Lieutenant General Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter, US Army (Ret)

Commissioned as a Regular Army officer in 1955, at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia, Mr. Kicklighter is a longtime public servant who has been recognized for devoting more than 50 years of combined military and public service to his country. 

Mr. Kicklighter served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War, first with the 1st Logistics Command and then with the 101st Airborne Airmobile Division.

Mr. Kicklighter went on to serve as the commander of the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, 1972-1973; Director for support for Vietnam and Cambodia, J 4 Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1974-1975; Army Representative on a Defense Assessment team Iran, 1975-1976;  Commander, Division Artillery and Assistant Division Commander, 24th Infantry Division,1976-1979; Assistant Chief of Staff, Logistics, Allied Forces Central Europe, The Netherlands, 1979-1981; Commander of the Army Security Assistance Command and Chief of Staff of the US Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command, Alexandria, Virginia, 1981-1984; Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii 1984-1986.

Mr. Kicklighter served as Director of the Army Staff from 1987-1989. His last assignment before retiring from active duty was Commanding General, US Army Western Command and then Commanding General, US Army Pacific, 1989-1991. His rank at retirement was Lieutenant General.

After retiring from the US Army, Mr. Kicklighter was selected to lead our nation’s effort to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of World War Two, 1991-1995. He then became the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for International Affairs, 1995-1998.

Mr. Kicklighter was then appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Department of Veterans Affairs, which became the Office of Policy, Planning and Preparedness after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and he then served as Chief of Staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1999-2005. 

In 2003, Mr. Kicklighter was chosen by the Secretary of Defense as Director of the Department of Defense’s Iraq Transition Team that planned the deactivation of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the establishment of the US Mission Baghdad during ongoing combat operations.

In 2005, he was selected to establish and direct the Iraq/Afghanistan Joint Transition Planning Group, a joint Department of State and Department of Defense team that provided analysis and recommendations for coordinating efforts to address transition challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In April 2007, following Senate confirmation, General Kicklighter was sworn in as the sixth Inspector General of the Department of Defense.

Mr. Kicklighter then served as Director of the Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, Scalia School of Law, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, 2008-2015. During this same period, he served as head of the Department of Defense Office of Commemorations, 2012-2014.

Mr. Kicklighter was very active with Habitat for Humanity International. He chaired the non-profit organization between 1998 and 2001, and served on the board of directors from 1996 to 2001. He served on the Board of Trustees, Mercer University, 2012-2017. During his tenure at Mercer, he co-directed the establishment of the Mercer University Center for Leadership and Ethics. His special passion today is his service on the board of Rescue: Freedom International, which has the mission of rescuing and restoring young women and children who have been sold into sex slavery.  

The recipient of multiple awards for his military service, Mr. Kicklighter notably received a Distinguished Service Medal with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, and a Bronze Star Medal. As a civilian, he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service (Gold Palm), and was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, presented by The President at a ceremony in the White House. He was awarded the Eisenhower Liberation Medal by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council at a ceremony in the US Capitol Rotunda.

Mr. Kicklighter earned a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University and a Master’s degree from the School of Business, George Washington University. 

Mr. Kicklighter is proud to have been made an Honorary member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota in 1984.