38th Chief of Staff of the Army General Raymond T. Odierno Challenge Coin
The Army expects much from senior leadership, serving both as commanders and mentors to those in uniform and as liaisons with policymakers on Capitol Hill. Amid this it often proves difficult for leaders who are separated by position or rank to maintain the pulse of troops on the ground. Yet, throughout his 36 years of uniformed service this has not been the case with General Raymond T. Odierno, the 38th Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) who does provide leadership throughout the Army, mentors junior commanders, and empathizes with Soldiers serving from their garrison to distant Forward Operating Bases (FOB).  The CSA coin reflects not only GEN Odierno’s service to our Nation, but also the hallowed position of the CSA as the senior uniformed leader for the US Army.
General Raymond T. Odierno
Born in Rockaway, New Jersey GEN Odierno attended the prestigious US Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and entering into Field Artillery as a Second Lieutenant. His first assignments included U.S. Army Europe and later the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He then returned back to U.S. Army Europe where he would deploy in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM in 1991. Following these commands GEN Odierno then moved to assume command of artillery units in both the 7th Infantry Division, and later 1st Cavalry Division.
Later GEN Odierno assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division (then also located at Fort Hood, Texas) in October 2001 prior to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. In that conflict GEN Odierno lead his 4th ID solders between April 2003 and March 2004 in northern Iraq where his division met fierce resistance in the fabled Sunni “Triangle of Death” between Al Ramadi, Baghdad, and Tikrit. By December 2006 GEN Odierno returned to Iraq for the second time as Commanding General, Multi-National Corps – Iraq (MNC-I); he was known as the “Operational Architect” of the surge which turned the tide of the war in Iraq. By September 2008 GEN Odierno transitioned the MNC-I command to GEN Lloyd Austin, and GEN Odierno assumed command of MNF-I and all US forces in Iraq. Before assuming the CSA position, GEN Odierno served as the commander of the United States Joint Forces Command between October 2010 and August 2011 overseeing the command’s disestablishment. GEN Odierno, assumed duty as the 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army on 7 September 2011.
Role of the Chief of Staff of the Army
As the Department of the Army’s most senior uniformed officer, the CSA serves in a number of roles that demand an overwhelming level of flexibility and patience. Originally established in 1903 as the Army’s “Commanding General,” that office grew as part of the Department of Defense Restoration Act of 1958. The office of the CSA became primarily a statutory one, held by a four-star general, serving as the principle military advisor and deputy to the Secretary of the Army (the Army’s senior civilian leader). While the position of the CSA has no operational command authority over units, the CSA does exercise supervision of all elements within the Department of the Army to include the designation of army personnel and resources to support and meet the mission requirements of the Commanders of Combatant Commands. Accordingly, the CSA works closely with his senior enlisted advisor, Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III particularly on Soldier and Army family issues.
The CSA is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representing the Department of the Army in political and security affairs, and advises the Secretary of Defense and the President. CSA responsibilities include assisting the Secretary of the Army in external functions, promotion and implementation of Army policies, planning, and force projections. The CSA travels extensively throughout the world for much of the year, visiting Soldiers, Civilians and Army families to ensure all the critical responsibilities of his position are being addressed and his and the Secretary’s vision of the Army is understood.
Since the early 1990s, U.S. Army Chiefs of Staff have used challenge coins to recognize exceptional service, achievement, or for unique contributions toward the accomplishment of the Army’s mission. When General Raymond T. Odierno assumed office on 7 September 2011, for a brief period he continued to use a coin in the shape of a soldier’s identification tag, as had his two predecessors, General Martin E. Dempsey and General George W. Casey. However, soon after becoming Chief of Staff, he approved a new five-sided design to reflect the outline of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, and other military services and agencies.
The front of the coin is based on the flag of the Chief of Staff of the Army. According to the Institute of Heraldry:
“The flag was approved on 6 July 1917. The background is divided diagonally from upper fly to lower hoist, in scarlet and white, with scarlet uppermost. The insignia of the General Staff, a five-pointed white star, surmounted by the Coat of Arms of the United States in proper colors, is centered on the flag. Four five-pointed stars are horizontally centered on the flag, two on each side of the insignia. The two stars on the scarlet area are white and the two on the white are scarlet. The fringe is yellow.” 
The border is in black and gold, the traditional Army colors. The text reads in gold lettering: “38th Chief of Staff of the Army” and “General Raymond T. Odierno.”
The back contains a message often stressed by General Odierno:
The Strength of our Nation is our Army.
The Strength of our Army is our Soldiers.
The Strength of our Soldiers is our Families.
This is what makes us
The Reverse’s border is also in black and gold. The text reads in gold: “America’s Army” and “Army Strong”. Then-Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan began using the phrase, “America’s Army,” in about 1993. The Army first adopted “Army Strong” as a recruiting slogan in 2006.
1. The United States Army. Chief of Staff: Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. January 1, 2013. http://www.army.mil/leaders/csa/ (accessed January 23, 2013).
2. Headquarters and Protocol: Pentagon. Positional Colors for Military Officials Headquarters Department of the Army. US Pentagon. January 1, 2013. http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/UniformedServices/Flags/Pos_Colors_Military.aspx (accessed January 13, 2013).
3. The United States Army. Chief of Staff: Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. January 1, 2013. http://www.army.mil/leaders/csa/ (accessed January 23, 2013).
Contributions provided by Dr. McNaughton, Official Historian for Chief of Staff, and LTC Kathy Turner, Public Affairs Officer for the Chief of Staff of the Army.