The United States must be much more aggressive in its global leadership because parts of the world are "literally melting down," retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal tells Newsmax TV.
"[The Islamic State] is a very serious threat, but ISIS is a symptom of a much wider threat," McChrystal, author of the new book "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,"
said on "The Steve Malzberg Show.
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"The fact is the Middle East and North Africa are literally melting down. If you look at the actions of the Saudis and other coalitions going into Yemen and whatnot, on the one hand that's good.
"On the other hand it signals a lack of or a concern that America's not doing what we used to do. So in reality it's important we re-establish a level of legitimacy and credibility that we are going to help stabilize that region because we can't ignore it."
McChrystal believes President Barack Obama "inherited a very difficult situation" in the Middle East when he entered the White House in 2009.
"[He] is trying to work his way through it. But we are not working our way through it as well as any of us would like to. So we've got to take a hard look," he said.
In his book — written with Tatum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussell, and published by Portfolio — McChrystal tells how in 2003, he changed conventional military tactics to battle al-Qaida as commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force.
And he tells how those changes are relevant to the running of commercial businesses and nonprofits.
"We started with exquisitely selected people and then this training that built us into great small teams, but that didn't equate to victory," McChrystal told Steve Malzberg.
"It wasn't because al-Qaida in Iraq was all that good or that their leadership was all that monumental. It really was because the environment had changed.
"Suddenly, information technology, the speed of events, the interconnectedness of activities —
a car bomb that went off in Baghdad actually affected people in Mosul and in North Africa to bring recruits in."
The enemy suddenly became "this loose network that leveraged technology almost unconsciously," McChrystal said.
"I don't think it was their plan and it made them very, very difficult. The traditional hierarchy, even as good as we were, was not good enough to beat that, so we had to change."
The Islamic State is particularly good at utilizing social media, according to McChrystal, who spent 34 years in the military.
"It's not done at one central place … It's very decentralized so they're able to be very fast, very precise, very reactive and much faster and more agile than we are," he said.
"We spend a lot of time getting somebody proficient in their task, in business, to work a machine, or make certain decisions. And then what we don't do is figure out how to get the teams to work together.
"The human resources and sales and marketing and research and development don't talk to each other and then we're surprised when we don’t get this coordinated, synchronized output … Our processes and our cultures handcuff us."
The path to a successful synchronization begins with starting without any assumptions, according to McChrystal.
"If you look at the pace of technological growth, it is now going at a steeper curve with artificial intelligence. So in reality, anyone who says we are going to figure out how to do something and that's going to last any appreciable amount of time is kidding themselves," he said.
"You've got to start with the idea that it's always going to be changing and build that into the DNA of your organization."
McChrystal says that as a commander in Afghanistan, he also "tightened" the rules of engagement for his troops.
"I said that any American solider could use whatever firepower was necessary to defend themselves or their men. But if it was to just to kill the enemy, I wanted them to stop and think," he said.
"The reason is not because I'm a particularly thoughtful guy. It wasn't really even based on morality. It was based on if we wanted to win that war, we had to win the support of the Afghan people."
McChrystal believes the military is increasingly under the microscope .
"If you think about it, from Vietnam on we've had pervasive coverage to a greater degree than ever, particularly with television and film, so the reality is there's more scrutiny on soldiers than ever," he said.
"In most cases, the performance of our forces is just extraordinarily good."
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