Gordon R. Sullivan

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General Gordon R. Sullivan
General Gordon Sullivan, official military photo 1992.JPEG
Sullivan in November 1992
Born (1937-09-25) September 25, 1937 (age 85)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1959-1995
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Chief of Staff of the Army
Secretary of the Army (Acting)
Battles/wars Cold War
 • Vietnam War
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Other work President, Association of the U.S. Army

Gordon Russell Sullivan is a retired United States Army general, who served as the 32nd Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Sullivan also served as Acting Secretary of the Army

Early life and education

Sullivan was born September 25, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in nearby Quincy. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of Armor and awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Norwich University in 1959. He holds a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire. His professional military education includes the U.S. Army Armor School Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.


Sullivan retired from the United States Army on 31 July 1995 after more than 36 years of active service. He culminated his service in uniform as the 32nd Chief of Staff—the senior general officer in the Army—and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the Chief of Staff of the Army, he created the vision and led the team that transitioned the Army from its Cold War posture. In August 1993, President Bill Clinton assigned the duties and responsibility of Acting Secretary of the Army to General Sullivan who continued to serve as Chief of Staff.[1]

He is the co-author, with Michael V. Harper, of Hope Is Not a Method (Random House, 1996), which chronicles the enormous challenges encountered in transforming the post-Cold War Army through the lens of proven leadership principles and a commitment to shared values. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Norwich University, the Army Historical Foundation, and the Marshall Legacy Institute, as well as a member of the MITRE Army Advisory Board, the MIT Lincoln Labs Advisory Board, and a Life Trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Sullivan is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of the United States Army, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. He assumed his current position at the Association in February 1998. For his work with AUSA, he was awarded the prestigious Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy in 2003.

During his Army career, Sullivan also served as Vice Chief of Staff; Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans; Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Riley, Kansas (June 1988-July 1989); Deputy Commandant, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (March 1987-June 1988); and Assistant Commandant, U.S. Army Armor School, Fort Knox, Kentucky (November 1983-July 1985). His overseas assignments included four tours in Europe, two in Vietnam and one in Korea.

Personal life

Sullivan was married to Miriam Gay Sullivan (née Loftus) of Quincy, Massachusetts; he currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. He has three children and three grandchildren. He is an avid reader and amateur historian.

Awards and decorations

Medals and ribbons

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge.png Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 4.png Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 4
Order of Military Merit (Grand Cross) (Brazil)
60px Officer of the Ordre national du Mérite (France)
Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr in gold (Germany)
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal

In fiction

Sullivan appears in the Lee Child book The Enemy, set in January 1990, in which protagonist Jack Reacher believes that the Army Chief of Staff is at the heart of a conspiracy which has left three people dead. Reacher goes to the Pentagon to confront the Chief of Staff. It is revealed that the Chief of Staff has actually been helping Reacher's investigation into the murders by making key personnel changes in Army installations in the United States and elsewhere. Sullivan is mentioned by title only, but the Chief of Staff is described in the books as having come up in the army from the Armored Division. The Chief of Staff also discusses the challenges posed by the end of the Cold War and the resulting restructuring of the Army.


  1. "Secretary of the Army Accused of Shoplifting", Stephanie Griffith and Bill Miller, The Washington Post, August 28, 1993

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Robert W. RisCassi
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1990 – 1991
Succeeded by
Dennis Reimer
Preceded by
Carl E. Vuono
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Dennis J. Reimer