Small Wars Journal


The Militarization of the Ivy League?

Fri, 05/25/2012 - 7:29am

COL Gian Gentile, currently a professor at West Point but with extensive operational leadership experience - with extensive combat command time - asks why GEN Stanley McChrystal (Ret) is teaching an off the record course at Yale.  The essay is posted at The Atlantic.


By the late 1960s, the left-leaning ideological mindset that Buckley criticized no doubt encouraged the widespread opposition at Yale to the Vietnam Conflict --opposition that turned out to be justified by the facts on the ground in Vietnam. During those days, any notion that an American four-star general involved in the Vietnam debacle, someone like General William C. Westmoreland, should teach a course on leadership at Yale would have been dismissed out of hand as utterly ridiculous.

Fast-forward to 2012 and reality has been turned on its head. ...


McCyrstal is quoted as saying "the only reason I'm here to teach," compared with "somebody who's got a Ph.D., is because I've been through it."

McChrystal must have been through something ominous because, according to Elisabeth Bumiller's  Timesarticle, Yale University imposes restrictions on students who sit in McChrystal's classes, demanding that they take notes on an "off the record" basis -- i.e., not for attribution.

Gen McChrystal Shares Insights about Campaigns

Fri, 03/23/2012 - 5:46pm

In comments at a university appearance in Ohio, Gen Stanley McChrystal (Ret.) stated that COIN is a "math problem."  While the article likely removes much of the context, the quotes are nonetheless memorable.  Emphases are mine.  Read more of this story from Mary Ellen Hare at the Newark Advocate.


Is counter-insurgency viable if it requires a groundswell of troops, asked a student, alluding to McChrystal's own request for additional troops.
"The answer is mathematical. .... History teaches us that to succeed, we need 20 security forces for each 1,000 people. Afghanistan has 28 million people, so that would require 500,000 security forces. In Iraq we had too few troops and the insurgency was too thin. It ... (counter-insurgency) is the only way because you have to change the attitudes of the people."
In what was perhaps a more measured quote McChrystal stated,
"When we retaliated with Tomahawks after our embassy was hit in Afghanistan, President Clinton said we were 'not at war,' but if we had been on the receiving end of those missiles, we might have seen the situation differently. If there is no risk to us personally, war becomes too easy, and those actions affect our relationships with other countries."
H/T Dave Maxwell.