Friday, June 25, 2010;
Rolling Stone magazine sent an aide to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal a list of 30 questions to check facts in a profile of the commander. The questions contained no hint of what became the controversial portions of the story.
The magazine's executive editor, Eric Bates, denied that Michael Hastings, the author of the story, violated any ground rules in writing about the four weeks he spent with McChrystal and his team.
Fact Checking Questions:
1.) The reporter writes that during Gen. McChrystal's trip to Paris this past April, Gen. McChrystal was traveling with a staff of 10 people. Is that accurate?
THAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT FOR THAT TRIP IF YOU ARE INCLUDING THE COMMUNICATIONS (SIGNALS) GUYS
2.) Are the following people on McChrystal's staff, and, are these titles correct:
a. Col. Charlie Flynn, McChrystal,s chief of staff -- NO,CHARLIE IS HIS 'XO' OR EXECUTIVE OFFICER
b. Brig. Gen. Bill Mayville, McChrystal,s chief of operations--NO, MAJOR GENERAL, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, OPERATIONS
c. Gen. Mike Flynn, McChrystal,s second-in-command -- NO, MAJOR GENERAL, DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE
3.) The reporter doesn,t name the following people, but he does give a list of vague descriptions for other people on McChrystal's team. Can the following be found on McChrystal's team: FINE, NO NAMES PREFERED
a. A Navy SEAL (TWO NAVY SEALS)
b. A British Special Forces officer (NO - NOT ON HIS TEAM, BUT THE FORMER HEAD OF BRITISH SPECIAL FORCES, THE SPECIAL AIR SERVICE (RETIRED) IS ON HIS TEAM)
c. An Afghan Special Forces commando (YES WHO IS HIS AIDE DE CAMP)
d. A lawyer (SPECIAL FORCES LAWYER)
e. Two fighter pilots (YUP)
f. And at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. (EVERY ONE HAS COMBAT TIME AND COIN EXPERIENCE OF SOME FORM OR ANOTHER)
4.) Does McChrsytal's staff jokingly refer to themselves as Team America? (NOT REALLY - WE JOKE THAT WE ARE SOMETIMES PERCIEVED THAT WAY BY MANY OF THE NATO FORCES)
5.) Did Gen. McChrystal and his team have a full-scale operations center set up in the Hotel Westminster during their visit to Paris this past April? (YES - NOT SURE ID CALL IT FULL SCALE, BUT EVERYWHERE WE GO WE HAVE CAPABILITY FOR IMMEDIATE COMMS, AND SECURE COMMS WITH ANYONE IF AFGH ALL THE WAY UP TO THE WHITE HOUSE. WHEN IN HOTELS WE SET UP A "CONTROL ROOM" FOR THIS PURPOSE)
6.) Did Gen. McChrystal's team have the following pieces of equipment set up in the Westminster?
a. Tables that were crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks? YES
b. And were those Toughbooks hooked up to satellite dishes that relayed encrypted phone and e-mail communications? YES ALSO OUT OWN PRINTERS, AND ALSO HAVE A BURN BAG TO DESTROY CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS -- MIGH LIKE THAT DETAIL.
7.) This quote isn't attributed to anyone in particular in the article, but the reporter told me that you,d be able to confirm that it is accurate: Is it fair to say that Paris is the "most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine"? [The quote is being attributed to "one of McChrystal's advisors."] YUP - IF BY ANTI YOU ANTITHETICAL RATHER THAN 'AGAINST'
8.) Did Gen. McChrystal have his first encounter with President Obama a week after Obama took office in a meeting with a dozen other senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as The Tank?
HE HAD MET HIM AS A SENATOR, AND I DONT KNOW ABOUT FIRST METING AS PRESIDENT, BUT THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE. WOULD HAVE BEEN WHEN M4 WAS DIRECTOR OF THE JOINT STAFF, AND THE NEW PRESIDENT WOULD MAKE THAT AMONG HIS FIRST MEETINGS AFTER TAKING OFFICE.. "THE TANK" IS A ROOM BUT ALSO REFERS TO A SPECIFIC REGULAR MEETING AMONG THE CHAIRMAN AND THE CHIEFS OF THE FOUR ARMED SERVICES. TANK IS ON THE "E RING" IN THE PENT.
