“The uniform I’d first donned as a 17-year old plebe at West Point, the uniform of my father, grandfather, and brothers, was no longer mine to wear,” he wrote.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has admitted having a crisis of identity after getting fired from the U.S. Army by Barack Obama in 2010, saying he bounced back by thinking creatively about the skills he learned in 38-plus years as a soldier.
“There is only one Army in which you serve,” McChrystal wrote in a blog posted on LinkedIn Tuesday. “When that identity is gone, it is gone forever. For me, it was gone in an instant, and on terms that I could never have imagined.”
McChrystal was the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan when, in June 2010, Rolling Stone ran an article depicting McChrystal and aides poking fun at top civilian leadership in the United States, including Vice President Joe Biden. In the article, by the late Michael Hastings, McChrystal says Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” when in the presence of military brass.
“I boarded a flight immediately, returning from Afghanistan to Washington, D.C. to address the issue with our Nation’s leadership. Less than 24 hours later I walked out of the Oval Office and in an instant, a profession that had been my life’s passion and focus came to an end,” McChrystal wrote Tuesday.
At the time of the incident, McChrystal apologized publicly for the incident, saying “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.” But in his LinkedIn post Tuesday, the general describes his portrayal in Hastings’ piece as being as “unfamiliar as it was unfair,” suggesting he now disputes the article.
McChrystal says he recovered from the shock of the incident by re-thinking the skills he had amassed in his decades as a soldier. “Like leaders in many walks of life, my business has been to serve with, and for, others,” he said. “By focusing on this simple truth, and allowing it to guide my decisions through a difficult time, this curveball ultimately opened as many doors as it closed.” Since leaving the Army McChrystal has started a company, hit the speaking circuit and taught at Yale.