Eric K Shinseki Is Eric K Shinseki the Next Great AA Leader?

ost who know of the brave sacrifices made by Japanese American fighting men during World War II -- while so many of their relatives had been interned as enemy aliens -- are surprised and moved to learn that today a JA occupies the U.S. Army's top job. General Eric K. Shinseki, West Point grad and thrice-wounded veteran of the Vietnam War, became the Army's 34th Chief of Staff on June 22, 1999.

     Nor has Shinseki's rise to the top been at the expense of his heritage. As much a literate wordsmith as a decorated warrior, he was careful to infuse his arrival ceremony speech with an eloquent homage to the sacrifices that laid the foundation for his own ascension:

In this family are members who served with Senator Inouye in the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Though they never thought about it in this way, they and the other men of the 442nd, the 100th Battalion, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399th Engineers, bought for me and my generation our birthrights as American citizens. Because of what they, and others of their generation, did on those distant battlefields so many years ago, I have lived my life without suspicion, without limitation, with the full rights and privileges of citizenship, and with the opportunity to compete.
     Three years into his four-year term, Shinseki has distinguished himself as a history-making Chief of Staff. Predecessors have generally kept a low profile while waging intra-service turf wars for budgets and weapons systems. Despite a measured, almost scholarly, personal style, Shinseki was quickly thrust into a high-profile role because of his ambitions for his beloved Army. His very first speech outlined his commitment to transforming the Army into a mobile fighting force configured to respond swiftly to farflung crises:
Today, our heavy forces are too heavy and our light forces lack staying power. We will address those mismatches. Heavy forces must be more strategically deployable and more agile with a smaller logistical footprint, and light forces must be more lethal, survivable, and tactically mobile.
     This objective put Shinseki on a collision course with the defense establishment which has seen the Army's primary role as staying ready to fight two simultaneous land wars using tanks and artillery pieces. This doctrine is a holdover from the Cold War when military planners worried about heavily armored communist-block armies overrunning central Europe and the Corean peninsula.

     But with the Soviet collapse a decade behind us, the U.S. military will more likely face threats from terrorists, criminal organizations, fratricidal upheavals and natural disasters, Shinseki has argued. He has pushed tirelessly to create momentum for an epochal transformation. His passionate and articulate testimony has prodded Congress to pass the appropriations needed to begin realizing the vision of a light but lethal elite army. Billions have been budgeted for exotic technologies like strength-enhancing body armor, exotic ammunitions and light-deflecting camouflage suits. More billions are being used to upgrade the capabilities of ordinary soldiers on a par with special forces.

     As a token of that goal, in October of 2000 Shinseki ordered morale-boosting black berets to replace the old standard-issue overseas caps and fatigue caps. That raised the hackles of the Army Rangers for whom black berets had become a symbol of their elite capabilities. It also triggered a congressional review of the uniform change. Shinseki solved that impasse by having the Rangers switch to tan berets only to be broadsided by a mass media expose that 16% of the Army's order of 4.8 million berets had gone to a British firm that would have them sewn in China in violation of a procurement law requiring military garments to be made in the U.S. The black berets and Shinseki's crusade for transformation of the Army weathered the fiasco. A sense of urgency was added to his vision by the horrendous events of 9/11 and its aftermath .

     Eric K. Shinseki was born November 28, 1942 in Lihue, Kauai. As a boy he was inspired by the stories of uncles who had fought in Europe with the 442nd and the 100th. He did well enough in high school to win admission to West Point. Within a few months of his graduation in 1965 he was a second lieutenant on his way to Vietnam to serve as an artillery forward observer. On a second combat tour he commanded a tank squadron. During those Vietnam tours he was wounded three times and displayed enough courage and leadership to earn the devotion of his men. His sergeant Les Cotton (now the sheriff of Navarro County, Texas) called him "the finest person and the best officer I have ever served with". On one occasion Shinseki's injuries were so severe that Cotton assumed he would die in the hospital . Only 30 years later did he learn that Shinseki had survived.

