GENERAL ERIC K. SHINSEKI
34TH CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY
RETIREMENT CEREMONY, JUNE 11, 2003
Secretary Brownlee, thank you for the generosity of your remarks and for hosting today's ceremony. You lead The Army through a difficult period - - best wishes in the execution of your important duties;
Secretary and Mrs. Norm Mineta - - Transportation - - thank you for being here;
We have received tremendous support from the Defense Oversight Committees: Senate Armed Services Committee - - Senators Warner and Levin; Senate Appropriations Committee for Defense - - Senators Stevens and Inouye; House Armed Services Committee - - Congressmen Hunter and Skelton; Congressman Bill Young, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; and Congressmen Lewis and Murtha - - House Appropriations Committee for Defense - - thank you all and your dedicated staffs - - Sid Ashworth, Valerie Baldwin, John Bonsall, Dan Cox, and former Staff Director Steve Cortese - - for your support of The Army, its initiatives for the future, and its Soldiers;
Let me also acknowledge the leadership of the Senate and House Army Caucuses - - Senators Inhofe and Akaka, Congressmen McHugh and Edwards - - we truly appreciate the tremendous support you provide to The Army's initiatives. We are fortunate to have some Members of Congress with us today - - Senators Dan Inouye, Daniel Akaka, Jack Reed, and former Senator Max Cleland; Congressmen Jerry Lewis, Ike Skelton, Eni Faleomavaega, Gene Taylor, Chet Edwards, Neil Abercrombie, Rodney Frelinghuisen, Sylvester Reyes, Charles Taylor - - Patty and I are honored that you could join us - - thank you;
Sincere thanks to the Members of Congress who paid kind tributes to my service in recent days - - Congressmen Lewis, McHugh, Edwards, and Skelton. I deeply appreciate the graciousness of your remarks;
Senator Dan Inouye - - Special thanks to you, sir, for your friendship and mentoring. I am indebted to you for introducing me at my senate confirmation hearing. Your words then and your support over the last four years have been humbling. Thank you for your patriotism and your leadership;
- Deputy Secretary England - - Homeland Security;
- Secretary and Mrs. Jim Roche - - Air Force;
- General Al Haig - - thank you for honoring us with your presence;
- General Barry McCaffrey and Jill - - thank you for honoring us, as well;
- Secretary Togo West - - 16th Secretary of the Army;
- Secretary Tom and Susan White - - 18th Secretary of the Army - - thanks for your unwavering support of Soldiers and The Army, for your friendship, and for being here today. When they call the roll of principled, loyal, tough guys, you will be at the top of the list;
- General Dick Myers - - our Chairman - - his wife, Mary Jo, and Lynne Pace, wife of our Vice Chairman; fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and your ladies: Vern and Connie Clark - CNO; John and Ellen Jumper - CSAF; Mike and Silke Hagee - Commandant, Marine Corps; Tom and Nancy Collins - Commandant, Coast Guard. To the Joint Chiefs - - you have my respect and admiration for the experience you bring to deliberations, the responsibilities you bear for the Nation, and the care you engender for people;
- Former Army Chiefs of Staff - - General and Mrs. Reimer, General and Mrs. Sullivan, General and Mrs. Vuono;
- Members of our outstanding Army Secretariat, including Joe Reeder and Mike Walker - - former Undersecretaries of the Army;
- Our Vice Chief of Staff - - Jack Keane and his wife, Terry, who have worked tirelessly for four years on behalf of Soldiers and The Army - - thank you both for your dedication and support;
- Counterpart Army Chiefs who have traveled long distances to be here today - - General and Mrs. Gert Gudera, old friends from Germany since our service together in Bosnia; General Edward Pietrzyk, Poland; General and Mrs. Hillier, Canada; General Canelo-Franco, Paraguay; General Morozov, Russia; General Marekovic, Croatia - - Patty and I are deeply honored by your presence;
- Other fellow U.S. General and Flag Officers, serving and retired, active and reserve components, and your spouses - - especially the retired four stars who are here today - - thank you all for your support and your leadership. The Army is in good hands, and it keeps rolling along. Let me particularly acknowledge the serving 4-stars - - Jim Ellis, Charlie Holland, Larry and Jean Ellis, Paul and Dede Kern, Leon and Judy Laporte, B.B. Bell, Tom and Toni Hill, Kevin and Carol Byrnes, and those recently retired from active duty - - John and Ceil Abrams, Buck and Maryanne Kernan, Jay and Cherie Hendrix, Tom and Sandy Schwartz, John and Jan Coburn. Let me also acknowledge the important service and presence of the Joint and Army Staffs and The Army's general officers in command who provide strong, steady, and enduring leadership;
- Sergeant Major of the Army Jack and Gloria Tilley - - The Army could not have asked for two more enthusiastic proponents for Soldiers and families. To you and the MACOM Command Sergeants Major who have gathered here today, thanks for your wise counsel and friendship. We are indebted to all of you for your leadership and your care and concern for Soldiers;
- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and Mrs. Scott;
- Former Sergeants Major of the Army Hall, Kidd, and Bainbridge and your ladies;
- Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army;
- My beloved family - - some 70-strong - - has journeyed great distances to be here. Grandma Shinseki, who turns 92 this year, has chosen not to travel and my sister, Yvonne, has remained at home with her. But just about everyone else is here - - my older brother, Paul, and his family; then Patty and our children - - Lori, Ken, and their spouses who have made Patty and me grandparents five times over. Many others from Patty's and my wonderful family are gathered in strength - - uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces - - wonderful people who live simple lives in proud and vocal support of this Chief - - God bless you all;
- So many other dear friends and associates - - too numerous to name but whose journeys have brought them miles, years, and memories to be here today: Kauai High School classmates; classmates from Hunterdon Central High School, where I spent a defining year of my life as an exchange student to New Jersey; the men and women of the distinguished West Point Class of 1965; representatives from industry and the non-profits who have done so much for The Army and Soldiers - - especially Frances Hesselbein of the Leader to Leader Institute; members of our superb, professional media - - Joe Galloway, Thom Shanker, Dick Cooper, Dave Moniz, Greg Jaffe, Ann Roosevelt, Joe Burlas, and others who have helped to tell our Soldiers' stories;
- The international representatives of the Attache Corps;
- Our wonderful Army Arlington Ladies, who represent the Chief of Staff at each and every Army funeral in Arlington to honor our Soldiers when they are laid to rest - - thank you;
- Youngsters from my front office and the Quarters 1 staffs: John Gingrich and members of my staff group; my XOs - - Joe Riojas and Tom Bostick; and Lil Cowell - - the steady hand in the office of the CSA for four chiefs, who quietly retired last week; CW5 Dan Logan; SGM Bruce Cline and Team CSA; SFC John Turk and the admin section; MAJ Pedro Almeida, the last in a series of world-class aides; Linda Jacobs and the heroes of Army Protocol - - all kept the Office of the Chief well-represented through sheer hard work and dedication, making my life and Patty's most rewarding - - thank you all;
- Teri and Karen Maude and the Brian Birdwells - - survivors of 11 September 2001 - - among the many hurt and scarred that day;
- Spouses of the generals who ran the ground war in Iraqi Freedom - - Carmen McKiernan, Kimberly Webster, Dee Thurman, and Bee Christianson - - thank you for coming today and for your generosity, grace, and courage;
- Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
My name is Shinseki, and I am a Soldier - - an American Soldier, who was born in the midst of World War II, began his service in Vietnam 37 years ago, and retires today in the midst of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The strategic environment remains dangerous, and we, in the military, serve our Nation by providing the very best capabilities to restore order in a troubled world. Soldiering is an honorable profession, and I am privileged to have served every day for the past 38 years as a Soldier.
The good book tells us, to every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose. Today is a time for thank yous, and our purpose is to say farewell. As we speak, over 370 thousand Soldiers are deployed and forward stationed in 120 countries. Their missions range from combat to peacekeeping to rebuilding nations to humanitarian assistance to disaster relief - - and a host of other missions in between. And as busy as they are, there have been no dropped balls - - none, on any mission. They are trained, disciplined, focused, and well-led. The Soldiers arrayed before us represent the magnificence of that Army. Their parade formation stretches not only from left to right across this field, but also backwards in history to a time before the republic was formed. Precision counts in this profession, and no one does it any better than the Old Guard and Pershing's Own. Please join me in thanking the Soldiers on parade today and on duty here, behind the stands, and around the world.
Thanks also to former bosses, mentors, friends, and fellow Soldiers who trained me as a Soldier and grew me as a leader - - some of them are here today. General Fred Franks - - who, more than anyone else, has been coach and mentor in all the years I have served as a general officer; Generals Butch Saint; Ed Burba; Rich Cardillo; Tom Tait, who fought to keep me on active duty after a service-disqualifying injury; Dick Davis; Colonel Bill Greynolds; my hospital bunkmate Bill Hale, and Sergeant Ernie Kingcade - - a noncommissioned officer who, while underway by ship to Vietnam, provided me the only Officer Basic Course I would receive before going into battle - - and I could not have had a better education. Ernie, it has been a long journey, and the example you set has been with me for 38 years. Thanks for that early model of what noncommissioned officers were supposed to be - - I have never expected less, and it has made all the difference.
