President Obama Welcomes New Joint Chief of Staff Chairman


Uploaded by whitehouse on 30.09.2011

Transcript:
Secretary Panetta: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen: It is indeed a privilege for me to be
able to honor two very special persons and two very special
human beings.
Thank you all for being here to help pay tribute to Admiral Mike
Mullen for his more than four decades of service to our nation
and to help recognize General Marty Dempsey for once again
answering the country's call as he takes on the new leadership
role as chairman.
But first of all, none of us in public service could do these
jobs without the love and support of our families.
I want to extend my deepest thanks to Admiral Mullen's
family -- his wife, Deborah, his two sons, Jack and Michael,
who both followed in their father's footsteps,
attending the Naval Academy and now serve with the fleet.
And I also want to recognize General Dempsey's family --
his wife, Deanie, Marty's three children, Chris, Megan, Caitlin.
They also followed in their father's footsteps and
became soldiers
It is truly inspiring to see the same commitment to serve this
nation passing to a new generation of leaders who will
follow in the footsteps of their fathers.
Throughout my long career in public service,
I've had the distinct honor to serve with a vast array of
immensely talented people and impressive leaders.
But for me, Admiral Mullen will always stand apart in a
special place.
His leadership, his influence, his honest candor,
his straight talk, his compassion and his outspoken
concern for our troops and for their families have set him
apart, and he has set an exceptionally high standard for
the role of chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
He's defined the role of the 21st-century chairman of the
Joint Chiefs: part warrior, part diplomat, part mediator,
spokesman, fighter, leader.
Mike's career is an example of dogged persistence
and hard work.
As Mike tells it, few of his Naval Academy classmates,
the now-famous class of 1968 --
(cheering and applause)
-- I think most of them are here --
(laughter)
-- but most of them would not have predicted that Mike would
last five years in the Navy.
(laughter)
Audience Member: That's right!
Secretary Panetta: Let alone --
(laughter)
-- let alone, rise to the pinnacle of his
military profession.
And yet after serving in the fleet, seeing combat in Vietnam,
Mike was taken by the Navy, and the Navy was taken by Mike.
And thanks in part to great mentors who saw his deep inner
strength, his leadership qualities, he flourished,
rising to command a carrier strike group,
U.S. naval forces in Europe and serving as the 28th Chief of
Naval Operations.
Mike came into the job of chairman in the fall of 2007,
which was not an easy time.
It was a critical time for our military and for our country.
We faced hard fighting, heavy casualties in Iraq as the surge
troops battled a determined insurgency.
Afghanistan was slipping away as the Taliban expanded its
presence throughout the country.
And our military forces, particularly the ground troops,
were under tremendous strain, deployment after deployment
after deployment.
He was determined to preserve the health of our all-volunteer
force even in the face of the unrelenting demand
from these wars.
He saw what the repeated deployments were doing to
America's finest: our young men and women exhausted,
wounded warriors returning home bearing the scars of war and
those bearing unseen scars, forever changed by the horrors
they witnessed.
Mike saw before many others that the war in Afghanistan needed
more attention, more resources and a new approach.
And we owe a great deal to Mike's vision,
his determination, his dedication and his tireless work
as a military diplomat throughout the region.
And I am personally honored by the fact that the operation that
took down bin Laden could not have been done without Mike's
support and without his cooperation.
He also made extraordinary progress on
Asian-Pacific matters.
He worked to prevent a dangerous escalation in the conflict on
the peninsula -- the Korean peninsula,
and helped our allies, Japan and South Korea, forge closer ties.
And perhaps the single issue where Mike's influence was most
decisive was the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
At a moment in time when few thought it was possible,
his courageous testimony and leadership on this issue were
major factors in bringing about this important change.
His courage and his honesty achieved what we --
what will be forever known as a milestone in the history of
equal rights for all.
As Mike tells -- Mike tells it like it is and, frankly,
that's a rare quality in this town.
