Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Tom Brokaw: The Demands of Leadership

To the Editor:

Re “The General and His Tweets,” by Carol Giacomo (Editorial Observer, Feb. 2):

The tweets about leadership by Martin Dempsey, the retired Army general, reminded me of a meeting I had with him in Iraq, where he was commanding the First Armored Division. The division had been through a tough year and was scheduled to come home, but at the last minute the Pentagon extended the tour.

I said, “That must have been tough.” He nodded and then looked down, saying, “I had to go on a troop transport plane headed for home and pull off a young man who was already strapped in.” He paused and, shaking his head, said, “He was killed the next day.”

We were both silent for a long moment. For this civilian, it was a memorable lesson that the demands of leadership at the highest levels are often shaped by the most personal experiences.

Tom Brokaw
New York
The writer is senior correspondent for NBC News.

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