Morning Joe | January 08, 2013
>>> i don't make this decision based on any difference in policy with general mcchrystal as we are in full agreement about our strategy. the conduct represented in the recently published article does not need the standard that should be set by a commanding general . it undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system . it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in afghanistan .
>> welcome back to " morning joe ." that was president obama back in june of 2010 , announcing the resignation of his top general in afghanistan , stanley mcchrystal and the general joins us now, out with his new memoir, "my share of the task." we'll get to the resignation and " rolling stone " article and questions surrounding that in just a moment. first, i want to ask you about your share of the task. the book takes a look at the president and pentagon and how it worked and didn't work between the two entities, as it pertains to afghanistan . tell us in the book what you share about that relationship.
>> thanks for having me. i appreciate the chance to be here this morning. first, the title "my share of this task" actually comes from a phrase of ranger creed i grew up with. what it tries to embody is the ethos each of us has a share of the task, none of us is central or alone and each of us has a responsibility to each other for our contribution of what has to happen. i think that was my thinking about writing this book here. one of the things i can contribute is a lot of soldiers in america are really anonymous to american people . we see them in airports, we might buy them a male ineal in a restaurant. they're not in our families or towns and particularly the special operators i spent so much time on, become these shadowy iconic figures we don't know personally. what i tried to do with my share of the task is shine a little bit of light on them in a way i think respects moo my admiration for all i've done.
>> a long distinguished career mostly out of the media spotlight as most generals are and then you decided to spend some time with the guy from " rolling stone ." what happened and what lessons did you learn?
>> i learned a lot. i did spend a lot of my career in the shadows. when i was in afghanistan , one of my responsibilities was communicate the allies of the 46 nations to the people of afghanistan to the american leadership an also to mothers and fathers in america , whose sons and daughters are there. i think they needed, they deserved transparency of what they were doing, what we were doing and how we were operating. we did a number of media, new and different for me. we did a number of embeds we allowed different reporters in, tried to get them from every part of the spectrum. you don't want just people who just believe in you, that doesn't help very much. i was the background of trying to get as much transparency as possible.
>> you talk about the soldiers and lack of connection sometimes between us and them. and i think that's why i like chuck hagel as a choice to head. it just seems to me it would help to have that insight. would you agree?
>> i think insight for any leader who has either on the ground experience or up close personal experience is extraordinarily valuable. it's not an automatic prerequisite or quality requirement for a job. but it makes a difference.
>> i think it helps an awful lot. i would say more important is trust. the most important measure for somebody for a president's cabinet or senior leader is do the two of them have a relationship of trust because they are going to face very complex things in the years ahead that can't be predicted right now.
>> richard haass .
>> you were associated with the transformation of the army in places like afghanistan . we've now gone through two major wars where you and david petraeus did different things in different ways. do you think that now survives you, the fact you are both out of uniform in civilian life. will the lessons of haviafghanistan shape she army and future or say, we don't want any more of that.
>> interesting, i can speak about the army itself. like any institution it has a certain amount of muscle memory and tries to spring back to previous ways and previous habits. after vietnam there was an effort to wipe the whiteboard clean and move back to what we were and something different. i fear the army and nation may try to do that with these wars. in fact, there's tremendous lessons learned , there's painful lessons. the biggest lesson we learned is know, if you really want to do well at something, understand it. understand it before you start it but then make every other effort to understand it as you execute. i think the winner in most modern conflicts will be the people who know the most.
>> implicit in that is in the war in iraq and afghanistan we simply didn't know enough before hand about local realities what we were getting into and how to contend with it.
>> richard, we didn't know enough when we went in and we were very slow in learning. we did learn over time and we were slow. we were slow as an organization and nation to focus ourself to learn faster. there were some parts i think we did but many areas i think we could do much better. that needs to be how we think about our military forces in the future. how do you make them learning organizations ? because nobody knows what the next war is going to look like. what we do know is who learns the fastest during it and corrects during the process is going to win.
>> general, i want to ask you a bit more about the " rolling stone " article. first, we have mayor bloomberg coming up and one of his big issues is guns. i'm just wondering, curious, does assault weapons , like the bushmaster, have a place in our society here in america ? what is your position? especially given the recent event events?
>> i spent a career carrying typically either an m-16 and later m4 carbine . and m4 carbine fires a 223 caliber round, 5.56 mill litter at 3,000 feet per second. when it hits a human body , the effects are devastating. it's designed to do that. that's what our soldiers ought to carry. personally don't think there's any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in america . i believe that we've got to take a serious look. i understand everybody's desire to have whatever they want. we have to protect our children and our police and we have to protect our population. we have to take a very mature look at that.
>> we're talking about background checks and banning certain types of assault weapons . we're talking about trying to reduce the number of these guns and the ammunition that feeds them in our society. first of all, do you think that's possible and would you support legislation? would you i don't know go around the country and actually be very vocal about this?
>> i think serious action is necessary. sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges. i just don't think that's enough.
>> do you think that can be done?
>> i think we'll find out.
>> what's your message to the nra and members of the house jie judd dishry committee?
>> i think we have to look at this legislation. the number of people killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. euroing we're i don't think we're a blood thirsty culture and we need to look at everything we can do to safe guard our people.
>> i appreciate your honesty on this. let me quickly ask you, the " rolling stone " article kind of exploded on our show that morning it broke and led to a fairly quick departure. do you feel misunderstood about parts of those -- the report reporting -- and is there anything you would change looking back?
>> first, i would tell you, as a commander, i take responsibility for what happened. when i came back to offer my resignation to president obama , that's exactly what i told him, i take responsibility, because that's what commanders do, and move on. i think that the media controversy that arose around that, i actually believe that it may not be entirely accurate, but the commander in chief who i worked for was my commander in chief and still my commander in chief. i owe him not to put such things on his desk, not to have him face controversies. whether it's my fault or not, it's my responsibility. i think it's front that i -- i was raised, the responsibility is what you accept, and i don't have any problem doing that.
>> the memoir is "my share of the task." you can read and excerpt on our blog mojo.msnbc.com, general stanley mcchrystal, thank you and thank you for your comments on guns. i hope to work with you on that in some way.
>>> straight ahead, new york city mayor michael bloomberg joins us on set. keep it right here on " morning joe ." [