Opportunities, professionals made for exciting military career
February 10, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - The Army has a distinct way of developing its officers that prepares them for their leadership roles later in their careers.
"Everything I've done in the Army has prepared me for this job," said Col. Daniel Shanahan, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "It takes about 20 years to develop a brigade commander and 26 or so years to create a chief of staff. So, the experiences I've had during my career have helped me be successful in this job."
Shanahan also credits those he worked and served with for his successes at SMDC/ARSTRAT.
"It is a diverse command -- global, and made up of professionals who want to make a difference for the Warfighter. We've got people who have worked in the command for 20, 30, 40 years," Shanahan said. "That experience they bring helps the young men and women who are forward stationed in Afghanistan today. And to be a part of that support, to be part of that leadership team, helps to focus those energies and really makes you want to get up in the morning and do the best you can."
Shanahan, who was selected as chief of staff by Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general, SMDC/ARSTRAT, actually began his tenure with the former commanding general, Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell.
"Lt. Gen. Formica hired me before he was even the commander. We've known each other about 10 years. We served together in 2004 when we were with III Corp in Iraq," Shanahan said. "Our command group -- Lt. Gen. Dick Formica, Col. Tim Coffin, Dr. Steve Messervy, Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Turner -- are four of the greatest professionals I've ever worked with in my career, and I'm able to leave this Army with those three great individuals in a leadership team that makes a difference for our Army every day."
Shanahan, who will be retiring with 30 years of service, began his military career at 18 years old as a West Point cadet.
"I'm proud of my accomplishments. Throughout my career, I've always been proud to say, 'I'm in the Army,'" Shanahan said. "I've had opportunities to do a lot of great things across the world, whether it's disaster relief in hurricanes like Katrina and Rita, or making a difference in parts of the world that few people even think of today. What I'm most proud of is that I was able to work every day to make a positive difference in people's lives."
Those opportunities are what he said make the Army a good career choice.
"It is truly what you make it. There are ups and downs, and those who are successful work their way through the difficult times when they come, and they maintain a positive attitude and work as hard as they can to influence the situation," Shanahan said. "You can't settle for mediocrity. You've got to put the extra effort in if you want something to be done right. And the Army gives you those opportunities. I would do it all again because the opportunities are there and it is up to each individual to maximize those opportunities."
Even with the opportunities offered, there were some stressful and difficult times.
"It is faith, family and friends who help you get through the tough times," Shanahan said. "That's something that's stuck with me all of these years and I will continue to be with me in the future."
Some of those family and friends will be traveling long distances to be present for Shanahan's retirement ceremony. He comes from a large family -- seven boys and one girl.
"I've got family coming in for the ceremony -- four brothers, Aunt Jennifer -- and some Soldiers and civilians who've been with me through different assignments throughout my career," Shanahan said. "I'll spend the first weekend with family and friends, and then we will look at continuing the transition process to a job after the Army here working in support of the defense industry."
Shanahan said he hopes he will be remembered as an officer who cared.
"I hope I'm remembered as someone who worked as hard as anyone in the command, and tried to make a positive difference every day… that I treated people with respect… someone who can mentor and teach, but also as someone who is smart enough to learn," Shanahan said. "I think I've been a good example of that… I've worked hard and set an example for those in the command.
"From the Army astronauts who are part of NASA's program to our young Soldiers up in Alaska to scientists at Kwajalein to our civilians in Colorado Springs or here in Huntsville, there are some tremendously gifted people who care about our mission and who care about America," he said. "They are some of the greatest professionals I've ever had an opportunity to work with, and I'm honored to be in their ranks and be a part of this organization -- the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. Thank you for the opportunity to serve."