John Malchase David Shalikashvili (Georgian: ჯონ მალხაზ დავით შალიკაშვილი, romanized: jon malkhaz davit shalik'ashvili, IPA: [ʃalikʼaʃʷili]; June 27, 1936 – July 23, 2011) was a United States Army general who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 1992 to 1993 and the 13th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997.[1] He was born in Warsaw, Poland, in the family of émigré Georgian officer Dimitri Shalikashvili and his Polish wife Maria Rüdiger-Belyaeva. In 1996, he was the first recipient of the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.[2]

John Shalikashvili
Shalikashvili in August 1993
Nickname(s)"General Shali"
Born(1936-06-27)June 27, 1936
Warsaw, Poland
DiedJuly 23, 2011(2011-07-23) (aged 75)
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1958–1997
Rank General
Commands heldChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Operation Provide Comfort
9th Infantry Division
1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery
Battles/warsVietnam War
Operation Provide Comfort
Iraqi no-fly zones
Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal (V)
Meritorious Service Medal (4)
Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Alma materGeorge Washington University
Gunhild Bartsch
(m. 1963; died 1965)
Joan Zimpelman
(m. 1966)
Other workVisiting professor, Stanford University
Director, Frank Russell Trust Company
Director, L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc.
Director, Plug Power Inc.
Director, United Defense Industries, Inc.

Shalikashvili was the first, and as of 2023 only, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff not born in the United States. He served in every level of unit command from platoon to division.[3] Shalikashvili died of a stroke in 2011 at the age of 75.[4]

Early life and education edit

Shalikashvili was a scion of the medieval Georgian noble house of Shalikashvili. His father, Prince Dimitri Shalikashvili (1896–1978), born in Gurjaani,[5] served in the army of Imperial Russia and his wife, Countess Maria Rüdiger-Belyaeva. Dimitri was a grandson of Russian general Dmitry Staroselsky.

After the Bolshevik Revolution, Dimitri became a lieutenant colonel in the army of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. When the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Georgia in 1921, Dimitri was on diplomatic service in Turkey. Dimitri then joined other Georgian exiles in Poland, where he met and married John's mother, Maria; she was Polish and of part German ancestry,[6] and the daughter of Count Rudiger-Bielajew (Rüdiger-Belyaev), a former Tsarist general. They had three children: Othar, John and Gale. Dimitri served in the Polish Army (along with other Georgian exiles) as a contract officer.

In 1939, the elder Shalikashvili fought against the German invasion of Poland. After the Polish defeat, Dimitri was demobilized. In 1941, he enlisted in the Georgian Legion, a force of ethnic Georgians recruited by Germany to fight against the Soviet Union.[7] The unit was later incorporated into the SS-Waffengruppe Georgien[8] and transferred to Normandy. Dimitri surrendered to British forces and was a prisoner of war until after the war. A collection of Dimitri Shalikashvili's writings are on deposit at the Hoover Institution. Meanwhile, Maria, John and his two brothers lived through the destruction of Warsaw. As the Red Army approached Warsaw in 1944, the family fled to Pappenheim, Germany, being reunited with Dimitri along the way.[9] It was in Pappenheim in the closing days of World War II that John first laid eyes on U.S. soldiers.[10] His family stayed with relatives there in Pappenheim for eight years.

In 1952, when Shalikashvili was 16, the family emigrated to the US, and settled in Peoria, Illinois. They were sponsored by Winifred Luthy, the wife of a local banker, who was previously married to Dimitri's cousin. The Luthys and the Episcopal Church helped the Shalikashvili family get started, finding jobs and a home for them. Dimitri worked for Ameren, and Maria was a file clerk at Commercial National Bank. When Shalikashvili arrived in Peoria he spoke little English:

I spoke a little bit [of English]. But not much beyond yes and no and what time is it. And the stories that subsequently have been told that I learned English by watching John Wayne movies is only a little bit of a stretch ... As school was over [at Peoria High School], I would run to the local movie theater. There I would sit through movies in order to learn English. In those days movies didn't start at a specific time and end at a specific time, but they would roll continuously ... The first time through it wouldn't make much sense to me. But the second time through, it would begin to make a little more sense. Now in my memory, that is probably very faulty, a lot of those movies were John Wayne movies or at least were Wild West movies.

