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Peter Pace Reveals: "I’ve Been Told I’m Done"

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jun 15, 2007
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Marine General Peter Pace, speaking about his upcoming departure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed on Thursday that his stepping down was not a voluntary action; however, Pace said, "I’ve been told I’m done."

In an AP story from today, Pace’s comments, delivered last night as he answered a question from an audience member at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA, included a statement to the effect that leaving his post in wartime would be letting down U.S. servicemembers.

Pace made headlines last March when the Chicago Tribune quoted Pace as saying that he believed "homosexual acts to be immoral and... we should not condone immoral acts," and also that "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

Pace also compared homosexuality to adultery, which he said should not be condoned among military personnel.

Though Pace subsequently expressed regret for making public his personal opinions, he did not apologize for the content of his remarks.

Pace said last night that doubt about a second term for him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came to his attention in May; a few weeks later, on June 8, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that Pace, the first Marine to hold the position, would be replaced. His successor is expected to be Navy Admiral Michael Mullen.

"One thing that was discussed was whether or not I should just voluntarily retire and take the issue off the table," Pace revealed. "I said I could not do that" lest any servicemember in Iraq "think--ever--that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle [but] voluntarily walked off the battlefield."

Added the Marine general, "That is unacceptable as a leadership thing, in my mind.

"The other piece for me personally," Pace said, "was that some 40 years ago I left some guys on the battlefield in Vietnam who lost their lives following 2nd Lt. Pace. And I promised myself then that I will serve this country until I am no longer needed--that it’s not my decision. I need to be told that I’m done."

"I’ve been told I’m done," Pace said.

Pace’s comments were contained in a transcript made available today by his office.

Also on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed to reporters that he had told Pace in person that Pace had "performed poorly," according to a report on Foxnews.com.

The AP story also referenced Reid’s critique of Pace and said that a spokeswoman for Pace, Marine Col. Katie Haddock, stated that Pace "is not going to respond to press reports on who’s saying what. He will let his 40 years of service speak for itself."

In October 2005, Pace took over as chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff from Air Force Gen. Richard Meyers. The announcement from Gates that Pace would not be nominated for a second two-year term included the reasoning that confirmation for Pace’s new term would prove "contentious," and that "this moment in history, the nation, our men and women n uniform, and General Pace himself would not be well served by a divisive ordeal" to secure any second term as chairman.

Pace is set to leave his post on October 1.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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