Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jayhawk becomes 2-star general

Skills learned at KU employed in missions

January 16, 2011

Advertisement

Maj. Gen. Gary Patton doesn’t mince words about the importance of his mission to properly train the police and army in Afghanistan.

“In a nutshell, that’s our ticket home,” he said in a recent Skype interview from Kabul, Afghanistan. “That’s how we view our mission.”

Patton said that even today he draws on skills he picked up while studying for a master’s degree in journalism at Kansas University, where he graduated in 1990.

The general recalls fondly his times at KU and maintains several friendships in Lawrence and the area.

Brig. Gen. Gary Patton receives his second Bronze Star from Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan commander. Patton earned his first Bronze Star during his tour to Iraq in 2005.

Brig. Gen. Gary Patton receives his second Bronze Star from Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan commander. Patton earned his first Bronze Star during his tour to Iraq in 2005.

Brig. Gen. Gary Patton talks with Vice President Joe Biden about the Afghan National Army mission during Biden’s visit to Kabul Military Training Center, Jan. 11, 2011.

Brig. Gen. Gary Patton talks with Vice President Joe Biden about the Afghan National Army mission during Biden’s visit to Kabul Military Training Center, Jan. 11, 2011.

He is second in command of the NATO Training Mission—Afghanistan, where he reports to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, former commanding general of Fort Leavenworth.

Patton is the deputy commander in charge of training the Afghan army. On Saturday, he was promoted in rank to major general by Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force Commander, at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan.

He said the mission is a challenging and multifaceted one. Given the large volume of soldiers that need to be trained, the U.S. Army has ranks as low as privates training Afghan soldiers how to shoot rifles, Patton said.

The Afghan soldiers’ needs are varied; many are illiterate and need to be taught how to read and write. Others have other basic needs, like eyeglasses. After all, Patton said, you can’t shoot what you can’t see.

Patton said he has no specified ending date to his tour of duty.

“I’m here until we get the job done,” he said.

Paul Jess, a retired KU journalism professor, said he remembered Patton as an incredibly bright student, and one whom other students admired and respected.

“I’ve had students who were better journalists than Gary,” Jess said, “but not students who were better human beings.”

One of his friends and classmates, Steve Buckner of Lawrence, remembered how Patton seemed to understand ideas easily in class, despite coming from a vastly different background than most other students.

“He grasped the concepts quite easily,” Buckner said.

Patton graduated from West Point in 1979 and from KU with his master’s degree in journalism in 1990 after the army sent him back to school to become a public affairs officer. He said the training at KU has helped him, and he still uses the Associated Press-style writing he learned in journalism courses.

“Get the most important stuff up top,” he said.

Today, he still helps out his alma mater by participating in KU’s Media and the Military program. Tom Volek, a KU journalism professor, administers the program and said Patton has been helpful since the two first met in Washington.

He’s talked with students by videoconference about how the military gets its message out to the public, and has answered questions and given presentations to professional reporters, too, as part of the program.

“Gary has insisted that we use him, which is just amazing,” Volek said.

From the time he graduated until today, Patton said he’s watched the army’s attitude toward the media undergo a drastic shift. Today, the army looks for reporters to embed with military units, he said, instead of shying away from coverage.

“That would’ve been the farthest thing from the army’s mind 10, 15 years ago,” he said.

And Patton hits the media circuit often, doing as many interviews as he can for major television stations, and local newspapers, too.

He said he’d particularly like to thank Americans who supported their troops, saying he sees a lot of soldiers who receive and appreciate care packages that are sent without designating a specific soldier to receive them.

“We’re thankful and mindful of the support we get from the American people,” Patton said. “It’s just phenomenal support.”

Patton — who joked he probably got in to journalism school at KU when he answered in the affirmative whether he enjoyed basketball in his initial interview to get into the school — asked about the KU men’s record this year.

He hadn’t checked lately, and, when told they were undefeated, he was visibly happy.

“Rock Chalk,” Patton said, and waved his arms triumphantly in the air.

Comments

LogicMan 3 years, 11 months ago

Congrats!

A.H.: You missed an obvious part of the story - is he related to Gen. George S. Patton?

yankeevet 3 years, 11 months ago

Patton? A great name for a General.........congrats.....

scott3460 3 years, 11 months ago

"He said the mission is a challenging and multifaceted one. Given the large volume of soldiers that need to be trained, the U.S. Army has ranks as low as privates training Afghan soldiers how to shoot rifles, Patton said.

The Afghan soldiers’ needs are varied; many are illiterate and need to be taught how to read and write. Others have other basic needs, like eyeglasses. After all, Patton said, you can’t shoot what you can’t see.

Patton said he has no specified ending date to his tour of duty.

“I’m here until we get the job done,” he said."

So glad we are spending our treasure teaching people to shoot and providing eyeglasses. Let's hope this government welfare recipient's job (whatever it may be) is done soon. Surely our favored corporate interests will have secured the oil and minerals they were after soon.

stephen1947 3 years, 11 months ago

Just another glorified yes man, so BFD. Bring all our troops home now. Save billions by not fighting these wars for the military industrial complex. Our youth are being killed for the bottom line of corporate American and we're suppose to feel good about this?I think not. Let Wall Street, bankers,lawyers,big business and the like fight their own damn battles. Protect our country, secure our borders and defend our people here at home.

cheyenne 3 years, 11 months ago

Be happy for the guy!!! He's doing his job as he signed up for and knew what he was in for. Obviously he has done very well in his prescribed duty! I've never meet the guy nor will I probably ever but I'm proud for him and his family! Maybe all the liberal/middle of the road folks we have here in Lawrence should jump off the back of the guys and gals over there doing there job, as instructed by their COMMANDER AND CHIEF and start looking into the liberal government that was supposed to save us all and make the world a peaceful place all over again! Don't care either way liberal or conservative, but what has changed in the past almost exactly 2 years?

cheyenne 3 years, 11 months ago

Sorry should be "over there doing their job". I would hate to be beat up for my use of there, their, and they're along with my opinions

scott3460 3 years, 11 months ago

Silvio Dante did a great job for Tony Soprano too. Doesn't mean I applaud the work.

gogoplata 3 years, 11 months ago

I can't be happy for a guy that is part of an organization that kills innocent people. The policy makers are responsible for our evil foreign policy but if these guys stopped "doing his job as he signed up for" there would be no one to do the killing for the US government.

That would take a lot of courage. But it is time.

rocky_k1k 3 years, 11 months ago

The funny thing is, you would probably be the first one to ask why no one is protecting our families when things erupt on American soil.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

But he's not protecting American families. He's not even on American soil.

gogoplata 3 years, 11 months ago

Thats right. Our misadventures in VIetnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have had nothing to do with protecting Americans or our freedom. If this nation needed defending I would be there.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

So how does Gen. Patton get across the void to the avg. 3rd Century Afghani with the fundamental principle that directions for emptying his boot are printed on the heel?

Afghanistan Military Tactic #1: Back the correct war lord, don't want to upset the opium market:

Opium Production in Afghanistan: Strong and Corrupt as Ever

Read more: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2011/01/07/opium-production-in-afghanistan-strong-and-corrupt-as-ever.html#ixzz1BIdeDJCy

Commenting has been disabled for this item.