To the men of '65 - - Strength and Drive. 38 years since we stepped off together as Soldiers - - you have been role models, friends, associates, and fellow Soldiers for these many years. Your notes in the days following 11 September and during the height of Iraqi Freedom were of great comfort - - wonderful reminders of all that we had been through together. Thanks for standing my last formation with me. It's been my distinct honor to have been associated with you and with what we've accomplished as a class. Your presence is most appreciated.
To Patty, my wife of 38 years - - you taught me the meaning of selflessness, of elegance, of courage, and of a bright spirit undiminished by time or adversity. You have seen me at my worst and stuck with me - - and you've seen me at my best and chuckled in disbelief. Throughout it all, your patience, your balance, your encouragement, and your love and support have sustained me. You stood beside my hospital bed for days, helped me learn to walk a second time, enabled me to regain confidence and a sense of direction, helped me reestablish a professional career, moved our children and our household 31 times, and always, always provided great strength when it was needed most. You could have been and done anything you chose - - yet, you chose to be a Soldier's wife. The profound grace of that decision has blessed me immeasurably. Thank you for 38 wonderful years in a profession I loved nearly as much as you.
Lastly, I want to thank the men who have served in this position, those who saw The Army through some dark days following Vietnam. It was a daunting and enormous task, but they - - with others who are present today - - they did it. They gave us back an NCO Corps, and they gave us back an Army that fights: Generals Creighton Abrams, Fred Weyand, Bernie Rogers, Shy Meyer, John Wickham, Carl Vuono, Gordon Sullivan, and Denny Reimer.
These leaders rose to their enormous task because they understood the important distinction between command and effective leadership. They taught us, and we have taught others, that command is about authority, about an appointment to position - - a set of orders granting title. Effective leadership is different. It must be learned and practiced in order for it to rise to the level of art. It has to do with values internalized and the willingness to sacrifice or subordinate all other concerns - - advancement, personal well-being, safety - - for others. So these men of iron invested tremendous time, energy, and intellect in leader development to ensure that those, who are privileged to be selected for command, approach their duties with a sense of reverence, trust, and the willingness to sacrifice all, if necessary, for those they lead. You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader. You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it; and without leadership, command is a hollow experience - - a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance.
Our mentors understood that mistrust and arrogance are antithetical to inspired and inspiring leadership - - breeding discontent, fostering malcontents, and confusing intent within the force. And so our mentors worked to reestablish that most important of virtues in our Army: trust - - the foundation upon which we have built our reputation as an Army. We owe them all a tremendous debt of gratitude for the magnificent Army we have today and the legacy of trust and honor they sustained.
This week we celebrate The Army's 228th birthday - - 228 years. The Army's long history is, in so many ways, also the history of our Nation - - a history including 10 wars and all the years of restless peace in between. In those years, Soldiers have been both servant and savior to the Nation. Today, our Nation is once again at war.
The current war brings me full circle to where I began my journey as a Soldier - - the lessons I learned in Vietnam are always with me. They involve changes in the way many of my generation learned to train, to lead, to fight, and to always offer our best military judgment to our superiors. These were hard-learned lessons - - lessons about loyalty; about taking care of the people who sacrifice the most for the good of the Nation; about uncompromising readiness that is achieved only through tough, realistic training; about the necessity for inspired and inspiring leadership; about the agility and versatility demanded by a dynamic strategic environment; and most importantly, that The Army must do two things well each and every day - - train Soldiers and grow them into leaders - - leaders who can unequivocally and without hesitation answer the critical question asked of any warfighter - - "Can you fight?
That question and those lessons are enduring ones for the profession of arms. Four years ago, with these lessons in mind, with the results of our comprehensive Army transition assessment in hand, and with our eyes always on the dynamic strategic environment, we decided to undertake fundamental and comprehensive change. Those initiatives informed The Army Vision - - a vision that consists of three imperatives: People. Readiness. Transformation.
Secretary Brownlee - - thank you for capturing so well The Army's progress toward achieving that vision - - a result of hard work by so many people. I'll only reinforce that Transformation has never been about just one thing - - the Future Combat System or the Objective Force - - and The Army Vision has never been about one person. The Army Vision and Transformation are about comprehensive change at the very heart of our institution - - of our culture: doctrine, organization, training, leader development, materiel, and Soldiers. This is the message we have consistently reiterated to all who are listening.
