Nov. 5, 2014 -- CSA's remarks at Lt. Gen. Campbell retirement ceremony

By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoNovember 7, 2014

It is great to see everyone here this morning on this beautiful German day. Actually this is a great day. I am pleased to be here and have the opportunity to take part in this important ceremony to celebrate, honor, and bid farewell to a great Soldier and a great friend and someone who has dedicated more than 36 years of exceptional service to our Nation. A leader who lived the Army values and dedicated himself to the Profession of Arms, LTG Don Campbell is the quintessential Professional.

I want to offer special thanks to the Color Guard, the U.S. Army band and protocol for making this ceremony happen. I know a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. Ambassador Robert Mandell, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg; Ambassador Moon, Ambassador to EUCOM; all other U.S. Leaders and officials; Mayor Sven Gerich of Wesibaden. All the great leaders from Europe, all of our partners and allies--this is such an important time in our history. It is so great to see you here today, it shows the importance of our close relationships and specifically reflects on all that Don Campbell has done to build those relationships. I want to welcome the Supreme Allied Commander, EUCOM, General Phil Breedlove & his wife, thank you for being here. General Frank Gorenc, USAFE Commander, Sir, thank you. Admiral Mark Ferguson; all of the Land Forces Commanders; General Officers; Command Sergeants Major and senior enlisted advisors; USAREUR Staff; and distinguished guests, welcome everyone.

I especially want to welcome Ann's mother, Susan Palmieri. Ma'am, it's great to see you again. You have been such a great supporter of Ann and Don; and Steve Shepherd, thank you for being here as well. They have joined us from Wilmington, North Carolina. As I was talking to Mrs. Palmieri, for her this is a happy occasion since they'll be closer to Ann and Don in North Carolina. Mrs. Palmieri is sad that they are leaving the Army, but she is pleased that they will be closer to her.

Today, we stand here to honor LTG Don Campbell. In doing so, I really want to highlight the role of Ann and Don's families in shaping their life of service. When Ann and Don began dating, just a few years ago, their fathers were both battalion commanders. Don's father, Don Campbell, and Ann's father, Guy Palmieri, shared much in common. They both entered the Army in 1957, Don from Davidson College as an Armor officer, Guy from West Point as a Field Artilleryman. They each served in Vietnam and both retired as Colonels. So it's clear the legacy of service in the Campbell family, and that Ann and Don both followed in their families' footsteps with their sacrifices.

They have carried on that legacy now for more than 36 years. They raised two fantastic children, Craig and Leslie. Craig and his wife, Sara, live in Texarkana with their two children. Craig is a martial arts fighter and personal trainer who runs his own gym. Leslie is a design consultant for an Internet startup site called "Stitch Fix." Leslie is responsible for overseeing more than 50 design consultants. They are great young men and women and I know that you are both extremely proud of your children and grandchildren--of their creativity and of their initiative, and of all that they have accomplished.

In addition to raising Craig and Leslie, Ann's contributions to our Army cannot be simply stated. Ann has dedicated herself every day to her Soldier and also to our Army family. She has continuously volunteered as a Family and Command team Advisor on military installations since Don's first command more than 30 years ago. She has always focused on building interpersonal relationships--knowing the names and getting to know everyone at Child Development Centers, health clinics, libraries, and schools.

Ann has also helped stage Town Hall events for Soldiers and Families in pre-deployment preparations. She has organized and supported volunteer appreciation luncheons. She has orchestrated multiple fundraising events at every level of command. Through it all, she has mentored officer and NCO spouses and has led senior spouse team-building. She has remained actively engaged in community and Garrison forums and in Family Readiness Groups wherever she was. I got to see Ann firsthand when Don was a brigade commander, in the initial deployments of the 4th Infantry Division to Iraq in 2003. When Don was my Chief of Staff, Ann reached out to my wife Linda. Not only did she assist in deeds but with words, in being a great friend, and in giving Linda someone to talk to. That is how she has always led.

Ann cares about people, about Soldiers, about spouses. We will never be able to repay you for all you have done. We owe you an incredible debt of gratitude. Ann, thank you for everything that you have done for our Army and our country. Thank you very much.

I think you know that Ann and Don just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary. They both met in High School at Fort Riley in 1973 and married five years later after graduating from Kansas State. If you're ever around Don, it takes him about 28 seconds to mention something about Kansas State. Already, I got an earful on the way in about their football team and how well they are doing this year. They are both very proud of Kansas State, and Kansas is really a second home to them. It has meant a lot to them throughout the years.

As Don and Ann moved between US and Europe, Don has led at every echelon--battalion command at FT Lewis, Washington; brigade command at FT Hood, Texas and in Iraq; Commanding General of the US Army Armor Center, Fort Knox, Kentucky; III Corps Commander, FT Hood; and Commanding General of US Army Europe here in Germany.

He's held crucial posts managing careers as an assignment officer and launching careers as an Army Recruiter. He has served as the Deputy Commander of Recruiting Command and as the Commanding General, US Army Recruiting Command, offering vision, expertise, and mentorship every step of the way.

