Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A salute to Admiral Mullen

I see the hand of Admiral Mullen, the low-key chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the swift and crisp handling of the McChrystal mess this week. He has served his president well, and quietly. I am often critical of the military, so when someone does his difficult job as adeptly as I think ...

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

I see the hand of Admiral Mullen, the low-key chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the swift and crisp handling of the McChrystal mess this week. He has served his president well, and quietly. I am often critical of the military, so when someone does his difficult job as adeptly as I think he did this week, it deserves recognition.

Sometimes the most important events are the ones that don't happen. I suspect Mullen gave the president solid advice this week.

UPDATE: At a Pentagon press conference today, Mullen was asked how he reacted when he first read the Rolling Stone article. He responded:

I see the hand of Admiral Mullen, the low-key chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the swift and crisp handling of the McChrystal mess this week. He has served his president well, and quietly. I am often critical of the military, so when someone does his difficult job as adeptly as I think he did this week, it deserves recognition.

Sometimes the most important events are the ones that don’t happen. I suspect Mullen gave the president solid advice this week.

UPDATE: At a Pentagon press conference today, Mullen was asked how he reacted when he first read the Rolling Stone article. He responded:

Honestly, when I first read it, I was nearly sick. It made me — literally, physically. I couldn’t believe it. So I was stunned.

Secondly, General McChrystal is responsible for his people, and he has every bit as much responsibility for what was in that and what his people said as the individuals who said it. And the accountability that goes along with that — and General McChrystal understands that completely, reflected by the fact that he offered his resignation.

So it was — and then — and then in the, obviously, essence of it, it was clear that it challenged civilian — that there was in its — in its totality, it challenged civilian control, which is a fundamental principle for us that is not challengeable. It wasn’t; it isn’t; and it won’t be in the future. And that’s why the action was taken."

‘Nuff said.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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