They don’t put a 4th star on your shoulder-board because you’re popular. And they don’t do it lightly. There are rules about how many general officers there can be, but, the rules also say the Commander in Chief can pretty much make up any rules he (or she) wants, concerning who is and who is not a four-star general.
Right now, there are only a dozen 4-star generals in the Army, and General Stanley McChrystal has only had the fourth star on his shoulder-board for a year. He got the 4th star in June last year when he took over command of our troops in Afghanistan.
And yesterday, when the Commander in Chief called him on the carpet for saying stupid things about members of the Obama administration and its policies, the Commander in Chief accepted General McChrystal’s resignation from his command in Afghanistan, and put General David Patraeus in charge.
It’s not the first time General McChrystal has been connected to a controversy. Several years ago, when he was Special Operations Commander in Afghanistan, he came under great criticism for the cover-up regarding the friendly-fire death of former NFL player Pat Tillman. We were told Corporal Tillman died valiantly fighting the enemy, but later the truth came out that he was actually killed by friendly fire. There was no enemy fire whatsoever. The Bush administration and General McChrystal were lying.
What McChrystal did in the Pat Tillman incident was to submit a fraudulent recommendation that Tillman get the Silver Star for his actions against the enemy, in an attempt to cover up the fact that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. Of course, then three-star General McChrystal then lied to congress about it last June when he was up for the new job and the 4th star.
In case you don’t know, the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbids our troops from making disparaging remarks about the Commander in Chief, the Congress, and political appointees. General McChrystal could have faced a court-martial for his snide comments about Vice President Biden and other top officials in the Rolling Stone Magazine article.
General McChrystal must have made the mistake of thinking the Commander in Chief would give him a pass, because he knew what he said to the reporter was clearly out-of-bounds, if not downright insubordinate. He apologized to the President and the Vice-President and several of the other civilian officials he denigrated in the article.
It takes a special person to qualify for a four-star slot in any of our armed services. General McChrystal made a big mistake, and he’s paying the price. He may still have four stars on his shoulder boards – for now – but he has no doubt now that the Commander in Chief – a civilian – is in charge.
And that’s the way our Constitution says it should be.