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American Forces Press Service

Defense Leaders Mourn Shalikashvili

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen issued statements yesterday expressing their condolences on the death of retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili.

Born June 27, 1936, in Warsaw, Poland, Shalikashvili immigrated to the United States with his family in 1952 and was drafted into the Army in 1958. He served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997.

Shalikashvili died yesterday at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state of complications from a stroke, according to an Army statement. He was 75.

Panetta said the general, “one of this country’s finest,” was an extraordinary patriot who faithfully defended the nation for four decades.

“He lived the American dream, arriving from Europe with his family as a teenager after World War II, and he dedicated his life to defending the country that had quickly adopted him and his family,” Panetta said.

Panetta, then White House chief of staff, worked closely with Shalikashvili during his years as chairman, the secretary said.

“I came to rely on his wise counsel, his wealth of military expertise, and his candor as we were challenged by foreign policy crises in Haiti, the Balkans, and elsewhere,” Panetta said. “I will remember John as always being a stalwart advocate for the brave men and women who don the uniform and stand guard over this nation."

Mullen echoed the secretary’s sentiments in a similar statement.

“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,” the chairman said.

Mullen said during Shalikashvili’s tenure as chairman, the general shepherded the U.S. military through the early post-Cold War era, helping to redefine U.S. and NATO relationships with former members of the Warsaw Pact, while leading the armed forces to increase their joint capabilities and interoperability.

Shalikashvili “further distinguished himself leading the highly successful Operation Provide Comfort, a humanitarian and peacekeeping Operation in Northern Iraq following Desert Storm,” Mullen said.

“We are a stronger, more capable military today because of his efforts to make us so. He will be deeply missed,” the chairman said.

Both men extended condolences to Shalikashvili’s wife, Joan, and son, Brant.

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