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Gen. Colin Powell deserving of honor bestowed on him by president

On Oct. 18, President Joe Biden ordered all flags at the White House, public buildings and grounds, military posts, naval stations, overseas embassies and consular offices to be flown at half-staff until Oct. 22 in honor of Gen. Colin Powell, who passed away on that date.

Powell served in the highest positions of both the military and civilian side of government. He was an acquaintance and colleague during my time as a senior officer and member of the Joint Chiefs. During this period, Powell became the first Black man to serve as the national security adviser, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later as secretary of state. The fact that he was the first Black to serve in these positions has received a lot of coverage in the articles about his career, but for those of us who were serving with him at the time, his selection to serve in those positions did not appear to be a big thing: Because of his experience and background, he was extremely well-qualified to fill each of those positions.

In the meetings we attended, he was generally the best-prepared participant in the room, could be depended on to give a balanced perspective on the issue being addressed and bring the group to agreement on the way ahead. He published and lived by his Thirteen Rules of Leadership. As a military leader, he had a way of reaching out to the troops and expressing simple truths. Among those were, “If you break it, you own it.” He believed the National Command Authorities should not engage our military unless the situation was important to the ideals and national interest of the United States. However, once that determination was made, he believed you should use overwhelming force to achieve your objectives as quickly as possible to maximize success and minimize casualties. While he was the chairman, this philosophy was followed in the invasion of Panama to topple Noriega in 1989 and in the first Gulf War to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Unfortunately, it has not been followed during our recent engagements in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Powell is deserving of the honor bestowed upon him by the president and he should be remembered as a great American for his lifetime of dedication and service to his country both in and out of uniform.

Gen. Ron Fogleman served as commander in chief of USTRANSCOM, chief of staff of the Air Force and, after leaving the military, as a member of the Defense Policy Board.