Congressman Dave Loebsack says it’s up to the president to decide the future of the general who was summoned to the Oval Office this morning after controversial statements from General Stanley McChrystal and his staff were published in a Rolling Stone article.

“Certainly I was disappointed in the comments, but this is something that is on-going at the moment and I look forward to hearing the outcome of the president’s meeting with General McChrystal and we’ll see what comes of that,” Loebsack says.  “…Constitutionally it is the president’s decision to make whatever the future of General McChrystal may be and so I’m not inclined to weigh in and also I just simply don’t want to make this any kind of a political football more for the troops’ sake more than anything else.” 

Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, a panel where McChrystal has testified about the operations in Afghanistan, where he is top commander.

“I have tremendous respect for General McChrystal,” Loebsack says. “I think he has done a wonderful job, obviously, in Afghanistan and before, so I think that he’s a professional through and through and he’s served our country very well.” 

Loebsack has just returned from a trip to Camp Ripley in Minnesota where Iowa National Guard troops are training for a deployment to Afghanistan.  Loebsack says the soldiers are focused on their mission, not on the controversy about who the top commander may or may not be.

“The folks on the ground are concerned about the mission,” Loebsack says, “getting prepared for the mission and up at Camp Ripley that’s what they were concerned about — not about the politics in Washington or any of that.”

Loebsack uses the word “optimistic” to describe the mood of the Iowa soldiers. “It was very impressive to see what they were doing up there.  I went and saw a number of exercises, watched what’s called the ‘After Action Review’ as well. They went through the process of evaluating how they did,” Loebsack says. “I’m really confident that when they’re finished with this and when they go to Mississippi and California for further training before they’re deployed that they’re going to be fully prepared to do what they need to do in Afghanistan.” 

Loebsack says he was “heartened” to see the professionalism of the soldiers from Iowa, as well as from the evaluators who are reviewing the training exercises.  Loebsack serves on two subcommittees of the House Armed Services panel, one on Readiness and the other on Military Personnel.