DENNIS R. COLL
3 Sun Valley Court
Lake in the Hills, IL 60156-4473
847 658-1050 (Fax)
Greetings once again from Chicago! Hope all is well at your place in the Long Gray Line! Planning continues for the first-ever Class Mini-Reunion. It is scheduled for late October in Santa Fe. If you have NOT signed up yet and you want to go, let me know. We have made arrangements for additional rooms. It should be a lot of fun. The retirement ceremony for the Shinseki's is set for June 11th at Ft. Myer. The plan is for our Class to have a special function with Patty and Ric on Monday June 9th. First choice will be a dinner and second choice a lunch, most probably at the Ft. Myer Officer's Club. Details, once finalized, will be sent to you separately and may contradict the information above. Go with the latest letter or email which you have received.
"My name is Shinseki and I am a Soldier. I will always be a Soldier." Ric's service as the 34th Chief of Staff of the United States Army will surely go down in history as a pivotal one for the Army. His untiring and highly focused efforts to transform the Army from the Cold War/heavy armor mind-set into a more "mobile, sustainable and lethal" fighting force capable of fighting and winning America's wars will stand the test of time. This is even more amazing given the public ferocity of many of the political battles that he had to wage during his tenure. While doing all of this, he will also be remembered for humbly shining the spotlight on the Soldiers, who he called the centerpiece of The Army's formations--never on himself. Much of this he learned from his Alma Mater, which has been "providing leaders of character for the Nation for over 200 years!" Ric, as will be shown below, certainly fits this motto to a tee.
About 70 of us heard some of the Chief's ideas on his focus during his remarks at his welcoming ceremony in late June 1999. After thanking his predecessor Denny Reimer '62 for successfully integrating the Reserve Components into the Army "with a unity of purpose," Ric stated that the Army would receive his "unfailing commitment to keep [The Army] persuasive in peace, decisive in war and preeminent in any form of conflict." The cover of The Army Vision, published a few months later, boldly reflected this intention: "Soldiers on Point for the Nation--Persuasive in Peace, Invincible in War." The Army was changing and Ric was leading the change.
Another early indication of how he wanted to change the Army was his co-authorship of a Washington Times op ed piece with his good friend GEN Jim Jones, the then Commandant of the Marine Corps. In it, they warned that "the future of national security will depend on our ability to work together as a joint force that is rapidly deployable and ready for any contingency." This article followed a joint Warfighter Conference at Carlisle Barracks attended by all of the senior Army and Marine Corps warfighters. While most of us were pleasantly surprised at the publication of an op ed piece from two of our most senior active duty military leaders, the fact that the Army and Marine Corps were talking "shop" still amazed us. Some of us recalled the lack of communication and transportation capabilities that came out of previous conflicts where the Army and Marine Corps were fighting side by side. Clearly, this represented new, courageous and focused leadership for the two ground branches of our Armed Services.
This azimuth change to the beginning of a major Transformation was a tough course to chart. Ric was really trying to get the official Transformation off the ground so that his successors could bring it to fruition. The Chief addressed this need for change in the strategic environment by initiating changes within the present-day Army so that the future Army could co-exist within that strategic environment. He was courageous enough, meticulous enough, and ingenious enough to orchestrate a carefully synchronized Transformation that wouldn't disrupt or lower current readiness. A predecessor and role model, GEN Creighton Abrams, once mused that if he could "move the Army one degree, his tenure [as the CSA] would be a success." The new Chief clearly had a tough job ahead of him.
In a lengthy article that focused on the Chief, The New Yorker Magazine argued, in 2002, that Ric "believed that it had fallen to him to save the Army from irrelevance by saving the Army from itself." Truth be known, Ric Shinseki never saw himself or The Army in that light. Ric never liked the article because it focused solely on him. It wasn't a matter of saving The Army from itself--The Army is all about Soldiers, as the Chief and many others have continuously noted, who are quite able to handle themselves in just about any situation. Soldiers will accomplish any miss ion and take any objective they are given, no matter how difficult the task. All they need is an effective and focused leader with a strong backbone. Character still counts.
As many of us well know, or if you were to talk with those who have served with him, for Ric it was never about pride either, except pride in his Soldiers. It was always about giving Soldiers the training, the leadership, and the equipment that would enable them to accomplish their mission and thereby, keep their Country free, as they have been doing for more than 227 years. It was also about excellence in war fighting by the Soldiers who are, as he often said, "on point for the Nation."
Much of Ric's commitment and focus came from his experiences in RVN. "Our Army came out of Vietnam torn and in search of identity, discipline and direction." he said at a 2002 AUSA Eisenhower Luncheon attended by many of his predecessors, "Men of courage, strength and vision marched that Army through the Cold War and Desert Storm, and back out again." Coming from a (twice) gravely injured Vietnam war veteran who fought hard to stay in the Army, despite his injuries, to make sure that his experiences were "captured, retained and paased along," Ric's words rang loud and true to many in and outside of the military.
