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1st Theater Sustainment Command

News Stories

1st TSC Civilian Signs Off After More Than Four Decades of Service

By Brent Thacker | 1st Theater Sustainment Command | August 21, 2018


The summer of 1973. Bellbottoms and tie-dye’s are all the rage. President Richard Nixon is currently dealing with the Watergate scandal. A young University of Kentucky college student steps off the bus at Fort Knox, ready for Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) summer camp. His hair is a regulation buzz cut and over his eyes are Buddy Holly framed glasses. This naïve farm boy, who grew up arrowhead hunting on nearby plowed farm fields, has no idea how his life will transpire.

 Forty-five years and 10,000 comic books later, Gary Chandler, retired Army lieutenant colonel prepares to return to civilian life. Chandler, senior intelligence analyst, 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) will retire on August 21 at the Patton Museum, Abrams Auditorium.

 He has seen many world-changing events, both on the front lines and in rooms designed for secrets.

 After receiving his commission from President Jimmy Carter in 1976, Chandler received orders to Germany.

“My first post as a 22-year-old second lieutenant was West Berlin, miles from communist East Germany, still an occupied city, stemming from the end of World War II,” Chandler said.

 During his time there, Chandler was an infantry platoon leader, anti-tank platoon leader.

 In 1979, Chandler left Germany for Fort Benning, Ga. Now a first lieutenant, he attended Infantry Officer Advanced and Pathfinder school after which he was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., assigned to the 2nd Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division as the S-4 supply officer. These two schools would send him on a path that collided with a future American invasion.

 He deployed with the 82nd Airborne to participate in a major U.S. operation known as Urgent Fury.

 October 1983, U.S.-led military forces, ordered by President Ronald Reagan, invaded a Caribbean island nation, Grenada. Cpt. Chandler was there as a requested augmented Soldier, working as an operations staff officer.

“I was on the ground when the combat phase of the operation was just ending and witnessed the evacuation of the Russian Embassy staff and the infusion of additional occupation forces,” Chandler said. “I spent about two weeks on the ground in Grenada working in 3rd Brigade.”

After Grenada in 1983, Chandler received a secondary military occupational specialty (MOS), becoming a foreign affairs officer. His transition to this MOS was to work as a psychological operations officer and work on a master’s degree in political science.

”I received my {political science} degree in 1986, hired by Campbell University at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as an adjunct professor in 1988,” Chandler said. “From that time, with the exception of my deployment to Afghanistan in 2014, I taught continually until 2016, just prior to my deployment to Kuwait.”

In the latter part of 1986, three years before President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama to remove the military dictator, Manuel Noriega, Chandler worked for the United States Southern Command. His work in psychological operations laid the groundwork for that invasion.

 In 1987, Chandler went off active duty and joined the Army Reserves.

 Three years later, the summer of 1990, the United States and the rest of the world witnessed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Iraqi forces of a small Middle Eastern country called Kuwait. The United States lead a 35-nation coalition force to unleash a destructive force not seen since World War II upon the neighboring invaders, official ending the war in six months. Maj. Chandler returned to active duty for 60 days, going back to USASOC in January 1991.

”The first day I reported to United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) G2, I received orders bringing me back on active duty to serve as a Psychological Operations Instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center & School on Fort Bragg,” Chandler said.

 Chandler reflected on the Gulf War, and compared it against Vietnam, Grenada, and Panama.

“Desert Storm was a seminal moment for the U.S. Army,” Chandler said. “The deployment and combat finalized the end of ‘Vietnam Syndrome,’ which we suffered through since the end of the Vietnam Conflict. While Grenada in November 1983, and Panama 1989, were important in bringing the United State military back to a functional state, Desert Storm was the demonstration that we were back as a force in the international stage.”

Following the Gulf War, the United States, specifically the United States Pacific Command intelligence community focused on what direction they should go following the fall of the Soviet Union. In 1995, Lt. Col. Chandler, an Intel analyst, serving under President Bill Clinton, said he looked at both the vestiges of the old Cold War militaries, and the new (at least to the US) threat of terrorism, which special operations had been focusing on more and more.

 September 11, 2001, the United States experienced a four-pronged terrorist attack, resulting in the longest running war to-date in American history. Chandler now serving under President George W. Bush, was the only intelligence analyst working at USASOC that day. That day and for the next two weeks, Chandler and his team were in a frenzied scramble to process what had happened.

“We were very busy attempting to catch up and get up to speed on this new threat called ‘al-Qaeda,’ Chandler said. “The biggest adjustment was recognizing new tactics and techniques by the bad guys, and learning to look at a new threat to the United States, not just the world at large.”

In 2013, Chandler retired from the reserves at the age of 60, ending his military career under President Barack Obama. In May of the same year, he accepted a position as a senior intelligence analyst for the 1st TSC G2, Fort Bragg, N.C. No longer a naïve country boy, this highly decorated officer and department of the Army civilian worked for five more years as a general schedule civil service employee. During his time with the 1st TSC, he deployed to both Afghanistan and Kuwait in 2014 and returned to Kuwait in 2017.

 In 2017, the 1st TSC moved to Fort Bragg to Fort Knox, Ky. Chandler made the move with the unit, returning to his roots. From ROTC to a GS-13, Chandler ends his career spanning seven presidential administrations, where it all began, Fort Knox. This vagabond is now home, and has no plans to stop learning.

 Chandler now sets his sights on learning the past. He again enrolled at the University of Kentucky, studying anthropology. Chandler grew up looking at the Native American cultures who developed and used arrowheads, who they were, from 10,000 BC to the discovery of the new world.

 At the beginning of August, Chandler went on a road trip to New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado to visit the ancient cliff dwellings.

“My pending trip to the Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde areas was a continuation of my desire to study old cultures and our ancient history,” Chandler said.