WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 5, 2008) - In a Pentagon ceremony Monday afternoon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates promoted Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli to four-star general and Army Secretary Pete Geren administered Chiarelli's oath of office as the Army's 32nd vice chief of staff.
Gates, who was Chiarelli's boss in his most recent position as senior military assistant to the secretary of defense since March 2007, called the ceremony "bittersweet," saying, "I'll miss him. But I can think of no one better to take the job [as vice}."
From moving into a position as the Army's director of operations a month before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 to commanding the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas, in August 2003 and deploying to Iraq as the commander of Task Force Baghdad - from February 2004 to March 2005 - Chiarelli hasn't soldiered from the sidelines.
Soon after he arrived in Iraq, eight 1st Cav. Div. Soldiers were killed. "He'll never forget their names," Gates said in his introduction to a man he clearly reveres.
"Pete will tell you that our men and women [in uniform] are our greatest asset," Gates said. The Soldiers, in turn, have referred to Chiarelli as everything from "a father figure to a health advisor and marriage counselor," because he cares about Soldiers.
"His beliefs [about our purpose in Iraq] only solidified during his second tour in Iraq," Gates said about Chiarelli's role as commander, Multi-National Corps-Iraq from January 2006 to December 2006.
"As long as there's a single Soldier in harm's way" or a family missing their Soldier who's far from home, "Pete will never rest," Gates continued.
Today, with 36 years in service to his country under his belt, Chiarelli said, "I thank you for your confidence, trust and this opportunity. I look forward to serving as part of your team," he told Secretary Geren. "Your compassionate leadership has been [an inspiration]."
"This is an important day in the life of the Army and in the Chiarelli family," Geren said. "We all know service [in the armed forces] is a family affair," Geren added, as he introduced Chiarelli's wife Beth and children, Peter, Erin and Patrick. Chiarelli's mother Theresa, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter also attended the event.
On the lighter side, Chiarelli joked that his family has always been willing to "forgive my Type-A-ness," and "Beth, you've always been quick to remind me that I'm just Pete Chiarelli" [a regular guy].
The new vice chief reflected on his time in service - which began in 1973 at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a lieutenant and platoon leader and then executive officer of the 9th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Hqs. Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry - and the lessons he's learned along the way from comrades.
"They taught me that leadership, competence and accountability count," Chiarelli said.
In his role as the Army's vice chief of staff, Chiarelli will serve as the principal advisor and assistant to the chief of staff of the Army, advising and assisting the CSA on issues related to personnel, logistics, operations and plans.