Adolescent banter among Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his aides in Afghanistan may be at the root of the lagging war effort in NATO’s eight-year battle against the Taliban insurgency.
In the Rolling Stone article causing so much controversy for the top commander, one of his advisors jokes that the vice-president’s name is “Joe Bite-Me.” The general himself warned that implementing a strategy other than the one he proposed would result in the country becoming “Chaos-istan.” Now, military analysts suspect that such childish repartee in the top echelons of the command structure could have led to miscommunicated orders in the field.
“I understand how the pressures of war build a tight-knit group that uses immature humor to let off steam,” said one former Pentagon official. “But if they’re not careful, those who aren’t in on the jokes could misinterpret critical instructions.”
In one particularly embarrassing incident, McChrystal had information that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was making a secret visit to Kabul, so the general planned a drone strike to take out the world’s most-wanted terrorist. But the command he issued — “Yo-Mama is in Cobb-Hole. Hit him with a bone” — resulted in a mistaken assault on musician Yo-Yo Ma during a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The artist had to cut his concert short when a barrage of corn cobs and artificial penises thrown by a special ops unit from a balcony overlooking the stage severely damaged his cello.
On another occasion, the general wanted to lend support to an Afghan tribal conference, known as a “loya jirgah,” by ordering a meal delivered to the site of the meeting in Helmond Province. He told the caterer that a “royal jerk-off” was going on in “Hellman’s” and to use his imagination to come up with an appropriate meal. When hundreds of hotdogs slathered in mayonnaise arrived at the conference, tribal leaders showed their displeasure with the meal by getting into a massive food fight that ultimately led to exchanges of artillery fire.
Inside sources report that the planned assault on Taliban strongholds in Kandahar this summer is being delayed until fall because of yet another miscommunication. When the general’s top lieutenant said “we’re go for the attack on Candyland,” three Army divisions were redeployed to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, near the headquarters of Hasbro, Inc., maker of the popular children’s board game.
“He has to remember that when orders get repeated down through the ranks, there’s already a potential for misunderstanding,” the Pentagon officer said. “Using slang in a command-and-control scenario isn’t too bright.”
McChrystal has been known to show his disdain for civilians involved in the war effort by giving them derogatory nicknames. He routinely calls the Afghan president “Hamhead Karz-Face,” refers to Ambassador Karl Eikenberry as “Frankenberry,” and uses the name “Richard Holdork” for special envoy Richard Holbrooke. Even allies of the general have become unwitting victims of his verbal antics. National Security Advisor James L. Jones, a close friend of the general since their days together at West Point, was supposed to receive an antique German Luger as a birthday present. Instead, the weapon was delivered to Mad Men actress January Jones when McChrystal tried goofing with the order-taker at Amazon.com.
“All the soldiers in the field love General McWhiteCastle,” said Col. Charlie Flynn, using the pet name favored by McChrystal who is said to prefer the tiny hamburgers of White Castle over those of competitor Krystal. “Most of them would be willing to die for him if asked to do so. That is, if they could understand what he was asking. Otherwise, most would probably end up dying their uniforms.”
McChrystal was reportedly en route from Afghanistan to Washington yesterday to answer personally to President Obama for his blatant display of disrespect. He told associates he was prepared to “gay it up” and “be a total douche” if necessary to keep his job, and would “tell Barrack the Bam-Meister” whatever he wanted to hear. If, as is widely expected, Obama asks for his resignation, the general will likely take his discharge like a true soldier, then will make some infantile joke about how it’s far from the worst discharge he’s ever had.