The Gen. David Petraeus sex scandal has thrown light on how some generals (and admirals, probably) handle their rank. A headline in The Week magazine put it this way: “America’s Generals: Medal-Festooned Rock Stars.”
That’s a bit far-fetched since most high ranking officers aren’t as well known as rock stars. Most Americans probably couldn’t name a current general except when they break into the news such as former general Petraeus did. Great generals of the past such as Grant, MacArthur, Patton and Eisenhower are well known and respected. Most Americans will never meet a general or admiral. Veterans will tell you that when they were young and serving Uncle Sam, they could be awestruck when seeing a general or admiral. The longer in the service, the less in awe.
Generals and admirals do get a lot of perks. They also have tremendous responsibilities. Like other Americans, personalities vary. Since they are on a pedestal, reactions by them are different. There are men and women in the military ranks who fall short of admiration of the brass, but most depend on the officers for leadership and recognize that fact. No- where in life is example more important than in the military. The good leaders lead by example.
A critic of generals, Lucian Truscott, wrote this in The New York Times and which was in the magazine: “Generals used to be hard-bitten, bloodthirsty warriors. In recent decades, they’ve grown soft and pampered, with out-of-control egos. Petraeus, who failed to pacify Afghanistan and had middling results in Iraq, was typical of the breed — vain, preening, publicity-hungry figures who festoon their chests with dozens of medals and then celebrate their own faux greatness on talk shows and photo spreads.”
That indictment should not be attached to all of our generals because it’s way too wide of a spread. As the magazine pointed out, most of our high ranking officers have made many sacrifices along the way in serving our country with distinction
Petraeus was one of the generals who did like the high life due to his rank and his responsibilities. He once was escorted by 28 police motorcycles to a lavish party in Florida! That was ridiculous!
Ten generals were elected president. That’s an indication of how Americans have felt about generals. What has been revealed about Petraeus’ style as a general is not typical of all of our high ranking officers in the military.