By Andrew Burt, Washington Whispers
Even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has idols. And for Adm. Michael Mullen, his are two of the military's biggest: Gen. George Marshall and Adm. Ray Spruance.
In Marshall, Mullen sees an exemplar of the civilian-military relationship. "I think he has set the standard for all of us who wear uniform," Mullen said at the National Press Club today. "He taught us all a lot, and I'm grateful for that." Marshall, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953, served as the Army's chief of staff under Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and is the namesake for the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II.
From his own ranks he picked Spruance, the Midway strategist who eventually went on to be president of the Naval War College. Mullen called Spruance "an admiral who was known as the 'Quiet Warrior'... a very patient guy that had a big impact" on the Battle of Midway during World War II. "That was a battle that turned the tide in the Pacific." Col. John Cope, a senior research fellow at National Defense University, understands Spruance's appeal. "Spruance was an innovator in the Navy at a time of changing capabilities, and I'm sure that is the attraction for Mullen," says Cope. What were Spruance's main innovations? "How you use the aircraft carrier in naval aviation in a way that had never been used before. And that ultimately helped us win the war."
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