Thursday, June 17, 1999

Senate backs Shinseki
as Army chief

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Gen. Eric "Ric" Shinseki, a Kauai native and the first Asian-American to reach the rank of four-star general, yesterday won unanimous Senate approval to be the Army's 34th chief of staff.

"This can happen only in the United States," said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, noting that Shinseki was born at a time when Japanese-Americans were designated as enemy aliens.

Before becoming vice chief of staff seven months ago, Shinseki, 56, was commander in chief of the Army in Europe and commander of the Stabilization Force in Bosnia for 14 months, overseeing peacekeeping operations there.

He begins his four-year term as a service chief next week facing one of the Army's biggest challenges -- manpower. The Army is expected to miss this year's recruiting goal of 78,000 soldiers by about 5,000.

It had wanted to have 480,000 soldiers by the end of this year and may fall 2,000 soldiers short of that figure.

The descendant of immigrant grandparents who came from Hiroshima, Japan, in 1888, Shinseki graduated from West Point in 1965 and was wounded twice during two tours in Vietnam.

He holds a master's degree in English from Duke University.

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