In its first paragraph, the Army Vision Statement, authored and inspired by Ric, broadly outlined several important concepts--concepts that represented the foundation and logic behind the Vision--People, Readiness, and Transformation: "The magnificence of our moments as an Army wiil continue to be delivered by our people. They are the engine behind our capabilities, and the Soldier remains the centerpiece of our formation. The Army is all about people and it must continue to attract, train, motivate and retain the most competent and dedicated people in the Nation to fuel our ability to be persuasive in peace and invincible in war. We will assure the Nation's security by equipping, training, and caring for our people and their families..." Those first four sentences predicted the work to be done during the Chief' four years. They are, in many respects, a touchstone for anyone who wants to truly capture what Army Transformation is about. And they represent as succinctly and precisely as is possible, what the years 1999--2003 meant for The Army. The Vision statement further explains that this "strategically responsive" force must exhibit "dominance across the entire spectrum of operations." The Army would have to be more "deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, and sustainable." Transformation was underway with Ric's unveiling of this Vision at the AUSA Eisenhower Luncheon just four months after his appointment. The future azimuth of The Army had been established firmly and clearly.
Consider for a moment what he was proposing in that speech! He said that The Army intended to transform into an objective force that could place "a brigade anywhere in the world in 96 hours after lift-off, a division on the ground in 120 hours, five divisions in 30 days." He would attempt to get the Army (and Congress) to sustain the existing forces (Legacy Force) by recapitalizing this force to meet America's near-term commitments. He would achieve all of this while staying ready to defend the Nation. In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, he would describe Transformation in the following manner. "To mitigate risk, we structure Transformation to occur along three mutually supporting axes for change. On the one, we preserve the readiness of today's Legacy Force. On another, we bridge the operational gap between today's heavy and light forces with six Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. And on the third, we develop future concepts and technologies that will provide a capabilities overmatch in the Objective Force that we intend to field before the end of this decade." That's less than 7 years from now--a short breath in terms of normal systems development!
Ric's ultimate goal was to set the basis for the development, by his successors, of the Objective Force, a dominant force that would achieve the characteristics/capabilities mentioned above. During one discussion with the Chief, I was stunned when I realized that he was talking about his current job being all about setting the basis so that his successor (twice removed) could successfully activate the Objective Force!
Ric knew that change would not be easy, and that controversy would soon follow. Concern would grow within the Army that the Army was changing too quickly. On the other hand, there were some within the Department of Defense who thought that the Army was not transforming quickly enough. Both Ric and Army Secretary Tom White '67 would feel the wrath of this dichotomy in public. As the military leader of The Army, Ric would absorb most of the criticism. Yet many insiders will tell you that Ric was never the problem. If anything, the problem was his steadfast and "unfailing commitment" (to quote the Army Secretary) to The Army's and Ric's Vision for its future.
Ric, with a lot of help from Patty, also found time to have some fun. He wanted to honor the Army that went before him, so about 120 classmates and spouses joined him for the "Birth of an Army--Birth of Freedom" celebration of the Army's 225th birthday at a formal Army Ball in DC. Patty also focused on their home, viewing it as the Army's home, opening up Quarters One at Ft. Myer to the entire Army family. Their 1999 book on the Chief's official residence, "Quarters One" made that statement loud and clear! On several occasions during his tenure, Ric was not afraid to join his classmate, the Supe, on Blaik Field and in front of the nation at the Army-Navy game, to lead the "Big Brass" cheer for the Army football team. And he made sure that that Supe, Dan Christman and his lady, had a proper retirement send-off from Quarters One, also attended by over 100 classmates and spouses.
While we were enjoying ourselves at the Army Ball, Ric made sure that we did not lose sight of what soldiering was all about by scheduling a private Strength & Drive wreath-laying service at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery, followed by a sobering staff ride to one of the bloodiest killing fields in our Country, the Manassas Battlefield.
