Ret. General Colin Powell As a Non Commissioned Officer in the Pennsylvania Army Nation Guard, I realize the importance and value of good leadership. A leader has to be able to understand and support their men, have initiative, be quick on their feet, and accept responsibility for their actions. The personal traits that I look for in a leader are courage, commitment, candor, competence, and integrity. Out of these the most important one to me, is integrity. A man’s word is his bond and the most important leadership trait there is.
Looking back, the man I see as a great leader that possesses these traits is Ret. General Colin Powell. Colin Powell is one of the greatest military leaders in this country’s history. He served this country for forty-six years, going from the rank of Second Lieutenant to Secretary of State under President George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States. He began college at the City College of New York, and he decided to join their ROTC program where he managed to prove himself as a leader and achieved the rank of Cadet Colonel. He graduated college and began the start of his military service in 1958.
In 1962 he was sent on his first tour of duty in Vietnam, and ended up receiving a Purple Heart after falling victim to a booby trap (Achievement. org, 2010). In 1968 he was sent back to Vietnam for his second tour where he was sent to investigate the My Lai massacre. While on this tour he was involved in a helicopter crash. Powell showed the courage and the commitment for his comrades that even injured managed to save the other soldiers. At the age of 31, Colin Powell was looked upon to investigate a massacre that could have ruined the careers of the soldiers that were being held accused (Biography. om, 2010). Still Powell managed to keep his composure and showed that he had the competence and candor to make a sound, unbiased, judgment. After Colin Powell’s time in Vietnam he was shipped off to Washington D. C. where he made a lasting impression on Caspar Weinberger and Frank Carlucci. Both of them consulted with him for advice when they served as Secretary of Defense and National Secretary Advisor (Achievement. org, 2010). This shows how respected he was among the Washington staff. This also shows the competence, candor, and integrity Powell posses throughout his term in
Washington D. C. Colin Powell continues to advance through the ranks and through the staff jobs he was appointed to. He then served as senior military aide to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, helping to coordinate the invasion of Granada and the bombing of Libya (Biography. com, 2010). To help coordinate these attacks would have to take great courage, because there’s always a chance of casualties. He commits to these plans and excels with both operations. Then, in 1991 Colin Powell was appointed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush.
In this position he excelled to a national figure during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, because of the speed of the operations forcing Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait (Biography. com, 2010). Once again, it shows the courage, competence, and commitment needed to fulfill the plan of the operations. He also was reappointed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under President Clinton. He remained in this position until he disagreed with President Clinton’s policy about homosexuals in the military. Powell later compromised with President Clinton with the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (Biography. com, 2010).
After this incident Powell retired and returned to his alma mater to establish Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. Then, in 2001 Colin Powell was appointed Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, the first and highest rank ever held by an African American. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Colin Powell took the initiative of rallying allies for military action in Afghanistan (Achievement. org, 2010). Then, later on he was the one who presented the purported evidence to the Security Council of the United Nations that the Iraqi government had a weapons program that went against the UN resolutions.
Later the evidence was discredited when American soldiers did not find any weapons of mass destruction (Kakutani, 2006). Colin Powell took responsibility for the mistake made and resigned as Secretary of State. Colin Powell is a leader I aim to be like. He has continued to better himself in the military and through education. He trust and supported his soldiers, displayed courage, commitment to his plans and to his country, candor, competence in himself and with his subordinates, and integrity. He took responsibility for his actions even when what he did was wrong.
I hope throughout my career in the military and in my civilian life I can share the same attributes as Colin Powell. This man came from the South Bronx, pretty much nothing, to the Secretary of State. Bibliography Kakutani, M. (2006). Tracing colin powell’s journey, both in and out of step with those around him. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/2006/10/10/books/10kaku. html Biography. com. (2010). Retrieved from http://www. biography. com/articles/Colin-Powell-9445708 Achievement. org. (2010). Retrieved from http://www. achievement. org/autodoc/page/pow0bio-1