Shalikashvili went to Peoria High School, where he was a long-distance runner. He attended Bradley University in Peoria and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1958. He was a member of Theta Chi. In 1970, Shalikashvili received a master's degree in international affairs from the George Washington University's School of International Affairs.

In May 1958, Shalikashvili and his family became U.S. citizens. It was the first nationality he ever held. He had previously been classified as stateless because he had been born to parents who had been refugees.

Military career edit

Shalikashvili with U.S. President Clinton.
U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen (left) and Shalikashvili (right) at a Pentagon briefing on July 31, 1997.
Shalikashvili at his farewell ceremony on September 30, 1997.

After graduation Shalikashvili had planned to work for Hyster, but received a draft notice in July 1958. He entered the United States Army as a private, enjoyed it, and applied to the Army's Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1959.

Shalikashvili served in various Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery positions as a platoon leader, forward observer, instructor, and student, in various staff positions, and as a battery commander. He served in the Vietnam War in Quang Tri Province with Advisory Team 4 (redesignated Team 19 in September, 1968), Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), as a senior district advisor from 1968 to 1969. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" for heroism during his Vietnam tour. Immediately after his Vietnam service, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1970, Shalikashvili became executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery at Fort Lewis, Washington. Later in 1975, he commanded the 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. In 1977, he attended the U.S. Army War College and served as the Commander of Division Artillery (DIVARTY) for the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He later became the assistant division commander. In 1987, Shalikashvili commanded the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. There he oversaw a "high technology test bed" tasked to integrate three brigades—one heavy armor, one light infantry, and one "experimental mechanized"—into a new type of fighting force.[11]

Shalikashvili achieved real distinction with his considerable success as the commander of Operation Provide Comfort, the peacekeeping and humanitarian activity in northern Iraq after the Gulf War. This assignment involved intense and complex negotiations with the Turkish government, and tough face-to-face meetings with the Iraqi military.[12] Another important achievement was the establishment of the Joint Vision 2010 program, which would transfer the United States military into one great and effective digitalized military force.

Shalikashvili was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, effective October 25. During the 1995-96 Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, commanded the US Navy to assist in the defense of Taiwan. He retired from the Army in September 1997, after serving for 38 years.

Later life and death edit

Ashton Carter shows Tinatin Khidasheli an official portrait of General Shalikashvili.

Shalikashvili was an advisor to John Kerry's 2004 Presidential campaign. He was a visiting professor at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He served as a director of Russell Investments, L-3 Communications, Inc., Plug Power Inc., United Defense, Inc., the Initiative for Global Development,[13] and the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Shalikashvili was married to Joan and had one son, Brant, a graduate of Washington State University, and a daughter, Debra.

Shalikashvili suffered a severe stroke on August 7, 2004 that paralyzed his left side.[14]

In 2006 the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) launched the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies to recognize Shalikashvili for his years of military service and for his leadership on NBR's Board of Directors.[15]

In 2007, Shalikashvili penned an op-ed in The New York Times calling for a reversal of Don't ask, don't tell.[16] A similar op-ed by him appeared in the June 19, 2009, issue of The Washington Post.[17] The policy was reversed July 22, 2011, the day before his death.

Shalikashvili died at the age of 75 on July 23, 2011, at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, from a stroke.[18] He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.[19]

The first biography on Shalikashvili, "Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili's American Success," was published by the University Press of Kentucky in conjunction with the Association of the U.S. Army in October 2019.[20]

Ancestry edit

Dates of rank edit

Rank Date
  Second lieutenant July 7, 1959
  First lieutenant July 7, 1961
  Captain July 8, 1963
  Major August 23, 1967
  Lieutenant colonel May 12, 1974
  Colonel December 6, 1978
  Brigadier general August 1, 1983
  Major general September 1, 1986
  Lieutenant general October 1, 1989
  General June 24, 1992


Awards and decorations edit

Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
1st row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit
2nd row Bronze Star Medal Meritorious Service Medal Air Medal
3rd row Joint Service Commendation Medal Army Commendation Medal Presidential Medal of Freedom
4th row National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal
5th row Southwest Asia Service Medal with service star Humanitarian Service Medal Army Service Ribbon
6th row Army Overseas Service Ribbon Inter-American Defense Board Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross with two silver and one bronze star
7th row Armed Forces Honor Medal, 1st class (Vietnam) Commander of the Order of the White Lion (Czech Republic) Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
8th row Meritorious Service Medal of Canada Vietnam Campaign Medal Order of Military Merit of Brazil, Grand-Officer[22]
Badge Parachutist Badge
Badges Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge United States Army Staff Identification Badge
Badge 9th Infantry Division Combat Service Identification Badge
  • GEN Shalikashvili received at least two more foreign awards.

