Admiral Mike Mullen is, or is about to be, the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the fourth admiral to hold that post. His predecessors were Arthur Radford, Thomas Moorer, and William Crowe. Each of the three saw active service in World War II. Indeed, Tom Moorer had the distinction of being shot down and sunk the same day in the process of winning a Silver Star for valor.
As with his predecessors, Mullen was appointed by a Republican president. Dwight Elsenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan named the other three. And like his predecessors, Mullen enters office in the midst of crisis.
Radford took over just as the Korean War was drawing to a close. It was his job to guide the transition from war to peace and to help implement the Eisenhower strategy of massive retaliation, principally relying on strategic nuclear weapons to deter and contain the Soviet Union.
Moorer took office as the Vietnam War was winding down, but the conflict still dominated our thinking, much as Iraq does today.