This focus on the Soldier was easy for the Shinseki's. They both placed a high premium on people and family. Patty would patiently and quietly remind him of the importance of the Soldier's family to the success of his Army's mission. Usually unseen when the Chief visited the troops at their posts, Patty would always have her own agenda, visiting schools and hospital, day care, commissary and other key post support facilities. She knew that if these were working properly, it would enable The Army to not only attract the best that America had to offer, but improve the lives of their families, thus making the Soldier's retention that much easier. She focused much of her estimable energy on the education of the Army's dependents. And she always did it with grace and humility. Take as an example her work on secondary education issues. Her group initially sat down with nine high school principals to define the issues of concern. Many in S&D know well these issues: your child is in high school in Texas, for example, and you are PCS'd to California and then to Kentucky in a period of 2-3 years. Your child has to re-take the state history course for each state in each new school in order to graduate and meet that state's requirements. Or even worse, your child is going into his/her senior year and you receive a new duty assignment. This initial group has expanded to now include over 100 school leaders, mostly from secondary schools near large Army posts. And as a result, the child in our example above can now graduate in Kentucky with having taken only the Texas state history course or in the other case, the Soldier can extend his tour for one year so that his dependent can complete the senior year in the same high school without having to move to a new one. And how about the neat idea of in-state tuitions, currently being worked hard by Ric, Patty and others. If adopted, the Soldier's children would receive in-state college tuition rates if they are technically state residents but living elsewhere, or even if they are not technically residents of that state but their family is stationed there, and or even after a PCS move once school has been started. These sound like small issues, but to an Army family, they can be huge! Mary Jo Reimer and others started many of these programs. Patty has moved them along quite nicely.
One of Ric's clear strengths has always been his ability to set a goal and to remain focused on that goal, regardless of the interim flack. The issues of the "Army of One" ad campaign, the black berets and pay raises are good examples. Critics were manifold when the Army decided to move beyond the tremendous and sustained success of Max Thurman's "Be all you can be" campaign and introduced a new campaign that, quite frankly, none of us over the age of 40 could understand. "An Army of One" as one local "old grad" told me, would probably not arouse fear in any enemy's eye. As the Leo Burnett ad agency promised, the young men and women too whom it was aimed WOULD understand the campaign. And they did!! Ric was correct--recruitmment goals were achieved, often earlier in the year than had previously been possible. Retention was likewise improved. In 1999, the Army missed its recruitment goal by a significant margin. Last year, the Army had achieved its recruitment goals for the third year in a row.
The nay-sayers really came out when Ric decided that the Army needed to standardize its headgear. The powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee asked the Army to "stand down" on the beret issue. Soon it was front page ""news" in every paper in the Country. Ric (with great support from his battle buddy, the Army's senior enlisted soldier--Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley) persevered and again, remained focused. So many missed the point. It wasn't about a piece of headgear--that was just a symbol. It was about unifying The Army--every Soldier as part of the team--The Army team. No longer was this "One Army" all about the troops of the heavy forces on one side versus the troops of the light forces on the other. It was not about active versus reserve; special ops versus conventional forces. It was about the unity of purpose that Reimer had initiated. As Ric often said, "If you can't put The Army in berets, you can't transform The Army." The black beret now clearly distinguishes The Army Soldier from all other Services. And you cannot deny that the new beret looks pretty darn sharp. Ric's "Vision" wasn't about immediacy--it was about long term, relevant change.
Controversy and intramural battles are commonplace at the CSA level. The battle over the Crusader artillery weapon system was one of the most public. What a quandary--at 60 tons (initially), the system clearly did not fit into the "lighter, more mobile" aspect of the SecDef's transforming Army. But warfighting is, as any combat-experienced Soldier will tell you, about firepower and maneuver. The just-released Army Posture Statement put it like this: "Decisive warfighting is about fire [power] and maneuver: Fire [power] enables maneuver, and maneuver enables fire [power]. Joint and organic, close, supporting, indirect fire [power] destroy[s] the enemy, suppress[es] the enemy's capabilities, protect[s] our forces, and enable[s] ground units to maneuver." The Army sorely needs responsive, organic artillery with rapid-fire support when troops are pinned down. 20 minutes is not responsive, especially if you are the one pinned down--seconds count. The Air Force's close air support capability could not fill The Army's fire support requirements--24/7, all weather, responsive, firepower day or night. Something else was needed.
The friends and foes of Crusader each had powerful friends in high political places. "Killing this killing machine wouldn't be easy" as the Wall Street Journal noted in 2001. The previous CSA, an artillery officer, had backed the Crusader and even recommended an increase of 50% to 1,200 in the number of systems to be produced. To fund this and other programs, Ric was faced with "finding" an additional $40 billion within the budget over 10 years and the Crusader represented about 25% of that number. The SecDef finally stepped in and "killed" the program. But in Washington as in baseball, Yogi had it right "It ain't over 'til it's over." Fortunately, our Congress takes seriously its Constitutional responsibility of raising an Army and is carefully watching the money that was planned for Crusader as it is used to meet the firepower support requirements for the Soldiers. Hopefully, the Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Cannon will answer the firepower requirement when it is fielded in 2008.
