Just got a Christmas greeting from my favorite Army colonel, LTC Allen West (ret.), recently back from Afghanistan. You may remember Col. West--I guess I should say at this point "no relation" except, of course, friendship.
Col. West is the commander who, back in the early days of Iraq, came to national attention for having fired off his gun near the head of a suspected insurgent in order to extract information about ambush and assassination plots targeting him and his men. After this interrogation, there were no more attacks on Col. West or his men.
But there was a big. fat, PC controversy. The New York Times recounted it thus: "Expressing concern that his behavior could send the signal that abuse was acceptable as a means to an end, the Army relieved Colonel West of his command and contemplated court-martialing him on assault charges."
In other words, to borrow a phrase, the Army was a Ass.
Actually, it was much, much worse than that. Rather than recognize the 22-year-veteran for his duty to men and his country, the Army thought it better to let such an excellent leader go.
"There are rules and regulations, and there's protecting your soldiers," Colonel West told the New York Times some time after the controversy had led him into retirement. "I just felt I'd never have to write a letter of condolence home to a `rule and regulation.'" Or, as he put it during the emotionally charged hearing to determine whether he would face a court martial (he did not), he would "go to hell with a gasoline can in his hand" to protect his troops.
Well, the Army's loss may--I so very much hope--be our civilian leadership's gain. Battle-tested, inciteful and inspired, Allen West is running for Congress, now competing to become the GOP candidate for Florida's 22nd District.
Tune in to hear Allen in Florida on the Joyce Kaufman Radio Show, WFTL AM 850, on Monday, December 24 at 2pm.
That's Christmas Eve, of course. So Merry Christmas!