OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. , –
U.S. Army Col. Michael Smidt, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) staff judge advocate, retired from active duty military service during a ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, July 7, 2017.
During his 41 years of service Smidt served as a U.S. Army enlisted soldier on both active duty and in the U.S. Army Reserve, before completing his career as a U.S. Army active duty officer.
Smidt began his career as an enlisted airborne infantryman. When his enlistment was over he wanted to go to college but still contribute, so he decided to join the U.S. Army Reserve and pursue a dream many soldiers have.
“A lot of paratroopers want to be an Army Ranger or Special Forces,” Smidt said. “The 12th Special Forces Group had an opening so I was able to join and become a Green Beret, something I’d always wanted to do.”
Smidt served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Green Beret for 10 years while earning his law degree at the same time.
“I completed college and law school while I was a reservist, so I was a lawyer at the city attorney’s office and a reservist weapons sergeant,” Smidt said of his transition to law. “I thought about becoming a lawyer for a very long time. I also thought that becoming a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer would be something that I could do.”
Smidt served various assignments in operational law and military justice, as well as staff judge advocate for the 1st Infantry Division and a professor of international and operational law at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School. He was the chief of operational law for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and staff judge advocate to U.S. Special Operations Command. Smidt eventually became the first U.S. Army officer to serve as USSTRATCOM’S staff judge advocate.
“I feel like I have had the great honor and privilege to serve in two professions as being a lawyer and being a soldier,” Smidt said.
U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM, presided over the retirement ceremony and reflected on Smidt’s years of service. During his remarks, he noted that Smidt tackled some of the toughest and most controversial issues in the command.
“Your accomplishments are going to be remembered around here for a long time,” Hyten said. “Above all else, he is a man of character. Mike’s success in life and his career are victories that project his character. In doing so, he has been a role model for everyone to follow, and for me to follow as well.”
Lt. Col. Theodore Richard, USSTRATCOM deputy staff judge advocate, also commented on Smidt’s tenure at USSTRATCOM.
“We were truly blessed to have someone as capable and knowledgeable as Col. Smidt with us to help work through unique issues that we do not encounter anywhere else in the military operational world,” Richard said.
Smidt also reflected on his military career and some of the challenges the armed forces face, noting that people often don’t understand or fully appreciate that lives are always at risk.
“But I do, because what you allow me to do is to fly in airplanes and go visit my grandchildren, travel in cars and visit my parents, I can fly the flag wherever I want, and it’s because of the work that people like you do,” Smidt said. “I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, I enjoyed working with each and every one of you.”
One of nine Department of Defense unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electronic warfare, global strike, missile defense, intelligence, and analysis and targeting.