Born in Rockaway, New Jersey, Odierno graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1976 with a field artillery commission. He served in a variety of functions in the Army and Defense Ministry with several trips abroad including Iraq, Germany, Albania and Kuwait. As a three-star general, he was assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a job that made him the chief military advisor to the Secretary of State.
Odierno served as the US Supreme Commander in Baghdad from 2008 to 2010 on three tours of Iraq limited to two years. He was replaced in this post by General Lloyd Austin, who is now Secretary of Defense. Odierno was Commander of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq from 2006 to 2008.
When Odierno retired in 2015, he was replaced as Army Chief of Staff by General Mark Milley, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
At a ceremony marking his retirement from the Army, then Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter described him as a commanding officer whose tenacity and operational skill gave civilian leaders great confidence.
“His authoritative presence calmed the confused, and his courage and compassion helped bear the burden of loss and sacrifice,” Carter said.
Soldiers from his 4th Infantry were involved in the capture of the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December 2003. That success gave hope to quell an emerging insurrection, but in 2004 the insurgency gained momentum and resulted in the deadly rise of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Three months ago North Carolina State University announced that Odierno had joined its board of trustees. During his military career, he earned a Master of Science degree in nuclear effects technology from the State of North Carolina. He was president of Odierno Associates, a consulting firm in Pinehurst, North Carolina.