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He had invoked “Shermanesque” type statements to no avail. When Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was being prodded to run as a Republican in the 1884 election, he said, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Since then, that statement has been uttered in various forms by scores of American politicians, including President Lyndon Johnson when he declined to run for re-election in 1968.

But Sherman was failing Gen. Petraeus. He wanted a new way of saying “no.”

That is when his public relations officer, Col. Steven A. Boylan, tapped into his love of country music. He suggested the general recite a classic song, “What Part of No Don’t You Understand?”

The general was immediately intrigued. “Find me exactly what was said and who said it,” Gen. Petraeus ordered.

Col. Boylan researched, found the 1992 Lorrie Morgan hit and the lyrics and presented them to his boss.

By April 2008, Gen. Petraeus had the world audience he needed. Brian Williams asked him on “The NBC Nightly News” if he had a political future.

“Never,” the general answered. “And I’ve tried to say that on a number of occasions. Some folks have reminded me of a country-western song that says ‘What part of no, don’t you understand?’ ”

B61 update

Congressional appropriators have compromised in the fight over funding a study to extend the shelf life of a 1960s nuclear bomb that the Pentagon said is urgently needed for NATO and the new F-35 jet.

Conferees working on Energy Department appropriations earlier this month agreed to approve $32.5 million of the $65 million requested by the Obama administration for the B61 nuclear bomb life extension program study, according to the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference.

Under the compromise, the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration also will be able to shift $15 million more from other programs to the bomb upgrade once the Pentagon completes its Nuclear Posture Review.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water cut all funds for the B61 upgrade because of what the subcommittee said was a lack of direction for U.S. nuclear weapons. The counterpart Senate Appropriations subcommittee version of the funding bill contained the full $56 million request.

The B61 upgrade study will help meet a deadline of 2017 for modifying the bomb so it can be carried by the F-35, according to defense officials. The F-16s that now can carry the bomb are being phased out of service over the next eight years.

The U.S. Strategic Command has said the B61 is the oldest nuclear weapon in the stockpile and needs “urgent upgrades” to include modern safety and security features.

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