Military Wiki
John Shalikashvili
General John Shalikashvili, US Army (Ret.)
Birth name John Malchase David Shalikashvili
Nickname General Shali
Born (1936-06-27)June 27, 1936
Died July 23, 2011(2011-07-23) (aged 75)
Place of birth Warsaw, Poland
Place of death Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, U.S.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1958–1997
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Supreme Allied Commander Europe,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
9th Infantry Division (United States),
Operation Provide Comfort
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Bronze Star ribbon.svg
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Air Medal ribbon.svg Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg AFEMRib.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg Southwest Asia Service ribbon.svg
Humanitarian Service ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png
Inter-american defense board medal ribbon.svg Vietnam gallantry cross-3d.svg Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal Ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal Ribbon.png
POL Order Zaslugi RP kl1 BAR.png MSC ribbon-military.png
Combat Infantry Badge.svg US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif
GeneralStaffID.gif Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Relations Joan (Zimpelman) Shalikashvili (wife), Brant Shalikashvili (son)
Gunhild Bartsch (wife, died 1965)
Other work Visiting professor, Stanford University
Director, Frank Russell Trust Company
Director, L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc.
Director, Plug Power Inc.
Director, United Defense Industries, Inc.

John Malchase David Shalikashvili (Georgian language: ჯონ მალხაზ დავით შალიკაშვილი , IPA: [ʃalikʼaʃvili]; June 27, 1936 – July 23, 2011) was a United States Army General who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander from 1993 to 1997. He was born in Warsaw, Poland to Georgian parents.

Shalikashvili was the first foreign-born soldier to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served in every level of unit command from platoon to division.[1] Shalikashvili died of a stroke in 2011.[2]

Early life and family

John Shalikashvili was a scion of the medieval Georgian noble house of Shalikashvili. His father, Prince Dimitri Shalikashvili (1896–1978), born in Gurjaani[3] served in the army of Imperial Russia; Dimitri was a grandson of Russian general Dmitry Staroselsky. John Shalikashvili's mother was countess Maria Rüdiger-Beliaev.

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,[4] and the daughter of Count Rudiger-Bielajew, 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, he 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.[5] The unit was later incorporated into the SS-Waffengruppe Georgien[6] 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.[7] It was in Pappenheim in the closing days of World War II that John first laid eyes on American soldiers.[8] His family stayed with relatives there in Pappenheim for eight years.

In 1952, when John was 16, the family emigrated to 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 John arrived in Peoria he spoke little English. He has recalled it this way:

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 is a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He later received a master's degree in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

General Shalikashvili greets President Clinton.

In May 1958, Shalikashvili and his family became American citizens. It was the first citizenship he ever held. He had previously been classified as "stateless", since he had been born to parents who had been refugees.

Army career

Secretary of Defense William Cohen (left) and Gen. John M. Shalikashvili (right) at Pentagon briefing on July 31, 1997.

After graduation he had planned to work for Hyster Lift Truck, but received a draft notice in July 1958. He entered the Army as a private, enjoyed it, and applied to 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 Vietnam 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 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, he became executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery at Fort Lewis, Washington. Later in 1975, he commanded 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.[9]

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.[10] 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 Clinton, effective October 25. He retired from the Army in September 1997, after serving for 38 years.

Post-military career and death

Gen. John M. Shalikashvili at his farewell ceremony on September 30, 1997.

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,[11] and the National Bureau of Asian Research.

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

Shalikashvili suffered a severe stroke on August 7, 2004.[12]

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.[13]

In 2007, Shalikashvili penned an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a reversal of Don't ask, don't tell.[14] A similar op-ed by him appeared in the June 19, 2009, issue of Washington Post.[15] 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.[16] He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.[17]

Awards and decorations

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with 3 oak leaf clusters)
Distinguished Service Medal, Army
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (with 2 oak leaf clusters)
Bronze Star (with Valor device)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 oak leaf clusters)
Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with bronze service star)
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Silver star
Vietnam Service Medal (with silver service star)
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon (with award numeral 5)
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Inter-American Defense Board Medal
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
Vietnam Gallantry Cross (with two silver stars (Division citation) and one bronze star (Regiment citation))
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland [18]
Meritorious Service Cross (Canada) [19]
Bund Naturschutz Medal (Germany) [20]
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge (United States)
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
GeneralStaffID.gif Army Staff Identification Badge
9th Infantry Division patch.svg 9th Infantry Division (mechanized) Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

In 1996, he was the first recipient of the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.[21]



  1. Luttwak, " Why Clinton Called Upon Shalikashvili", Sacramento Bee, August 22, 1993.
  2. Dewan, Shaila. Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Military Chief in 1990s, Dies at 75 New York Times July 23, 2011.
  3. "Shalikashvili seeks to have Nazi dad reburied in Georgia" The Seattle Times.
  4. [1]
  5. [2][3]
  6. "General's Father Fought for Nazi Unit", New York Times.
  7. Shalikashvili, Dimitri. Memoirs. Hoover Institution. 
  8. Marble, Andrew. "A Biography Project on Gen. John Shalikashvili". Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  9. MARBLE, ANDREW (January 2012) How Are Great Leaders Made? Lessons from the Career of General John Shalikashvili. In Joint Force Quarterly, 64, p138.
  10. GOLDSTEIN, LYLE J. (Spring 2000) General John Shalikashvili and the Civil-Military Relations of Peacekeeping. In Armed Forces & Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, p387.
  12. "Former Head Of Chiefs Of Staff Is Ill". The New York Times. August 10, 2004. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  13. "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. 
  14. Shalikashvili, John M. (January 2, 2007). "Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  15. Shalikashvili, John M. (June 19, 2009). "Data Must Rule the Debate on Gays in the Military". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  16. CNN Wire Staff (July 23, 2011). "John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dies". CNN. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  17. John Shalikashvili at Find a Grave
  18. Monitor Polski 1997 nr 83 poz. 814
  21. USNWC official website

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. John Galvin
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Succeeded by
Gen. George Joulwan
Preceded by
Adm. David E. Jeremiah (acting Chairman)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Gen. Hugh Shelton

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).