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Col. Charles D. Allen
Military scholar

Col. Charles D. Allen

Colonel Charles D. Allen (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Professor of Cultural Science in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the U.S. Army War College.

'All glory is fleeting'

Q:Today Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is riding high, judging from his press clippings, while a year ago the same pundits wondered if he'd be forced to step down. Many leaders face these wild swings of perception: one moment a genius, the next a dolt. Should leaders pay attention to their own popularity - or lack of it?

I have to thank my son for my Christmas gift of the book, "The Fourth Star." David Cloud and Greg Jaffe provide an insightful and telling account of senior Army officers who directed the military operations in Iraq. This talented group of officers -- Generals Abizaid, Casey, Petraeus, and Chiarelli -- have been held in very high esteem while serving as presidential administrations' iconic military face (especially, Abizaid and Petraeus) for THE national endeavor.

These officers shouldered not only the hope of their commander-in-chief, the president, but also the hopes and well-being of the several-hundred-thousand uniformed and civilian personnel in theater. News broadcasts and print media have featured stories about these officers, their credentials and abilities, as well as their tremendous responsibilities with the combat and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq. Retired General Abizaid is still valued as a senior mentor for several ongoing Army initiatives. Generals Casey and Chiarelli serve in the top Army positions in the Pentagon, respectively, as Chief and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Petraeus is the commander of the U.S. Central Command that includes both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do these officers believe their press clippings? It would be easy to do so. Consider the Vanity Fair article that anointed Petraeus as the Professor of War. It was not too long ago that he was challenged in congressional hearings and on internet sites as General Betray US.

In Chapter 9 of "The Fourth Star," a powerful anecdote is provided based on a closing sequence from the movie Patton. "When victorious Romans generals returned from war they were honored with a parade. The conquering general would ride in a triumphant chariot. Just behind him stood a slave who would whisper in his ear, "'All glory is fleeting. All glory is fleeting.'"

What military officers have in common with civic authorities, administration appointees, politicians, and corporate executives that reach celebrity status is eventually that status will either fade or come to an abrupt end--indeed "All glory is fleeting."

By Col. Charles D. Allen

 |  April 15, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Hey, how about somebody proofreads this stuff before it's posted? I see several typos in this post or blog excerpt or whatever we call these things. It's not a huge deal, but it takes away from the credibility of COL Allen. Even if he made the errors, I think the least WaPo can do in exchange for someone providing content is to help them look good/attentive to detail.

Posted by: Dtothe2 | April 16, 2010 9:21 AM
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