The Joint Chiefs and the more than two million men and women in uniform join me today in mourning the death of retired General John Shalikashvili, our 13th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We extend to his wife, Joan, son Brant, and his entire family our deepest sympathies in their time of grief and sorrow.
From the humble beginnings of a childhood in war-torn Poland, General Shalikashvili commenced a remarkable rise from the rank of private in the U.S. Army to serving as the principal military advisor to the President and the senior military officer in the United States Armed Forces from 1993-1997.
During his tenure as Chairman, he skillfully shepherded our military through the early years of the post-Cold War era, helping to redefine both U.S. and NATO relationships with former members of the Warsaw Pact, while crafting a vision for our military that vastly improved its joint capabilities and interoperability, efforts that continue to make a difference around the world today.
A consummate leader, soldier and statesman who served his country nobly for 39 years, he commanded at every level from platoon to division, and further distinguished himself leading the highly successful Operation Provide Comfort, a humanitarian and peacekeeping Operation in Northern Iraq following Desert Storm.
As we mourn his passing, so, too, do we reflect on his contributions to our nation -- the lives he changed, the careers he mentored, the impact he made simply by virtue of his character and commitment. We are a stronger, more capable military today because of his efforts to make us so. He will be deeply missed.