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As He Watches President's Moves, Retired Commander Turns To Grooming Future Leaders

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SPRING LAKE, N.C. — As President George W. Bush pondered sending troops to Liberia, a retired commander of U.S. forces advised caution Saturday.

Gen. Hugh Shelton is busy establishing an endowment at North Carolina State University to fund scholarships and youth leadership programs. He was on hand Saturday for the inaugural fund-raising golf tournament in Spring Lake, where the Army's Golden Knights parachute team highlighted the festivities.

Shelton is an alumnus of N.C. State, as well as former post commander at Fort Bragg.

As retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Shelton is interested in whether President Bush will send peacekeeping forces to Liberia. His experience says there first has to be a peace to keep.

"So we've got to be careful," he said. "And we need to make sure that whenever we can, we do this in a multi-national fashion. Either in the United Nations or through NATO."

According to Shelton, working through a large coalition should have happened before the war with Iraq.

"President Bush felt we had the intelligence to justify an imminent threat to America's national security," Shelton said, "and if that's the case, then we couldn't afford to wait."

Shelton said that intelligence is now in question, and only time will tell if the administration was justified in going to war.

Going it alone, he said, makes war's aftermath a longer and harder road.

"Whenever you lead the operation, you inherit the operation," he said. "Getting in is always easier than getting out."

Now the retired General is more focused on grooming the nation's future leaders. His endowment will fund scholarships and youth leadership programs like the ROTC and 4H.

"It's first and foremost a chance to really promote values-based leadership," he said. "Bringing up youngsters who are imbued with the values of honesty and integrity."

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