I can't put it any better than the Armchair Generalist:
Downing was a real warrior. I had the opportunity to meet him about ten years ago - this was after he was retired and cruising the special consultant circuit. He was very frank and somewhat opinionated, but he was also pretty on target with his assessments. If you read the obit, you'll see he had a very distinguished military record. That's why I knew the Bush administration was hopelessly screwed up when he left the position of Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism in June 2002. He was too smart and too qualified to put up with the amateur hour that he saw.