Pace to Leave Legacy of Battle Focus, Commitment to Troops, Top NCO Says
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2007 Marine Gen. Peter Pace will leave behind a lasting legacy of professionalism and commitment to the troops when he retires Oct. 1, his senior enlisted advisor and self-described “battle buddy” told American Forces Press Service today.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, his senior enlisted advisor, shake hands with Marines from the 6th Provisional Security Company at Camp Lemonier, Dijbouti, during an Aug. 14, 2007, visit. Gainey said Pace has always kept troops’ welfare at heart while serving as the top U.S. military officer. Photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Lovelady, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey called Pace “a great military leader” who has stood firmly and provided the best military advice possible, regardless of who he was addressing or what they wanted to hear.
In meetings with the defense secretary, at congressional hearings and even in informal sessions with military family members, Pace has never wavered from his moral compass, Gainey said. “He has always spoken the truth, even when it wasn’t popular,” he said. “His biggest weakness is that he has not learned the art of BS-ing.”
Pace has always felt a strong obligation to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who make up the U.S. armed forces, Gainey said. As a result, he always kept their interests, along with the military mission, in the forefront of his mind.
“He’s mission-focused, but he always says, ‘How will all of this affect Corporal Pace and his family?’” Gainey said. “He has not forgotten compassion and the fact that it’s all about taking care of troops and their families.”
Gainey said this characteristic makes Pace stand out from the many other great military leaders. “What sets him aside is that he’s also a wonderful person who’s never forgotten who he is, where he came from in life and how he got where he is,” he said.
The sergeant major attributes much of Pace’s style to his days as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, where he came to appreciate the importance of junior enlisted troops and noncommissioned officers.
To this day, Pace shows his thanks regularly, jumping at every opportunity to greet a young servicemember and present his personal military coin. “I’ve seen him stop a whole convoy to shake the hand of a young driver,” Gainey said.
Troops in the field respond strongly, frequently marveling that an officer of Pace’s stature will take the time to recognize them. “He’s like a rock star to them,” Gainey said.
On a recent visit to Afghanistan, a young troop there called Pace “our Patton,” a reference to World War II hero Gen. George S. Patton Jr. “That’s how the young people see him,” Gainey said.
Pace’s personal staff experiences his personal connection every morning, when the general walks into their daily stand-up meeting with the greeting, “Good morning, family. How are you?”
“Never in the past two years has he not said that,” Gainey said. “That tells you a lot about the man. That’s how he is.”
Gainey said he hopes Pace writes a book after he retires to share his leadership philosophy, and that it becomes required reading at all military schools.
“After all, anybody can get in front and say, ‘Follow me,’” Gainey said. “Not everybody can say that and make everyone want to follow. But that’s what General Peter Pace does. He’s the real deal.”