At a dinner this week I was reminded by Mike that his father
was a Hollywood publicist.
And as I thought about it, I stated that Mike, in many ways,
represented in my mind the culmination of all of the
qualities from "The Wizard of Oz":
a great brain, a great heart and great courage,
and sometimes a little wizardry behind the curtain to
get things done.
So it's time to say a few words as well about his Dorothy,
the remarkable woman who has been by his side since his first
date in 1967 at an Army-Navy game, his wife, Deborah.
Actually, both of them came from showbiz families.
Her mother was a dancer from Australia,
and I know their love of the theater continues today,
and hopefully they'll now have some time to enjoy that.
Deborah, as we all know, has been a steadfast and tireless
advocate for more and better resources to care for our
wounded warriors and their families.
She's been at the forefront of issues confronting military
families: spousal employment, homelessness, survivor benefits,
education, post-traumatic stress.
And no one has done more to bring to light the special
challenges being faced by military children whom,
she would have often noted, labor under a special
kind of fear.
As only a military spouse and a military mom could do,
she was a powerful voice for our families.
Deborah, you are a national treasure,
and the country owes you a profound debt of gratitude.
(applause)
The good thing -- the good thing is that today we will move from
one extraordinarily decent human being to another in the role
of chairman.
Up from the roots of an Irish family from Bayonne, New Jersey,
Marty truly came up from the grass roots.
He knows about people; he knows about hard work;
he knows about sacrifice.
Having worked with Marty over these past few months,
I can say that the President made a truly inspired choice in
picking him to serve as the next chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
He brings a keen intellect, proven leadership,
strategic vision, and most of all,
humanity to that critical post.
And, oh, yes, he tells it like it is as well,
only with an Irish smile.
Marty's strategic vision is the right one for this time of
transition as we craft the joint force that can defeat the wide
range of security threats that we face in the world today and
in the future.
At this time of budget constraints,
he will be a great partner in maintaining the best defense
force in the world.
Marty, I know that both the President and I will greatly
benefit from your advice and counsel.
I'm also delighted that your wife, Deanie,
is joining our team.
She too is a real friend to military families,
an advocate of wounded warriors, and I know that she'll continue
to champion the cause of military families.
As the new Secretary of Defense, I am supremely confident of the
future because we have the strongest military force in our
history and in the history of the world.
And it is strong exactly because we can replace one great warrior
with another.
The men and women in uniform are the greatest asset we have.
They are our greatest strength.
And we celebrate that strength today by honoring these two
great leaders.
It is now my privilege to introduce another great leader
who cares deeply about our men and women in uniform.
Ladies and gentlemen, our Commander-in-Chief,
President of the United States, Barack Obama.
(applause)
The President: Thank you very much.
(applause)
Secretary Panetta, thank you for your introduction and for your
extraordinary leadership.
Members of Congress, Vice President Biden,
members of the Joint Chiefs, service secretaries,
distinguished guests, and men and women of the finest military
in the world.
Most of all, Admiral Mullen, Deborah, Michael,
and I also want to also acknowledge your son Jack,
who's deployed today.
All of you have performed extraordinary service to
our country.
Before I begin, I want to say a few words about some
important news.
Earlier this morning, Anwar al-Awlaki --
a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula --
was killed in Yemen.
(applause)
The death of Awlaki is a major blow to al Qaeda's most active
operational affiliate.
Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al Qaeda
in the Arabian Peninsula.
In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing
efforts to murder innocent Americans.
He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on
Christmas Day in 2009.
He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes
in 2010.
And he repeatedly called on individuals in the United
States and around the globe to kill innocent men,
women and children to advance a murderous agenda.
The death of al-Awlaki marks another significant milestone
in the broader effort to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Furthermore, this success is a tribute to our intelligence
community, and to the efforts of Yemen and its security forces,
who have worked closely with the United States over the course of
several years.
Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for
the deaths of many Yemeni citizens.
