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AUSA News >> AUSA News Archive >> 2003 >> AUSA News - August 2003 >> Shinseki Says Goodbye Email this... Email    Print this Print

Shinseki Says Goodbye

In saying goodbye to the Army, Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki offered one bit of advice: "Beware the 12-divison strategy for a 10-division Army."

Shinseki retired with more than 37 years of active service at a ceremony at Fort Myer, Va., June 11.

"As I have said so often in the past, my name is Ric Shinseki, and I am a soldier."

Shinseki said, "I began my service 37 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam, and I end my career with the nation at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiering is an honorable profession, and I have been proud to be a soldier. ..."

Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee, hosted the retirement ceremony.

Brownlee, a retired Army colonel, said he had served with and around Shinseki for four decades -- from Vietnam, through the Cold War and in the halls of the Pentagon.

"In all those environments, he has epitomized the quiet professional," Brownlee said. "And, being the genuinely humble and modest man he is, Ric Shinseki will never take the personal credit for the enormous impact that he has had on the Army."

Part of that impact was accurately predicting the nation would be at war in the not-too-distant future when he first became that Army's top uniformed leader.

He then ensured that soldiers were properly trained and equipped for victory before that war came, Brownlee said.

He also credited Shinseki's priority of manning warfigting forces at 100 percent for part of the successes the Army has met in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Brownlee said that when Shinseki's vision of transformation was announced [at the Association of the United States Army's 1999 Annual Meeting] -- giving the Army a more deployable, lighter, mobile and lethal force in the near term and the future - the meaning of transformation was relatively unknown in the Department of Defense.

"Simply stated, the chief looked to the future and conceived a vision for what our Army must be able to do to protect our nation in the 21st century," Brownlee said.

Adding, "He translated that vision into an ambitious, yet doable plan of action revolving around people, readiness and transformation. He went out and got the resources and implemented his plan with tremendous intellect, courage and sheer force of will -- irrevocably changing our Army for the better."

Most of Shinseki's remarks centered on the accomplishments of soldiers -- "They've never let me down" -- and thanking a host of people including former bosses, members of Congress, members of his staff and professional correspondents who have helped tell the public about the Army's great soldiers.

His biggest thanks went to his wife Patty who moved the children and household 31 times during his career.

"You taught me the meaning of selflessness, of elegance, of courage and of a bright spirit undiminished by time or adversity," Shinseki said.

Adding, "You have seen me at my worst and stuck with me -- and you've seen me at my best and chuckled in disbelief.

"Throughout it all, your patience, your balance, your encouragement and your love and support have sustained me."

Brownlee presented Shinseki with the Army Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony.

The Departments of Defense, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy presented their Distinguished Service Medals at earlier, separate ceremonies.

"As I was on the first day of my tenure four years ago, I am humbled to stand here on my last day as the 34th chief of staff of the United States Army," Shinseki said.

"I thank the president for his confidence and trust in allowing me the opportunity to serve the nation and this Army that has been my family for 38 years.

"To soldiers past and present with whom I have served, you have my deep and abiding respect and my profound thanks."