A big bear of an army general has died. And maybe he was the last of the true fighting generals rather than the some of the air conditioned-office-bound emailing philanderers we see today.
Gen. “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf has died at age 78.
I just read and article with some of his famous quotes, but the one that stood out to me was not in that article but was in the initial news reports of his death. Well, it was a partial quote. He is reported to have referred to the now late Gen. Westmoreland as a “horse’s ass”.
With all due respects to the other late general (who got a bad rap over Vietnam), there is something about a man who tells it like it is or at least like he thinks it is.
I’m not going to write a bunch of stuff extolling the virtues of Gen. Schwarzkopf because even though I have read many great things about him I don’t really feel I know that much about him. But I think he is what we want in a general. First of all no personal scandal, and then:
Gen. Schwarzkopf was a huge man and looked like a leader (big guys always have that advantage). He had real combat experience as a junior officer in Vietnam. He saved a bunch of fellow GIs from a minefield. And he may have been our last general to actually win a war — the first Gulf War. Well, actually I have to qualify that a little. He did win his part of it if you consider his mission was to chase Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. It was not his fault that the powers that be got cold feet and did not take the action all the way back to Baghdad, settling for quitting while we were ahead.
And I have to say, I think I just read yesterday that Schwarzkopf was quoted as saying something to the effect that he was “lucky” that he was able to be the guy in charge in a winning battle. Be that as it may, the winning quarterback gets the glory.
And we as a nation were “lucky” to have this man in our service.
Rest in Peace General Schwarzkopf.
One problem, if you want to call it that, is that unless we have wars our officers and enlisted men can’t get real combat experience. And it is probably not fair to criticize someone for not having real combat experience if it was never offered. Also, I have to recall that one of our greatest military leaders and a great president as well (in my estimation anyway) was Dwight Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Allied Commander in Word War II. He had no actual combat experience, even though he was in the service already during World War I. But even though wars are different now, they are just as deadly, and we should have loads of potential leaders getting experience for some future time. It’s a terrible business, but someone has to do it.