- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Gen. Tommy Franks, the general guiding the attack on terrorists and the Taliban, is a successor to retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf of Gulf war fame. He is also somewhat of a kindred spirit.
He's got no nickname like "Stormin' Norman." But he's got more than a bit of Schwarzkopf's brusqueness.
"Tommy is not quiet about anything," says retired Maj. Gen. Leo Baxter, an artilleryman who has known Gen. Franks for 25 years.
As leader of Central Command, a military responsibility spanning 25 nations across Central Asia, the Middle East and neighboring Africa, Gen. Franks has already seen terrorism up close.
Before he could mark 100 days on the job, suicide bombers blew a hole in the USS Cole as it refueled in Yemen.
Gen. Franks told Congress in March that the terrorist threat was "less predictable and potentially much more dangerous than we have seen in the past."
Then came the terror attacks on the United States. On Sunday, Gen. Franks prepared America's arrayed forces for war with the words: "Today, the eyes of the world will be upon you."
The terrorists, he said, "grossly miscalculated."
The tall, thin, 56-year-old Army general cuts a different figure from the bearish Schwarzkopf, and colleagues say he may be smoother in handling people.
He can work a crowd like a graduate from the Oprah Winfrey school of public speaking, using few notes and leaving the podium to mingle.
But, like Gen. Schwarzkopf, "Tommy is not a quiet, introverted thoughtful general," said Gen. Baxter, former commander of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla. "Tommy Franks is very outgoing, very opinionated.
"He's not a guy who flies off the handle, but in the course of a five-minute discussion about how you're wrong and he's right, he'll use words that are and aren't in the dictionary."
Others who have worked with him agree, calling him astute and blunt to the point of overbearing. As one put it, "He turns officers on, because he gets at the guts of the profession."
Central Command is based in Tampa, Fla., but the Pentagon, for security reasons, won't say where Gen. Franks is stationed now. He commonly describes his overseas region twice the size of the continental United States as diverse and volatile.
Encompassing Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Gulf states, former Soviet republics and parts of Africa, it contains vast energy resources, key air and sea lines and critical maritime choke points.
It is home to more than 500 million people.
An Army man for more than three decades, Gen. Franks served with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam and had tours of duty in Germany.
He was an assistant division commander in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and went on to head the army's forces under Central Command before he succeeded Gen. Anthony Zinni as the command's leader.
All of that has left him bedecked with medals, but when he was asked once how he earned them, he brushed off the inquiry like lint on his sleeve.
"That is a very embarrassing question," Gen. Franks said. "My wife will tell you if you stay in the armed forces long enough, you will gain a lot of medals."

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