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Retirement ceremony set for Gen. Thurman

Nov. 19, 2013 - 05:05PM   |  
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The retirement ceremony for Gen. James D. Thurman, the former commander of U.S. Forces-Korea, will be Nov. 22, the Army announced today.

III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, will host the formal military retirement ceremony.

Thurman, who commanded in Korea from July 2011 through September, oversaw a force of 28,500 that serves as a deterrent to North Korea. He had been floated last year as a possible candidate to replace Army vice chief Gen. Lloyd Austin.

When then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates named Thurman to the post, he praised the general for “the right mix of military acumen, strategic vision and diplomatic and interagency skills.”

In Korea, Thurman’s tenure overlapped with the succession of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Thurman prepared U.S. forces in the wake of North Korea’s test of a long-range rocket in December 2012, and other provocations.

Early on, Thurman reportedly had to deal with a string of high-profile crimes that led him to reinstate a curfew that remains in effect. Ensuing problems have drawn calls for better oversight of troops and reform of the Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries.

As chief of U.S. Army Forces Command in 2010 and 2011, the Army’s largest organization, Thurman was responsible for the oversight, manning, training, and equipping of 237,000 active-component soldiers and the training and readiness oversight of 560,000 soldiers of the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.

As deputy chief of staff for operations (G-3/5/7), Thurman replaced the Army’s Cold War marksmanship strategy with one that had basic trainees shooting more rounds, fixing jams and changing magazines.

“As a former division commander, I don’t think you can shoot enough,” Thurman told Army Times at the time. “You’ve got to challenge soldiers in this environment today with different techniques of how you do marksmanship from basic marksmanship to all marksmanship levels.”

Thurman, 65, is a native of Marietta, Okla. He earned his commission through ROTC at East Central Oklahoma University in 1975.

Thurman has commanded at every echelon through an Army corps.

In addition to commanding 4th Infantry Division and the Multinational Division Baghdad in Iraq, his other combat assignments were: battalion executive officer in the 1st Cavalry Division during Desert Shield/Storm from 1990-91; chief of the Plans and Policy Division for Allied Forces Southern Europe in Kosovo from 1999-2000; and chief of Operations (G-3) for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command from 2002-03.

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