News: Outgoing Third Army DCG takes pride in mission
Story by Cpl. Jordan Johnson
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – A little more than 34 years ago, Laconia, N.H., native Peter Vangjel fulfilled the requirements for the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of New Hampshire.
Upon completion, Vangjel was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Field Artillery. Present day, Vangjel is a major general in the Army. He is in the midst of moving to Washington to assume the title of special assistant to the vice chief of staff of the Army after a successful two-year assignment as Third Army/ARCENT’s deputy commanding general. Vangjel will carry a number of accomplishments with him when he goes.
“There are really three things, as we take a look at Third Army’s operations, that have been significant to me,” said Vangjel, a husband and father of three. “The first one was bringing Iraq from 135,000 people to 50,000 people in 2009-10.
"Coincidentally, in Dec. of 2009, we get the mission to push 30,000 people, about 5,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and a number of other pieces of equipment into Afghanistan to support the surge.
"Item number three is what we’ve done with air and missile defense in the Gulf. We’ve brought more Patriot batteries in and tried to set up a protective umbrella for all our forces, assets and some of our partner nations’ assets as well.”
Not only is Vangjel happy with tasks Third Army/ARCENT was able to accomplish during his tenure as DCG, but also optimistic he helped prepare future missions in the area of responsibility.
“If you look more long-term, what we’ve really done here is set the stage and standard for what an Army service component command headquarters will look like in the future,” Vangjel stated.
Throughout his tenure as DCG, Vangjel has overseen billions of dollars worth of equipment and vehicles. In an effort to save taxpayer dollars, Vangjel has implemented ways to also save billions.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is putting into operation Lean Six Sigma,” he said. “Under the LSS rubric, we’re designing ourselves to become more efficient, but effective, at the same time. The amount of money we’ve saved in the two years we’ve implemented LSS is significant. Last year, we saved $4.6 billion. This year, we’re on a glide path to save $5 billion.”
The hard work, dedication and sleepless nights put in by Vangjel have not gone unnoticed. He has earned multiple awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. Vangjel hopes all the teamwork meant as much to everyone else as it did to him.
“I’ve always said at the end of the day, I hope those folks were as proud to work with me as I was to work with them,” stated Vangjel. “You really have to look at it like it’s more of a comradeship than it was a leader-to-led or anything like that.”
Even after his redeployment back to Washington, Vangjel will keep Third Army/ARCENT in the forefront of his mind.
“One thing’s for sure; I’m going to try to create some visibility for everybody out there so people can understand the good work Third Army/ARCENT has done.”
When it comes to good work, Vangjel certainly established himself as a leader amongst other Army leaders.
“Maj. Gen. Vangjel was a visionary within Third Army/ARCENT,” said Col. Robert Horneck, Third Army/ARCENT Support Element Afghanistan Chief of Staff. “He understood what it took to ensure we are equipped, trained and manned.”
Despite holding a major position, Vangjel is a part of a bigger machine. His job title does offer him the chance to be a great influencer, but he is still a part of a driving force, he said.
“As I look at myself, I realize I am part of a larger team,” Vangjel stated. “You can always do a little bit more to make yourself a little bit better. By doing so, you are making the organization better as well.”