Many of the nation’s highest-ranking officers are graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, but Harold Greene got his start in the Army at Fort Polk, like thousands of others before him. He was a college-educated engineer who went on to a 34-year career before his assassination in Afghanistan this week.

As a major general, he was the highest-ranking loss to the Army since Vietnam. A general in the German army and two Afghan generals also were wounded in the attack.

For Greene, the Army was about organization and thinking: He was praised and promoted for leading teams that worked on ways, from armor to communications, to make combat troops safer.

While this nation mourns his loss, the people of Afghanistan lost a friend, whose efforts to train up a new Afghan army would have given that country a brighter future.