Distinguished Trustee, Senior Sponsor, and Consummate Soldier: MITRE Remembers General Montgomery Meigs

July 13, 2021

Retired Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, a MITRE trustee who served twice from 2003-2004 and 2008-2019, died on Tuesday, July 6, in Austin, Texas. He was 76. As a MITRE trustee, Gen. Meigs was a valued member of the National Security and Audit committees. Known as Monty, he was a tenacious trustee, MITRE senior sponsor, and warfighter.

Gen. Meigs had a long and accomplished military career. He served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 2002. Coming from a long line of distinguished military officers, Gen. Meigs devoted his life to preserving and strengthening the tradition of service his forebears handed down. Service was a family tradition. His great-great-great-granduncle, Quartermaster Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs (for whom he was named) was the chief architect of the U.S. Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery. His father, Lt. Col. Montgomery Meigs, was a World War II tank commander.

Gen. Meigs graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1967, and served as a cavalry troop commander in the Vietnam War with the 9th Infantry Division. Over the next 35 years, he helped guide the service as it adjusted to the kind of asymmetrical warfare and insurgencies it faced in Vietnam and Iraq.

Gen. Meigs served as the Combined Arms Center (CAC) at Fort Leavenworth during 1997 and 1998. At that time, the Army was deep in the throes of FORCE XXI, a process that involved multiple complementary and interactive efforts designed to reshape the Army of those times into Army XXI, the digitized force for the 21st century.

As a MITRE senior sponsor, Gen. Meigs was decisively involved in two of the ongoing efforts:

  • Redesigning the Army across all operational echelons from battalions to divisions: This effort, entitled JOINT VENTURE, involved a series of analytical efforts as well as Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs). Gen. Meigs was personally involved in driving the simulation-based analysis to determine the redesigned fighting echelons. He challenged the assumptions, reviewed the data, influenced the scenarios, and participated in the analysis of the results to ensure appropriate conclusions were derived to drive future structural decisions.
  • Integrating Information Age technologies into the force: Working with the Program Executive Officer Command, Control, and Communications–Tactical (PEO-C3T) and the Army Digitization Office, he participated in the development of the comprehensive operational and technical architecture for all Army XXI information systems. He was personally involved in the Division XXI AWE to understand how digitization enables a fighting force at the operational level. MITRE was part of the team that supported the PEO-C3T at the time (along with Col. Steve Boutelle, today a MITRE senior visiting fellow) to enable the experimental systems.

After his role as CAC commander, Gen. Meigs became the commanding general of United States Army Europe and concurrently served as the commander of the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia. In this role, he furthered the digitization of the Army and ground forces by enabling the force in Bosnia/Herzegovina to be outfitted with the then version of the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system, another effort MITRE supported.

Gen. Meigs was a strong proponent of the Army Digital workshop (aka GO Workshop), a course created and taught by MITRE that was formally integrated into the program of training and instruction that every general officer-designee completed prior to assuming the rank. The course focused on educating future generals on the components of the envisioned digital systems, the capabilities of those systems, and how to use those systems to enhance the fighting capability of the force.

Gen. Meigs also drew on the lessons of history. His book Slide Rules and Submarines: American Scientists and Subsurface Warfare in World War II (published on the eve of Operation Desert Storm) examined how the 10th Fleet faced the threat of German U-boats using new technology and tactics derived from scientific methods. He tried to carry that same approach into the improvised explosive device (IED) fight.

Following his retirement, Gen. Meigs was asked in 2006 to serve as the director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). This organization, a follow-on to an Army task force, was created by the Department of Defense (DoD) to address the expanding IED threat in Iraq. The organization was given unfettered access to capabilities across the DoD to identify, develop, and field solutions that would reduce the impact of IEDs, and was enabled with a generous budget to fund any system that displayed potential in the counter-IED fight.

He decisively and aggressively implemented many actions to enhance the force, from convincing the chief of naval operations to authorize explosive ordnance experts from the Navy to supplement ground patrols to providing operations research analysts to each brigade to enable those headquarters to identify and analyze the data that would fully inform the dimensions of the local IED fight. He established a rapid acquisition process to allow new capabilities to be quickly evaluated, procured, and deployed, and he supported the operational assessment of each deployed capability to ensure it was enabling and not encumbering the fighting force. Throughout his tenure as JIEDDO's director, General Meigs remain focused on the impact of the organization's efforts: “What have we done to save lives today?” was a question he routinely asked of his staff.

MITRE’s Steve Kirin served with Meigs at the Army’s Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Kirin also worked with Meigs during his directorship of JIEDDO. “He was dedicated to that from the first day I met him to the last day I was engaged with him,” Kirin says. “Just as we say we’re mission-driven, that man was totally mission-driven. His mission was to make the Army and the Department of Defense the best fighting force it could be.”

“I had the privilege of working with Monty for several years,” says President and CEO Jason Providakes. “He had a rare combination of intellectual rigor and real-world pragmatism that made him one of our country’s most effective military leaders during a time of great change. He was a hands-on sponsor when I ran the Army program, and he pushed us to do more faster for mission impact. He brought that same clear-eyed vision to MITRE’s board—and this company is the better for it. The world has lost a great man.”

by Russell Woolard

Note: Follow the link below for more information about Gen. Meigs and his distinguished career.



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