Yahoo News asked veterans for their thoughts and appreciations of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who died Thursday at 78.
COMMENTARY | It was truly sad to see the announcement of the passing of Norman Schwarzkopf. As a military retiree and a Vietnam veteran, I believe I could understand, empathize and cheer on the general when he lead the forces that liberated Kuwait from the savage Iraqi occupation in 1990.
The contrast between the military campaigns in the Vietnam and Iraq wars is striking, as the former put severe constraints on the military commanders and was orchestrated by Robert McNamara and his so-called civilian "Whiz Kids" back in the comfortable offices in Washington, D.C., while the latter gave Schwarzkopf a great deal of latitude for his planning and execution of his strategy. And history has written it was a brilliant, successful one at that.
Having been in the Air Force for 35 years, I've had a front-row seat to various styles of military leadership, with my insight being honed as time went on and I rose through the ranks. To quote a former commander of mine, "I know what good looks like." General Schwarzkopf was not only good, he was great.
One thing I do know is that the general wasn't a "perfumed prince." He didn't rise rapidly through the officer ranks by being a "yes" man, by keeping his thoughts to himself for fear of offending a superior and certainly not by subscribing to the ever-increasing political correctness in the military.
Yes, he was prone to thunderous outbursts at times, and even had his moments of emotional crisis during his calls with Gen. Colin Powell from his bunker. But that's what made him a military diamond in the rough. While other generals were polished, people discovered more facets of Schwarzkopf: his superb leadership with the troops and officers and his unflagging patriotism while in uniform and later in retirement.
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