Washington (CNN) - It was a quick remark in a long, sometimes-contentious GOP presidential debate. But for the tradition-oriented United States military, referring to an admiral as ‘General’ can be seen as a major misstep.
Luckily for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff isn’t bothered by the mistake in title.
The moment came when Pawlenty was asked about President Barack Obama’s drawdown strategy in Afghanistan.
“President Obama has accelerated that faster than either General Mullen or General Petraeus recommended,” Pawlenty said. “I would have accepted their recommendations and drawn them down a little slower.
Mullen, a navy admiral, is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen’s spokesman says the admiral isn’t troubled by the mistake.
“The Chairman is occasionally referred to as ‘general.’ It does not bother him. Indeed, he has grown so close to the Army and Marine Corps these last few years, that he considers it an honor,” Captain John Kirby, US Navy, said.
-CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.