Shelton Nominated Next Chairman
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 17, 1997 President Clinton nominated Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton July 17 to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Shelton, who goes by the nickname "Hugh," currently is commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Once confirmed by Congress, he will succeed Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, set to retire at the end of September after nearly 40 years of military service.
As chairman, Shelton will be the senior ranking member of the armed forces and will serve as the principal military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense.
At a ceremony on the White House south lawn, Clinton called Shelton "the right person for the job, ... for our troops, for our security, the right man for our country."
"Over more than three decades of service to our nation, he has distinguished himself as a decorated soldier, an innovative thinker, a superb commander. From Vietnam to Desert Storm, he has proven his skill and courage in combat."
Clinton said Shelton's experience as Special Operations Command commander gives him a unique perspective for the new century's challenges -- "from war fighting to peacekeeping, from conventional threats to newer threats like the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism."
While commander of XVIII Airborne Corps, Shelton helped plan Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. As joint task force commander of the operation, he oversaw the shift from a forced entry to a peaceful arrival. His leadership personified "the best of America: strong and skillful with great sensitivity and no nonsense," Clinton said.
"Our mission in Haiti was a model of effectiveness, flexibility and safety. It proved that our military's will to defend peace is as great as its ability to prevail in war. And thanks in large measure to Gen. Shelton's determined leadership, America got a tough job done and helped the people of Haiti return to democracy's road."
Shelton has always shown exceptional concern for the men and women under his command, Clinton said. "He's led a platoon, a company, a battalion, a brigade, a division, a corps, a unified command. But he always remembers the individual soldier, sailor, airmen or Marine.
"Gen. Shelton has the knowledge, judgment and experience to advise Secretary [of Defense William} Cohen and me on the very best way to defend our interests and to protect our men and women in uniform."
Shelton told the president he is both humbled and honored by his nomination. He thanked God, his family and the thousands of service members who have supported him throughout his career.
"With this honor comes the awesome responsibility of ensuring that our armed forces remain trained, ready and equipped to deal with the threats and dangers of today as well as an uncertain future," he said. "This is a responsibility that I accept without hesitation or reservation, and I certainly look forward to continuing to serve along beside America's best -- the great men and women of our armed forces who serve proudly and selflessly."
Following the ceremony, Cohen said Shelton's warfighting experience, diplomatic skill, global perspective and human touch were important factors in his decision to recommend the general to the president. "I'm confident that Gen. Shelton's leadership, experience and skill will serve him well as he meets this new challenge," he said.
In a statement released by the Pentagon, Shalikashvili said Shelton is the right officer to lead the armed forces into the 21st century and called him a "consummate military professional; a decorated combat veteran and a superb leader." "Gen. Shelton has the proven skills, the broad experience and, most importantly, the dynamic vision required to ensure our military forces remain the best in the world," he said.