In April, he visited us, the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team, in Logar, Afghanistan. The man at whom the whole world is gazing now conducted himself naturally and amiably, as if he did not have four stars on his epaulettes. He radiated natural authority.
He was extraordinary in that he unhesitatingly worked 18 hours daily, had an unbelievable grasp of the situation and was on his feet most of the time. He made the rounds of the units in the entire country and negotiated with Afghan authorities just as he did with officials and soldiers of all 42 countries involved in coalition efforts.
I don’t recall any superior who ever made such a motivating impression on me. The man knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. And he did it well.
McChrystal understood that you cannot win by shooting alone, and that it was not just a fight for territory, but for the trust of the inhabitants.
And so — even though he was a member of special forces units for many years — he restrained his soldiers. He compelled them to give careful consideration before squeezing the trigger. He compelled them to give priority to the safety of civilians over their own protection. He knew that even though it can bring more losses of one’s own, it is the only way that leads to victory.
The author is the head of the Czech reconstruction team in Logar.