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General McChrystal's Rolling Stone gaffe gets shrugs on front lines

General McChrystal's comments to Rolling Stone may be rocking Washington, but soldiers in Afghanistan downplay the impact.

By Correspondent / June 22, 2010

General McChrystal and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry greet President Obama at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in this March 28 photo. McChrystal has been summoned to Washington to explain derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues, administration officials said Tuesday.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File

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Panjwayi, Afghanistan

The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been recalled to Washington to explain controversial remarks he made about leading Obama administration figures. But those on the front lines of the war say that the political squabble and inevitable fallout to come means little for them or the mission ahead.

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In a Rolling Stone profile titled “The Runaway General” that appeared online on Tuesday morning and will hit news stands on Friday, McChrystal and his aides are quoted making sarcastic or unfavorable remarks about Vice President Joe Biden, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry, and others.

The piece opens with McChrystal complaining about having to meet with a French minister -- the kind of care and feeding of allies crucial for holding together an increasingly shaky international coalition. As casualities increase in Afghanistan, NATO allies such as Canada and the Netherlands are preparing to withdraw their troops in a year.

IN PICTURES: US soldiers serving in Afghanistan

But Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar Province, the birthplace of the Taliban and currently home to the war’s most intense fighting, mostly shrugged off the political firestorm.

“Whatever happens, we just keep doing our job,” says Canadian Army Master Cpl. Mathieu Jacob of Cap-Pelé, Canada. “Our job is our job.”

The Canadians are no strangers to high-level drama in their ranks. In May, Canadian Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Ménard, formerly Canada’s top soldier in Kandahar and commander of Joint Task Force Kandahar was relieved of command for allegedly having an affair with a female soldier on his staff. Soldiers are forbidden from having personal relationships while deployed in a war zone.

Even though the situation resulted in a new commander, Canadian soldiers say such incidents have little affect on their day-to-day operations.

“In the Army things take a long time to change,” says Canadian Army Cpl. Natalie Saumur of Ottawa, Canada. “So far, I haven’t noticed anything.”

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