Thursday, September 1, 2011

General David Petraeus an Extradinary Man

Glen Ellen, California

Yesterday David Petraeus retired from the U.S. Army after 37 years of service. We, as a nation, should salute him.

Ever since I became aware of the general during the heat of the Iraq War I can only say that he really is a hero of mine. His accomplishments are just staggering. I mean right out of the gate, Petraeus is the son of an old school Sea Captain who I immigrated from the Netherlands. This gives him a good head start in my humble opinion.

What impresses me about General Petraeus is his holistic, vast scope of interests sustained over such a long period of time. His brain functions, apparently, on a higher plane than most. One of his aids called him "scary smart." He was shot accidentally on a firing range that almost killed him, and had a parachute failure which resulted in a busted pelvis followed by months of rehab. He is a cancer survivor after beating prostate cancer in 2009. His physical fitness is world renown. An up at dawn five mile run, and at 57 still manages a sub six minute mile. His run is followed by a weight lifting routine with a single iron bar. 

What impresses me most about the general is his intellectual nature, and its impact on the Armed Forces. Over the centuries soldiers have held the stereotype of knuckle draggers, suited only with a passion for blunt force. Petraus breaks said mold  smashingly. He obtained his degree from West Point in 1974, followed by a Master in Public Administration, and also earned his doctorate in 1997 from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  I think he tends to down play his PhD status as it seems to clash with the warrior culture of the Army. 

He would be termed what academia calls a "critical thinker." Critical thinking is well, critical these days. A good working definition of critical thinking is "a mode of interpretation and evaluation to guide beliefs and actions." What makes the general so effective has to do with my original statement of him being a holistic type person. What this just means is he is not a specialist only. He has had education in the liberal arts, coupled with numerous jobs within the military that has enabled him to apply a substantial number of skills. From simple budgeting matters, to enormous political problems, health problems, strategy, technology, writing of doctrine, and personnel issues. Petraeus is also equipped  with a well-spring of self-discipline honed over decades that has allowed him to use experience, knowledge, and his wisdom to adjust when necessary. 

As you can tell, I'm pretty Pro-Petraeus. I'm pretty stoked to be a citizen of a country that can recognize such talent, and has the institutions that allow such a talent to thrive. Ultimately the investment in such a man has paid off handsomely for our country. Now, he moves to the CIA. He is the gift that keeps on giving. Welcome to the retirement rolls!

Capt C

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