Other Recognition edit

In 1994, Shalikashvili received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[23][24]

In 2006, The National Bureau of Asian Research recognized board member General John M. Shalikashvili for his lifelong contributions to our nation and dedicated a chair in national security studies in his name, The John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies.[25]

References edit

  1. ^ Marble, Andrew (2019). Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili's American Success. University Press of Kentucky. doi:10.2307/j.ctvn5tz24. ISBN 978-0-8131-7802-8. JSTOR j.ctvn5tz24. S2CID 202496492.
  2. ^ "USNWC official website". Archived from the original on November 5, 2011.
  3. ^ Luttwak (August 22, 1993). "Why Clinton Called Upon Shalikashvili". The Sacramento Bee.
  4. ^ Dewan, Shaila (July 23, 2011). "Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Military Chief in 1990s, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Around The World". The Seattle Times. 24 May 1995. Shalikashvili seeks to have Nazi dad reburied in Georgia. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  6. ^ Halberstam, David (2001). War in a Time of Peace. Scribner. ISBN 9780743202121. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  7. ^ Farley, Christopher John; Lemonick, Michael D.; Meers, Eric A.; et al. (1993-09-06). "News Digest August 22–28". Time. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2023-04-06.
  8. ^ Engelberg, Stephen (1993-08-28). "General's Father Fought for Nazi Unit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  9. ^ Shalikashvili, Dimitri. Memoirs. Hoover Institution.
  10. ^ Marble, Andrew. "A Biography Project on Gen. John Shalikashvili". Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  11. ^ Marble, Andrew (January 2012). "How Are Great Leaders Made? Lessons from the Career of General John Shalikashvili" (PDF). Joint Force Quarterly (64): 137–138. Archived from the original (PDF-20.75 Mb) on 2014-07-16. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  12. ^ Goldstein, Lyle J. (Spring 2000). "General John Shalikashvili and the Civil-Military Relations of Peacekeeping". Armed Forces & Society. 26 (3): 387. doi:10.1177/0095327X0002600303. S2CID 143933931.
  13. ^ "Leadership Council | Initiative for Global Development". Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  14. ^ "Former Head Of Chiefs Of Staff Is Ill". The New York Times. August 10, 2004. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  15. ^ "In Honor of General John M. Shalikashvili (June 27, 1936 – July 23, 2011)". The National Bureau of Asian Research. August 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Shalikashvili, John M. (January 2, 2007). "Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  17. ^ Shalikashvili, John M. (June 19, 2009). "Data Must Rule the Debate on Gays in the Military". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  18. ^ "John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dies". CNN. July 23, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  19. ^ Patterson, Michael Robert (January 25, 2023). "John Malchase David Shalikashvili - General, United States Army".
  20. ^ Marble, Andrew (15 October 2019). Boy on the Bridge. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813178042.
  21. ^ The Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949-2016 (PDF) (3 ed.). Joint History Office. June 21, 2019. p. 195. ISBN 978-1075301711.
  22. ^ (in Portuguese) Decree of 26 January 1994.
  23. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  24. ^ "Gen. Colin Powell Biography Photo". 1998. At the 1998 Achievement Summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, four Academy members and Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: General John M. Shalikashvili, USA (the Academy's Class of 1994), General David C. Jones, USAF (Class of 1979), General Henry (Hugh) Shelton, USA (Class of 1998) and General Colin L. Powell, USA (Class of 1988).
  25. ^ "NBR Director and Former Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili Honored with Chair in National Security Studies". The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). 2006.

External links edit

Military offices
Preceded by Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Adm. David E. Jeremiah (acting Chairman)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by