JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Leadership, knowledge, and lessons learned are all apparatuses that tend to transcend the test of time. Within the 7th Infantry Division, leadership garnered throughout its history leads to bolstering the knowledge of those that would follow. Coupled with the lessons learned from successes and failures make up the core of what the present stands upon and the foundation for the future to come.
Within the spirit of the bayonet, which is the namesake of 7ID, the current commander, Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Smith sponsored the bridging of Bayonet Division generations by hosting a virtual meeting of past 7ID commanders, Feb. 8, to discuss current initiatives, operations, and to open dialogue.
Smith began the conversation thanking the five previous commanders present for the opportunity for mentorship for not only himself but the Bayonet Division as a whole. The meeting called the Bayonet 6 Advisory Committee, is comprised of past 7ID Commanders and is aimed at keeping the veteran leaders of the organization connected and informed on all things regarding the Division. Past commanders able to attend the meeting included Lt. Gen. (Retired) William Harrison (1985 - 1987), Lt. Gen. (Retired) Edward Soriano (1999 - 2001), Lt. Gen. (Retired) Bob Wilson (2002 - 2004), Lt. Gen. (Retired) Stephen Lanza (2012 - 2014), and Lt. Gen. (Retired) Tom James Jr. (2015 - 2017).
“This is fantastic to have all of you here. I feel as though I am getting free mentorship from a group of great leaders for not only myself, but for all of the soldiers and leaders within our formation here on Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” said Smith addressing the 7ID leadership spanning four decades. “This meeting is a representation that our legacy continues.”
7ID lineage stems from World War I, to the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific region including Japan during World War II, the Korean War, Panama, and the war in Afghanistan. Within this deep history, the Bayonet Division boasts a proud legacy of answering the call on behalf of the United States of America.
The range of military of career experience among the former commanders present at the meeting encompassed the Vietnam War and into the post-Vietnam years that saw the rise of a Cold War Army. They saw an Army that experienced significant change in the 90s, preceding a near wholesale transformation as our nation entered the Global War on Terror. And they led or continue to lead during the contemporary years since 2010 as the Army ramped down from GWOT only to pivot to meet new national security challenges. Their leadership set the standard and foundation for what 7ID is today.
“Having served with many of you before, one of the things that I do when I come to work every day and the Division as well, is to live up to the standards that all of you have set for us,” said Smith.
After the meeting, the previous commanders expressed their gratitude to Smith for organizing this meeting and keeping them informed.
“I would like to thank you [Smith] for doing this. I know your time is valuable. So, to pull us [former commanders] together to keep us informed is amazing and is good for all of us,” said Lt. Gen. (Retired) Tom James, who commanded 7ID from 2015-2017. “Also, thank you to these former commanders for their service and leadership that helped mold the foundation that came before me.”
Embodying the mantra of “Trust in Me,” the Bayonet Division stands ready to fight and win as our nation has seen a resurgence of potential threats all around the world. Specific to the Indo-Pacific region, our role in maintaining, certifying, exercising, and deploying combat-ready forces on behalf of the United States as part of the joint force has never been more crucial. The legacy foundation that has been laid by the past, built on for the present and to set up the future for success.
“Our job is to be ready, so we don’t have to get ready. We train every day to leave the Army as great as you left it for us, and to be the best division in the Corps.” Smith added. “It’s a family affair within the Division and we recognize all that you have done before us, and those actions are paying dividends now.”