Hastings, Caldwell and PSYOP Kerfuffle

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Freelancer Michael Hastings, whose take-down of Gen. Stanley McChrystal garnered him a recent Polk award, has a piece in Rolling Stone this week that was tearing up certain portions of the blogosphere this week. It's headlined by a bold and attention grabbing claim: that a "runaway general" deployed "psy-ops" on U.S. Senators.

After a 10-story tall headline like that, the story itself is decidedly disappointing, and in some cases undercuts its case by making claims far beyond what the facts in evidence indicate.

(An aside: PSYOP is the proper abbreviation, as it is itself plural. Yet Hastings and a host of other journalists who reported on his story seem dedicated to the use of "psy-ops," a term that I've previously only heard from Hollywood. But this is Rolling Stone we're talking about.)

Hastings' target in this story is Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is the commander of NATO training for police and soldiers in Afghanistan. Caldwell has a reputation for being a superior commander and a smart, focused leader - he's widely credited for re-energizing the training side of the mission, and is viewed as an up-and-coming general. The case against him is leveled by Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, who claims he was assigned by Caldwell and his staff to "conduct an IO [information operations] campaign against" visiting U.S. senators on CODEL (Congressional Delegation) visits to garner more support for their efforts.

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