9.) Did Gen. McChrystal have his first-ever one-on-one meeting with Obama at their meeting at the Oval Office in May 2009?
WHEN HE WAS SELECTED BY THE PRESIDENT TO ASSUME COMMAND IN AFGHAN, HE WAS INVITED TO THE OVAL OFFICE - HOWEVER THIS WAS BEFORE HE CONFIRMED BY CONGRESS AND HAD ASSUMED COMMAND
10.) During his interview for the position of top commander in Afghanistan, did Gen. McChrystal tell the National Security Council that, in reference to the mission in Afghanistan, "I came over here to win it or lose it." [The reporter tells me that this info originated from you, Gen. McChrystal and a number of other people close to the general.]
I DONT KNOW THAT ONE, BUT IF YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF SOURCES GO WITH IT. SOUNDS LIKE HIM. HOWEVER PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU DON'T INTERVIEW FOR THE POSITION. YOU ARE NOMINATED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS AND THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND THEN IF ACCEPTED, THE PRESIDENT SELECTS YOU AND CONGRESS CONFIRMS. THERE IS NO INTERVIEW.
11.) When Gen. McChrystal took command in Afghanistan, did he expand the receiving end of a daily morning briefing to include thousands of officers?
WHEN WE ARRIVED THE COMMANDERS MORNING BRIEF HAD BEEN RESERVED ONLY FOR SENIOR STAFF AT HEADQUARTERS - ABOUT 30 PEOPLE - HE MADE IT OPEN AND AVAILABLE TO ANYONE IN THEATER, AND IN THE UNITED STATES OR EMBASSIES ABROAD WHO WANTED TO DIAL IN. WE ESTIMATE NOW ABOUT 4000 + PEOPLE PARTICIPATE EACH MORNING
12.) When Gen. McChrystal arrived in Afghanistan, did he refashion the command center into a freeflowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York City?
WELL NOT MODELED AFTER BLOOMBERG'S CITY HALL - BECAUSE HE WAS DOING THIS AT JSOC BEFORE BLOOMBERG WAS MAYOR. YOU COULD SAY SIMILIAR TO BLOOMBERG'S OFFICE, OR A TRADING FLOOR, OR A NEWS ROOM. FLAT, FAST, EFFICIENT.
13.) Does Gen. McChrystal carry a custom-made set of nunchuks in his convoy that are engraved with his name and four stars?
HE DOESN'T CARRY THEM. HIS PROTECTION DETAIL MADE THEM FOR HIM AS A JOKE AS WELL AS A SPECIAL HOLDER IN THE CONSUL OF HIS VEHICLE. IT CAME FROM ONE DAY M4 WAS TESTING HIS PERSONAL STAFF TO MAKE SURE THEY HAD EVERYTHING BEFORE WE LEFT FOR A MEETING. "MY GLASSES?" - "CHECK -SIR" - "MY BRIEFING BOOK?" - "CHECK SIR" "NUNCHUCKS" (HE WAS JOKING TO SHOW HIS STAFF THAT THEY HADN'T THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING, SO THEY WENT OUT AND HAD A SET MADE FOR HIM"
14.) Does Gen. McChrystal's itinerary each day include a quote from Bruce Lee?
NO NOT EVERY DAY. ONLY FOR OUR TRAVEL ITINERARIES - WITHIN AFGH OR INTERNATIONAL. ONE OF OF HIS SENIOR NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS CHOOSES A NEW ONE FOR EACH TRIP. AGAIN THIS IS AN INSIDE JOKE BECAUSE M4 HAS A CERTAIN ZEN MASTER - NINJA MYTHOLOGY AMONG THE FORCE.
15.) Since taking command in Afghanistan, has Gen. McChrystal's team upped the number of Special Forces units in the country from four to 19?
