ZenPundit
Saturday, May 07, 2005
 
COLONEL DAVID HACKWORTH, R.I.P.

I caught the death of the highly decorated, iconoclastic, Colonel David Hackworth over at the Glittering Eye yesterday. Hackworth, who continued his involvement in military affairs in retirement as an analyst, commentator and advocate had succumbed to bladder cancer at age 74. I had been impressed with Colonel Hackworth ever since I had read his memoirs, About Face, years ago, and continued to read him occasionally in the MSM ever since.

I set out to write a reflective piece on Hackworth but I find that Armchair Generalist has done an excellent one already that requires no improvement from me. The full post is here but I have excerpted a section:

"Hackworth got under people's skin because he focused on the soldier first and military protocol last. He authored several books, of which I read the first two:"About Face" and "Hazardous Duty." The first book covered a good bit of his career through and after the military, focusing on the Korean War and Vietnam war, his leadership of combat units, and the real nature of war, up close and personal. The second book held his reviews of the military's more current conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Korea and his frustration with the "perfumed princes" in the Pentagon. He has a unique point of view that focuses almost entirely on the art of combat and sneers at the art of military-industrial business in the Beltway. I have to say I enjoyed the first book the most, although the second book was valuable in and of itself as well. His other books, in my opinion only, got a little too critical without offering much in the way of recommendations for me to want to own.

Anyone that has followed the good colonel knows about his web site "Soldiers for the Truth." Its mission statement says it all: "SFTT believes it is crucial that our men and women of the Armed Forces have an independent voice working on their behalf to hold the pentagon, congress and the media accountable in matters that effect their missions and their lives. We are dedicated to fighting these battles on every front." Hackworth knew that there were ignorant and malignant sources in the Pentagon, Congress and the media that worked against the soldiers' best interest, and he was intent on revealing them to the public.

I have only a minor complaint with the great man - he wasn't really sharp on NBC warfare - but then again, what infantry man is? They really don't like the bugs and gas and the gear we give them for protection. Back in February 2003, he was featured in a "60 Minutes" hack job on the DOD CB Defense Program, specifically attacking Dr. Anna Johnson-Winegar for the troops' readiness to engage Iraq and deal with the possible threat of CB warfare. During the episode, he referred to NBC defense as "No Body Cares." That rankled me personally because I got really tired of hearing that all through my short career in the military. Don't get me wrong, I do understand that many combat soldiers, DOD civilian leaders, and Congressmen don't care about NBC defense. However, we had been really working hard to prepare our forces for that possibility, and our overall capability to survive and sustain combat operations in a CBRN-contaminated environment was pretty damn good. He wasn't up to snuff on the current state of the art, but that didn't stop him from commenting on how the Army used to deal with NBC defense in the 1980s. No one could tell Hack to stay quiet.

Here died a giant. Let the warriors of Valhalla make room for a brother."

Godspeed, Colonel Hackworth.
 
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