Major General Dana Pittard to Lead Iraq Mission for U.S.

The two-star general tapped to lead the advise-and-assist mission in Iraq is a disciplined leader who earned praise for running a tight ship at the Army’s second-largest installation.

But decades before Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard assumed command of the 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, he was just a 10-year-old boy captivated by a magazine article about Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Pittard has recalled leafing through the pages of National Geographic in 1969 and stumbling on an article about Eisenhower, the legendary Army general and 34th president.

“I wasn’t a studious National Geographic type person,” Pittard told the El Paso Times in May 2013. “The reason I was looking at National Geographic, I was looking for scantily clad natives. I was a kid.”

And yet a photo of Eisenhower struck a nerve in young Pittard and helped inspire him to join the military.

“I wanted to be like that; I guess it was delusions of grandeur,” Pittard told the newspaper.

Pittard went on to serve a distinguished career in the Army for more than three decades.

In 2012, Pittard got into hot water for comments about soldier suicides that many critics deemed insensitive.

After attending the memorial service for a soldier who committed suicide in front of his twin 6-year-old daughters, Pittard wrote on his official blog that he was “fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess.”

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Source: NBC News | DANIEL ARKIN

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