What started from a desire for wheels turned into a 35-year career with the U.S. Army Reserve for Isaac Johnson.
A two-star major general with the U.S. Army Reserve, Johnson is the commander of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the Army Reserve’s third largest command with 13,000 soldiers.
“What started as money to buy a car turned into a deep love of the military profession of arms, a deep love of those veterans who’ve come before me, and deep love of country,” says Johnson, who’s president/CEO at $4.7 billion asset TDECU in Houston when he’s not commanding reserve troops.
Johnson went to basic training in 1986 and was part of the ROTC while in college at Mississippi State University, where he studied banking and finance. When he graduated in 1992, he could have gone on active duty, but he enjoyed banking and finance, so he opted to be commissioned into the U.S. Army Reserve and the Finance Corps.
After graduating from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in 2007, he became a Civil Affairs officer working in the Army Civil Affairs branch responsible for assisting commanders during deployments works with host nations governments and their populations. He has successfully commanded Army units at every level, from company, battalion, and brigade to general officer level commands. Now as the Army’s senior Civil Affairs general, he is responsible for recruiting, training, and deploying civil affairs operations capabilities, psychological operations capabilities, and theater information operations capabilities to support several types of missions worldwide.
Throughout his career, Johnson has deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Haiti, Djibouti, and South Korea. His highest military awards are the Defense Meritorious Service, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Defense Superior Service medals.
During his service, Johnson has learned the importance of maintaining a “learner’s mentality” to ensure readiness for the next step—either planned or unexpected—and the need for planning, and discipline of execution. He’s learned the worth of living by a set of values and the importance of believing in something bigger than himself.
“I have a relationship with the military, and that relationship started off very transactional at the beginning: money to buy a car. That was the hook. Later, my Army Reserve service supplemented my household income, and at some point it became a duty to country,” Johnson says. “Now that relationship is something bigger than myself.
“And now, I think it’s more like the relationship is giving back to the military,” he continues. “I am honored to pass on 35 years of bumping my head and hitting my knee and some success in balancing a civilian and Army Reserve career to grow our nation’s next set of citizen-soldier warriors.”