McChrystal to Retire as Four-Star

Stanley McChrystal will be allowed to retire as a four-star general rather than suffer the indignity of being reduced to his permanent grade.

There was some speculation that, having been allowed to resign after a gross breach of military protocol, Stanley McChrystal would be required to suffer the indignity of retiring at reduced rank, perhaps at his permanent rank of Major (2-star) General.   That appears not to be happening:

McChrystal was sacked about a year after receiving his fourth star — half the time normally necessary to qualify for a four-star general’s retirement income of $12,475 per month, before taxes, according to Pentagon estimates based on his 34 years of service.

“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he, somebody who has served the country as ably as he has, can retire at a four-star level,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.


Had Obama not been willing to assist McChrystal, he would have retired on a three star general’s salary of $11,736 per month, before taxes, according to Pentagon estimates, taking into consideration McChrystal’s time in the military.

It may well have sent a stronger message to have demoted McChrystal — although it would almost certainly have made him into a martyr in some circles.   Obama’s cool handling of this — allowing McChrystal to resign rather than be fired, praising the general’s service while announcing the move, and now this — have assured that this won’t happen.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mithras says:

    It’s perfectly consistent with how Obama characterized the nature of McChrystal’s actions – a mistake. Personally, I don’t think it was a mistake – McChrystal was bucking for an insubordination rap since his public speech last October during the middle of the strategic review. But no-drama Obama gave the measured response and so keeps the harsher option in reserve for future “mistakes”.

  2. Rose says:

    If McChrystal actually does retire I hope he writes a “tell all” book about this incompetent administration so we, the people, know what is really going on. McChrystal did not get to be a 4-star general by being stupid. So his decision to let Rolling Stone have access to what was being said behind the scenes by his own staff was a way of letting us out here know that something smells rotten with this Commander in Chief. I personally can’t wait to read it, if he does write it., and I hope he does so soon.