Bemidji State University Alumni Nominated to Head U.S. Africa Command
The Wall Street Journal recently reported Pres. Obama’s intention to nominate Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps, to head U.S. Africa Command. Waldhauser is a 1976 Bemidji State University psychology graduate and former Beaver Hockey player.
U.S. Africa Command is one of six unified geographic combatant commands within the Department of Defense unified command structure. It is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for military relations with African nations, the African Union and African regional security organizations. U.S. Africa Command includes Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa; Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines operations in Africa; and U.S. Special Operations Command Africa. U.S. Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez has been in command of U.S. Africa Command since April 2013.
Waldhauser, a South St. Paul, Minn. native, is currently Director for Joint Force Development, J-7, with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. The J-7 is responsible for the six functions of joint force development: doctrine, education, concept development and experimentation, training, exercises and lessons learned. The J7 supports the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the joint warfighter to improve operational effectiveness of the current and future joint force.
According to officials quoted in the Journal, Waldhauser’s nomination could come “within weeks.” The nomination would require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, the Journal reports that Waldhauser would be the only Marine officer in one of the U.S. military’s top combatant command posts.
Waldhauser was the 2013 recipient of Bemidji State’s Distinguished Minnesotan award, which acknowledges the contributions of current or former residents of the state who have performed exemplary service to the people of Minnesota or the United States.
As that year’s Distinguished Minnesotan, Waldhauser delivered the commencement address at BSU’s 94th Commencement ceremony in May 2013.
BSU President Dr. Richard A. Hanson said the university’s students were fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from Waldhauser at commencement.
“Tom is the epitome of a distinguished Minnesotan,” said BSU President Dr. Richard A. Hanson. “His service to our nation and to Minnesota as one of the highest ranking officers in the military is remarkable and commendable.”
After his freshman and junior years at BSU, Waldhauser participated in the Platoon Leaders Class, where college students train for two summers at the Marines’ Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va. Program participants, under no obligation to join the military, are offered a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps when they complete the class. The physically intensive experience, coupled with the emphasis on leadership and responsibility, struck a chord with him. After completing the program, he signed on for a three-year commitment.
“To be truthful, I really didn’t have any intention of staying beyond that initial three-year requirement, but I had some very positive experiences as a young lieutenant,” he recalls. “I had the opportunity to work for some very inspiring leaders. Being around very engaging young Marines was something that was a good fit for me.”
Waldhauser was a four-year letter winner for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team. He scored 26 points in 95 games played and was a member of BSU’s 1973 NAIA national championship squad.
“Looking back, I had a very wonderful college experience,” he says. “Coach Bob Peters is the main reason I ended up going to BSU. The ability to watch him as a leader and a coach – how he organized, how he motivated – was very beneficial.”