WASHINGTON – In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning (subscription only), the conservative lobbying group Vets for Freedom is looking to restart the discussion into making Gen. David Petraeus the military’s first five-star general in more than 60 years, to honor his “exemplary leadership” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The U.S. war against terrorism is now the longest war in U.S. history, and Gen. Petraeus has clearly distinguished himself as a leader worthy of joining the ranks of Gens. MacArthur, Marshall and Nimitz,” the piece states. “A promotion would properly honor his service – and it would also honor the troops he leads and has led. Today’s soldiers have fought as valiantly as any in American history, and they deserve recognition of their leaders. Congressional approval of a fifth star would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to their mission.”
Only nine men have held that rank in U.S. military history (although George Washington was also posthumously given that rank as well). The last was General of the Army Omar Bradley, awarded that status and responsibility in 1950.
Since then, lawmakers haven’t seriously considered elevating any other four-star candidates, although rumors bubbled about Colin Powell receiving a fifth star during the first Gulf War.
But Vets for Freedom, like some letters writers to Stars and Stripes, argue that the successful surge strategy in Iraq and Petraeus’ critical role in Afghanistan warrant serious consideration.
“David Petraeus is also a soldier-statesmen who works with foreign diplomats and generals in hotspots across the globe,” they wrote. “The prestige that would come with a fifth star would also likely help the U.S. in its negotiations with neighboring states—and show the enemies of freedom that we are fully committed to the war against terrorism.”
The group has also launched a Facebook page titled “Let's Get General Petraeus his 5th Star” to help with the effort.