     Shinseki's valorous displays of leadership under fire won him two Distinguished Service Medals, the Bronze Star and several Purple Hearts -- and put him on the Army's fast track. As preparation for the climb to the top, he attended National War College and Duke University where he got a masters in English literature. That degree would give him the opportunity, among various assignments around the country, to teach at West Point. As he rose into the general ranks, Shinseki served 10 years at various commands in Europe.

     In 1994 Major General (two-star) Shinseki returned to take command of the illustrious 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. In July 1996, along with a promotion to lieutenant (three-star) general, he was brought into the Pentagon to serve as a deputy chief of staff of the Army -- equivalent to an executive V.P. at the headquarters of a major corporation. A year later he was given a fourth star and returned to Germany to assume command of the U.S. Army in Europe, then command of NATO land forces in Central Europe. In mid 1997 came a 15-month assignment that may have inspired his Army transformation crusade -- command of NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia.

     Around Thanksgiving of 1998 Shinseki was recalled to the Pentagon as Vice Chief of Staff, the penultimate step before winning the Army's top office in June, 1999.

     Eric Shinseki is married to the former Patricia K. Yoshinobu, a J.A. from Hanapepe, Kauai. They have two children, Lori and Ken.

     On his appointment to Chief of Staff, the media pegged Shinseki as a savvy political player who knows how to marshall support inside and outside the Army. That assessment has been borne out by the remarkable progress Shinseki has made in kicking off the large-scale transformation of a once hidebound Army. The big question is what Shinseki will do when his term as Chief of Staff expires in June, 2003. One possibility is to enter politics and seek the seat of elderly Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), himself a war hero who had lost an arm taking a hill in Italy during WW II.

     Is Eric K. Shinseki the likely successor to Daniel Inouye? Or will he go even further to attain the national ledership role that has eluded Inouye?



[This page is closed to new input. Vote and continue this and related discussions at the new Interactive Area. --Ed.]
Eric Shinseki certainly has a good chance of representing the AA community in so many more ways.

Perhaps a Cabinet office down the road - much like Colin Powell.
Proud AA
   Saturday, April 19, 2003 at 02:11:41 (PDT)    []
If this country is ever going to be truly American, why does it matter what race or ethnicity or stature that you happen to be from?
   Friday, April 11, 2003 at 22:13:54 (PDT)    []
"Shinseki is not seen much in the media is because he is too short. His stature simply does not instill confidence in the public"

and if napolean were around, he'd kick your ass so hard for that statement...
you're just a detractor
   Friday, April 11, 2003 at 18:34:41 (PDT)    []
Shinseki vindicated!

Today's column on NYT by Nicholas Kristof mentions that General Shinseki looks ever more wiser as his prediction that US needed hundreds of thousands of troops to win and to police Iraq turned out to be an accurate assessment.

It appears that Rumsfeld goal is a swift victory and the policing of Iraq is a secondary objective. I wonder what Rumsfeld is going to do about it now that the guy he has been shoving off into the backoffice turns out to be not as "old-military" as he claimed to be.

Two thumbs up for the general
   Friday, April 11, 2003 at 09:54:50 (PDT)    []

heh, then stick him behind a podium. Who would know.

How about having Yao Ming give war reports then. I would be extremely confident of the war status from the mouth of a B-ball player. lol
AC Dropout
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 11:06:22 (PDT)    []
One reason General Shinseki is not seen much in the media is because he is too short. His stature simply does not instill confidence in the public, especially in the time of war like now.
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 03:00:45 (PDT)    []
Get a life!,

Really so the Iraqi people have no say in what their nation should look like. Only the USA and UK knows what's best for Iraq. Sounds like replace one dictator with another in my opinion. I guess we call our current execution of Iraqi citizens "Friendly Fire."

Unfortunately, it seems your reading comprehension skills are lacking. I commented on the fact that the USA will be paying for the war. Unless you somehow believe Iraqi oil profits are USA's alone. Or worst yet Iraqi oil belongs to the USA.

