Downing, Wayne Allan, GEN

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00GC-Commanding General
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
2001-2002, The White House
Service Years
1962 - 1996



Six Overseas Service Bars

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGM Mike Vining to remember Downing, Wayne Allan, GEN USA(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address

Date of Passing
Jul 18, 2007
Location of Interment
U.S. Military Academy West Point Post Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Office of Secretary of Defense US European Command US SOCOM 25th Infantry Division

Infantry Shoulder Cord US Army Retired (Pre-2007)

 Unofficial Badges 

Ranger Hall Of Fame

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Wayne Allan Downing
(May 10, 1940 ? July 18, 2007) was a retired four-star United States Army general born in Peoria, Illinois. He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1962.

General Downing's West Point ring was severely damaged in an anti-personnel mine explosion while he served in Vietnam. A soldier serving under his command replaced the stone with Chrysocolla, a copper mineral. General Downing wore that very same ring until at least 1995.

Military career

  • Sep 62 - Feb 63 Student, Infantry Officer Basic and Ranger Course
  • Apr 63 - Jun 64 Platoon Leader, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate)
  • Jun 64 - Sep 64 Liaison Officer, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate)
  • Dec 64 - Oct 65 Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vietnam
  • Oct 65 - Apr 66 S-2/S-5 (Intel/Civil Affairs) Officer, 173rd Infantry Brigade, Vietnam
  • Apr 66 - Aug 67 Instructor, Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA
  • Aug 67 - Jan 68 Company Commander, Infantry Training Center, Fort Benning, GA
  • Jan 68 - Sep 68 Student, Infantry Officer Advance Course, Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA
  • Sep 68 - Dec 68 Company Commander, 25th Infantry Division, Vietnam
  • Dec 68 - Sep 69 Battalion S-3 (Operations) Officer, 25th Infantry Division, Vietnam
  • Sep 69 - Oct 69 Brigade S-3 (Operations) Officer, 25th Infantry Division, Vietnam
  • Dec 69 - Jan 72 Graduate Student, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
  • Feb 72 - Jun 72 Student, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA
  • Jun 72 - Feb 75 Senior Operations / Systems Analyst, Office of Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC
  • Mar 75 - Dec 76 Battalion S-3 Officer / Executive Officer, 75th Infantry (Ranger), Fort Stewart, GA
  • Dec 76 - Mar 77 Commander, Task Force (Alaska), 24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA
  • May 77 - Jul 79 Commander, 2nd Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry, Fort Lewis, WA
  • Aug 79 - May 80 Student, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL
  • Jun 80 - Apr 82 Secretary to Joint Staff, European Command, Vaihingen, Germany
  • May 82 - Apr 84 Commander, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army Europe, Germany
  • May 84 - Nov 85 Commander, 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger), Fort Benning, GA
  • Nov 85 - Jun 87 Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC
  • Jun 87 - May 88 Director, Washington Office, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, FL
  • May 88 - Dec 89 Deputy Chief of Staff (Training), U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, VA
  • Dec 89 - Aug 91 Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC
  • Aug 91 - Apr 93 Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC
  • May 93 - Feb 96 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, FL

Post 9/11

In 2001, Downing came out of retirement to coordinate the national campaign "to detect, disrupt and destroy global terrorist organizations and those who support them."[2]. He held the title of National Director and Deputy National Security Adviser for combating terrorism. He reported to then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security director Tom Ridge. From 2003 until his death he held the Distinguished Chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Downing was formerly a director of Metal Storm and a senior executive with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). He also performed various speaking engagements.

Besides working for the US government in his retiree years, he also worked for NBC News as a military analyst.

His awards and decorations include two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, two Silver Stars, four Legions of Merit, the Soldier's Medal, seven Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal, and four Army Commendation Medals. General Downing also earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Tab and the Pathfinder Badge.

In 2006 he received the United States Military Academy's 2006 Distinguished Graduate Award.

General Downing died on July 18, 2007, of meningitis.

General Downing was buried in the West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York on September 27, 2007. His grave is just north of the main cemetery building.