WE DO NOT CONFIRM THE NUMBERS OF SOF - BUT KEEP IN MIND UNITS ARE VERY SMALL
GROUPING OF TROOPS - AND PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. WHAT I WILL SAY IS THAT SOF OPERATIONS HAVE INCREASED 3 TO 4 TIMES WHAT THEY WERE BEFORE HE ARRIVED. A DRAMATIC INCREASE - AND VERY EFFECTIVE THOUGH LITTLE DISCUSSED COMPONENET OF WHAT IS GOING ON TO SHAPE THE BATTLESPACE AND CREATE THE CONDITIONS FOR THE OTHER STUFF.
16.) Over the past year, has Gen. McChrystal accompanied President Hamid Karzai on six trips around Afghanistan?
ONLY FAIRLY RECENTLY - SO NOT OVER THE PAST YEAR, IN THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, AND I THINK WERE CLOSER TO 10 OR MORE TRIPS, MAYBE A DOZEN. KARZAI FOLLWOING 5-6 ASSASINATION ATTEMPTS HAS SPENT MOST OF HIS 8 YEARS IN OFFICE SECURE BEHIND PALACE WALLS, EARNING HIM THE NICKNAME THE MAYOR OF KABUL.
KARZAI DID NOT PREVIOUSLY TRAVEL AROUND THE COUNTRY UNTIL M4 STARTED TAKING HIM OUT.
17.) The article does not attribute this anecdote to anybody but the reporter told me that you'd be able to confirm whether it's true. Is the following account accurate?
a. On the day before the Marjah offensive this past February, McChrystal drove over to President Karzai's palace to have him signoff and give his OK to the offensive. It took several hours for Gen. McChrystal to get through: Karzai's staff insisted that the president was sleeping off a cold and could not be disturbed. McChrystal finally enlisted the aid of Afghanistan's defense minister, who persuaded Karzai's staff to wake him up in order to sign off on the Marjah offensive, which he did.
M4 WAS ABOUT TO LAUNCH THE MARJA OPERATION, THOUSANDS OF TROOPS WERE AT THIER BATTLE STATIONS WAITING FOR THE GREEN LIGHT. M4 CALLED THE PALACE AND REQUESTED AN URGENT MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT, HE SAID THERE ARE THOUSANDS
OF COALTION AND AFGAHN MILITRAY LIVES AT STAKE. -- YES THE PALACE WOULDN'T WAKE HIM UP -- M4 TOLD THEM THAT HE WAS DRIVING OVER TO THE PALACE AND WOULD KNOCK ON THE DOOR IF NECESSARY - PLEASE WAKE THE PRESIDENT AND TELL HIM I AM ON MY WAY. ONCE THERE, HE SAID MR PRESIDENT WE ARE ON THE READY AND ABOUT TO LAUNCH THE MISSION, I WOULD LIKE YOUR APPROVAL. KARZAI GAVE IT BUT WAS STUNNED. SAID THAT IN 8 YEARS AS PRESIDENT HE HAD NEVER ONCE BEEN CONSULTED ON A MILITARY OPERATION IN HIS OWN COUNTRY.
18.) Did Gen. McChrystal go out on a patrol with troops from Combat Outpost JFM on March 1st, 2010? (If that date is incorrect, please let me know.)
IF MIKE SAYS THAT IS THE DATE - AND HAS NOTES TO THAT EFFECT. CURRENTLY OUT
OF THE COUNTRY DONT HAVE MY OWN NOTES.
19.) Is it a rarity for such a high ranking commander as McChrystal to go on a patrol of a dangerous war zone, as noted in question #18.
YES, UNUSUAL FOR SENIOR OFFICERS, A RARITY FOR THE MOST SENIOR OFFICER.
20.) After visiting Paris and Berlin, did McChrystal and his staff return to Afghanistan on April 21?
YES, WE ABBREVIATED OUR TRIP AND RETURNED TO KBL. I CAN'T CONFIRM THE DATE FROM HERE.
21.) Did Gen. McChrystal visit Combat Outpost JFM once again with our reporter present in late April?
YES. MIKE AND I SPENT THE NIGHT WITH THE GUYS, AND M4 ARRIVED THE FOLLOWING MORNING.
22.) Is Gen. McChrystal the fourth-born son in his family?
