Michael's Dispatches

Afghanistan: General John Campbell -- I do not trust him

07 October 2015

General Campbell is commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan. After this devastating Kunduz hospital airstrike, I again withheld judgment until more facts came in.

Our HQ in Afghanistan, under command of General Campbell, told me explicitly in writing that our troops were taking fire from the facilities. This turned out to be false. Our side continues to change its story.

As a writer and war correspondent who covered those very battlefields, I have seen endless media stampedes during which a rush to judgment led to bad outcomes for everyone.

Stampedes often are triggered by seemingly random bolts of lightning -- something trips our collective sensibilities -- and the herd startles from the thunderclap.

The media and the herd enter into a feedback loop. The media feeds the herd, and the herd responds to the media and demands more feed.

Since 2012, I have repeatedly published that General Campbell is untrustworthy as a source.

Please believe me that I prefer to support commanders, and not to chop down their trees. But some Generals should not be up there.

Here we go again. This time with the attack on the Kunduz hospital.

Under General Campbell's command the story keeps changing.

First his people told me in writing that our people were being fired upon from the Doctors without Borders facility in Kunduz. Now they tell me in writing that this is not true.

We attacked the hospital for no reason that is currently apparent, and our side has had plenty of time to spell it out.

Confidence is lost.

Secretary of Defense should consider removing General Campbell from command.

This is not my first experience with General Campbell. Please see this video from 2012:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-military-rules-cost-a-soldier-his-life/

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