In that previously mentioned New Yorker article about Ric, the author Peter Boyer noted the suggestion of a defense analyst who had compared the Chief's role to that of Aleksandr Kerensky, the Russian revolutionary who was undone by the Bolsheviks: "Shinseki represent[s] a change over what came before, but the world wanted more change than he was able to deliver in the time frame that he had [available to him]." As a comparison, this quote is not quite on target. Kerensky failed; the Chief hasn't. True, Ric's time has been short--almost too short for all he set out to accomplish. Interestingly, the current topic of the day within the Beltway, namely shortening the tenure of the Service Chiefs from four to two years, would make time available for change even shorter, and all but eliminate the opportunity for the Service Chiefs to implement any relevant or meaningful change.
I once asked a mutual friend what the CSA work schedule was like. He asked me to take a guess. I guessed 15-16 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. His response was "try 20 hours a day, usually 6-7 days a week, and that is without a crisis." In Wes Clark's ('66) book on his experiences as NATO commander during the Kosovo war, his normal dealings with his superiors alone would seem to make the 20 hours/7 days estimate be on the low side. Think about these facts: The Army has a FY 2003 budget of about $90 billion. It entered this year with an interesting motto--"Transforming the entire Army while at war." We had 10 Army deployments in the 40 years before the Wall came down. In the last 13 years alone, we have had 56 deployments and counting--all with a much smaller fighting force--about 33% less than in 1989 to be exact. At any given moment, Ric has 177,000 "boots" on the ground in 120 countries! He has troops in harm's way in the Balkans, the Sinai, Kuwait, the Philippines, Korea and Afghanistan as well as Central and South America to name a few. He has had to provide troops and staff for the war on terrorism while securing the Olympics. Much more to do with a lot less with which to do it. In short, one busy fellow, our classmate.
Well, The Army has made great progress in taking care of those Soldiers, civilians, retirees, veterans, and all of their families, as Ric defines The Army. It has been greatly assisted by Congress, which has been instrumental in many of The Army's "Well-Being" achievements. Programs like TRICARE for Life and TRICARE Reform (even with all their problems), Retired Pay Reform, housing initiatives, cost of living increases--all of these things are making The Army a better place.
One cannot help but wonder, at least for a few moments, why someone like Ric would ever put himself in such a difficult situation--trying to change a million-person organization while it is at war. We all know how difficult the battles can be in that place called the Pentagon and how underhanded Beltway politics often are, especially when one adheres to and is devoted to a set of deeply-seeded core values. The values that we all began to learn and cherish as we stood on the Plain that fateful first day--Duty, Honor, Country, coupled with the additional Army Values of Loyalty, Respect, Selfless Service, Integrity, and Personal Courage, formed the basis of the warfighting profession for all of us, including the Chief. And they have also made it more difficult for this Chief to operate in a political system that sometimes overlooks these values.
But then you think a bit more about the issue and realize that without guys like Ric, and without his courage to stand and fight for what he believes is in the best interests of the Army and our great Country, our future ability to "fight and win America's wars" would at worst not exist and at best, be severely diminished. One quote from Ric seems appropriate. While he was under personal verbal attack, some of it vitriolic in nature, during the Stryker vehicle review, he stated frankly and courageously to wide public report: "Look at our numbers, challenge our metrics, question our analytics, they're all on review. But don't question our honor or our integrity!" Tough times require confident leaders of character.
Recently, Ric explained what he had told many of us privately--the framework is in place for irreversible momentum in the Transformation of The Army. Again, the results of this momentum are not something to be reaped by our classmate, but rather, one of his successors.
Ric was always soft-spoken, even as a cadet; but words always mattered to him. He wrote little, if anything, that wasn't intentional, and when he spoke, every word was carefully chosen. If you go to the CSA's web page and read some of those speeches, you'll understand what Ric Shinseki is all about. He is about our Soldiers. You've probably noticed that throughout these Class Notes, I have capitalized the word "Soldier", the phrase "The Army," and the word "Nation." The Chief does that in all of his correspondence and all of his writings. It is a subtle means for him to tip his hat to the Soldiers he admires, The Army he loves, and the Nation he would die for. If each of us adopted that practice, well, it would clearly honor Ric, but it would also honor our Army and its great Soldiers even more.
The first--and last--thing this Chief, our classmate, always talks about is people, our "Soldiers on point for the Nation." It is how he started nearly four decades ago (remember the story, told at his welcoming parade, of listening with great admiration to his uncles who had served proudly and with distinction in the Army during WW II), and, very likely, it will be his last thought as he walks off Summerall Field after his retirement parade.
For all of the above and for his many, many other contributions to our Country, our Army, and our Class, I would like to reiterate, but slightly revise, Buddy Bucha's salute to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army given at a NYC West Point Society luncheon in late 2002 before 23 classmates: "To [our] friend, [our] classmate and [our] hero," to which we all would add: Congratulations on a job well extremely done! Strength & Drive is proud to call you one of our own! You are truly a leader of character for our Nation. To which our humble classmate would probably reply: "My name is Shinseki and I am a Soldier. I will always be a Soldier."