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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.

The protectors: Salvatore Giunta and George W. Bush

Question: Considering all spheres of endeavor, who would you nominate as Leader of the Year in 2010? Why?

As 2010 drew to a close, November provided fanfare for two men from different ends of the leadership spectrum. One man's example epitomized tactical and direct-level leadership; the other was the definition of strategic leadership. To me, it came together while watching interviews that were less than 20 minutes apart on late-night television. The Colbert Report featured Medal of Honor recipient, Army Staff Sergeant (SSG) Salvatore Giunta; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno featured former President George W. Bush. The reasons both men held the national spotlight could not have been more different, but the two figures are inextricably linked.

President Bush's appearance supported the release of his new book, Decision Points. In it, he related thoughts and reflections on 14 major decisions made as the man who would lead the nation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. While being president is a very public position, we rarely get a glimpse into the mind of our most senior leader as he makes strategic decisions that inevitably have such great consequence. By the very nature of the office, decisions are tied to domestic and international events in an inherently complex and uncertain environment. At that level, problems are many; solutions are rarely simple or easy.

One of President Bush's decisions provided the context for SSG Guinta's two combat tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It was during the second tour (15 months long), in October 2007, that then-Specialist Giunta's actions during an enemy ambush in the Korengal Valley set him apart.

SSG Giunta said in the Colbert interview that he did what he was trained to do in an ambush--shoot and attack in the direction of enemy fire. What was a disciplined response to a tactical action was quickly overshadowed by his moving forward in the face of intense fire to care for what he thought to be a wounded comrade. If that were not enough, when he saw two enemy soldiers carrying away another of his teammates, team leader Giunta pursued and recovered his fellow paratrooper. During the interview, sincere and humble, SSG Guinta attempted to downplay his individual role as he spoke of his team and unit. He also spoke about the sacrifices of other soldiers who "gave their tomorrows for our todays."

In each interview, both men accepted the responsibility to protect those who had been attacked. They were men of decision in precarious circumstances who did not shrink from or shirk their duties in the face of adversity.

History has already judged the tactical actions of SSG Giunta. Even that took three years. However, for President Bush, as is the case in matters of policy and strategy, it may take decades to determine the long-term consequences of his decisions.

While both men come from distinctly different backgrounds, both chose service to others--demonstrating selflessness and offering personal sacrifice. Their leadership from opposite ends of the spectrum gave us pause to reflect and consider their impact in 2010.

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By Col. Charles D. Allen

 |  December 20, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership , Government leadership , Military Leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Agh, Sir... Colonel, sir, George Bush was not one of the nominee's on the list.

Next time, please try to refrain your choice to those listed.

Thank You.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 28, 2010 10:51 PM
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daviestad........did you bother to take Hesse's Christmas hate list? I would think so.. that seems to be what you liberals (I assume you are because you are still frothing and disparaging Bush) like to do on Christmas day. Dream about who you hate the most. How hard was it to move your most hated up on the list? Yes, you liberals and your hate.. wow had a Merry Christmas much?

Posted by: vickie1 | December 27, 2010 1:40 PM
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Ah I see there is still a unashamed BDS sufferer out there. Still blaming Bush, still gnashing the teeth over Bush..blah blah blah. daviestad is still gnawing on the Bush bone thrown to him by now me? and Col. Allen? Give it up daviestad, most of your kind have transferred their mental illness to bashing Bristol Palin (death threats, blown out TVs) and her mother, Sarah Palin. I would think S. Palin would deserve a spot on the leader list. After all, she encouraged the Tea Party people and the Republicans and like minded Independants to get out and vote and get rid of the worst House of Reps ever. But of course, WP couldn't admit who was behind the take over of the house, S. Palin. Fortunately for daviestad, Gunta fought so idiots like him could spew their endless hate of Repubs online.

Posted by: vickie1 | December 27, 2010 1:34 PM
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It is unfortunate that Vickie1 has mistaken her convictions for sanity and assessed all others "mentally ill." That isn't an argument, and it does nothing for our political culture. Yes, Giunta is a hero--and his work does help to protect the freedom of speech of liberals. It also protects the freedom of speech of people like Vickie1 (conservative? one would guess from her vitriolic use of "liberal")--and centrists and libertarians and leftists and tea partiers. The tone of Vickie1's comment doesn't sound devoide of "hatred and insanity"--the attributes she accuses her imagined enemies of displaying; so that implied argument falls apart pretty quickly.

As for Allen's argument--it seems misplaced for the question he was asked, which makes one wonder what is at stake in his answer. One can make the argument that Staff Sergeant Giunta's story didn't become common knowledge until he was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And certainly his humble attitude is inspiring. So few would complain about him as an appropriate choice--even if the particular deed being celebrated took place in 2007. He should be lauded for his bravery and for his continued service and humility. But the choice of former President George W. Bush is baffling. The question was: "Who would you nominate as leader of the year in 2010?" What has Bush done in 2010--except publish a book (though it was largely ghost written and offers few if any insights into his actually decision-making process--and in many cases contradicts contemporary accounts by Bush and others involved at the time these decisions were made)? What or who did he lead in 2010? So we come again to the question: why would Colonel Allen make this choice? Did he misread the question? Is he a Bush apologist that thinks that the continual announcement of Bush's greatness will somehow convince doubters? Is his own identity wrapped up in Bush-era policies? I certainly don't have enough information on the Colonel to make an informed judgment, so all I can do is call attention to its peculiarity.

Posted by: daviestad | December 27, 2010 12:12 AM
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Nice article. BTW.. a side note.. It would seem that "liberals" have gotten over their Bush Deranged Syndrome. Usually they would be frothing at the mouth and name calling post after post. I guess there was a transferance of their mental illness to Sarah Palin. These "liberal" lunatics are a curse on this nation. SSG Gunta are the people who give these liberal lunatics the freedom to voice their hatred and insanity. Thanks Gunta

Posted by: vickie1 | December 26, 2010 2:37 AM
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