Petraeus's War

When was the last time a U.S. war effort was so tied to one man?

An Army friend likes to say, "If there's one thing the Army taught me, it's that we're all replaceable."

Minds wandered there today when Gen. David Petraeus briefly fell ill during his Senate hearing on the future of his war on Afghanistan.

This really is Gen. Petraeus's war -- from the Tigris River to the Khyber Pass, from COIN to the MI teams rooting out corruption. If he were incapacitated, the Army would survive, but I think the war would not.

Petraeus has a storied career, larger than life, really, and we talk about him the way contemporaries talked about Patton or Washington. It's not just his intellect.

Those who support the war have their hopes pinned on that man. And the American people know his face and voice and associate him with their military.

He pushes himself harder than probably anyone of his rank; during his treatment for cancer last year, he worked even harder lest he give anyone an excuse to relieve him of his command.

He's the war's Head of State, so to speak.