In the middle of a friendly conversation with a new civilian friend this morning, he asked: "Do you remember where you were on 9/11."

My wife and I glanced at each other with knowing looks.

"It's a long story, how much do you want to hear?" 1/
In August 2001, I was assigned to the Pentagon for the first time in my career. That's because I was selected for promotion to Brigadier General, but first had to serve in a "Joint Assignment" as per law.

Our family left the high Mojave Desert and we drove to DC in July. 2/
Arriving at the Pentagon, I was told I couldn't assume the position until the Senate confirmed my promotion. My boss, a great 3-star Marine, gave me stuff to read & told me to lay low until the Senate acted.

After 3 weeks, he told me to take some leave. That was 3 Sept. 3/
My inlaws had a little house in Sag Harbor, the end of Long Island. Close to the beach, we usually spent time there between assignments.

We headed north from DC. 4/
On that beautiful Tuesday morning, we were having a lazy breakfast with out in-laws, and during our third cup of coffee my brother-in-law called and told us to turn on the TV because a "small plane" had flown into the tower.

As the screen came alive, we saw the 2d plane hit. 5/
I called our staff exec at the Pentagon, and asked him what was happening. In the midst of our 1st exchange, he said "wait a second, sir, something just happened in the building...I'll call you right back."

He never called back. Soon we heard the Pentagon had been hit. 6/
We packed the family, and hit the Long Island Expressway. Traffic was gridlocked. We made it to Queens by about 9 that night.

We pulled into a gas station after we saw a sign that the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was closed to all traffic in and out. 7/
At the gas station, we saw a NY State Patrolman. I told him I was military & had to get back to the Pentagon. No hesitation, he said "follow me."

He led us through back roads to the Verrazano, escorted us over.

At midnight, we were the only 2 cars on the bridge. 8/
The cop stopped at the top, got out of the car, and my wife and I joined him. We could see the lights, the smoke, the destruction.

I didn't know at the time, the daughter of our in-law's next door neighbor was in the rubble. Her name was read today. 9/
We drove the normal 5-hour drive back to northern Virginia in about 4 hours. No one was on the turnpike, the interstate.

We were mostly thinking about our 2 a senior in ROTC at Wake Forest, the other having just entered West Point. 10/
We got home, I shaved, put on a uniform and went in to the Joint Staff J7, the office that as part of their responsibility used to handle war plans.

Entering the building at 0530, the smell of smoke, jet fuel, and death was everywhere. 11/
The Pentagon were under renovations & a J7 team was supposed to occupy part of the building where the plane hit. They hadn't yet started the move.

In war, luck in always a factor. 125 others - some who were on the Army staff and were my friends, weren't as lucky. 12/
In the next few days, a few of us young general nominees were asked to serve in the NMCC (National Military Command Center) as chief of shifts.

It was an honor to serve there, as I've never seen a team come together so quickly, with such purpose. 13/
We executed Operation Noble Eagle, began assisting CENTCOM with intricate details of the plan that would become Operation Enduring Freedom, got reports & pictures of SOF riding horse with the Northern Alliance, received info on casualties. 14/
We also experienced Clausewitz's "fog of war." Because intelligence is never perfect, personalities DO matter, words are important so they must be precise, good organizations adapt, and plans must always consider enemy action. 15/
Clausewitz also talks about a strategic "trinity." VERY simply put, there's a requirement to have a unique balance between smart government leaders (with a viable strategy), the people (citizens who provide support for action),& the military (trained to execute).
All that is needed in a crisis.

I worked in the NMCC until Dec '01, when the Senate confirmed promotions.

I learned a lot. Seeing things I had only read about in theory, while reinforcing my belief of the importance of people.

I left the Pentagon for Iraq in 2003. 17/
In the next 10 years, our family experienced multiple deployments.

We were mostly connected w the men and women in uniform, and we saw up close loss of life, debilitating wounds, loss of innocence.

