"Never shall I fail my comrades.... I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some."
from the Ranger Creed
In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeople crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting the townspeople and listening to their views.
That trip was typical of McChrystal’s entire career, from his first day as a West Point plebe to his last day as a four-star general. The values he has come to be widely admired for were evident: a hunger to know the truth on the ground, the courage to find it, and the humility to listen to those around him. Even as a senior commander, McChrystal stationed himself forward, and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand.
In this illuminating memoir, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career. He delves candidly into the intersection of history, leadership, and his own experience to produce a book of enduring value.
Joining the troubled post-Vietnam army as a young officer, McChrystal witnessed and participated in some of our military’s most difficult struggles. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. He paints a vivid portrait of the traditional military establishment that turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror.
McChrystal spent much of his early career in the world of special operations, at a time when these elite forces became increasingly effective - and necessary. He writes of a fight waged in the shadows by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which he led from 2003 to 2008. JSOC became one of our most effective counterterrorism weapons, facing off against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Over time, JSOC gathered staggering amounts of intelligence in order to find and remove the most influential and dangerous terrorists, including the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hunt for Zarqawi drives some of the most gripping scenes in this book, as McChrystal’s team grappled with tricky interrogations, advanced but scarce technology, weeks of unbroken surveillance, and agonizing decisions.
McChrystal brought the same energy to the war in Afghanistan, where the challenges loomed even larger. His revealing account draws on his close relationships with Afghan leaders, giving readers a unique window into the war and the country.
Ultimately, My Share of the Task is about much more than war and peace, terrorism and counterinsurgency. As McChrystal writes, "More by luck than design, I’d been a part of some events, organizations, and efforts that will loom large in history, and more that will not. I saw selfless commitment, petty politics, unspeakable cruelty, and quiet courage in places and quantities that I’d never have imagined. But what I will remember most are the leaders."
©2013 Stanley A. McChrystal (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Understanding our Involument
Unique , General Stanley McChrystal has personalized the 3 wars that we are presently involed. We see how from a young boy his destiny was to be person in charge.His desired to have open and transparent communication was his biggest asset.
The inflection of his voice and timing adds to the excitment and drama of the story
NO, much of what is presented must be thought about ,reflected on, so you understand the General's involement.
With our present administration's foreign policy, this book explains the questions of why. I don't feel this soldier was listen to by our administration . The culture, prior events,and tribes of the area, General Stanley McChrystal's account is current and honest- A rare attribute today.
Gen. McChrystal was and still remains a great leader in our military. This was a great book for military enthusiasts. But for someone who loves learning about and from great leaders, I really enjoyed this look into lesdership and details on Iraq & Afghanistan operations.
My main takeaway from this book (perhaps not intended by the author) is that the US's involvement in the Middle East is an endless game of whack-a-mole, which it is unless the military strategy is coupled with a strategy to win the war of ideas - one that addresses the root cause of Islamic extremism, which is Wahhabism. The "Ruhr Valley" of Wahhabism lies within a certain region of Saudia Arabia, home to the religious institutions where extremist thought is manufactured and disseminated. Of course, the US will never have the "street cred" to have any frontline or visible role in dismantling Wahhabism the way it helped to dismantle Nazism in Germany, but it must do what it can to support moderate elements within Saudia Arabja.
Anyway, the Epilogue at the end of this book was my favorite part - a summary of Gen. McChrystal's nuggets of wisdom on leadership learned over a lifetime of great service to our nation, spoken in his own words. I plan to listen to this Epilogue again and again.
Overall a solid book, not as much of a whitewash or score-leveller as many security sector memoirs. Uniformly respectful, perhaps too much so. Narration was jolty, sometimes calm and languid, others intense, almost frantic, in same paragraph and sometimes in same sentence.
An excellent narrative and narration. He was one of the longest serving and most effective commanders. He provides interesting insights into the people and leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan. He offers a more nuanced view of Karzai. He also gives some context for the machinations of Pakistan. The US asked for help from that country several times but, because of shortsighted politics, dropped aid and support when that help was no longer needed. Hence Pakistan's pragmatic approach is to manage a conflict rather than ensure victory.
It's a shame that McChrystal's military career had to come to an end as a result of a hatchet job done by Rolling Stone magazine (as if anything else should have been expected). I imagine he was probably glad to finally go home to his wife but effective military commanders should not be forced out so easily.
I really enjoyed Gen. McChrystal opening and closing the book himself. His views on the very wars I fought in. It makes me feel better, now understanding some of the decisions that were made while I was there fighting. The narrator was superb. Thank you for your service and I hope this helps future military leaders understand what it takes to lead.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in leadership lessons learned and traits to model earned through a life dedicated to service and to developing and leading individuals, teams, and organizations.
In addition, I recommend this book to anyone interested in an eye opening perspective on what political and social forces were behind the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read/heard....poignant lessons on leadership woven into a powerful narrative about an Army officers life beginning in shadows of the aftermath of the Vietnam war through the battles against terrorists around the world in the first part of the 21st century.
The objectivity of the narrative is powerful; there is little political commentary, instead what is offered is a view from a person with tasks to perform and objectives to achieve.
I did not grow up in a military setting but have always been fascinated by and admired those who have and have dedicated their life to the cause of defending our freedom. General McChrystal's story is fascinating and stands out as an incredible example of leadership. If only we had more in our society with his principled approach. I am a better person for having listened to his story.
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