When Colonel (Ret.) Peter Mansour took to the popular online community Reddit for an Ask-Me-Anything session recently, hundreds of “Redditors” showed up to help power the conversation. Colonel Mansour is famous for having served as second-in-command to former General David Petraeus, now chairman of the KKR Global Institute, during the 2007 surge of U.S. troops to Iraq. Here are some fascinating snippets from the recent Reddit interview in which Colonel Mansoor discusses military, regrets, and life advice:
grant1023: What do you believe to be the greatest threat against the US?
ColonelPete: Collapse from within – the increasingly polarization of our domestic politics. We need to find common ground and work from the middle outward, not from the extremes inward.
Some1Betterer: What is something you learned about General Petraeus serving under him that you think the average citizen without military service doesn’t grasp about Petraeus as a military mind/General either positive or negatively?
ColonelPete: I don’t think the average person understands just how open Gen. Petraeus was to advice from below. He had an open e-mail channel to anyone in Multi-National Force-Iraq – and often received messages from junior leaders on problems in their areas that they could not get resolved through their chain of command […] I often discussed issues with Gen. Petraeus and found him willing to listen – provided you had something intelligent to say and were ready for the give and take that followed.
Skidzoo: I understand that this might be a sensitive topic among the military community, but what is your opinion on the treatment of veterans with PTSD? Do you think that enough is being done?
ColonelPete: Great question. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put a great deal of stress on our volunteer soldiers, who often serve multiple tours in combat zones. Fortunately, DOD has finally realized the scope of the PTSD problem and has committed resources to deal with it. Perhaps the greatest need is to provide a way to help military personnel make sense of what they have gone through and put their experiences into some sort of context that helps them sort out their memories and emotions.
The_White_Django: Is there anything that you regret doing whilst you served in the military?
ColonelPete: I was in command of a convoy that was traversing a difficult area of Baghdad on Christmas Eve in 2003. We were hit by an IED, which killed my Command Sergeant Major, Eric Cooke. Watching him die was exceedingly difficult. If I had to do that night over again, I would make different decisions. But in war, the enemy gets a vote. I was proud of the way the brigade reacted to that tough night – with professionalism and discipline.
uberlad: What’s your very best life advice?
GeneralPete: I gave my children four tips for being successful in life, so I’ll share them with you:
- Get as much education as you can.
- Marry well and for life.
- Start saving early and make it a habit.
- Find something you love, and figure out how to make money doing it.
(Oh! And I almost forgot – spend more for good bacon and never drink cheap liquor. 🙂
These are just four of the hundreds of questions, answers, and general commentary during Colonel Mansoor’s Ask-Me-Anything interview. View the full thread here.