“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.”
Excellent account of the life and career of one of America's finest soldiers. The end of the story is another deflating example of an honorable career terminated on a sour note because amateur politicians like Barack Obama & his lackey administration really are a bunch of morons. God...help us.
Modern Leadership Defined
Anyone interested in real leadership and the application of it in modern war should read this book. A great study of the people and experiences that shaped the leadership philosophy of the man who would create a “network to defeat a network” and retool the US and international community’s commitment to the fledgling Afghan government to build a new consensus and plot a potential path to victory.
His documentation of the trial and error approach to establishing relationships of trust between formerly compartmented Special Operations units and various US government agencies is actually the history of how America mobilized and built an intelligence driven targeting machine that utilized a “whole of government approach” to turn the tide in Iraq and defeat the al Qaida aligned Zarqawi network.
General McChrystal demonstrates the same adaptability as he transitions into the role of ISAF Commander and seeks once again to build trust while inspiring and leading the Americans, Afghans and allies to cement Afghan popular consent to reject the Taliban as an option for the leadership of the country.
A great read on how leaders of any organization must transition from solving tactical problems to solving strategic problems as they advance in their chosen profession; constantly reflecting on what the task and purpose of their organization is and what they are doing to achieve it.