Patrick Lang, 1940-2023

An old soldier has faded away.

Via Dave Schuler, I see that Pat Lang has passed. Writing at Lang’s blog, which dates to July 2005, Harper posts this:

It is with great sadness that we inform all of the loyal members of this Committee of Correspondence that Col. W. Patrick Lang passed away after several months of illness on April 4. During his illness he asked several of the regular writers on the blog to keep up the efforts as he battled his illness. We intend to continue this effort. He will be greatly missed. The world has lost a true hero and the nation has lost a great patriot. More details will follow in the coming days.

The post is adorned with this portrait of the colonel in his Army dress blue uniform:

Lang was a 1962 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. On his LinkedIn profile, he describes his career succinctly:

Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts, among them the Jim Lehrer “Newshour.”

Dave, the late Doug Mataconis, and I had Lang on the old OTB Radio show on June 23, 2010. So far as I know, the recording has been lost to posterity but I recall his being bemused at being called “colonel,” seeing that he had been retired for quite a long time by that point and, indeed, was a long-retired Senior Executive. But he had always been “Colonel Lang” in the military blogosphere.

His uniform above had Military Intelligence branch insignia but he may well have retired by the time Special Forces became its own branch in 1986. Regardless, he had a Combat Infantryman Badge, which isn’t available to MI officers, and was authorized both a Special Forces tab and a Special Forces Combat Service Identification Badge (then known as a Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service).

Dave observes,

Pat was an acquaintance. I found him to be a courteous and delightful gentleman. He was a career soldier, stationed for a considerable part of his career in the Middle East, the first individual to teach Arabic at West Point, and a blogger. […] Pat was a paleocon. There are fewer and fewer of those left. As such he wasn’t very happy about Trump or what was happening in the Republican Party.

I never met Pat in person, with the interview being the only time we spoke directly—which is a shame, since it turned out that he lived just down the road. Here’s a more recent photo, which adorns his LinkedIn and the About page of his blog:

He was the epitome of the soldier-scholar, a learned an accomplished man who made the world a little bit better. He will be missed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem”
    “No one is a man who does not render the world better.”
    Slightly mistranslated for the movie as,

    “What man is a man who does not make the world better.”


  2. a country lawyer says:

    I became a loyal reader of Lang’s blog Sic Semper Tyrannis during the buildup to the Iraq war. I found his analysis and comments insightful and well thought out. He had a particularly good understanding of mid-eastern politics and thought. I would frequently comment there under my nom de blog Old Gun Pilot. He was particularly critical of Bush and his neo con enablers.
    But about 5 years ago his blog made an abrupt turn to the far right. Larry Johnson a right wing crackpot became a regular blogger on Lang’s blog along with several others of a like mind. Lang became a outspoken critic of Secretary Clinton even posting the Q-Anon theory that she was a Parkinsons patient. He angrily banned several commenters because of their so called socialist leanings. Always a fan of the Confederacy he commented just a few years ago that the Civil War came about because of the jealousy of the North and that slavery was on its way out before the war began.
    I came to the conclusion that this once wise man was succumbing to dementia. I prefer to remember Lang as he appeared years ago.

  3. H says:

    @a country lawyer: I was one who was banned even though we shared much in common. I quite reading except occasionally. I am sorry to hear of his death

  4. dazedandconfused says:

    His wiki page is one hell of a read. Among a lot of other things the students at West Point twice selected him as the best classroom teacher of the year….and he was teaching Arabic? For some reason that strikes me as a stunning achievement…and it appears to have been among his least. There is a lot of reading to do about this guy, and I wish I had heard of him before now.