Soldiers And Leaders
Alexander Haig straddled the worlds of politics and the military during almost two decades in posts that included supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. His 18-month tenure as Reagan’s first secretary of state was the pinnacle of his political career. During his term as secretary of state, Haig called himself the “vicar of American foreign policy” and reportedly chafed when others - even Reagan - took steps without his approval. In one instance, White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III rebuked Haig for remarks on Central America that diverted attention from the administration’s planned message about the economy.
Haig resigned in June 1982. He said he was unjustly blamed for failing to forge a diplomatic solution to avert the Falklands War between Argentina and the U.K. He also denied longstanding allegations that he gave Israel a green light to invade Lebanon in 1982. Haig became a presidential candidate himself in 1987, joining a Republican field that included Bush, the sitting vice president. He dropped out on Feb. 12, 1988, four days before the New Hampshire primary, and endorsed Senator Robert Dole, who went on to lose the nomination to Bush.
Haig spent much of his brief candidacy attacking Bush, venting some leftover resentment toward the Reagan White House. Rejecting one of Reagan’s central arguments, candidate Haig said the ballooning budget deficit was a “Republican deficit” that couldn’t be blamed on congressional Democrats. He indicated that at least some of his anger toward Bush stemmed from his feelings toward Baker, a Bush friend and adviser.
Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. was born on Dec. 2, 1924, the son of a lawyer. The pattern of Haig's life was set early. Born and brought up in Bala Cynwyd, one of the classier suburbs of Philadelphia, he was the middle child of a prosperous lawyer. But the family's comfortable life was shattered when his father died of cancer at the age of 38. Haig was then 10, and no more than average academically. He had gained a scholarship to a Roman Catholic preparatory school but did not do well. It was withdrawn after a couple of years and he transferred to a local high school.
Though his mother was keen he should follow his father's calling, he was intent on a military career. Confirming his headteacher's view that "Al is definitely not West Point material", his application to the US military academy failed. Then his uncle, who had been supporting Haig's mother and his siblings, intervened and in 1944 Haig scraped into West Point. Under the stress of war, the four-year course for officers had been cut to three. He graduated from West Point in 1947, finishing 214th out of 310.
He served military assignments in Japan, Korea, Europe and Vietnam, working part of the time under General Douglas MacArthur. He freed Sun Myung Moon from a concentration camp during the battle of Inchon in September 1950. He was operations officer of a tank battalion in Europe from 1956-1958. In 1962 he was selected over many other applicants to become a staff aide to a Kennedy Administration task force on Cuba directed by Cyrus Vance and Joseph A. Califano, Jr. Here he became involved with the CIA trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. He was the Pentagon's representative to a highly classified unit known as the "Subcommittee on Subversion", who's target was Cuba.
Among numerous commendations, Haig received a Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest medal for heroism, for leading outnumbered U.S. troops in a 1967 battle with Viet Cong forces. On 26 March the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry (the Blue Spaders), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander M. Haig, was alerted to prepare for an assault deeper into War Zone C and near the Cambodian border. At that time the battalion was attached to the 2d Brigade of the 1st Division and was located at Fire Support Patrol Base C at Sroc Con Trang. There it was engaged in perimeter defense, road security, and occasional search and destroy operations. Now Colonel Haig turned his S-3 loose on the planning for the assault.
The battalion's reconnaissance platoon was searching the woods northwest of the perimeter. There it became obvious that the Americans were expected: from the trees hung small signs written in English warning that Americans going beyond the signs would not return.
At 1300 the platoon moved farther to the north into a wooded area and was approximately five kilometers south of the Cam-bodian border when first contact was made. The platoon's point man was hit by enemy fire. First Lieutenant Richard A. Hill, an infantry officer experienced in Vietnam combat, went forward to check the situation and was hit and mortally wounded. Only Hill's radio operator was left in contact with the battalion S-3. Before being hit, Hill had advised the battalion that the platoon was heavily engaged with automatic weapons, small arms, and grenades. Colonel Haig had called for artillery support and, when advised that the platoon leader had been hit, immediately took action to co-ordinate the artillery fire and air strikes in support of the platoon.
