Stanley McChrystal

If you’ve been on the battlefield, you’ve probably carried an M4 carabiner or something similar. And it fires a 5.56 (mm) round at 3,000 feet per second. And when it hits human flesh, it does terrible damage. It’s supposed to, and that’s what our soldiers should carry. I don’t want them on our streets; I don’t want them in our schools; I don’t think that most people are prepared to carry them. So I think we have to have a very, very serious look at why we even would consider having guns like that.
—  Retired U.S. general STANLEY McCHRYSTAL, former head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, remarking on sensible gun control laws, on The Daily Show
Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it’s more important to you than anything else in your life–family, friends, social life, whatever.
—  Buzzfeed reporter Michael Hastings • Offering advice to young journalists in a Reddit thread last year. Hastings, 33, died in a car crash on Tuesday morning. Despite his young age, he left a fairly significant mark on the journalism world, scoring a 2010 Rolling Stone interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in which the then-Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan spoke negatively of White House staff. Hastings’ report sent shockwaves through Washington, leading to McChrystal’s firing before the report was even officially published. While McChrystal was eventually cleared of wrongdoing in the case, Rolling Stone stood behind Hastings’ article. Hastings’ death led many journalists to leave statements of remorse in the wake of the news, including his editor, Ben Smith, who said in a statement that “He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold.” (reddit thread via Twitter user @nbj914)
The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates. … They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one

Ret. General Stanley McChrystal

and don’t forget his unforgettable comments from 2010 (in reference to checkpoint shootings by US and NATO troops):

We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.

Hearts and minds.

Why Is General McChrystal Teaching an Off-the-Record Course at Yale?

McChrystal, who formerly led special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and later became a senior American commander in Afghanistan, now teaches a class at Yale’s Grand Strategy Program, where he integrates his military experience with his studies on leadership. In the New York Times, McCyrstal is quoted as saying “the only reason I’m here to teach,” compared with “somebody who’s got a Ph.D., is because I’ve been through it.”

McChrystal must have been through something ominous because, according to Elisabeth Bumiller's  Times article, Yale University imposes restrictions on students who sit in McChrystal’s classes, demanding that they take notes on an “off the record” basis – i.e., not for attribution.

Yale’s extraordinary act seems drastically out of place with notions of academic and intellectual freedom. At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where I teach history, intellectual freedom is fiercely encouraged and protected. In addition, there is also accountability. No matter what I say in my history classes - either about history or my combat experience – cadets are free to tell it to the world, critique it, or reject it privately or publicly. Restrictions on cadets don’t exist even for an instructor with direct ties to the U.S. military.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Long-term, if you’re really trying to get the most out of people, you got to build people up not tear them down. And I think that’s something that I learned about not just myself but other people. That you’re really trying to get inside someone’s heart and soul and bind them to what it is you together are trying to accomplish.
—  On NPR’s TED Radio Hour, four-star general Stanley McChrystal considers the intricacies and essential humanity of great leadership. David Foster Wallace captured this best when he wrote“A leader’s real ‘authority’ is a power you voluntarily give him, and you grant him this authority not with resentment or resignation but happily.”

Zbyněk Baladrán, On “Theory, Practice and Reality, a Few Remarks on the Micro-Politics of Curating,” 2010—as seen in Manifesta Journal 8. We’re reminded (somewhat) of the infamous Powerpoint slide assembled for American strategy for stability in Afghanistan; and as Gen. Stanley McChrystal is reported to have said in response: “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”

Stanley McChrystal: What Makes a Team Great? Trust & Purpose

Pictured: Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner, Stanley McChrystal, and Dan Berschinski (MBA ’15) before the talk.

