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Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez Named Hispanic Of The Year
Three-Star General Oversees U.S. Troops In Iraq
By JACQUES-CHRISTIAN WADESTRANDT
January 8, 2004
In its December issue, the cultural magazine Hispanic selected Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding officer of United States troops in Iraq, Hispanic of the Year.
In some respects Sanchez is doing for Hispanics in the military what Collin Powell did for Blacks when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Like Powell, he is proving that through perseverance and hard work they can ascend to positions of leadership in the armed forces. According to the magazine, Sanchez is the highest-ranking Hispanic in the U.S. Army and the ninth Hispanic general in the armys history. As commanding officer of the U.S. troops and coalition forces in Iraq, he is responsible for 120,000 U.S. troops and some 30,000 military staff from 30 coalition countries.
His Hispanic background is possibly his greatest asset in this theater of operations. In addition to the growing number of Hispanic-American forces in the U.S. Army, there are several military units coming from Latin America, including El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and from Spain. As indicated in Hispanic, Sanchez has the opportunity to use his background to rally these diverse groups together, as well as any others who come from minority backgrounds. He enjoys monitoring the performance of Hispanic troops, and says to the magazine: "It was pretty exciting to see all those great young soldiers with all our leadership present to understand the tremendous power that comes from the diversity of American forces."
Fellow officer Lt. Gen. Eric Olsen, who was interviewed by Hispanic and knew Sanchez during the Persian Gulf War, says he is "one of the most principled, ethical commanders Ive ever met." His commander during that conflict, Lt. General Barry McCaffrey praises Sanchez in another interview as "an officer of enormous personal competence, humility, and a terrific tactical sense of organizing and leading combat operations." Even his current subordinates like Lt. Col. Krivo have nothing but praise in the Hispanic article for "a guy who has very high standards and expects people to a achieve the best they can achieve. With his background in systems analysis, hes able to track many things simultaneously, and manages to keep all the details straight, as well as piecing together the whole picture to form a larger strategic picture, not only in relation to the military, but also in relation to political, economic, and other instruments of national power."
But the generals greatest challenge is how to bring peace to a part of the world that is so violent. Almost every day, there are reports of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq by insurgent forces.
The general sees it differently; he states in Hispanic that "Out in the countryside [of Iraq] in most places, its peaceful. You see people getting on with their life. Schools are up and running. They have a judicial system and police, at different levels of effectiveness, back on the streets. You look at just about every functional area of the country, and they have been re-energized. But the most important thing isthey have freedom."
Born of Mexican parents in the town of Rio Grande in south Texas, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchezs life was shaped by the American dream. As described by Hispanic, he overcame poverty and was raised in an economically challenged environment, nevertheless, he rose to the top in his career by educating himself and earning the respect of his peers. He credits his 77-year-old mother with instilling these values in him. As told to Hispanic, the mild-mannered general believes these are also the values that the Hispanic community embracespatriotism, service to country, and being very loyal to your family. "When I became a soldier the ethics and the value system of the military profession fit almost perfectly with my own heritage. It made it very easy for me to adapt to the military value system," Sanchez told the magazine.
Sanchez enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in high school and won an ROTC scholarship to enroll in Texas A&I University where he studied mathematics. In 1973, he was commissioned second lieutenant. From there, he joined the Armys elite 82nd Airborne Division, and excelled at his tasks. He was steadily promoted and earned a masters degree in operations research and systems analysis engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.