I came into reading My Share of the Task with conflicting thoughts. One on hand, General McChrystal was, at one point at least, an American patriot that sacrificed lots for his country. But, on the other hand, his way of carrying out the war in Afghanistan got many American and coalition forces killed because the rules he established prioritized Afghanis over our troops. Additionally, I vaguely remembered his Democrat leanings. So, I had reservations about reading a book from him.
However, given that I had already bought it, I figured that no real harm could come from giving his memoirs a read. After reading it, while my doubts about McChrystal as a person weren’t in any way dispelled, I was glad I took the time to read about two of America’s longest and most brutal wars so that I could make myself remember the sacrifices of our brave veterans.
Summary of My Share of the Task
McChrystal models My Share of the Task off of Ulysses Grant’s Memoirs. Indeed, at the beginning of the book, he specifically mentions Grant’s autobiography and how he hopes to emulate it. So, the overall structure is pretty similar.
As with most memoirs, McChrsytal begins in his early childhood, jumps around the important sections of his early career, and then spends the overwhelming majority of the book discussing the most important things he was involved in.
His early career shows how he set himself apart and was, despite his faults, certainly qualified to lead the war effort in Iraq. In a post-Vietnam military that struggled with morale issues and hated special forces, McChrystal remained motivated and set himself apart from his peers by completing Ranger School and eventually becoming a Green Beret, plus he commanded larger, more conventional units.
When the war in Iraq started, he was in charge of the special forces troops in Iraq that hunted down hundreds of key al-Qaeda members. His past training made him effective in that role and he did a masterful job at commanding troops such as the SEAL unit Jocko Willink was in and wrote about in Extreme Ownership. Those units utterly decimated the terrorist infrastructure in Iraq.
From there, once Iraq had pulled through its civil war more or less intact and had begun to stabilize, McChrystal was eventually sent to command the ISAF forces in Afghanistan and beat back the Taliban.
In that role, based on what he wrote in My Share of the Task, he tended to prioritize the lives of Afghani civilians and relationships with corrupt government officials over keeping Americans alive and beating back the Taliban. He had his reasons for doing so, as you can read about in My Share of the Task. However, ultimately, they’re less than convincing and seem based on his close relationship with Obama, who he praises effusively throughout the latter part of the book.
Analysis of My Share of the Task
I think the first half of My Share of the Task was by far the better part. In that section, McChrystal shied away from politics and mainly focused on Army training and what his early career was like. It was very interesting and gave great insight into what the late-Cold War Army was like.
However, the second part of the book is very disappointing and shows why, I think, President Trump and many Americans don’t trust our generals. He just couldn’t seem to capture the same spirit of American victory that MacArthur does in Reminiscences and that became a major problem.
Whereas past Americans like Lemay or MacArthur focused on winning wars, men like McChrystal, Petraeus, and McRaven instead just did what seemed politically popular and made them feel like humanitarians.
The stench of that failure pervades My Share of the Task. Throughout it, if you read between the lines, it’s easy to see how American lives were sacrificed for nothing other than trying to please the citizens of nations we defeated and to avoid potentially difficult incidents.
However, the one redeeming feature of My Share of the Task is that in it, McChrystal lambasts many in the corrupt and un-American CIA and praises Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was a general that knew how to win before he was set up by the FBI.
My Share of the Task is a book that Americans should read so they can see what our military has become. Far from being the war-winning force of World War II, or even the insurgent killing machine of Vietnam, as you can read about in Stalking the Vietcong, it is now basically a social justice force.
That’s not because of most veterans, who are brave, all-American warriors. Instead, it’s because of our cowardly generals and politicians that don’t have the will to do what it takes to win the brutal wars they place our troops in. So, because of them, Americans die and terrorists continue to exist.
America’s military needs to start winning again. All the innovation in the world won’t matter if our troops remain tied up because of overly restrictive rules of engagement. President Trump wants to change that. He just needs to first defeat the Deep State generals.
By: Gen Z Conservative