Monday, March 1, 2010

General McChrystal visits Camp Bastion

Today, General Stanley McChrystal undertook a whirlwind tour of Camp Bastion. He linked up with senior US Commanders, briefed coalition troops and met staff at the Field Hospital. It was a real bang for your bucks visit that allowed military staffs to have an extensive insight into Commander ISAF’s current thinking.

He told the mixed audience of British, US, Danish, Estonian and French troops that the most important thing that they can do is “to put yourself in the position of the local Afghans”. He outlined that he spent 75% of his time understanding the people and argued that by doing this, it significantly reduced the need to deploy soldiering skills. Only by understanding the Afghan people can you enhance credibility.

He then talked of Operation Moshtarak. “2009”, he said, “was all about condition setting. We knew that we had to take a different approach to the operations in Marjah and Nad-e-Ali. We were keen to let locals and the taleban know three things: firstly, we are going to stay, secondly, we are going in as a partnership and thirdly, Afghan forces are making the decisions”.

A member of the audience questioned him on rules of engagement and the fact that taleban fighters were using civilians as human shields. On the subject of civilian casualties his message was very clear.

“The rules are not fair. If we go after the fly with a sledgehammer we lose. The taleban are goading the coalition forces to over-react.” He said this was a feature of counter insurgency conflicts. The trick according to General McChrystal was to continue to develop our maturity in these matters.

“You almost have to be superhuman. Whilst being shot at you need to see the big picture, ask yourself what is the consequence of retaliation? This is a tough ask for our junior people”

He concluded his time by thanking each and everyone in the room. “Everyone here could be somewhere else probably making more money and being closer to family; instead you are doing something really hard for someone else – that makes you a pretty extraordinary group of people”.

Picture credit: Squadron Leader Dee Taylor

1 comment:

  1. yah its really very informative thanks for sharing all these here