His hateful ideology -- and targeting of innocent civilians
-- has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslims,
and people of all faiths.
And he has met his demise because the government and the
people of Yemen have joined the international community in a
common effort against Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a dangerous
-- though weakened -- terrorist organization.
And going forward, we will remain vigilant against any
threats to the United States, or our allies and partners.
But make no mistake: This is further proof that al Qaeda and
its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.
Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners,
we will be determined, we will be deliberate,
we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to
destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans,
and to build a world in which people everywhere can live in
greater peace, prosperity and security.
Now, advancing that security has been the life's work of the man
that we honor today.
But as Mike will admit to you, he got off to
a somewhat shaky start.
He was a young ensign, just 23 years old,
commanding a small tanker, when he collided with a buoy.
(laughter)
As Mike later explained, in his understated way,
when you're on a ship, "colliding with anything
is not a good thing."
(laughter)
I tell this story because Mike has told it himself,
to men and women across our military.
He has always understood that the true measure of our success
is not whether we stumble; it's whether we pick ourselves up and
dust ourselves off and get on with the job.
It's whether -- no matter the storms or shoals that come our
way -- we chart our course, we keep our eye fixed on the
horizon, and take care of those around us --
because we all we rise and fall together.
That's the story of Mike Mullen.
It's the story of America.
And it's the spirit that we celebrate today.
Indeed, if there's a thread that runs through his illustrious
career, it's Mike's sense of stewardship --
the understanding that, as leaders,
our time at the helm is but a moment in the life of our
nation; the humility, which says the institutions and people
entrusted to our care look to us,
yet they do not belong to us; and the sense of responsibility
we have to pass them safer and stronger to those who follow.
Mike, as you look back as your four consequential years as
chairman and your four decades in uniform,
be assured our military is stronger and our nation is
more secure because of the service that you have rendered.
(applause)
Today, we have renewed American leadership in the world.
We've strengthened our alliances, including NATO.
We're leading again in Asia.
And we forged a new treaty with Russia to reduce our
nuclear arsenals.
And every American can be grateful to Admiral Mullen --
as am I -- for his critical role in each of these achievements,
which will enhance our national security for decades to come.
Today, we see the remarkable achievements of our 9/11
generation of service members.
They've given Iraqis a chance to determine their own future.
They've pushed the Taliban out of their Afghan strongholds and
finally put al Qaeda on the path to defeat.
Meanwhile, our forces have responded to sudden crises with
compassion, as in Haiti, and with precision, as in Libya.
And it will be long remembered that our troops met these tests
on Admiral Mullen's watch and under his leadership.
Today, we're moving forward from a position of strength.
Fewer of our sons and daughters are in harm's way,
and more will come home.
Our soldiers can look forward to shorter deployments,
more time with their families, and more time training for
future missions.
Put simply, despite the stresses and strains of a hard decade of
war, the military that Admiral Mullen passes to General Dempsey
today is the best that it has ever been.
And today, thanks to Mike's principled leadership,
our military draws its strength from more members
of our American family.
Soon, women will report for duty on our submarines.
And patriotic service members who are gay and lesbian no
longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country
that they love.
History will record that the tipping point towards this
progress came when the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff went before Congress, and told the nation that it was the
right thing to do.
Mike, your legacy will endure in a military that is stronger,
but also in a nation that is more just.
(applause)
Finally, I would add that in every discussion I've ever had
with Mike, in every recommendation he's ever made,
one thing has always been foremost in his mind --
the lives and well-being of our men and women in uniform.
I've seen it in the quiet moments with our wounded
warriors and our veterans.
I saw it that day in the Situation Room,
as we held our breath for the safe return of our forces who
delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.
I saw it at Dover, as we honored our fallen heroes in their final
journey home.
Mike, you have fulfilled the pledge you made at the beginning
-- to represent our troops with "unwavering dedication."
And so has Deborah, who we thank for her four decades
of extraordinary service, her extraordinary support to our
military families, her kindness, her gentleness,
her grace under pressure.
