The State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston is also wracked with cases of the coronavirus. In response, Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, has sought outside help and has hired a retired Army general to advise the city on its efforts.
General Stanley McChrystal was best known for his work in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) for several years during the Global War on Terror. During his tenure, JSOC units captured Saddam Hussein and were responsible for the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Now McChrystal is joining in the battle against COVID-19.
Walsh announced the hiring of the McChrystal Group at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“With each tragic death, it is a reminder of the dangerous situation we are living in,” the Mayor said. “We are going to continue to do everything we can as one community to protect each other and prevent further loss of life.” (The hiring was announced at the same press conference as the second death in MA was.)
McChrystal was known as a leader who thought outside the box when he headed the JSOC in the mid-2000s. JSOC operated differently than the conventional military and McChrystal knew that the War on Terror required an agile, empowered organization that had to have the flexibility and speed to operate in rapidly changing environments. Now, he’ll try to bring that outside-the-box thinking to fight a worldwide foe that has brought the global economy to a standstill.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.”
McChrystal is also known as a straight-shooter. He isn’t one to mince words and was forced to resign while commander of all coalition troops in Afghanistan after an interview that was published in 2009 where he was very critical of the Obama administration and especially Vice President Joe Biden.
Walsh said McChrystal’s team will now update Boston’s plans and services to meet the needs of city residents. McChrystal’s team has already begun work.
“This specialized team, the McChrystal Group, will focus on supporting our work and the effectiveness of our response here in Boston,” Walsh said. “That will include coordination of our agencies, integrating our response plans, ensuring effective and transparent communication of those plans to all of our residents, so people in Boston know everything that we’re doing.”
He added that the McChrystal Group’s help in the fight would be shared with the surrounding cities and towns of the Greater Boston area if they so need it.
Walsh admitted that the leaders of the City of Boston and the state are dealing with situations that they’ve never faced. “I am not willing to leave anything to chance when it comes to the safety and well-being of our residents,” he said. “This is unchartered territory.”
Walsh also stated that the city was reviewing protocols regarding the city’s homeless population and announced that a second, 20-person capacity tent would be set up on Tuesday for the screening and separation of any potential coronavirus cases among that group.
Walsh also confirmed that there were, as of the press conference on Monday, 133 cases of COVID-19 in the city.
He urged Boston residents not to hoard food, water, or any other supplies and reiterated that the city’s water supply is safe. He also asked everyone to please not “pass on rumors,” which have been running rampant on social media, and only get their information from official sources.
“The best thing we can we do right now is to stay home,” he said.