Saturday, July 25, 2009

# Posted 10:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE GENERALS OF '76: The Wall Street Journal has a very good profile today of the West Point Class of 1976, whose graduates include Ray Odierno, our commander in Iraq, and Stanley McChrystal, our commander in Afghanistan, along with several other prominent generals.

The article mentions in passing that Odierno's son lost his arm in 2004, in a firefight near Baghdad. Later, the article mentions in passing that the daughter of Gen. Keith Walker was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2005.

This kind of tragedy is almost inevitable, given how many senior officers (colonels as well as generals) have children serving in the military, often in front-line combat units. My analyst position in Iraq was previously held by a retired lieutenant colonel whose son's was leading an infantry unit just over the wall in Baghdad. The deputy commander of my task force in Iraq was an active-duty lieutenant colonel with a son in Iraq. One of my colleagues was a retired NCO who survived more than one IED blast and had a son in Iraq.

The headquarters I served in was not unusual. Military service is a family tradition, passed on from father to son (and often now from father to daughter).

We often hear that our political leaders (with rare exceptions like John McCain) don't have children in the line of fire. But our military leaders certainly do, and they pay the price.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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