From assessing men and women in Recruiting; to training them at Armor school; to leading them in peace and war, Don has excelled in every assignment. His care and passion for Soldiers and their families, and his commitment to them, is simply unmatched. He has been an advocate of Mission Command--of empowering his subordinates from home station to combat and back.

As I said earlier, I have had the honor of serving with Don Campbell in a number of assignments. I saw him deftly lead his brigade through Kuwait and all the way up into Northern Iraq, leading the 4th Infantry Division during the initial assault into Iraq. He served as the Chief of Staff of the 4th Infantry Division; and of V Corps, and later Multi-National Corps, Iraq.

I had the pleasure of watching LTG Campbell run the longest golf tournament in the history of man. One day, I asked Don to put together a golf tournament when we got back from Iraq. It was an eleven-hour event that started when the sun first came up and ended when the sun went down. It was the longest 18 holes, by far, that I've ever played. But I will say this: every single person that participated in this tournament had a great time and we had many designated drivers.

We all know that Don's culminating assignment has been as the Commanding General, United States Army Europe and Seventh Army. Don was already in command when I called him at III Corps, Fort Hood; they were getting ready to go to Afghanistan. But I told him I had a really important assignment for the Army. I needed someone who had commanded at every level, who had everyone's confidence to lead U.S. Army Europe at a very important time. Don never hesitated, heading over here immediately. He has served so memorably for the past two years, leading more than 30,000 Soldiers and more than 4,200 Civilian employees. Don has led the U.S. Army Europe Team during an unprecedented era of change and of fiscal uncertainty at a time when threats remain and in some cases are increasing rather than decreasing. This is a time when we needed someone who had the savvy of understanding the importance of ground forces and the role they can play in coordinating between our multinational partners and inter-agencies.

Don has been the rock of assurance for our partners in Europe. We all know that the volatility of the global security environment has placed pressures upon Europe, where Russian aggression has threatened our allies in Poland and the Baltic States. Under Don's leadership, USAREUR forces rapidly responded. Making best use of the globally aligned, regionally engaged forces concept, several units from the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed in April of this year to Eastern Europe. Our forces quickly reassured our allies. This was an example that NATO was prepared to respond.

Operation Atlantic Resolve has continued with the deployment of 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division to Eastern Europe. The "Ironhorse" Brigade assumed their mission as the European Rotational Force and NATO Response Force just a few weeks ago, and their deployment over here from the United States reaffirmed our capabilities to move quickly, to move combat power here if necessary. It also reaffirms the importance of regional alignment and multinational interoperability, and of exercising the European Activity Set that we established just a short time ago.

All of this was a vision that Don Campbell had, with the ability to reinforce NATO when necessary. Don's vision of resourcing for our European commitments has been far-reaching and forward-thinking. The European Activity Set is located and maintained at the U.S. Army's Grafenwoehr Training Area, home to the Army's only permanently forward-based training command. Don has ensured that U.S. Army Europe has dynamically invested in the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, adapting the Army's training model to increase multi-echelon Joint and Multinational exercises and build interoperability with our allies and partners, especially during this important time for NATO.

The hallmark of Don's leadership of this command--and a constant throughout his career--has been the trust that he has established and the relationships that he has built. Since the start of Atlantic Resolve, USAREUR has hosted many visitors, and everyone he has met has walked away with an understanding of how vitally important U.S. forces in Europe are and will continue to be in responding to the challenges that lie ahead. But he has done far more than host visitors and build relationships. Don has personally traveled to every country where US forces have deployed in Europe; he has met with key leaders to make sure that U.S. Army Europe was meeting expectations.

He and his team have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our partners and allies abroad. He has laid a firm foundation of trust through unvarnished credibility. U.S. Army forces in Europe live, train, and operate among many capable allies and partners every day. This framework--this network of strategically positioned bases--will help us continue to respond. This is all thanks to the thinking of Don Campbell.

The trust that Don has established and the relationships that he has built were best shown during the Conference of European Armies, which Don hosted over the last two years. More than 38 European nations attended the conference, making it the most successful one ever. Don and his team fully believe that partnering, training, and working with NATO and non-NATO members will lead to the common goal of providing a safe and stable environment here in Europe.

Don, thank you for everything that you have done, and for your great leadership. I know that you and Ann's contributions to our Army will resonate for many years to come. The Soldiers, Families, and Civilian partners; our allies that you have touched; and the relationships that you have built, will be your legacy. You have been selfless servants to those who have been placed in your charge.

Today is bittersweet knowing that our Army is losing an incredible leader. But I am assured that your legacy and your impact will be long felt. Don and Ann -- you have been an amazing team. On behalf of a grateful Nation, thank you for your dedicated service to our Army and to our Soldiers. I wish you the very best of luck as you begin this next chapter of your lives, and hope that you enjoy your move to Cary Beach, North Carolina. I'll be down in a few months. I know that you will both find ways to contribute to the community while enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

The Strength of our Nation is our Army

The Strength of our Army is our Soldiers

The Strength of our Soldiers is our Families

That is what makes us Army Strong!

Thank you very much.