AP Intelligence Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Monday he backs the White House’s drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan slated for 2014, but added that the U.S. owes Afghans some sort of enduring security presence to support them.
“We have an emotional responsibility,” McChrystal said of Afghanistan in an interview with The Associated Press. He commanded forces there before resigning over a controversial magazine article.
“We created expectations after 2001 in people” that the U.S. would be there to keep the country from sliding back into the chaos of the Taliban years, McChrystal said.
His comments come ahead of a visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to the White House, as the two nations try to craft a long-term plan for Afghanistan that will include a U.S. military presence whose size and scope have not yet been decided. The Afghan war commander, Gen. John Allen, has offered White House planners a range of troop numbers to choose from, from 6,000 troops, who would be devoted mostly to hunting al-Qaida, to more than 15,000, enough to continue much of the U.S. training mission and also back Afghan troops in the field with intelligence and logistical support.
McChrystal said Afghans don’t want an occupying army, but they fear the U.S. will withdraw completely.
“Like a teenager, you really don’t want your parents hanging around you, but…you like to know if things go bad, they’re going to help,” he said. McChrystal added that the Afghans are not children, but they need to know they can trust America.
The general gave interviews upon the release of his memoir, “My Share of the Task,” published by Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Group USA. The book outlines his time from commanding the top military counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command, to the contentious process of crafting the Afghan war strategy, and ends with his abrupt resignation over an article in The Rolling Stone.
McChrystal took full responsibility for the piece, by embedded reporter Michael Hastings, which anonymously quoted members of McChrystal’s staff disparaging the White House over war policy. He would not confirm whether the article’s quotes were accurate, saying only that he “cheerfully” offered President Barack Obama his resignation, as the article had created a perception of a rift that would hurt the war mission.
But his eyes watered at the memory of telling his wife, Annie, that his 34-year Army career was at an end.
“Annie said, Good. We’ve always been happy, we’ll always be happy, and we have been, every day since,” he said.
First Lady Michelle Obama later asked McChrystal to work on Joining Forces, the White House initiative for military troops and their families. He said he’d spoken to the president at several Joining Forces event, but had never again discussed the resignation with him.
Part of the friction between McChrystals’s staff and the White House was over McChrystal’s request for an extra 40,000 troops, which Obama chose over a proposal by Vice President Joe Biden to limit the mission to a small number of counterterrorism forces and trainers.
The retired general insisted the strategy known as counterinsurgency worked, saying the Afghans are much better able to stand on their own.
“If you had tried to bring big American forces in and do search and destroy, or do just raids, it would have been pointless. The Afghan people needed to buy into this,” he said. “They needed to believe we were there to protect them…and we weren’t just using Afghanistan as a place to fight our enemies.”
He called the looming drawdown of U.S. forces “inevitable,” and said that while Afghan troops still needed to “mature rapidly,” being forced to work on their own would help.
“You are never ready to do something by yourself until you actually do it, and then you are surprised you can,” he said.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.