Retired Gen. Stan McChrystal

Former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan

Retired General Stan McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. He is also known for developing and implementing the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and for creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the way military agencies interact and operate.

A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. His leadership of JSOC is credited with the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He is also the author of the best-selling leadership books, My Share of the Task: A Memoir and Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World.

The son and grandson of Army officers, McChrystal graduated from West Point in 1976 and trained at the Special Forces School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was later commissioned as an infantry officer and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He also completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2000. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2001.

In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver the nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003–2008, he commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe, assuming command of all international forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war.

McChrystal retired from the military in 2010. He now serves on the board of directors for JetBlue Airways, Navistar, and the Yellow Ribbon Fund. McChrystal is the chair of Service Year Alliance, a project of Be The Change and the Aspen Institute, which envisions a future in which a service year is a cultural expectation and common opportunity for every young American. He is also a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where he teaches a popular course on leadership.