Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who recently commanded all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, retired last Friday in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Department of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called McChrystal one of America’s greatest warriors and a treasured friend and colleague.
“We bid farewell to Stan McChrystal today with pride and sadness,” Gates said. “Pride for his unique record as a man and soldier; sadness that our comrade and his prestigious talents are leaving us.This consummate ranger possessed one of the sharpest and most inquisitive minds in the Army.”
Gates called McChrystal’s contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan groundbreaking, as the general “employed every tool available” to create success on the battlefield.
“Over the past decade, no single American has inflicted more fear and more loss of life on our country’s most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal,” he said. “Commanding special operation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Stan was a pioneer in creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations.”
Gates said when violence in Iraq seemed almost unstoppable in 2006 and 2007, McChrystal and his special operators all but “crushed al-Qaida.”
“It was a campaign that was well underway before the surge, … when so many had given up hope in our mission there,” Gates said. “Stan McChrystal never lost faith in his troopers, never relented, never gave up on Iraq.”
McChrystal resigned amid controversy last month after Rolling Stone magazine ran an article in which the general and his aides criticized Obama administration officials. President Barack Obama nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus for the job June 23, and Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate on June 30.
“This has the potential to be an awkward, or even a sad occasion,” McChrystal said. “With my resignation, I left a mission I feel strongly about. I ended a career I loved that began over 38 years ago, and I left unfulfilled commitments I made to many comrades in the fight. My service did not end as I would have wished. Still [my wife] Annie and I aren’t approaching the future with sadness, but with hope.”
Referring to memorable moments of his career, McChrystal said it is the people he served with he will remember most. He noted the many officers and enlisted soldiers he rose through the ranks with, as well as civilians he worked with in Afghanistan.
“It’s always about the people,” he said. “It was about the soldiers who were well trained; the young sergeants who emerged from the ranks with strength, discipline, commitment and courage. To have shared so much with, and been so dependent on people of such courage, integrity and selflessness, taught me to believe.”