FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (June 3, 2010) — Gen. James D. Thurman became the 18th commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command during a ceremony on Hedekin Field here today.
Thurman succeeded Gen. Charles C. Campbell, who retired today following 40 years of service, becoming the last continuously serving Army officer who saw service in Vietnam to leave active duty.
As commander of the largest command in the U.S. Army, Thurman now oversees the training and readiness of more than 750,000 Soldiers in the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, plus 3,500 Army civilians.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. hosted the ceremony. He characterized the event as an important milestone in the life of the Army, describing the tradition of formally changing command in front of the troops as fundamental to the military’s vitality.
Speaking about Campbell, the Army’s senior general praised FORSCOM’s outgoing commander, describing his service by using the outgoing FORSCOM commander’s own words. “In his own words in the Army Times this week, (Gen. Campbell said) ‘I would argue that the Army is probably more capable today than it was when we entered this fray eight and a half years ago, which is really without historical precedent.’ It IS Hondo, and it’s largely because of you and the Soldiers that you led,” said Casey.
During his remarks, Thurman thanked the Soldiers present on the parade field and the tens of thousands of FORSCOM Soldiers they represented.
“A change of command ceremony is as much about recognizing the great Soldiers, Civilians and Army families as it is about recognizing the outgoing and incoming commanders,” said Thurman.
“To the Soldiers in the formation, you look splendid. Today, you demonstrate the expertise prevalent in our force, and your competence and professionalism inspires all of us. Thank you for your sacrifice and service,” he said.
Prior to assuming command of FORSCOM, Thurman served as the deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, headquarters, Department of the Army.
A native of Marietta, Okla., Thurman earned his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at East Central University in 1975.
Prior to FORSCOM, Thurman commanded at every echelon through corps. His first commanded a troop in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, then a squadron in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and another in the 3rd Infantry Division. Next, Thurman commanded a brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division, before taking command of the Operations Group at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Calif. He also commanded the 4th Infantry Division, and the V Corps in Germany.
Thurman’s career includes extensive Army and Joint staff experience, including assignments as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Plans and Policy (J5), Allied Forces Southern Europe, Regional Command South in Italy; director of training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, Headquarters, Department of the Army; chief, Operations, Coalition Forces Land Component Command C3 in Kuwait; and director, Army Aviation Task Force, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
Thurman’s combat assignments were as a battalion executive officer in the 1st Cavalry Division, during operations Desert Shield/Storm from 1990–91; Chief of Operations for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command, during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2002-03; and as the commander of the Multi-National Division-Baghdad, Iraq in 2006.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from East Central University and a Master of Arts in management from Webster University. He has attended innumerable military schools, and Thurman is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.
His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Legion of Merit (three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Bronze Star Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Meritorious Service Medal (five Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters). General Thurman is a senior Army aviator and has earned the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Some of the distinguished guests who attended the event were:
Joseph Westphal, under secretary of the Army;
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, and Mrs. Shelia Casey;
Gen. Ann Dunwoody, commanding general, Army Materiel Command;
Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, chief, National Guard Bureau;
Nelson M. Ford, former under secretary of the Army;
Earnestine Pittman mayor of East Point (Ga.);
Retired Gen. Edwin H. Burba Jr.;
Jean Ellis, wife of retired Gen. Larry Ellis, former FORSCOM commander;
Retired Gen. and Mrs. Leon Laporte;
Retired Gen. Thomas Schwartz, former FORSCOM commander;
Jean Shine, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, Texas;
Felker W. Ward, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, Georgia;
James R. Balkcom, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, Georgia;
Charles W. “Duke” Doubleday, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, Georgia.
FORSCOM Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)