic congressman and former three-star admiral who is now running for Senate, told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that while McChrystal's actions reported in a magazine article were "cause for dismissal, without a question," it doesn't necessarily mean he will be ousted as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"If the president believes that he is necessary for the success of this mission," McChrystal might keep his post, Sestak said before criticizing the general's conduct in an interview that aired on "John King, USA."

"First off, he broke a military code," Sestak said of McChrystal. "You go into a commander-in-chief's room, and if you disagree, you keep it there. And that means the same for the men and women who work for you. You don't go out and say you don't like the cut of his jib."

On the eve of McChrystal's scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama, Sestak said the president will have to weigh the consequences of replacing his Afghan commander.

"The issue is not the policy difference. This general has been over there fighting both in Iraq and this war. It gets pretty tough at times and there is some venting that shouldn't have been done," Sestak said. "But this president, this commander-in-chief, who supported this policy that this general wanted, has to make his decision."

When asked whether a change in command would impact the war effort, Sestak said there would be a hiccup just as the military gears up for a crucial offensive in the Kandahar valley.

"I think there would be a step that would be missed, because Kandahar as you know, we are going into this offensive, and it's a very important moment," Sestak said.

Filed under: Afghanistan • JKUSA • John King USA • President Obama • Stanley McChrystal
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Artie

    Might have worked in the old days when you had a commander in chief that did not have contempt for the military and its function for America !!!

    June 22, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Joan

    Sestak should follow his own advice. He divulged information about talks that were off the record, did not have any relevance whatsoever with regard to governing and have only caused problems for his party. He sure doesn't seem like much of a team player.

    June 22, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. ruty

    McChrystal acted in a VERY unprofessional manner. Fire his butt. If a common soldier had acted that way he would have been discharged. asap.. There is NO excuse for his mouthy unprofessionalism..

    June 22, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. Idiots In High Places

    McChrystal has the guts to say what most of the country thinks.I didn't see him bowing to anyone.

    June 22, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  5. thor

    There is no Afghanistan policy ,we need to get our troops out of that country and get them home as quickly as possible.We have a president that can't even make up his mind wheather he was right to send another 60,000 troops to this country or not(since he took office)He called this the good war,i call it insanity gone wild.And McChrystal should be fired.

    June 22, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  6. jilli

    No one is indispensible. He broke the code, he should be relieved of his command. Courts martial should not be out of the question. He violated the principles and discipline of the military, he should be shamed.

    June 22, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. ybs

    McChrystal, Oops! Luckily for you, Obama is a man of substance! He only cares that you deliver!

    Now, go back to Afghan & sock it to the Taliban & Al Qaeda.

    June 22, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    A military General should have enough guts to say what he has to say man to man, that's what the problem is, he didn't do that. Which leaves the question is he fit to lead and is he trustworthy.

    June 22, 2010 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  9. Go USA!

    It doesn't matter who is President, what party you support, or what you personally think, as a soldier you follow the orders of our duly elected civilian government. Gen. McChrystal’s act is a violation of respect for the chain of command, a disgraced to the uniform, and reflects discredit on the U.S. Military.

    If I had done this while I was in the military, I would have been court-martialed...this act is a court -martial offense under the UCMJ.

    He should resign...

    June 22, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  10. VCMD

    Joe Sestak has no clue about the article or the military code. General McChrystal has not shown any subordination. He has not refused to obey any order nor he has shown contempt to his boss. I am sure almost all of department heads and most on Obama's team must have made fun of Obama and questioned his strategy/experience at one point or another in their private lives. How is that subordination? A reporter writes a sensational article and all these phony politicians start screaming and fuming. How dare the General question their political calculations and speak truth about their incompetence?

    June 22, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  11. LINDA

    Total disrespect for the President of the U.S. But after all McChrytal is a republican.

    June 22, 2010 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. George of the jungle

    the general is absolutly right

    June 22, 2010 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  13. snow

    Whats with sestak, isn't there a vote somewhere he can again sell his vote?

    June 23, 2010 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  14. Aaron

    The military is not there to play politics. If they want to do that, they need to resign from the military else we risk our democracy turning into a military dictatorship as has happened in much of the world. General MacArthur crossed President Truman similiarly over Korea. Truman removed him from his command.

    June 23, 2010 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  15. La Piovra

    General McChrystal's policy was implemented in part because his strategic leak to the press made it difficult to refuse. He doesn't leak to the press by accident, and if what he is leaking now is gross disrespect to his civilian commanders, including his commander in chief, perhaps he is preparing the ground for non- civilian rule. I hope he is not let into any important interview wearing sidearms.

    June 23, 2010 07:31 am at 7:31 am |