Monday, December 31, 2007

General Patraeus: "Get it done."

A blogpost I compiled in August, yet did not publish:

Peggy Noonan talks about Gen. Patraeus, and about the coming September moment. Link

She mentions Gen. Patraeus being shot in the chest in a training accident in 1991. The title of this post comes from his instructions to his surgeon, who happened to be future Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

As then Colonel Patraeus lay in the Emergency Room, Dr. Frist outlined the significant dangers of the various options available. There was an excellent chance Col. Patraeus would die upon the operating table. Col. Patraeus interrupted Dr. Frist's recitation of dangers and of variables. Col. Patraeus said "Don't hesitate. Get it done."

Peggy Noonan doesn't mention, probably because she doesn't know, some circumstances surrounding that story. Michael Yon:
A couple weeks ago, LTC Fred Johnson told me a story about General Petraeus. Back when LTC Johnson was Captain Johnson, and General Petraeus was Colonel Petraeus, Colonel Petraeus was Captain Johnson’s new commander. They were doing a live-fire exercise at a range at Fort Campbell when a young soldier named Specialist Terrence Jones tripped and accidentally fired his weapon while conducting a live-fire assault. The bullet from Specialist Jones’ weapon struck Colonel Petraeus, slamming through his chest and taking a piece of his back on the way out. Petraeus fell to the ground, bleeding out of his mouth. He nearly died. We could have lost one of the most important and influential military leaders in generations to a mistake. To a professional misstep.

The best that Captain Johnson and Specialist Jones might have hoped for was a painless end to their military service. I asked LTC Fred Johnson about the story of his own soldier shooting David Petraeus, and I asked how it could be that Johnson was still in the military. Johnson looked me in the eye and said something like,

“Mike. You know what Petraeus did?”

“What?” I asked.

“He gave me a second chance.”

Fred Johnson actually got picked up for promotion early.

“But what happened to the young soldier?” I asked, thinking surely there had to be a consequence. Conventional wisdom stipulates that for balance to be restored after accidentally shooting and nearly killing a superior officer, a sacrifice of some magnitude is necessary. A soldier just can’t shoot a commander in the chest and walk away. There is no such thing as an “accidental discharge.” Unplanned bullet launches are called “negligent discharges.” As in negligent homicide.

LTC Johnson answered something like, “Mike, you won’t believe how Jones was punished. Petraeus sent Jones to Ranger School.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! That’s a punishment that a lot of young soldiers dream about, even though Ranger School is a very difficult course. But after thinking on it awhile, I realized it probably explains why LTC Johnson sometimes says, “I believe in second chances.”

Fred Johnson said it just the other day. He said it to me, “When someone gives you a second chance, you should pass it along.”

Such are the principles of the General the Democrats are preparing to Bork. Gen. Patraeus is already being derided as "the new Jesus." The truth is: Gen. Patraeus is the very best the U.S. Army has to offer. In this case, especially, that is very good indeed.

Link: David Patraeus must be destroyed

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