She is an extraordinary woman, Mike.
And we're both lucky to have married up.
(applause)
Now the mantle of leadership passes to General Marty Dempsey,
one of our nation's most respected and
combat-tested generals.
Marty, after a lifetime of service, I thank you, Deanie,
Chris, Megan and Caitlin for answering the call to
serve once more.
In this sense, today begins to complete the transition to our
new leadership team.
In Secretary Panetta, we have one of our nation's finest
public servants.
In the new Deputy Secretary, Ash Carter,
we will have an experienced leader to carry on the work
of Bill Lynn, who we thank for his outstanding service.
And the new Vice Chairman, Admiral Sandy Winnefeld,
will round out a team where -- for the first time --
both the Chairman and Vice Chairman will have the
experience of leading combat operations in the years
since 9/11.
Leon, Marty, Ash, Sandy, men and women of this department,
both uniformed and civilian -- we still have much to do:
From bringing the rest of our troops home from Iraq this year,
to transitioning to Afghan lead for their own security,
from defeating al Qaeda, to our most solemn of obligations --
taking care of our forces and their families,
when they go to war and when they come home.
None of this will be easy, especially as our nation
makes hard fiscal choices.
But as Commander-in-Chief, let me say it as clearly as I can.
As we go forward we will be guided by the mission we ask of
our troops and the capabilities they need to succeed.
We will maintain our military superiority.
We will never waver in defense of our country,
our citizens or our national security interests.
And the United States of America -- and our Armed Forces --
will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that
the world has ever known.
This is who we are, as Americans.
And this is who we must always be --
as we salute Mike Mullen as an exemplar of this spirit,
we salute him for a life of patriotic service;
as we continue his legacy to keep the country that we love
safe; and as we renew the sources of American strength,
here at home and around the world.
Mike, thank you, from a grateful nation.
(applause)
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Admiral Mullen.
(applause)
Admiral Mullen: Thank you.
(applause)
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Panetta,
General Dempsey, distinguished guests,
including some of my counterparts who --
from around the world that I've worked so hard with, many of --
many of whom have become great friends --
General Makarov from Russia, General Richards from the U.K.,
General [sic] Guillaud from France,
General Bartels from Denmark -- family and friends,
men and women, and families of the United States Armed Forces,
thank you and good morning.
Deb and I are humbled by your presence and delighted by the
chance to share this special day with you.
For us, it doesn't just cap off a four-year stint on the Joint
Staff -- which, as anyone who has ever served on the Joint
Staff will tell you is about three years and six months too
long -- it also marks the culmination of our 43 years
together in the United States Navy.
I walked through gate one at the Naval Academy in the summer of
1964, took a young, pretty California girl to the Army-Navy
game in 1967, famously struggled to graduate a year later,
and then asked that girl to marry me.
She actually had a few objections,
and after hearing them I thought, well,
maybe I wouldn't marry me either.
(laughter)
But once again, I had some luck, and she did.
And Deborah, impossible would it be for me to convey to you the
depth of my love or the full measure of my admiration.
You complete me in ways I have only recently come
to understand.
If I'm wiser, it is for your counsel.
If I'm gentler, it is for your softening.
If I am stronger, it is for your courage.
The father of one of the Navy SEALs killed on that horrible
day last August wrote to me of your tenderness and kindness
when you grieved with him at Dover Air Force Base.
"I do believe," he wrote, "that she is perhaps an angel."
You've always been my angel, always on my shoulder,
and I love you more than you can know.
(applause)
And like that gentleman, I, too, am a proud Navy father --
actually, I'm a proud Navy grandfather now,
and I have the bibs and diapers to prove it.
(laughter)
My sons, Jack and Michael, as has been mentioned,
serve this nation in uniform -- one in naval aviation,
and the other in surface warfare.
No father could be more proud, and I love you, boys.