I think your new handle should be "Get a Clue"

So if I whooped your a$$ in a Tae Kwon Do match does that mean I get to choose your career, your future, your wife, etc. Because I had to balls to take action like you said. Sad to say people still believe in this logic.
AC Dropout
   Monday, April 07, 2003 at 08:43:16 (PDT)    []
By destroying the international coalition. Germany and Japan will not be picking up the tab for this war like in Gulf I. Rummy wanted the war "on the cheap." So now the cost of the war will be 75 Billion USD and the lives of US soilders.
AC Dropout

Another subject AC Dropout knows nothing about but continues to rant. So you think NATO will let the US pick up the tab alone? Is that why just yesterday( Thursday) those Frenchie ass kissers bascially asked the US to let them in on rebuilding Iraq? Of course we will, we'll just let Frenchies and Germans sweat it out for few more months. Powell told them clearly US and UK will dictate and shape the future of Iraq not Pierre. Everyone knew once the war started those French and Germans would fall in line and kiss the hand that feeds them. Those bastards want some of that future oil money. If China and Russia know what is best, they too better get in line and start smoozing the Bush adminstration.
I heard US will help pay for the rebuilding of Iraq with frozen Iraqi assets in US anyway. America isn't perfect but at least we have balls and take action.
God bless the USA!
Get a life!
   Friday, April 04, 2003 at 20:35:22 (PST)    []

Back To Main Page

AC Dropout,

If Shenseki becomes a senator from Hawaii, he will be guaranted seats on the foreign relations committee and some other top panels.

My dream is to get as many Democrats elected as possible.

We need more reasonable men in Washington.

Maybe he'll get invited to dinner at the White House by President John Edwards :)
Geoff DB    Thursday, April 03, 2003 at 23:00:34 (PST)    []
Geoff DB,

Rummy was the one that wanted a 2 front war with NK at the same time. Powell distance himself from that comment so fast he left his shadow behind at the press conference.

Anyways the war plan is now at the point to see if it can pass mustard. Either we take Baghdad decisively quick now, or it will be a long protracted battle which we were trying to avoid in the first place.

By destroying the international coalition. Germany and Japan will not be picking up the tab for this war like in Gulf I. Rummy wanted the war "on the cheap." So now the cost of the war will be 75 Billion USD and the lives of US soilders.

If Shinseki becomes a Senator hopefully he will be able to stand up to the White House on these military matters as a civilian.
AC Dropout
   Wednesday, April 02, 2003 at 13:07:52 (PST)    []
AC Dropout,

The voices of guys like Shinseki and Powell can easily be drowned out in a hawkish administration like Bush II.

I get the impression that Powell is laying low. He is on a short string. This is Bush's and the conservatives' war. Even though Iraq played no role in 9/11. This is their opportunity to rake in war profits.

Shinseki can retire in June and, hopefully, run for US senate after Inouye. I'd welcome his senatorial candicacy.

Of all the guys who should be saying "I told you so", it's actually Shinseki.

Donald Rumsfeld says that General Franks and the Joint Chiefs of Staff devised/approved the war plans, not him. Well, unless "Rummy" was playing checkers or rescuing a cat from a burning tree (a rescue attempt, I might add, that any reasonable cat would refuse), then he played a GREAT role in devising those war plans and, furthermore, they were woefully inadequate.

It was Rumsfeld, not Shinseki, who didn't do his job right.

It was Wolfowitz's estimates, not Shinseki's, that were "wildly off mark".
Geoff DB    Tuesday, April 01, 2003 at 22:28:51 (PST)    []
My bad. Still this does not change the fact that you are making a racial issue out of something that was a policy difference. If Al Gore was elected (heaven help us) Shinseki would have been appointed CJCS. Yes the position is appointed but it was originally intended to be in a rotated way. This has not been stuck too. Oh and please refrain from cursing or even abbreviated ones. I did treated you with respect and demand the same.
Asian American GOPartyGuy
   Monday, March 31, 2003 at 20:34:02 (PST)    []
Good post. All of the articles about Rumsfeld micromanaging the war planning does not suprise me. I've been following this war since the build-up phase. High-ranking military officials, such as Gen. Shinseki, have been warning for months about the concerns now being played out on the battle field in Iraq. Powell said it best when he noted that Pentagon intellectuals will kill a lot of our young men. He was refering to the non-military planners who were in charge of planning the war.
   Monday, March 31, 2003 at 11:01:59 (PST)    []
Geoff DB,

Yes, also "Freedom Mustard," "Freedom Red Wine," "Freedom Onion Soup," and "Freedom Cheese"

Not to mention "The Steak formerly known as Filet Mignot"

If Bush is so angry maybe he should go to Iraq and show us how he planned to conquer/liberate the cradle of civilization in 1 week. I'm still in "shock and awe" that he is requesting 75 billion dollars for the war.

