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Sunday, September 21, 2014

American Generals and allied defectors

Tribute to Major General Harold "Harry" Greene:

In a post script to my blog highlighting The New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins "General Principles", this USA Today story reminds Americans how vulnerable all US military are to allied defectors.

 Not a combat commander, Greene was a logistical support expert and was helping the Afghan army develop better ways to acquire and provide resources for troops — a crucial mission given the U.S. military goal of withdrawing from Afghanistan by the end of the year.



ARLINGTON, Va. — Amid military ritual afforded a war casualty of high rank — this one the first general officer killed in a combat zone since the Vietnam War — Army Maj. Gen. Harold "Harry" Greene was laid to rest Thursday. He was buried among 876 others lost to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and aligned in symmetrical rows at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ceremonial trappings at the graveside service attended by several hundred contained privileges of rank: 13 howitzers firing one after the other from a nearby hillside, a riderless horse following the caisson and the Army "Pershing's Own" Band marching out front.

But the marble stone that will eventually mark his grave — 42-inches long by 13-inches wide by 4-inches deep — will be identical to all the others accumulating from the two wars around his grave in Arlington Cemetery's Section 60.

From a short distance, the two-star general's grave will be impossible to pick out from all the others.

More then 6,800 have died in the conflicts, about a third of them in Afghanistan. Greene was killed by an Afghan soldier in a so-called "insider" shooting Aug. 5 as he and other U.S. and coalition officers toured an Afghan military academy. The soldier hid in a bathroom and opened fire with a machine gun, and was killed during the attack.

Not a combat commander, Greene was a logistical support expert and was helping the Afghan army develop better ways to acquire and provide resources for troops — a crucial mission given the U.S. military goal of withdrawing from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Thursday, after the cannon grew silent, seven riflemen fired 21 shots in three volleys over the grave and a bugler played Taps, Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, presented four flags to Greene's family.

A red banner with two stars, reflecting Greene's general officer rank, blew gently in an afternoon breeze over the grave.

Odierno sharply saluted the folded flag that had draped the coffin, took it in his arms and walked over to Greene's widow, retired Army colonel Susan Myers. Lowering his 6-foot-6 frame in an awkward bend at the knees so that his eyes were level with hers, Odierno handed her the flag and expressed a nation's gratitude for the sacrifice of her husband in Afghanistan.

He repeated the ritual three more times with three other folded flags, each of which was touched to the casket before Odierno saluted and delivered one to Greene's son, Matthew, a 1st lieutenant in the Army; another to his daughter, Amelia; and a third to the slain general's father, Harold.

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When even protected US generals like Major General Harold Greene are at risk for assassination, there is no way our "troops on the ground" strategy can be successful in Iraq, unless Muslims protect themselves from evil extremism with allied support.

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