Saturday, June 16, 2007

Old Soldiers

Fire of Liberty
Now I can understand that Defense Secretary Gates might find it necessary to get the favor of the Democrat controlled Senate by replacing various military commanders with other commanders that won't make waves during their confirmations or anger the Dems throughout their tenure but I can also see how such policy can have a lasting impact on the quality of our commanders and the devotion to the troops in the field. Among the most recent decisions by Secretary Gates is his decision to nix the renomination of General Pete Pace as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While the Pentagon and the White House have the final say in replacing General Pace, I'm scratching my head at such a decision especially when I read the following statements that Gen Pace made to the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk:
"One thing that was discussed was whether or not I should just voluntarily retire and take the issue off the table," Gen. Pace said, according to a transcript released yesterday by his office at the Pentagon.
"I said I could not do that for one very fundamental reason," which is that no soldier or Marine in Iraq should "think -- ever -- that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle and voluntarily walked off the battlefield.
"That is unacceptable as a leadership thing, in my mind," he added.
Gen. Pace, whose current term ends Oct. 1, said he intended to remain on the job until then. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen has been announced as President Bush's choice to succeed Gen. Pace, who is the first Marine ever to hold the military's top post.
A Vietnam veteran, Gen. Pace indicated in his Norfolk comments that his experience in that war colored his decision not to quit voluntarily.
"The other piece for me personally was that some 40 years ago I left some guys on the battlefield in Vietnam who lost their lives following Second Lieutenant Pace," he said. "And I promised myself then that I will serve this country until I was no longer needed -- that it's not my decision. I need to be told that I'm done.
"I've been told I'm done."
Though that the President and the Pentagon need to appease the Senate for the next 18 months in hopes to keep the money flowing into the highly unpopular operations in Iraq(The Senate is turning away even when the American people still prefer success rather than failure.) but sometimes you've got to take a brave stand for highly experienced members of our military who care as much about our soldiers and their mission as General Pete Pace. I guess General MacArthur's adage of "old soldiers never die; they just fade away" rings true with General Pace.

So from the son of a soldier to a Marine, I offer General Pace a grateful thanks for his service to this nation and the soldiers who served under him.

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