Thanks for being there for me and your mom,
for enduring the long separations,
for keeping me if not exactly sane,
then at least well-grounded.
You've grown into the best of men and the finest of naval
officers, and I look forward with great eagerness to watching
your careers unfold.
As for my career, I know my mom would be proud and my dad would
have been thrilled.
And I think if you ask any of my classmates down there from the
great class of '68, they'd tell you they've been wholly amazed
by my success.
(laughter, cheers, applause)
Frankly, I don't blame them.
I'm wholly amazed.
(laughter)
I can't tell you the number of nights in the last four years
I've woken up and thought, that's a really important issue;
I should call the chairman.
And then I realize, holy cow, that's me.
(laughter)
But thanks for being here, classmates, all.
I could thank thousands of others here today --
mentors, friends, colleagues and family --
people who had an enormous influence on me and Deborah,
people who make possible every success we've known and made
lighter heavy hardship we've weathered.
I won't do that.
And it's not because I'm losing my memory.
In fact, that football game I took Deborah to in 1967:
Navy, 19; Army, 14.
(cheers)
Sorry, Marty.
No, I won't do it, because any attempt at a proper show of
gratitude would only result in remarks too brief to recognize
their contributions to our lives,
and too long for the audience to endure.
Those closest to us know who they are and what they've
done for us.
They know we love them and that we are indebted to them.
To all of you from both of us, thank you.
And to those of you who aren't the closest to us, well,
maybe you should have stepped it up a notch.
(laughter)
It doesn't hurt to have friends with access to drones.
(laughter)
Now, I've been asked by many people, even some reporters,
what advice I was giving General Dempsey,
what pearls of wisdom I was leaving with him as he prepared
to step into this job.
I've been reticent to reveal any of that, to be honest.
I mean, a big part of the job is discretion.
It's keeping private the counsel you give our nation's
top leaders.
I've always taken that responsibility very seriously,
always considered that a low profile was best --
sort to like my hero George Marshall.
I said as much to David Letterman on his show,
and it's all on my Facebook page if you want to see it.
(laughter)
To be fair, the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs is
often misunderstood and more than a little confusing.
I know because when I tweet, people tweet back and go,
who are you, anyway?
(laughter)
I was at a dinner party a couple of years ago when a woman
approached and asked me what I did in the military.
Not wishing to make a whole thing of it,
I told her I worked in the Pentagon.
She kept pressing for details until I finally just admitted,
not without a little pride, that I'm the Joint Chief's chairman.
"Oh," she said, her eyes suddenly downcast.
"I guess I thought with all those medals and stars you were
somebody important."
(laughter)
"But I am," I stressed.
(laughter)
"I'm the President's top military adviser."
Her face turned ashen, her eyes got big.
Clearly, she was embarrassed.
"Oh my goodness, General Petraeus, I'm so sorry."
(laughter and applause)
"I just didn't recognize you."
(laughter)
Dave is here today now as the director of the CIA.
Thanks, Dave, I owe you one.
But look, if you really want to know what I told Marty,
it's pretty simple.
I told him to remember that he isn't just the President's
adviser, he is the personal representative of the 2.2
million men and women who make up our armed forces and
their families.
I told him he had a bully pulpit in this job and that he should
use it to voice their needs and their concerns and
their accomplishments.
They won't ask him for that help, but they will need it.
They won't ask him for anything more than his leadership,
and sometimes, try as he might, he will believe that he has
fallen far short.
I told him he would never be more proud than when he stood
amongst the ranks of troops from other services and saw that they
shared the same professionalism, the same dogged pride and the
same determination to win that I, as a sailor,
saw in his soldiers.
I told Marty he would love going to sea on one of our ships and
that he should seek out the earliest opportunity to do so,
but that he shouldn't wear one of those ear patches
for seasickness.
(laughter)
They work okay; they just don't look very good.
(laughter)
I told him his fellow chiefs of defense from nations big and
small are really the only other people in the world who have any
idea what sort of pressure he's under.
