‘He Just Couldn’t See Past My Color’
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard reflects on a long career battling the institutional racism that infects the military as well as police departments in the United States.
During a more than three-decade-long military career, Dana J.H. Pittard, a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, rose rapidly through the ranks of the Army to become one of the few African Americans to reach the level of two-star general or higher. He fought in Iraq and was awarded four Bronze Stars, one for valor, along with many other decorations, and was deployed in Kosovo. Pittard served as a military aide to President Bill Clinton, carrying the so-called nuclear football, the briefcase that contains codes for launching a nuclear attack, and he was a winner of the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. As deputy commander for operations in the Middle East, Pittard also oversaw the training of Iraqi forces. And as commander of a 1st Infantry Division brigade in Diyala province, Iraq, he served as the senior officer to Capt. Humayun Khan—the Muslim American officer who was killed by a car bomb in June 2004 and who was later dragged into the spotlight during the 2016 presidential campaign when then-candidate Donald Trump mocked his parents for appearing at the Democratic National Convention.
Michael Hirsh is a columnist for Foreign Policy. He is the author of two books: Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street and At War With Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World. Twitter: @michaelphirsh
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