It was more than 30 years ago that U.S. Army Major General William Harmon, an alumnus of Arkansas Tech University, visited his alma mater and received a campus escort from a U.S. Army ROTC cadet and ATU student named Gary Johnston.
The roles were reversed on Saturday, May 11. Harmon was in the role of providing escort as Johnston walked to the podium in Tucker Coliseum in Russellville and was inducted into the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction.
“I lived my first 22, 23 years here, so I feel like it is part of me,” said Johnston while reflecting on returning to his hometown and alma mater. “It takes a support network and relationships to be successful in anything you do…or just to survive in life. Thank you to all the friends and family for everything you have done and continue to do for me.”
Johnston received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from ATU in 1987. He completed the U.S. Army ROTC program at ATU and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.
Johnston has served as Director of Intelligence, J-2, U.S. Special Operations Command; Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy J-2, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (ISAF-IJC), Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. His joint and combined assignments include Commander, Task Force 165 in support of Combined/Joint Task Force 76 in Bagram, Afghanistan; Commander, Combined Task Force Viper, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan; Deputy Director of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Central, U.S. Central Command; Chief, WMD Analysis Branch, Joint Intelligence Center Central; and Executive Officer, Directorate of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Pacific. He most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Resolute Support Mission, North Atlantic Treaty Organization/Director, J-2, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, from April 2017 until April 2018.
As of June 2018, Johnston is the commander for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). He has oversight of 17,500 soldiers, Army civilians and contractors working on behalf of the United States at 180 locations in 45 countries.
Under Johnston’s leadership, INSCOM executes mission command of operational intelligence and security forces, conducts and synchronizes worldwide multi-discipline and all-source intelligence and security operations, delivers linguist support and intelligence-related advanced skills training, acquisition support, logistics, communications and other specialized capabilities in support of Army, Joint and Coalition commands and the U.S. Intelligence Community.
In 2015, Johnston became the seventh graduate of the ATU U.S. Army ROTC program to attain the rank of General officer in the U.S. Army. He was promoted to his current rank of Major General two years later.
Johnston was among 12 individuals in the inaugural class of the ATU ROTC Hall of Honor during Homecoming 2017.
“Arkansas Tech played a huge role in shaping me and set the right foundation for life,” said Johnston. “Character, commitment, courage, candor and competence…if you’ve got those and spend your time working on those, you can’t go wrong.”