He will find them sources of immeasurable wisdom and clarity
and support.
Same goes for the chiefs and our combatant commanders, who,
I have to say, are the best team of leaders with whom I have
ever served.
To the degree we are truly a joint force,
it's because of them and their selflessness.
I told him the President will listen to him because that's the
President's way.
He seeks counsel, he appreciates candor --
except for certain delicate matters concerning the
Chicago White Sox.
(laughter)
And he really likes it when you laugh at his jokes,
and it makes the meeting go better.
(laughter)
I've had every opportunity to offer my views to the President.
All of my advice has been heard.
A military man or woman can ask for nothing more of their
civilian leaders, and they should expect nothing less.
President Obama made it clear from the beginning that he
valued military counsel and that protecting the American people
was his top priority.
And he's made good on both promises.
Bin Laden is dead, Awlaki is dead,
al Qaeda is a much-diminished network,
we are ending the war in Iraq, and our troops and their
families have no stronger advocates for their well-being
than he and the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden.
They have, like President and Mrs. Bush before them,
devoted an extraordinary amount of their time and personal
energy to make sure our men and women have the
support they need.
Both in the fight and here at home,
I consider myself privileged to have served them all,
and I appreciate their confidence in me.
Speaking of the fights we're in, I told Marty his biggest
challenge is going to be Afghanistan,
in seeing this critical transition through to its
completion, in making sure the security gains we've made are
not squandered by the scourge of corruption or the lack of good
governance that still plagues the country.
Our strategy is the right one.
We just must keep executing it.
I urge Marty to remember the importance of Pakistan to all of
this, to try and do a better job than I did with that vexing and
yet vital relationship.
I continue to believe that there is no solution in the region
without Pakistan and no stable future in the region without
a partnership.
Not surprisingly, I told Marty that looming budget battles will
dominate his days, that he couldn't have a better or more
accomplished partner in those battles than Secretary Panetta.
And Mr. Secretary, our time together has been short in days
but long on substance.
And I consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity to
serve you and to learn from you as I did under Secretary Gates,
another extraordinary man I consider a good friend and
a mentor.
Thank you for your leadership and for the trust you
placed in me.
It's exceedingly clear to me that you care deeply about our
men and women in uniform and that you will work with might
and main to ensure they and their families remain foremost
in mind as we grapple with the difficult budget
decisions ahead.
And first among those decisions is what kind of military the
American people deserve over the next 20 to 30 years.
And when I look at the effect that a decade of war has had on
us and our people, when I consider the looming threats
posed by Iran and North Korea, when I shudder at the enormity
of the challenges in cyberspace, or ponder the types of military
capabilities China races to the field,
I become more convinced than ever that as a nation,
we can ill afford to lose our edge.
We've become the best counterinsurgency force in the
world, but we've done so at the expense of critical conventional
capabilities we necessarily let lax.
We've become the most expeditionary force in our
history, but in the process sacrificed some of the basics of
garrison leadership and continuity that preserve the
health of the all-volunteer force.
Cuts in defense spending are fair game,
and we should do our part.
But cut too deeply and we will burn the very blanket of
protection we've been charged to provide our fellow citizens.
Cut too deeply now and we will harm, perhaps irreparably,
the industrial base from which we procure the materials of war.
And finally, I told Marty to consider this job a marathon,
not a sprint; that time is both his best friend and his
worst enemy.
I never seem to have enough of it to do the things I wanted,
and it's hard to believe it's over.
But Marty, you're going to be great.
You're absolutely the right person for this job --
a combat-proven leader who cares about all of us.
And with Deanie at your side, the two of you are the right
team for these times.
And Deborah and I wish you all the best.
And if I may, I'd like to also extend personal wishes from
Deborah to our military families.
The words that follow are few, but they are hers,
and I quote: "Nothing can be more trying at times than life
in the military -- the deployments, the stress,
the uncertainty and the fear.