AFRAID I DON'T KNOW.
23.) Did all of Gen. McChrystal's brothers join the armed services?
6 BROTHERS AND SISTERS ALL JOINED OR MARRIED INTO THE ARMED FORCES
24.) Were Gen. McChrystal and his wife Annie married on April 16, 1977?
AFRAID I DONT KNOW, BUT THAT SOUNDS RIGHT.
25.) While Gen. McChrystal was a Rangers commander, did he do the following:
a. Introduce mixed-martial arts in the Army?
b. Require that all of his soldiers qualified with night-vision goggles on the rifle range?
c. Require troops to build up their endurance with weekly marches involving heavy backpacks?
BELEIVE THESE ARE TRUE, THINK IVE THAT BEFORE.
26.) Is it correct that Gen. McChrystal went out on 65 nighttime raids during his time as the JSOC commander?
I DONT KNOW, I KNOW THAT HE REGULARLY WENT OUT ON OPERATIONS WITH HIS MEN. I SORT OF DOUBT THAT HE EVER COUNTED.
a. And if so, would this also be considered unprecedented for a top commander?
VERY UNSUAL, SAFE TO SAY.
27.) During the time that Gen. McChrystal led JSOC, would he also turn up on missions unannounced, with almost no entourage?
SOUNDS LIKE HIM.
28.) During the time that Gen. McChrystal led JSOC, were his teams credited with killing and capturing thousands of insurgents?
JSOC IS ACTUALLY MORE ABOUT TERRORISTS THAN INSURGENTS, THOUGH SOMETIMES THERE IS OVERLAP. WHILE IRAQ DID BECOME A BROADER COUNTERINSURGENCY MISSION, THERE WAS ALSO SIGNIFICANT CHASING AFTER AL Q - AND OTHER TERRORIST GROUPS.
29.) Are the following details correct:
a. During the surge in Iraq, McChrystal developed fresh views on the way the military gathered intelligence and took out insurgents. He devised ways to systematically map out terrorist networks, target specific insurgents and hunt them down -- often with the help of some highly computer-literate soldiers who knew how to utilize new technologies.
NOT UNIQUE TO THE SURGE PERIOD OR UNIQUE TO IRAQ - REMEMBER AS THE HEAD OF
JSOC HE WAS REPONSIBLE FOR GLOBAL COUNTER TERRORISM SPECIAL OPERATIONS - AND SPENT ABOUT 1/3 OF HIS TIME IN IRAQ. WITH MIKE FLYNN, JSOC COMPLETELY TOOK A NEW APPROACH TO INTEL GATHERING TO INCLUDE SITE EXPLOITATION, ELECTRONIC EXPLOITATION, PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILING, USE OF SURVEILANCE AND INFORMATION COLLECTION ETC. ALSO A TOTALLY NEW LEVEL OF COOPERATION AMONG ALL INTELLIGENCE GATHERING AGENCIES. AGAIN MORE COUNTER TERRORIST THAN COUNTER INSURGENCY. NOT COMPUTER LITERATE -BEST IN THE BUSINESS COMPUTER PEOPLE - NOT ALL SOLDIERS.
30.) Did Gen. McChrystal vote for President Obama? [The reporter tells me that this info originates from McChrystal himself.]
IMPORTANT -- PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE THIS -- THIS IS PERSONAL AND PRIVATE INFORMATION AND UNREALTED TO HIS JOB. IT WOULD BE INAPPROPRIATE TO SHARE. MY REASON FOR THIS IS IT WOULD PRESENT AN UNDUE COMMAND INFLLUENCE ON JUNIOR OFFICERS OR SOLDIERS WHO SHOULD MAKE THEIR OWN POLITICAL DECISIONS. THERE ARE VERY STRICT RULES IN THE MILITARY ON SEPARATING CHURCH AND STATE ON THIS SORT OF STUFF - HAVE TO KEEP OUT OF POLITICAL PREFERENCE AND PERSONAL CHOICE.
WHAT ELSE? ILL BE UP FOR ANOTHER HOUR OR SO BEFORE TURNING IN.