Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: 'On War and Politics' by Arnold L. Punaro

MajGen ARNOLD L. PUNARO, USMC (RET.), served thirty-five years in uniform, both active and reserve. He spent twenty-four years in the U.S. Senate, becoming staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Currently CEO of a small business, he was a top industry executive and continues to serve on numerous boards and commissions on national security.

So the biographical information states, but what it leaves out is that he was a combat veteran in Vietnam, an infantry platoon commander, winning a Purple Heart, and understanding the intricacies and madness of war.

One of the reasons this book makes such a resounding impact is the fact that shares his early life in Georgia, the country’s tenor during Vietnam, and the decision he made to follow his knowledge and commitments about the battlefield into the interstices of Washington, DC where decisions are made about such subject.

The synopsis outline this massive volume well – ‘After being wounded and awarded the Bronze Star for valor as a Marine infantry platoon commander in Vietnam, Arnold Punaro thought he’d left the battlefield behind. Instead, he redeployed onto the battlefield of Washington politics. For almost fifty years, he’s toiled at the intersection of the political and defense establishments, working with such luminaries as Sam Nunn, John Glenn, John McCain, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Ash Carter, and many others. Today Democrats, Republicans, and career public officials agree on one thing: few individuals possess the military experience, governmental expertise, and personal integrity of Arnold Punaro. He offers revelations about the most contentious issues of the past and sage advice for the future. From his military service, to his role formulating and overseeing all major defense and intelligence legislation, Punaro reveals how decisions are really made inside the Beltway, providing insights into the actions of presidents since Jimmy Carter and Secretaries of Defense back to James Schlesinger. Unsparing in his criticisms of both parties, whose partisanship is leading our country over a precipice, Punaro presents radical proposals for much-needed reform to save the country for which so many have given their lives.’

As he closes his book he states, ‘I intend to continue the Sisyphean ordeal I’ve spent most of my adult life engaged in: the seemingly eternal effort to reform the Pentagon.’ Punaro’s words are well worth heeding. He is informed, committed and needed. Grady Harp, October 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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