Exum fought in Afghanistan in 2002, but since returning from his latest civilian sojourn, the normally witty and sarcastic Abu Muqawama has turned into a walking billboard for Gen. McChrystal and his new command. We learn, for example, that McChrystal is much like Robert E. Lee, in that his “directions to allied troops with respect to civilian casualties are both morally correct and operationally wise”. Exum is “tremendously impressed by the quality of the men and women working for General McChrystal at ISAF”. And of McChrystal’s counterinsurgency skills he has this to say:
General McChrystal understands population-centric COIN. Forget all that nonsense about a guy with decades of direct-action special operations experience not being mentally limber enough to adapt to protecting the population. About five minutes into a discussion of civilian casualties in my first week in Kabul, I watched McChrystal stand up and spell out for his staff in explicit terms exactly why killing civilians makes one operationally ineffective in an environment like Afghanistan. McChrystal is not inclined to draw attention to his storied history as a special operator. But when he tells you that it’s impossible to kill your way out of this war, you believe him — because Lord knows, he’s tried.
Phew, talk about a man crush.