Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Three Military Commanders before General McChrystal Who Got the Ax

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Three Military Commanders before General McChrystal Who Got the Ax

Article excerpt

Here are three examples of military commanders whose words or beliefs resulted in their early retirement. General McChrystal meets with Obama Wednesday.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal might be fired Wednesday because he made contemptuous remarks about senior US officials to Rolling Stone magazine. If he does lose his job, it will represent a rare - but not unprecedented - dismissal of a wartime military commander by civilian leaders.

The most dramatic such replacement since World War II was probably President Truman's sacking of Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur. At the time, MacArthur was commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea in the Korean War. His daring amphibious assault at Inchon helped turn the tide of that conflict, but his public statements criticizing Mr. Truman's policies became intolerable. At one point, for instance, MacArthur called the administration's Far East positions "appeasement and defeatism in the Pacific."

MacArthur even then was a legendary figure, but Truman decided he could not put up with the general's continued blather. He fired him in April 1951.

"I was ready to kick him into the North China Sea, I was never so put out in my life," Truman said later.

Here are three other, more-recent examples of military commanders whose words or beliefs resulted in their early retirement:

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael J. Dugan. Dugan was the Air Force's top-ranking officer just prior to the Gulf War, but he was dismissed by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in September 1990, because of statements the officer made during a five-day trip to Saudi Arabia.

Dugan had told reporters that the only way to drive out the Iraqi troops then occupying Kuwait was to heavily bomb downtown Baghdad. "If I want to hurt you, it would be at home, not out in the woods someplace," Dugan said. …

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