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Campbell bids farewell as 101st post commander

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Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:34 am

Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell relinquished command of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on Friday to take a position at the Pentagon.

Campbell has been named as the Army  G-3/5/7, with the 3 representing the operations piece, the 5 representing the planning and policy piece and the 7 representing the modernization and infrastructure.

This will be Campbell’s fourth position at the Pentagon, having served twice on the Joint Staff and once before with the Army Staff.

 “This (commanding the 101st) is the most rewarding job I’ve had,” he said. “(The Pentagon position) will be, by far, the toughest job I’ve ever had.”

Campbell has also been serving as the head of the transition team for Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, causing Campbell to make several trips to Washington, D.C., over the last four weeks.

 “You look at all the resourcing of forces, you look at all the Army forces across the world, you work with all the major Army commands, you work with men in combatant commands,” he said of his new position as Army G-3. “I think there’s some huge challenges down the road in how we reshape our Army for the future, to make sure that we remain relevant.

“We’ll look at the Army of 2020; that’s the phrase we’re looking at. We know already that (former) Secretary (of Defense Robert) Gates has said that, when he was secretary, that we’re going to have to downsize. We’re at 569,400. We had a temporary increase of about 22,000; that’s going to come out on or about (Fiscal Year) 2013, and another 27,000 after that.”

Campbell looked back on his two-year command at Fort Campbell.

“When I came here, out around the Army, what you hear about Fort Campbell was the great community support,” he said. “If you’re in the Pentagon, you hear, ‘Hey, those folks around Fort Campbell are great.’ I’ve been to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas, and the surrounding communities are very, very good, but they don’t compare to Fort Campbell.

“What I tried to do was leverage that a little bit, to make sure that we were part of the community engage. We do a weekly strategic outreach when the brigades come back, sort of like what we did in combat. We called it ‘key leader engagements,’ where we would go out and meet with the tribal elders and do different things. We do the same thing here. We need to get our brigade commanders, the sergeant majors, the lieutenants, captains — we need to get them out among the community and talk to the Kiwanis, Rotary, Middle Tennessee Leadership Group. People out there have this thirst for what’s going on, but if they aren’t right around Fort Campbell…you don’t have that touch with the American people. I think it’s important that we get out there and do that.”

Campbell said that something he wanted to be associated with was the emphasis on soldiers on post using their off time and spending it with their families. He added that there have been improvements on training areas during his command.

One of his final duties as commander was the laying of the wreath during the annual Memorial Service on Wednesday with Sgt. Maj. Scott C. Schroeder.

“It’s going to be hard to leave here,” he said. “We’ve made some great friends; it’s a great area.”

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