Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV: Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense
By Casie Vinall
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 22, 2003 At 5:30 a.m. each day, Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell starts off his morning with the daily traffic.
But this traffic is of a different sort. The senior military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense said he monitors intelligence information, known as "traffic," from the State Department, intelligence and operational reports.
All this preparation enables Caldwell to prepare for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul J. Wolfowitz's arrival at 7:15 a.m. The deputy and Caldwell then meet with a CIA briefer for 30 minutes.
"So at 7:45 we're ready for the day to start," Caldwell said.
The general's workweek at the Pentagon often includes evenings and weekends. He said his wife Stephanie, an ordained United Methodist minister, is extremely supportive of his responsibilities and understands the demands of his job.
The general is no stranger to early starts and hard work. Originally from Columbus, Ga., Caldwell experienced a life of mobility, because his father was in the service and the family moved frequently.
During Caldwell's early childhood, his father was stationed at the United States Military Academy. Growing up there gave him a chance to interact with West Point cadets, who helped teach some youth sports teams.
"I found that I just really had a great respect and admiration for the cadets at the academy," Caldwell said. "I thought, 'Boy, I'd love to do something like that one day.' Then with time, I thought I'd like to serve in the armed forces, and so that led me to apply for the military academy."
After graduation from West Point in 1976, Caldwell served in posts throughout the country and overseas. He continued his education with a master's degree in systems technology from the U. S. Naval Post Graduate School and then a master of military art and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Caldwell learned early on that the military required him to be flexible and ready for new challenges. One month prior to leaving his battalion command position in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, for example, his commanding general sent him to Haiti to work as his political-military liaison in the U.S. Embassy during Operation Uphold Democracy in the mid-1990s.
Caldwell took his communications, intelligence and operations cells and worked in the embassy for six months. "I gave up command, formed this organization and took off to go work in an American embassy, which I'd never done in my life," he recalled. "In fact, I'm not even sure I'd ever been in an American embassy overseas in my life. I literally started from scratch."
After his tour in Haiti, Caldwell went on to study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He commanded the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, N.Y. He worked in the Office of the Director for Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and later served as the executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Caldwell's duties once again tested his readiness and flexibility after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. During this time, Caldwell was serving as deputy director for operations, U.S. Pacific Command, in Hawaii. The command's focus shifted from regional war plans to the global war on terrorism.
The headquarters changed to a 24-7 operations center, Caldwell said. "So, instead of having a cell of about six or eight people that worked 24-7, we now had a cell of about 50 people that worked 24-7."
The operation required reserve component personnel to play a crucial role, the general noted. "They were indispensable in the execution of our operations in the Pacific, absolutely indispensable," he said. "They brought a wealth of knowledge that a lot of our folks who had just come in for the first time in the command did not have. So they proved their weight in gold."
In July 2002, Caldwell was assigned to his current position as senior military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense. In this position he served his boss during the preparation, execution, and follow on for Operation Iraqi Freedom and other aspects of the global war on terrorism.
The general's 5:30 a.m start ends around 9 p.m., six days a week. Sunday is not always free either. Caldwell is 'on call' to filter cables from the communications personnel who monitor the information flow for the deputy.
"The great thing about working for Paul Wolfowitz is that he is an incredibly tremendous boss. He makes the job," Caldwell said. "He very much wants military advice. He asks your opinions. He makes you feel a real part of the team. The lessons I've learned by just watching him in action and seeing how he makes decisions will be extremely beneficial and useful for me as I continue my career."
(Casie Vinall is an intern working for DefendAmerica.mil in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.)