WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G-4) LTG Mitchell H. Stevenson challenged every logistician "to be value-added to those you serve" and to finish the last weeks in Iraq "responsibly," as he ended more than 37 years of Army service last week.
"It's easy to check off a bunch of boxes and say you've had a successful Army career," LTG Stevenson said at a farewell ceremony on Fort McNair. "It's harder to do something that really adds value for Soldiers, especially those brave Soldiers who this afternoon stand guard at a remote combat outpost in Afghanistan. If in some way I have added a little value to the Army for having served within it, I leave content."
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Peter W. Chiarelli called him the "the very best G-4 our Army has ever had." He added: "I've never saw anyone in just about any staff position do the job that I saw LTG Stevenson do over the last three years.
"The state of Army logistics has never been better and this is a direct reflection on his leadership and tireless efforts. He has been the mastermind behind all that we have done in recent years with respect to logistics, equipping, and maintenance in theater."
LTG Stevenson served at the busiest time for logisticians since World War II. Last year, when combat troops left Iraq, his attention to detail led to the successful drawdown of 2.3 million pieces of equipment, and closing of more than 400 bases. On his watch he also orchestrated the movement of 30,000 troops and their equipment to support the surge in Afghanistan.
"It's hard for me to go, especially in time of war, so close to the last remaining weeks in Iraq," he said. "For the last decade, every day of my life has been dominated by Iraq and Afghanistan. There has never been a period in American history when logisticians have sustained Soldiers at war, for so long, and done it so well.
"That's certainly not my doing, but I do feel a little pride in knowing I was part of the effort. But history will judge us not only in what we did for 10 years, but how we finish the last weeks and months. We have one chance to get this right, responsibly. I think every American is going to be proud of how it turns out."
He said he is leaving the job in good hands. LTG Raymond Mason took the helms earlier this month, a choice that LTG Stevenson said was the "perfect selection."
LTG Stevenson was commissioned a Regular Army Ordnance Officer from the ROTC program at West Virginia University in 1974. After being detailed Infantry initially, he was made an Ordnance Officer in March 1976, and has been known as the expert on maintenance and logistics ever since.
"I've been proud of every rank and duty position I've held," LTG Stevenson said. With his parents looking on, he added: "that includes my first rank, the son of a non-commissioned officer."
Two retired Generals whom he served sent notes that GEN Chiarelli read at the ceremony. Retired General Barry McCaffrey, who he served under during the First Gulf War, called him "the best logistics commander I have ever seen." Retired General John Coburn said: "Logistics is a tough, demanding business that gives new meaning to the word anticipation, but Mitch Stevenson made it look easy. Men like Mitch Stevenson do not pass our way very often"
In the last decade, LTG Stevenson added value to every job he held. In addition to his focus on the war efforts, as the G-4 LTG Stevenson also helped the Army re-establish a culture of supply discipline, making property accountability a priority. As a result, the Army was able to redistribute almost $3 billion worth of equipment to fill shortages.
As the Commanding General of the Combined Arms Support Command, he revolutionized logistics force structure to support the new modular Army. As the G-3 at the Army Materiel Command, he was instrumental in designing the Reset program for fixing equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan, which has allowed the Army to reset more than 2.5 million pieces of equipment. As the Chief of the Ordnance Center and School, he converted the Army to a two-level maintenance structure.
During the ceremony GEN Chiralli also honored LTG Stevenson's wife Nancy, whose devotion to duty matches her husband's, and has added value to the lives of many Soldiers and Army families.
LTG Stevenson's greatest contribution may well be that he has mentored a generation of Soldiers on how to do logistics the right way. "My days of active service may be up," he said, "but I will continue to be our Army's biggest cheerleader."
Looking out to the numerous Soldiers he groomed, he reminded them of the Ordnance Corps motto that he said was an inspiration to him for his entire career: "Service to the line, On the line, On time."