On September 24, 2008, the The Metropolitan Authority of Peoria voted unanimously to change the name of The Greater Peoria Regional Airport to the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

Other Comments:
"General Wayne A. Downing, U.S. Army (Retired) is a highly decorated combat veteran who retired after a 34-year career in the U.S. Army. While on active duty he served in a variety of command assignments in infantry, armored, special operations, and joint units, culminating in his appointment as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He commanded the special operations of all services during the 1989 invasion of Panama and commanded a joint special operations task force operating deep behind the Iraqi lines during Operation DESERT STORM. Following retirement, General Downing was appointed by the President to assess the 1996 terrorist attack on the U.S. base at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and to make recommendations on how to protect Americans and U.S. facilities worldwide from terrorist attack. From 1999-2000, General Downing served as member of the congressionally mandated National Commission on Terrorism (the Bremer Commission) charged with examining the terrorist threat to the US, evaluating America's laws, policies, and practices for preventing and punishing terrorism directed at US citizens, and recommending corrective actions. Most recently, General Downing served in the White House as National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism (Department of Homeland Security). As the President's principal advisor on matters related to combating terrorism, he was responsible for coordinating, developing and executing a strategy that draws on and integrates all elements of national power."
  • On June 27, 2002, the White House announced that General Wayne A. Downing, U.S. Army (Ret.) had resigned his position as Deputy Assistant to the President, National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism:
"Coming out of retirement, General Downing joined the National Security Council staff in October, 2001 with a mandate to organize and staff the NSC's Office of Combating Terrorism and the Office of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Detection Directorate following the attacks of September 11.
"In this position, General Downing coordinated the military, diplomatic, law enforcement, intelligence, financial, and strategic information activities designed to deter, disrupt, and destroy terrorists and those who harbor, protect, or support them. He also worked with the Office of Homeland Security to ensure that our national counterterrorism efforts, domestic and international, are seamless."

Military service

A biographical note states that Downing "retired from active service in the military in 1996 after a distinguished 34-year career in the U.S. Army. He served two combat tours in Vietnam as a junior infantry officer. His career included commands in infantry, armored, airborne, special operation and joint units. He commanded all U.S. special operations forces during the 1989 invasion of Panama and commanded a joint special operations task force during the first Gulf War. General Downing culminated his career as Commander in Chief of the U.S Special Operations Command, where he was responsible for all special operations forces in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force."

Place of birth Peoria, Illinois
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1962-1996
Rank General
Commands held United States Special Operations Command
U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
75th Ranger Regiment
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Gulf War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star (7)
Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (3)
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Other work military analyst, NBC News

This remembrance profile is maintained by Mike R. Vining, SGM USA (Retired).

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Master ParachutistPathfinder BadgeMilitary Freefall Jumpmaster
France - Jump Wings

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1958, US Military Academy (West Point, NY), L
 Unit Assignments
Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne SchoolArmy Ranger School173rd Airborne BrigadeInfantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)Armed Forces Staff College (Staff)Department of Defense (DOD)75th Ranger Regiment
24th Infantry Division2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger RegimentAir Command and Staff College (Staff)United States European Command (USEUCOM)
3rd Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), 1st Armored Division1st Armored Division1st Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC) US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC)
US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
  1958-1962, Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School
  1962-1963, Army Ranger School
  1966-1967, 173rd Airborne Brigade
  1966-1968, Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
  1968-1969, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)
  1969-1972, Armed Forces Staff College (Staff)
  1972-1975, Office of Secretary of Defense (SECDEF)
  1975-1976, 75th Ranger Regiment
  1976-1977, 24th Infantry Division
  1977-1979, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
  1979-1980, Air Command and Staff College (Staff)
  1980-1982, United States European Command (USEUCOM)
  1982-1984, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), 1st Armored Division
  1982-1984, 1st Armored Division
  1984-1985, 75th Ranger Regiment
  1985-1987, 1st Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC)
  1987-1988, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC)
  1988-1989, HQ, US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
  1989-1991, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
  1991-1993, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC)
  1993-1996, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
  2001-2002, The White House
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1965-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1969 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VI Campaign (1968-69)
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
  1990-1991 Gulf War/Defense of Saudi Arabia/Operation Desert Shield
  1990-1991 Gulf War (Iraq)
  1991-1991 Gulf War/Liberation and Defense of Kuwait/Operation Desert Storm
  2003-2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military AcademyTulane UniversityArmed Forces Staff College
  1958-1962, United States Military Academy
  1969-1972, Tulane University
  1972-1972, Armed Forces Staff College
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Feb 01, 1996, Retired
  Oct 10, 2008, GEN Wayne A. Downing, Peoria International Airport, Illinois5
  Jun 25, 2013, General Photos
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