A tall man built like a football player, retired US Army General Thomas “Ray” Odierno is still an imposing man to many of those who served under his authoritative gaze. Despite this, “Old Odie” has -from Desert Storm to Afghanistan- been generally held in high regard by his troops for his even keel and demeanor.
However, in 2013, Odierno lost his temper after being grilled by Marine veteran and California Congressman Duncan Hunter, who (during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee) allegedly insinuated that the general did not care about his troops.
“First off, I object to this,” Big O said during an inquiry involving budget woes. “I’m tired of somebody telling me I don’t care about our soldiers and we don’t respond.”
When Hunter tried to clear the air (but still try to address what he felt was a gap in capability), it was apparent Odierno was having none of it.
“We have more capability today in our intelligence than we’ve ever had,” Odierno said. “When I was a division commander in 2003, a company commander today with D6A (Distributed Common Ground System) has twenty times the capability I had as a division commander in 2003. Our intel organization has moved forward greatly.”
Odierno then justified the program, which costs $10.2 billion dollars over 30 years (2005-2038), defending the capability of D6A. Though Hunter agreed with him, Odierno snapped back, saying that as long as Hunter accused him of not caring, he would continue to fire back.
“If you don’t let me say anything, then we can’t have a conversation,” Hunter said.
“Well, you weren’t going to let us say anything!” Odierno snipped.
“You’re right,” Hunter said, “But I have that prerogative when I’m up sitting here.”
“Well,” Odierno responded, “I have a prerogative, too. That’s to answer or question an accusation when it’s made.”
Eventually, now- New York Senator and Army veteran John McHugh intervened between the two, restoring order to the chambers, effectively decreasing the “pucker factor” of all in the room that day.
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