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2000 Distinguished Graduate Award

GEN Frederick M. Franks, Jr. '59

As a distinguished military visionary and courageous combat commander, Frederick M. Franks, Jr., has rendered extraordinary service to the Nation, to the United States Army, and to his fellow soldiers. Throughout a military career of more than three decades, Fred Franks has exemplified steadfast devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of the United States Military Academy — Duty, Honor, Country.
Fred Franks graduated from the Military Academy in 1959. After attending Armor Basic, Airborne, and Ranger training, he joined the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany, first leading an armored cavalry platoon and later commanding an armored cavalry troop.
Thereafter, his career assignments alternated between armor commands, where his superb leadership skills and tactical competence would become manifest, and key staff tours, which ultimately would prepare him to address the ways in which changes in technology would affect the warfighting doctrine of the Army of the future.
In 1963, he returned to the United States to attend the Infantry Officers Advanced Course and, afterward, graduate school at Columbia University. There he earned two master’s degrees in preparation for his assignment as an instructor at West Point. Following his tour at West Point, he rejoined the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, now in Vietnam, serving as Operations Officer of the 2nd Squadron.
In a period of intense combat, Fred Franks forged a distinguished record of valor, earning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with V Device, forty-three Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts. While fighting in Cambodia he was severely wounded, and after a series of unsuccessful surgeries, lost the fight to save his left leg, which was amputated below the knee.
Where lesser men might have opted to transfer to a non-combat branch or retire, Fred Franks fought to stay in the Armor. Eventually he won this battle and returned to the line.
The following decade brought him duty with the Army Staff in the Pentagon, command of the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, service in the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, a year at the National War College, high-level positions in the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, and, finally, command of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, now assigned to the East German frontier as the V Corps covering force.
Following promotion to brigadier general, in 1984, his flag-level assignments included Commanding General, Seventh Army Training Command, Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and Director of Operational Plans and Interoperability (J-7), where he effectively integrated, for the first time, all joint staff operational planning, interoperability and warfighting functions within a single directorate of the Joint Staff, resulting in significant increases in the joint warfighting capabilities of our Nation.
In 1988, General Franks again returned to Germany to command the 1st Armored Division, and a year later he assumed command of the VIIth United States Army Corps.
In early November 1990, General Franks was ordered to deploy the Corps to Saudi Arabia to join the international coalition preparing to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait; and on 24 February 1991, the Desert Storm land assault began, with VII Corps making the main attack.
In 100 hours of rapid maneuver and combat, VII Corps fought and won a great battle in the desert sands of southwest Asia. Under General Franks’ brilliant leadership, it engaged and destroyed fourteen Iraqi divisions and anchored the liberation of Kuwait, while losing fewer than 100 soldiers to enemy action. This feat of generalship is unmatched in the annals of modern warfare.
When General Franks returned to the United States after Desert Storm, he received his fourth star and was assigned as Commanding General of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. Under his visionary leadership, the foundations for the Army’s warfighting doctrine were redefined in the landmark revision of FM 100-5, Operations. He also published the United States Army pamphlet 525-5, “Concepts For Future Land Warfare,” which advanced the strategy for building a force-projection army through doctrinal change. Finally, he developed battle laboratories for experimentation methodology that supported digitalization.
Although General Franks retired from active duty in 1994, he continues to contribute. Noteworthy has been his instruction of senior-level commanders in the U.S. Army Battle Command Program and his appointment as Visiting Scholar in the newly formed Center for the Professional Military Ethic at West Point.
The history of organized warfare is replete with examples of great soldiers whose feats were singular in scope. Some were brilliant commanders. Others were military doctrinal visionaries. General Franks is one of those rare soldiers who was both leader and visionary. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2000 Distinguished Graduate Award to Frederick M. Franks, Jr., Class of 1959.

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