I smell Vietnam in the making right now. I even read in the that veterans of the previous Gulf war are suspicious of the current war and possible more "Gulf War Syndrome." They are taping all the news networks as evidence in case something happens in this war.

I'm kinda surprised Powell isn't on TV going "I told you so, Mr. President". Where is Powell these days? Another sane military man gone MIA from the Bush War Campaign.
AC Dropout
   Monday, March 31, 2003 at 10:52:44 (PST)    []

He did not wish to decommision Heavy Armor infantry forces. But wished to create a Middle Armor infrantry force.

He felt our Heavy and Light Infantry forces had too much of a gap between them. Heavy are all tanks and need too much time and resources to deploy. Light are all men with guns and cannot last too long in the field.

He wanted something inbetween and thus the Stryker armor on wheels was created. Light enough to deploy without a whole a lot of resources and armored enough to last on the field without becoming worm food at the first sign of battle.
AC Dropout
   Monday, March 31, 2003 at 10:39:57 (PST)    []
Here's an article that mentions Shinseki, but mostly talks about the micromanagement of the Army from the Pentagon:
Kent Hu
   Monday, March 31, 2003 at 06:35:29 (PST)    []
To Asian American GOPartyGuy,

You got your facts all wrong and screwed up. The last cjcs was not from the airforce. If you remember, it was Gen. Shelton from the Army. Here's the list of past cjcs. There's nothing I hate more than people who don't have their facts straight. What you said doesn't even come close. The cjcs don't get rotated, they get appointed. So I must say that "you are an ignorant MF" next time, be sure to research it first before you open your mouth or tell others about an information.

Past Chairmen of the JCS
General of the Army, Omar N. Bradley, 19491953
Adm. Arthur W. Radford, U.S. Navy, 19531957
Gen. Nathan F. Twining, U.S. Air Force, 19571960
Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, U.S. Army, 19601962
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, U.S. Army, 19621964
Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, U.S. Army, 19641970
Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, U.S. Navy, 19701974
Gen. George S. Brown, U.S. Air Force, 19741978
Gen. David C. Jones, U.S. Air Force, 19781982
Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr., U.S. Army, 19821985
Adm. William J. Crowe, U.S. Navy, 19851989
Gen. Colin L. Powell, U.S. Army, 19891993
Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, U.S. Army, 19931997
Gen. Henry H. Shelton, U.S. Army, 19972001

where's shinseki?
   Sunday, March 30, 2003 at 15:08:50 (PST)    []
It's no suprise to me that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz (none of whom have spent a day comanding troops or managing a military operation) would be upset over comments made by General Shinseki that would undermine their political goals.

Quite frankly, if "Rummy" (as precise as he may be) was so upset about Shinseki not being prepared for a senator's question about long-term troop deployment, then what would his response have been?

You mean to tell me that when a senator ask the US Army Chief of Staff in a formal hearing what his projections are for long-term military deployment on foreign soil, he can't give ANY estimate? Seems to me that if Rumsfeld is so precise, then he would have been in an even better position to answer the senator's question. Fair enough?

The fact is, we're in a jam right now. George W. Bush is angry that the war is not going fast enough and that Bagdad isn't already in US corporate hands. Our troops were supposed to go over there and capture Iraq as quickly as possible so that Halliburton and Bechtel and other US corporations could set up their cash registers.

I admire a guy like General Shinseki for standing up to George W. Bush. If the Democratic Party had done the same thing back in October, we could have solved this problem with increased UN weapons inspections and UN peacekeeping forces ensuring compliance.

France and Germany were right to stand up to the Bush administration.

"Freedom Fries"? Give me a break! I want my French fries back :)

The charges of racism seem unfounded. Bush appointed two Asian Americans to cabinet level posts (Mineta's even a Democrat). It hardly seems he's anti-Asian.
Geoff DB    Sunday, March 30, 2003 at 12:14:36 (PST)    []


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