By Lt. Col. Jefferson Wolfe
USACAPOC(A) public affairs officer

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The deputy commanding general for United States Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) ended his career where it started as a private first class 33 years ago.

Brig. Gen. Richard Sele retired at Fort Bragg in front of USACAPOC(A) Soldiers and guests during a ceremony Oct. 20 at the command's headquarters building.

"This means a lot to me," he said.

In order to have a long career, people must decide what inspires them and why they do what they do, Sele said.

Motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek is known for saying, 'Start with Why.' What he means is, "Why do you get up in the morning? Why does your organization exist?" he said. "I've long believed my 'why' as an Army Soldier is to prepare and train Soldiers for war."

Everyone owns a piece of readiness, Sele said.

"As individuals the CG needs you to own the responsibility to ensure you are medically qualified and physically fit," he said. "NCOs own the responsibility to ensure you're properly trained. Officers and commanders own the responsibility of setting the priorities, providing clear guidance and intent, getting the resources to make all of this work. I need your commitment to own this and do what it takes to be prepared and trained for war."

To that end, Maj. Gen. Darrell Guthrie, the USACAPOC(A) commanding general, praised Sele for traveling to attend many training events at combat training centers, including Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin.

Sele made important contributions getting valuable feedback from Soldiers and leaders onsite to improve training before deployments, Guthie said. This helped increase the readiness and lethality of the command's Soldiers.

"A job well done," he said. "Thank you, Rich, for a lifetime of service to your country."

Sele, a native New Yorker, first enlisted into the Army in 1983 as an enlisted interrogator and Serbo-Croatian linguist. He later earned his degree at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro and was in the ROTC program at the University of North Carolina A&T. He commissioned in 1987 and went on to serve as a liaison officer to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Desert Storm.

As Sele rose through the ranks, he showed an outstanding sense of duty, Guthrie said.

"You have far surpassed expectations by always going beyond and leaving your mark at every assignment," he said.

Sele's operational experience also includes a deployment to Sarajevo with an advisory team to the UN International Police Task Force, relocation of Kurdish citizens from northern Iraq to the United States, humanitarian assistance coordination in East Timor during the USS Boxer ship visit, mobile training team for the Royal Nepalese Army in Nepal, Joint Special Operations Task Force in the Philippines, and he worked closely with provincial council and election officials in Diyala Province, Iraq.

He also spent time as a congressional fellow for Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) in 2007. After that, he served as the political-military planner for Israeli affairs on the Join Staff J-5, and then the principal deputy for reserve affairs for the Secretary of the Army's Chief of Legislative Liaison in the Pentagon.

Retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Jacobs said an Army Reserve leader is distinguished by his ability to think strategically and to be a successful commander, and Sele passed both tests.

"I'm glad the Army entrusted him with the rank and responsibilities of a general officer," he said. "Rich, you're not only lived up to the Army's trust, you've rewarded the Army richly."

Jacobs also cited Sele's JRTC and NTC visits and the improvement that followed as evidence of his strong legacy.

"In the short time, you've been a general officer, you've made the Army better," he said.

Sele has "a special talent for leadership," Maj. Gen. Daniel Ammerman, also a former USACAPOC(A) commanding general, said. Sele took on tough assignments, and focused his attention on the assignment, instead of looking forward to whatever may come next, he added.

"You are truly a Soldier for life," Ammerman said.

He also noted that Sele's career is one that highlighted duty.

"You can retire with confidence that you've fulfilled that duty," Ammerman said.

Sele, who in civilian life is a defense contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., concluded with a message for all the Soldiers in the audience after his retirement.

"I appreciate everything all of you do," he said. "That includes everyone. All of our Soldiers, government civilians, and contractors have a critical role in the readiness and deployment of our Information Operations, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations units. I'm retiring now and stepping aside. I'm counting on you now to continue to keep our nation safe."