WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug, 12, 2014) – “We still have Soldiers and families we need to continue to care for … We can never ever forget where we put our Soldiers every single day,” said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell, meaning Soldiers in harm’s way and the wounded.
Special thoughts are also needed for the families of those who didn’t return, he added, mentioning the family of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who was killed last week during an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Campbell delivered his remarks in the Pentagon Friday, during a farewell ceremony in his honor. He’s deploying later this month to Afghanistan, where he will be the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander.
IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS
Soldiers look to mentors “to help set us on a path,” he said, naming his as retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton. Campbell served as his aide when Shelton commanded the XVIII Airborne Corps, which participated in Operation Uphold Democracy, in Haiti in 1994.
Another, he said, was retired Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker. Campbell served as his executive officer when Schoomaker was the Army chief of staff.
And, the third is Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno. When Odierno became the chief, Campbell was assigned as deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7 before becoming the vice chief March 8, 2013.
Besides those three, Campbell said others “helped shape me to be the better person and leader that I am.” He also received wise counsel and leadership over the years from too many people to mention, including Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, retired Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.
Odierno echoed the vice’s remarks about wise counsel and being a good follower.
“To be a great leader, you first have to learn how to follow,” Odierno said. “[Campbell] has always been someone who would follow, who would listen and execute your vision and intent to the maximum extent possible. In my mind, there’s no greater quality than that. That will make him a great leader, which he already is.
“There’s no person better qualified, no person who has the leadership skills, there’s no person who understands Soldiers, who understands the mission, who understand the Afghan people better than John Campbell,” Odierno said, noting that Campbell has already led Soldiers in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan.
“John has never shied away from the most difficult jobs we have in our Army. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be my vice and my G-3,” he added.
As the vice chief, Campbell often represented Odierno when the chief was engaged elsewhere. Campbell often attended meetings in “the tank” with the joint chiefs of staff, working through difficult issues like the budget and issues like sexual harassment and the Army Profession, Odierno said.
“In my mind, this is the first step for John Campbell — taking command in Afghanistan. I would suspect that after that he will do things of great importance in our Army and for our nation as we move forward,” Odierno predicted.
OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT
Odierno gave special recognition to Campbell’s wife Ann, whom he referred to as “a typical Army wife who does everything very quietly and behind the scenes. She gets involved in so many different events. We’re so proud of Ann.”
Her work includes volunteering with the USO, Easter Seals, the Transition Assistance Program, Hero 2 Hired and United Through Reading. She also visits wounded warriors and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and “stays connected” to them, the chief said. “That informal network of connecting with the spouses means so much to us, especially during the last 13 years of war.”
Odierno then presented Ann with the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award. The award states that it is being presented to her “for devotion to Soldiers, civilians and family members and producing significant improvements in their well-being.”
It continues: “From presenting material about family readiness at the Pre-Command Course and the Army Senior Leader Development Program to participation in the Military Child Education Coalition as a trained facilitator and advisor, to serving on patient-advisory counsels and community health promotion councils, she had an immeasurable impact on the quality of life for military families. She’s a devoted mentor, teacher and role model, whose infectious spirit of volunteerism instilled in others the desire to serve.”
Odierno awarded Gen. Campbell a Distinguished Service Medal on behalf of the secretary for leading “the Army’s ongoing efforts to enhance the health, wellness and resiliency of all Soldiers, civilians and family members. He managed the development and institution of the Army’s landmark Ready and Resilient Campaign, implemented and initiated measures to improve care for those recovering from combat injuries, personally visited and counseled our wounded warriors.”
It continues: “His skilled management of the Army budget was critical to the current fight and the future of the force during a period of the drawdown, budget cuts and sequestration. He expertly managed the Army’s readiness and modernization programs and played a critical role in the development of the Army’s fiscal year 2015 to 2019, and 2016 to 2020 budget strategy, ultimately ensuring America’s Army will remain properly manned, trained and equipped to support current and future contingencies.”
Besides those already mentioned, the farewell ceremony was attended by numerous generals and Army civilians, retired and active, including Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank J. Grass, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John M. Paxton Jr. and retired Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard A. Cody.
Families, friends, well-wishers and others were also present.