Asked at what point the pendulum of victory in the battle of Ap Gu had swung in his favor, Colonel Haig replied: In the subjective sense there's no question: with the arrival of the air, tactical air and especially the ordnance, the CBU ordnance was the main factor. However, this is subjective . . . and while it was the straw that broke the camel's back, I would be very remiss if I didn't say that the artillery . . . our mortars, and our own automatic weapons were major factors. And had not all of these been employed to their utmost, and closely coordinated, and well integrated, no single factor by itself would have changed the outcome. . . . As it turned out, the amount of fire that we had falling by way of artillery and our own automatic fire and infantry weapons, [and,] may I add . . . the CBU, with the enemy configured as he was, that is, stacked in depth, in the open, and moving forward, [it was this] combination of things that really made the difference.
Haig joined Richard Nixon’s White House in 1969 as chief military assistant to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, became deputy assistant to the president for national security and was promoted to general in 1972. He worked on negotiations for a cease-fire in Vietnam as well as arrangements for Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972.
After a brief stint as Army vice chief of staff, Haig returned to the White House and succeeded H.R. Haldeman as chief of staff as Nixon’s team dealt with the fallout from the Watergate break-in. Haig played a central role in persuading Nixon to resign in August 1974. Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, named Haig commander-in-chief for U.S. forces in Europe. Haig then spent five years as supreme allied commander in Europe, responsible for the multi-nation forces of NATO. He survived an assassination attempt in June 1979 when a bomb exploded near his car as he was being driven to his NATO office in Belgium. Haig retired from the military to become head of defense contractor United Technologies.
Reagan, upon taking office in 1981, named him the 59th secretary of state. Haig endured contentious confirmation hearings in the Senate, then went to work building a foreign policy rooted in direct confrontation with the Soviet Union in Cuba, Central America and elsewhere. His resignation in June 1982 marked the end of his work in government.
Alexander Haig, the four-star general and aide to U.S. presidents, has died. He was 85. He died about 1:30 a.m. February 20, 2010 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The cause of death was complications associated with an infection. Asked once what he saw as his greatest achievement, Haig said it was the privilege and honor of leading American troops under fire.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf 1934-2012 Led International Coalition in First Gulf War. Retired Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led military campaign that drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait in 1991, died Thursday at age 78. Gen. Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Fla., where he lived. A sister of the general, Ruth Barenbaum of Middlebury, Vt., said he died of complications from pneumonia.
Popularly known as "Stormin' Norman" for his sometimes explosive temper, the charismatic general led 800,000 troops from a coalition of allied nations in Operation Desert Storm, orchestrating a high-tech war that was won with relatively light U.S. casualties but which left the Iraqi dictator in power. Famous for his plain-spoken press briefings, the war made Gen. Schwarzkopf a household name in the U.S. and a global celebrity. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Gen. Schwarzkopf "one of the 20th century's finest soldiers and leaders."
The 1991 campaign to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial bombardment,which Americans watched unfold live on CNN as the nation's the first-ever armchair war experience. That was followed by a ground assault, and then a cease-fire 100 hours later. Gen. Schwarzkopf, using maps and pointers to describe the combat, became an iconic image of the war.
Asked at a press briefing in 1991 about Mr. Hussein's military skills, the general gave one of his blunt and biting retorts: "He is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man - I want you to know that."
Born in 1934 in Trenton, N.J., the son of an Army officer, Gen. Schwarzkopf followed in his father's footsteps by enrolling in West Point. During two tours in Vietnam, he earned three silver stars. When he took charge of the overall allied effort in the first Gulf War, he was commander of the U.S. military's Central Command, based in Tampa.
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