Stanley McChrystal, in my estimate, is not a political general, as Petraeus undoubtedly is. He appears to be a fine soldier, a great fighting man, but not overly intelligent. It was a mistake to appoint him to a position where he had a role in making policy instead of just implementing it.
It would not surprise me if this was a clever maneouvre by Gen Petraeus: getting McChrystal put in the Afghanistan command, with his first task to recommend the policy for that war, and suitable advisers made available to him to draft that policy.
Somewhere down the line McChrystal was sold on COIN (probably as the recipe that turned the Iraq war around, even though it did nothing of the sort); he is that intense type who commit themselves totally to things once they are convinced. Thus, Petraeus's preferred policy is put forward by McChrystal, a general who would probably quit if it wasn't adopted, while the former sits back and waits to see which would be the best way to jump at the right moment.
I have read the Commander's Summary of McChrystal's 30 August report. The apt term to describe it is: Bullshit! It is obvious that some clever people have sold good soldier Stanley a bill of goods. There is so much nonsense in it that it is difficult to decide what to point out.
A few examples will suffice. The aim given by Obama to Petraeus and McChrystal is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda (AQ). But AQ is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. So, what is the US doing fighting a war in Afghanistan against the Taliban? The answer given is: if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban, Afghanistan COULD again become a base for AQ. Sez who? Why? What basis is there for this critical justification of the war in Afghanistan? None is given (because the clever people spinning this web know that if they tried to suggest any, they'd be shot to pieces; far better to slip this through as a flat statement). COIN is going to be implemented by the US/NATO troops along with increasing numbers of Afghan soldiers and police. But the aim of COIN is going to be to protect the people from both attacks by the Taliban and oppression by government forces! Who's doing the oppressing and who is doing the protecting? Are the Afghan forces going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
The supportive views of the Afghan people are represented in the report by a quote from Gen Wardak, the Afghan Defence Minister! The billions of dollars that the report wants poured into the Afghan army are going to be funnelled through this gentleman's ministry; it does not seem to have struck straight-shooter Stanley that there may be some cause for bias there. The success of the COIN strategy being proposed will ultimately depend on handing over the secured areas to the Afghan army and police. The critical issue of whether they could measure up to this task, and when, or at all, are left untouched. To get a good look at these forces and their prospects, see:
This is a con on Obama and McChrystal by all those who want the war to go on and on, and the billions and billions of dollars to keep flowing. Good soldier McChrystal has fallen for it. Will Obama?