May 29, 2005

Our commanders...

For Memorial Day, I recommend a piece, The Commanders, by Jim Lacey, in NRO, about the leaders in our military. It's especially apposite right now, with scoundrels heaping dirt on our soldiers just to advance their anti-Bush agendas. (Or even more hateful, using faux-concern, of the "Support Our Troops: Surrender Now" variety.)

...For those who have not experienced it, it is almost impossible to explain the depth of feeling that commanders feel for their organizations and the people within them. I have seen infantry commanders who are absolutely fearless in combat break down crying when giving up their commands and moving on to other assignments. I know dozens of officers who have already done one or more tours in Iraq who cannot watch the news because they feel guilty about being safe at home while their comrades are still in danger. I have met dozens of officers who are volunteering for second and third tours in Iraq, simply because young Americans are fighting and dying there and they feel a deep need to be with them.

Those with no familiarity with America’s warriors might say they just like fighting and killing. Those people have never spoken to an officer who has been in a hard fight. They have never heard the cracking voice as he relates the difficulty of looking at people, whether enemy or ally, killed as a result of his orders. They have never heard the anguish of a leader replaying for the thousandth time the loss of one of his own. They did not hear an armored company commander answer a question about how he felt about having his soldiers rebuild schools after fighting to seize Baghdad literally days before. He said, “I cannot tell you how great it feels to be able to stop killing and start helping people.” Such is the overwhelming compassion of those who fight our wars...

Especially interesting to me was his descriptions of colonels, even generals, routinely joining the men on patrols. That's what leadership is like. This has actually been a fairly common thing in our history. World War One was famous for "chateaux generals," but that didn't happen in the AEF. General Pershing made sure all staff officers spent time on the front lines..

Posted by John Weidner at May 29, 2005 8:14 PM
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