Gordon R. Sullivan

Gordon Russell Sullivan (born September 25, 1937) is a retired United States Army general, who served as the 32nd Chief of Staff of the Army and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sullivan also served as acting Secretary of the Army.

Gordon R. Sullivan
General Gordon Sullivan, official military photo 1992.JPEG
Sullivan in November 1992
Born (1937-09-25) September 25, 1937 (age 82)
Boston, Massachusetts
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchMilitary service mark of the United States Army.png United States Army
Years of service1959–1995
RankUS-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands heldChief of Staff of the United States Army
1st Infantry Division (Mechanized)
1st Brigade, 4th Armored Division
4th Battalion, 73d Armor Regiment
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Other workPresident, Association of the United States Army

After retiring from the Army, Sullivan served as the president and chief executive of the Association of the United States Army for 18 years, from 1998 through June 30, 2016. He also served as the chairman of the board of trustees of Norwich University until 2016. He currently serves as chairman of the boards of The Army Historical Foundation[1] and the Marshall Legacy Institute.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

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.

Sullivan holds a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire. His professional military education includes the United States Army Armor School Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.

Military careerEdit

During his army career, Sullivan served as: Assistant Commandant, United States Army Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky from November 1983 to July 1985; Deputy Commandant, United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from March 1987 to June 1988; Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Riley, Kansas from June 1988 to July 1989; Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans; and Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1990 to 1991. His overseas assignments included four tours in Europe, two in Vietnam and one in Korea.[citation needed]

Sullivan culminated his service in uniform as the 32nd Chief of Staff of the United States Army—the senior general officer in the army—and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the Chief of Staff of the Army, Sullivan 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 Sullivan who continued to serve as Chief of Staff.[3]

Sullivan retired from the United States Army on July 31, 1995 after more than 36 years of active service. The military march "Architect of Victory" was dedicated to him on the occasion of his retirement.

Post-army career and later lifeEdit

Sullivan 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.[citation needed]

Sullivan 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 Laboratory Advisory Board, and a Life Trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was also the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of the United States Army, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia from February 1998 through June 2016.[4]

Sullivan is an Advisory Board Member of Spirit of America, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports the safety and success of Americans serving abroad and the local people and partners they seek to help.[5]

In recognition of his military career and his work with AUSA, Sullivan was awarded the prestigious Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy in 2003,[6] and the AUSA General George Catlett Marshall Medal, the Association's highest honor, in October 2016.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

He was married to Miriam Gay Loftus until her passing. He married Lori Boyle Sullivan in November 2017. He lives in Falmouth, MA.[citation needed] He has three children and three grandchildren. He is an avid reader and historian.[citation needed]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Medals and ribbonsEdit

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

In fictionEdit

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 that 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. ^ "2017 Annual Report", Army Historical Foundation, May 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "Our Staff", The Marshall Legacy Institute, 2019.
  3. ^ "Secretary of the Army Accused of Shoplifting", Stephanie Griffith and Bill Miller, The Washington Post, August 28, 1993.
  4. ^ "Five Chiefs Gather at AUSA", AUSA News, June 20, 2016.
  5. ^ https://spiritofamerica.org/staff/general-ret-gordon-sullivan
  6. ^ "2003 Sylvanus Thayer Award Citation", West Point Association of Graduates, 2003.
  7. ^ "Sullivan Receives Marshall Award at AUSA 2016", AUSA News, October 6, 2016.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Robert W. RisCassi
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Dennis Reimer
Preceded by
Carl E. Vuono
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Preceded by
John W. Shannon (Acting)
Acting United States Secretary of the Army
August 28 – November 21, 1993
Succeeded by
Togo D. West Jr.