Talent alone doesn’t make a great team. You need faith in your colleagues and alignment behind a common goal, shared General Stanley McChrystal during his recent View From the Top talk at Stanford GSB. Watch the full video, see more photos from the event, and check out highlights below:

A great team has 2 essential components: trust and a shared purpose with the organization. -General Stanley McChrystal #gsbvftt

— Stanford Business (@StanfordBiz)

January 28, 2014

“A solution may work, but it will not necessarily solve the problem. You need to ask the right question.” Gen. Stanley McChrystal #GSBVFTT

— Amanda Facelle (@AmandaFacelle)

January 28, 2014

“Things change. We have to recognize it and deal with it.” -General Stanley McChrystal #gsbvftt

— Stanford Business (@StanfordBiz)

January 28, 2014

Adaptability is the difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. - General Stanley McChrystal @StanfordBiz #gsbvftt

— Stanford: Leadership (@StnfrdLeadrship)

January 28, 2014

What makes a team great? “Trust and purpose: Faith in your colleagues and alignment behind a common goal and org.” -McChrystal #gsbvftt

— Dan Slate (@DanSlate)

January 28, 2014

“Navigate from where you are, not from where you wish you were.” @mcchrystalgroup #stanfordgsblife #gsbvftt

— Erik Wittreich (@EWittreich)

January 29, 2014

Yo, Stanley McChrystal, you're not helping!

So retired General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan who was fired for making mocking comments about Barack Obama to a reporter for Rolling Stone, has now come out in favor of strong gun control. He, like most moderately sane people, believes that ordinary citizens don’t need combat weapons in the course of daily human life, even if one wants to hunt or defend oneself against an intruder.

McChrystal, no doubt, has forgotten about the gun loonies who believe that if you take weapons away from “the people,” “the government” will almost instantaneously become fascist and/or communist and/or whatever. It’s nonsense–indeed, no established liberal democracy has EVER become fascist or communist–but it’s the paranoid fantasy of one subset of the gun culture in America. (And stop before you start, loonies: Weimar was in no way a stable liberal democracy like the United States.)

So while most reasonable people are likely to see McChrystal as an experienced person advocating the reasonable position that combat weapons do not belong in civilian hands (even as some people disagree with him), the “government is coming to get you” people likely see McChrystal as a former general seeking to disarm the people, probably as a step on the way to creating a fascist, military regime.

McChrystal is the wackadoos’ worst nightmare. Literally. 

Watch on

Confession: I expected the presentation by retired four-star general Stanley McChrystal to be the least interesting from Fast Company’s recent Innovation Uncensored event. It turned out to be my favorite, full of surprising knowledge that I’m still processing. 

Design, Teamwork, and Leadership Lessons From Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Here’s the video playback->

For example, President Obama’s drone-driven global assassination program, by far the world’s greatest terrorist campaign, is also a terror-generating campaign. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan until he was relieved of duty, spoke of “insurgent math”: For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.
—  Noam Chomsky
My Share Of The Task: A Memoir

Reading this book just confirms why I need to earn my Ranger tab and fulfill my dream of earning one. This man (Gen. McChrystal) is a beast.

Great read so far and teaches a lot about leadership.

Nudge nudge theonus and Nate should read it.

Fun fact Nate and I saw him speak at Stevenson in MD. I think he new all of us were just amazed.

Watch on

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Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning – and addressing the possibility of failure.

Quotes from his talk:

“Great leaders let you fail; they don’t let you be a failure.”

“Listen, learn … then lead: "Leaders can let you fail, but not be a failure”

“A leader isn’t good because they are right. They are good because they are willing to learn and to trust”

Read More on General Stanley McChrystal

Very inspiring talk.  We all are leaders and have a responsibility. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how important that is for generations to come. 


By 2007, the budget for US special operations had grown by 60 percent from 2003 to more than $8 billion annually. In January, President Bush announced the “surge” in Iraq. The number of conventional US forces was expanded by 20,000, but Bush also authorized a dramatic increase in targeted killing operations, spearheaded by JSOC’s forces. The operation was General McChrystal’s swan song at JSOC. By the end of 2007, the president began declaring the Iraq surge a success. This freed up JSOC to refocus on Pakistan.
—  Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars
During my reporting, one of the conclusions I came to was that President Obama’s mistake wasn’t firing General McChrystal—it was hiring him in the first place. General McKiernan wouldn’t have been a political headache for the president; McKiernan wouldn’t have waged a media campaign to undermine the White House, nor have demanded 130,000 troops.