It started on this day, 19 years ago.18/end

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More from @MarkHertling

29 Jul
"The plan to pull US troops from the long-time NATO ally has been met with broad bipartisan opposition amid concerns that it will weaken the US military's position vis a vis Russia, however the Trump Administration has decided to proceed with the move." 1/ (of 15)
Having just watched the SecDef, Vice CJCS and @US_EUCOM Commander, I am sickened by this decision and explanation.

It is not tied to any strategic advantage, and in fact is counterproductive to showing strength in Europe.

A couple things:

First, what is obvious to me - having served 12 years in Germany and having participated in the last force structure change from 2004-2011, this is not a "strategic" is specifically a directed personal insult from Trump to our great & very supportive ally Germany.
Read 18 tweets
27 Jun
Report of Russia bounties on US Troops in Afghanistan is shocking but not surprising. There was intel on their arms transfers and support of the Taliban months ago.

Putin wants payback for our actions against their forces in Syria and for us supplying the Muj in the 1980s. 1/
The fact that no action was taken is also shocking, but not surprising with this administration.

The process of sound diplomatic engagements, application of strategy & policy, and use of all elements of national power is broken.

But it's not just with Russia. 2/
The multi-year strategy to address N.Korean missiles still simmers, and seems more dangerous than ever...… 3/
Read 12 tweets
26 Jun
During this @WIMSummit conference last night, we spoke briefly about the importance of "communicating in a crisis."

After watching the @HHSGov briefing a few minutes ago, perhaps it's timely to share some thoughts on communicating... 1/12
First, communicating has many factors:
-Who's the messenger, what's the forum and what are the objectives?
-What are the facts?
-What's the message?
-How does body language, facial expression, tone of voice contribute?
...and most importantly, is there a basis of trust? 2/12
The key communicator(messenger(s)) must:
-have expertise
-must have the trust of the audience (if not, he/she must find ways to quickly establish that trust)
-speak plainly and clearly, after rehearsing
-establish a vision for what will happen 3/12
Read 12 tweets
25 Jun
What an amazing webinar with Women In Medicine (@WIMSummit #WIM). Thanks @ShikhaJainMD and @LaurieBaedke for hosting Dr Mansfield and me.

You asked me to tweet about "burnout" here are some thoughts... 1/9
There's loads of research by terrific Dr Christina Maslach on the causes of "burnout," and all of the causes occur in healthcare.
(here's one study I like: Maslach, C. & Jackson, S.E. (1981). The Measurement of Experience Burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2: 99-113) 2/9
Burnt-out results from any individual feeling emotionally and/or physically exhausted, repetitive work without a feeling of accomplishment, repetitive negative engagements with others, a feeling of not being appreciated, and "life" being out of control. 3/9
Read 9 tweets
10 Jun
While I’ve studied Civil War history, I’m certainly not an subject matter expert on the lives of all confederate generals.

But I do know who the good ones and bad ones are, from a leadership perspective.

But don’t rely on me...let me cite Mr Wiki.... 1/12
Braxton Bragg, of Ft Bragg NC fame, is “considered among the worst Southern generals. Most of his battles ended in defeats.Extremely unpopular w/ his men, he was criticized for many faults, including poor battlefield strategy, quick temper & overzealous discipline.” 2/12
“Leonidas Polk, the “fighting bishop” was one of the most notable & controversial of the war. Pres Jeff Davis elevated him to high position despite a lack of experience. He is remembered for his bitter disagreements with immediate superiors & for a lack of success in combat.”3/12
Read 12 tweets
8 Jun
A thread on the issue of pulling 9500 troops from Germany.

I'll start with the arguments are significantly more complex than the binary "we need them to stay" or "some European countries need to contribute more."

Both true, but neither address US strategy. 1/13
During the Cold War, there were about 270,000 US soldiers (avg) in Germany. That was reduced when the wall fell, and by the end of the 1990's the total strength was about 90,000.

Starting in 2004 under the direction of Pres Bush, a new plan further reduced to about 30,000. 2/13
Rumsfeld's "Europe transformation plan" reduced the size and the missions the US forces in Europe had, as well as lowered the contribution of forces to the NATO alliance.

Not many know what remain as the missions, so I'll highlight just a few here. 3/13
Read 13 tweets

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