In these last months, the performance of Soldiers and Army families has spoken loudly, clearly, and eloquently. Since 11 September 2001, we have been enormously successful operationally. In Afghanistan, as members of a joint combined team, Soldiers banished the Taliban and Al Qaeda in weeks. In Iraq, they fought with speed and agility to as-Samawah, an-Najaf, al-Hillah, Karbala, and Baghdad - - unseating a dictator, freeing an oppressed people, defeating a persistent enemy in spite of the harsh, unforgiving environment. Our Soldiers demonstrated unprecedented agility and flexibility: JSOTF West - - special operators fighting with armor and conventional artillery; JSOTF North - - special operators fighting with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 1,000 paratroopers making the night jump and fighting alongside TF 1-63 Armor, 1st ID, and TF 2-14 Infantry and a field artillery battery from the 10th Mountain; the 82nd Airborne Division task organized with 2nd ACR(-), TF 1-41 Infantry (Mech) from Fort Riley, and a brigade of the 101st Air Assault Division; the 101st (-) fighting with TF 2-70 Armor, 1st Armored Division. With great agility, versatility, and courage, they fought to victory - - demonstrating once again that all our magnificent moments as an Army are delivered by our people. They won the fights, and they are now facing and overcoming tremendous challenges to ensure the Afghani and Iraqi people have the opportunity to rebuild their societies and create governments characterized by democracy, prosperity, peace, and hope rather than barbarity, instability, and pervasive fear. Just as impressively, Soldiers have simultaneously allowed our Nation to fulfill commitments in other important regions - - the Sinai, the Balkans, the Philippines, and Korea to name but a few. And had the situation in Korea gone hot, we'd have been there, too. With deeds, not words, they have unequivocally answered the question, "can you fight?" They do not flinch. They do not waiver. Our Army fights and wins.
Those successes are enabled by our great young leaders - - noncommissioned officers, lieutenants and captains, battalion and brigade commanders - - who understand both what a privilege it is to lead Soldiers and the tremendous responsibility that accompanies that privilege. They love their units and the Soldiers who fill them - - that is the essence of leadership.
Leadership is essential in any profession, but effective leadership is paramount in the profession of arms - - for those who wear the uniform and those who do not. We, in The Army, have been blessed with tremendous civilian leadership - - most notably the service of Secretary Tom White, whom we farewelled last month. We understand that leadership is not an exclusive function of uniformed service. So when some suggest that we, in The Army, don't understand the importance of civilian control of the military - - well, that's just not helpful - - and it isn't true. The Army has always understood the primacy of civilian control - - we reinforce that principle to those with whom we train all around the world. So to muddy the waters when important issues are at stake, issues of life and death, is a disservice to all of those in and out of uniform who serve and lead so well.
Our Army's Soldiers and leaders have earned our country's highest admiration and our citizens' broad support. But even as we congratulate our Soldiers when we welcome them home from battle, we must beware the tendency some may have to draw the wrong conclusions, the wrong lessons from recent operations - - remembering all the while that no lesson is learned until it changes behavior. We must always maintain our focus on readiness. We must ensure The Army has the capabilities to match the strategic environment in which we operate, a force sized correctly to meet the strategy set forth in the documents that guide us - - our National Security and National Military Strategies. Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army. Our Soldiers and families bear the risk and the hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds what force capabilities we can sustain, so we must alleviate risk and hardship by our willingness to resource the mission requirement. And we must remember that decisive victory often has less to do with the plan than it does with years invested in the training of Soldiers and the growing of leaders. Our Nation has seen war too many times to believe that victory on the battlefield is due primarily to the brilliance of a plan - - as opposed to leadership, tactical and technical proficiency, sheer grit and determination of the men and women who do the fighting and the bleeding.
Throughout my career, it has been an honor to serve with leaders who understand and are committed to uphold those obligations and duties to Soldiers. Today, we find that kind of dedicated and caring leadership at every level in our Army. We are an institution that lives our values: Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage. The Army Values - - the bedrock on which our institution is built.
Those values are demonstrated outside our ranks as well as within - - shared by Army families, as well as Soldiers. In these last months, at the toughest times of greatest sadness and hardship, I have again and again been reminded that Army families and spouses are the most generous people I know.
As I was on the first day of my tenure four years ago, I am humbled to stand here on my last day as the 34th Chief of Staff of the United States Army. I thank the President for his confidence and trust in allowing me the opportunity to serve the Nation and this Army that has been my family for 38 years. To Soldiers past and present with whom I have served, you have my deep and abiding respect and my profound thanks.
There is a magnificent Army out there - - full of pride, discipline, spirit, values, commitment, and passion. General Creighton Abrams reminded us that "Soldiering is an affair of the heart," and it's never been better to be a Soldier. We are a magnificent Army, and the Nation knows it and honors our profession. Soldiers represent what's best about our Army and our Nation - - noble by sacrifice, magnificent by performance, and respected by all. They make us better than we ever expected to be. And for 38 years now, Soldiers have never allowed me to have a bad day.
My name is Shinseki, and I'm a Soldier. God bless all of you and your families. God bless our Soldiers and our magnificent Army, and God bless our great Nation. Thank you, and goodbye.