Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US defence attaché Gillette promoted to General and transferred to China

US defence attaché Gillette promoted to General and transferred to China

Brigadier General Mark Gillette with some of his Cambodian and American military associates
Brigadier General Mark Gillette with some of his Cambodian and American military associates. Photo Courtesy US Embassy

US defence attaché Gillette promoted to General and transferred to China

Whenever there was a reception around Phnom Penh for military officers, at Raffles or Sofitel, for national days or anniversaries, US defence attaché Colonel Mark Gillette was often seen in his US Army uniform, meeting with the other officers and diplomats.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1983, Gillette had served a 30-year career around the world and had been preparing for retirement. When we met for coffee in 2012 and I asked him what he was going to do when he retired from the US Army the following year (this year) and he said he’d probably stay around Cambodia until his daughter finished school and maybe look for a job.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when Gillette was selected out of a list of hundreds of other officers around the world, promoted from full-bird Colonel to Brigadier General and given one of the world’s most important army jobs,that of US defence attaché in Beijing.

Probably as surprised as anyone on the news of his selection, Gillette was promoted to Brigadier General in a ceremony at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on March 15 by US Ambassador William Todd.

Gillette is one of only two career Foreign Area Officers with a specialisation in China to achieve the rank of Brigadier General in the history of the US Army, Ambassador Todd told the audience.

During his years in the US Army, Gillette became an aviator and served assignments with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, the 24th Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He also served as executive officer to the Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington.

Following Gillette’s transition to a China Foreign Area Officer, he served as Assistant Army Attaché and Army Attaché in the Philippines; for the Defense and Army Attaché in Haiti, and later for Defense and Army Attaché and Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, as well as Army Attaché in Beijing, China.

Gillette arrived in Phnom Penh in September, 2009, to take up his role as US Defense Attaché.

According to reports, Gillette served with distinction during a dangerous period in Haiti, coming to the assistance of local and American staff. Gillette is also reported to have coordinated humanitarian aid during flooding in Chengdu, China, as well as helping develop peacekeeping capabilities in Mongolia and disaster management programs in Cambodia.

General Gillette is known to be a personal friend of fellow West Point graduate General Hun Manet, the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Cambodia and the United States are indeed good friends, in an association built on mutual respect reflected, perhaps most profoundly, in the many person-to-person ties established by Brigadier General Gillette,” Ambassador Todd said.

Gillette and his wife Ingrid, who have two children, departed Phnom Penh for Beijing on Sunday.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially