Three weeks ago, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was knee-deep in intelligence reports and battle logs, preparing to ramp up the tempo of NATO operations in Afghanistan ahead of a government-wide policy review that begins in November.
Today, he spends his days on the porch of a well-maintained Victorian-style home for general officers on a small Army base south of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., his wife Ann preparing root beer for his guests.
Everyone from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, to members of elite special forces units, to former aides and adjutants has stopped by to pay their respects to a man who revolutionized kinetic counterterrorism operations and had been hand-picked to turn around the war in Afghanistan. Just recently, a study by American economists concluded that his rules of engagement, far from hamstringing American soldiers, had helped to reduce the number of insurgent attacks.
McChrystal was recalled from Kabul and then fired by President Obama for interviews his staff gave to Rolling Stone magazine. The day before the firing, his staff had felt so invincible that they encouraged reporters to assign blame to them, by name, for some of the article's most controversial quotations.