McChrystal Endorses Hagel for Defense Secretary

The ousted ISAF commander returns to the spotlight with a new book.


Sen. Chuck Hagel (right) talks with reporters on Capitol Hill about the Bush administration's Iraq policy in July 2007.

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The former top general in Afghanistan and special operations chief endorsed President Barack Obama's choice for secretary of defense on Monday, adding trust among top decision makers is most important in addressing the world's increasingly complicated problems.

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Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal spoke on the TODAY show Monday morning, which coincided with the release of his new book, "My Share of the Task." The memoir marks the first time McChrystal has broken his silence since retiring in 2010 following disparaging remarks he made against Obama, documented in a Rolling Stone article.

Obama is expected to nominate Republican Chuck Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska, for the top Defense position during a 1 p.m. press conference. He is also expected to announce John Brennan as his pick for CIA director.

"If President Obama trusts him, I think Senator Hagel has the experience -- he certainly has that quality as a person. The real matter is whether the president has that level of trust," McChrystal said.

[HAGEL: Informed, Engaged Voters Lead to Quality Public Leadership]

"You have to predict the future," he added, of positions like secretary of defense. "They're going to face many complex problems, many of which we can't predict. I think that level of trust and relationship between those people and other members of the cabinet is most important."

The former commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan was a key contributor to many of the military events that made world headlines in recent years, including the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the killing of top al Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In his book, McChrystal describes meetings in the White House situation room in 2005 with President George W. Bush and his top advisors over whether a special operations team should capture or just kill al-Zarqawi.

McChrystal is also credited with modernizing many facets of the Joint Special Operations Command, which he also commanded, including highly secretive military units forged in the 1970s and 1980s.

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In the book, McChrystal takes responsibility for the remarks cited in the June 2010 Rolling Stone article, "The Runaway General," criticizing Obama and key members of his staff for their approach to the war in Afghanistan. On Monday, McChrystal said this was a minor part of his career, and wrote his book accordingly.

"In my book, I outline that in about a page and a half, of a 400-page book. That's its level of importance," he said.

"What I really tried to do was give it a big picture. What I've tried to do is show the wholistic relationship with people, and generally it was really good," he added.

McChrystal said he wanted to stay in the job but did what he thought was best "for the mission."

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