Yesterday President Obama accepted General Stanley McChrystal's resignation. General McChrystal offered his resignation as a result of the uproar over the Rolling Stone article about "The Runaway General" which showed McChrystal's disrespect for his commander in chief, President Obama.
President Obama made the right decision in accepting McChrystal's resignation. General McChrystal failed in the first and basic requirement of any member of the armed forces, discipline. General McChrystal, by showing his contempt of President Obama and Obama's civilian staff, set an unacceptable tone for his staff and soldiers. For our country to have a strong armed forces, there must be a seamless chain of command. At the top of that chain of command is the president of the United States. It doesn't matter whether you like or dislike the president, the president is the commander in chief.
When I joined the Army on July 27, 1960 the first thing that I did was raise my right hand and take the oath to obey the commander in chief. I am sure McChrystal also took the same oath early in his career when he entered West Point. Where did he ever get the idea that he could ignore this oath?
McChrystal is well known for his discipline. Reports say that he eats only one meal a day, runs seven miles a day and only sleeps four hours a night. Impressive. I couldn't do it. But one thing I could do when I was in the Army was obey my commander in chief. I also obeyed my platoon sergeant, first lieutenant, company commander, battalion commander, division commander, and whoever else was next in the chain of command all the way up to the president of the United States. Was McChrystal's ego that outsized that he thought he was exempt from this most basic responsibility of a member of the armed forces?
Most of us at one time or another said things that we have regretted. I certainly not exempt. One of the reasons I decided not to make a career out of the Army was that I knew sooner or later I would have to report to somebody that I did not respect. Even at that young age (21) I knew that if I was a private citizen and worked for somebody I didn't like or respect I could quit. That's not an option for an enlisted man (or women) in the Army. I didn't want to short circuit an Army career by having a run in with an officer that I despised.
Sure enough, in my civilian career I have encountered bosses who I did not respect. On several jobs I quit rather than report to that kind of boss. One time I made a mistake and didn't quit. I was disrespectful (I spouted off one too many times) to a new boss I had at one of the banks where I worked. After a torturous few months of disciplinary actions, I was fired. Yes, you read that right, I was fired. It's not something I'm proud of. I was called down to the bank president's office and told by the bank president that he could no longer tolerate the conflict between me and my superior. I was then walked back to my desk (accompanied by my boss who I so despised) and told to clean out my desk and depart the bank immediately. I was officially a non person.
Was I upset? Not really. In fact I was relieved to be done with the game playing of the documentation of my "poor performance." Did I think the bank president make the right decision? Absolutely. I was disrespectful of my superior. One incident specifically I angrily mouthed off to him (I call it "biting his head off") in full view and hearing of my co-workers. That was the beginning the end for me. In fact, he had every right to fire me on the spot. The only reason I think he didn't fire me was that he wanted to make sure my replacement was in place before he did the necessary deed.
In my present job in which I only work part-time, I sometimes have issues with my boss, who is also the owner of the hotel. Rather than let these issues simmer or discuss them with my co-workers, I have asked for a meeting with my boss to discuss them. Airing my grievances in public is not an option, no matter how justified my complaints. If my situation at work became so intolerable that I could no longer work for my boss, then my option is to quit. I took that option with another bank job I had. What is not an option is to air my grievances in public, thus showing disrespect and humiliating my boss. That simply is not an option.
What constantly amazes me in life are people who show super human discipline in some areas of their life but in some basic areas, they show none. Unfortunately for General McChrystal, his total lack of discipline for his oath to his commander in chief destroyed his whole career.