But then, nothing born from ease and comfort can ever foster the
pride and the resilience that military families exude
every day.
It has been my honor, my deep honor,
to be a military spouse and a Navy wife and to know so many
others who would wait and worry and work so hard.
Thank you for your quiet sacrifice and for empowering me
to represent your concerns.
It's been the greatest privilege.
I will miss the life, and I will miss all of you.
Deborah."
For my part, I have only one last thing to say,
and it's to my fellow citizens: The men and women of your armed
forces are the best we've ever known.
They believe in what they are doing.
And all I ask is that you continue to believe in them.
Continue to look for ways to reach out to them and to their
families, to watch over them in what I call this sea of good
will that I know exists in the country.
War has changed them and their loved ones forever,
but it has not changed their dreams,
and you can help make those dreams come true.
Hire them, help them -- help them buy a home,
get them started on a path to an education.
Give them a chance; that's all they want.
And I know it's tough to do because you, too,
are struggling and America is struggling,
and the wars you sent these young men and women to fight
aren't exactly foremost on everyone's minds.
But they fought them for you.
They're still fighting them for you.
And that is very much foremost on their minds.
What makes this country so special is not our
accomplishments; it's how we bounce back from adversity,
it's how we beat back our fears, it's the way we soldier through
disappointment and trial.
These are the hallmarks of a great people.
And we talk about the resilience of our troops and their families
as if it is something apart from the rest of society.
It isn't, or at least it shouldn't be.
Where do you think those troops learn to be so brave?
In your homes, in your schools, in your communities.
Welcome them back to those places not only with bands and
bunting or yellow ribbons, but with the solemn recognition that
they have done your bidding.
They have represented you well.
They have carried the best of you and of this country
into battle.
They have done things and seen things and bear things in their
souls that you cannot know.
Help them through their trials, be tolerant of them and
each other.
Give them a chance, and together we will prove the greatness that
is America.
God bless you all.
God bless our troops and their families.
And God bless our great country.
(applause)
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, at this time,
General Dempsey will be sworn in as the 18th chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Speaker: "I," state your name...
General Dempsey: I, Martin Edward Dempsey...
Speaker: "...having been appointed by the President of the United States
to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff..."
General Dempsey: ...having been appointed by the President of the United States
to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...
Speaker: "...do solemnly swear..."
General Dempsey: ...do solemnly swear...
Speaker: "...to support and defend the Constitution of the
United States..."
General Dempsey: ...to support and defend the Constitution of the
United States...
Speaker: "...against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."
General Dempsey: ...against all enemies, foreign and domestic...
Speaker: "...and bear true faith and allegiance to the same."
General Dempsey: ...and bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
Speaker: "That I take this obligation freely..."
General Dempsey: That I take this obligation freely...
Speaker: "...without any amount of reservation or purpose
of evasion..."
General Dempsey: ...without an mental reservation or purpose of evasion...
Speaker: "...and that I will well and faithfully..."
General Dempsey: ...and that I will well and faithfully...
Speaker: "...discharge the duties..."
General Dempsey: ...discharge the duties...
Speaker: "...of the office upon which I am about to enter..."
General Dempsey: ...of the office upon which I am about to enter...
Speaker: "...so help me God."
General Dempsey: ...so help me God.
(cheers and applause)
(applause)
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey.
(applause)
General Dempsey: Ah, the groom's side is at it.
(laughter, cheers, applause)
Yeah, that's what I was afraid of.
President Obama, Secretary Panetta,
thanks for the vote of confidence and for allowing me
the honor and privilege to continue to serve this nation
in uniform.
Vice President Biden, thank you for your support
through the years.
I've got a lot of family and friends here today.
You probably heard a bit of that a moment ago.
My thanks to all of you for your love and support.
My five and soon to be seven grandchildren are a particular
joy in our lives, and my wife, Deanie,
continues to inspire us all by the way she deals with everyone
and everything she meets.
Deanie taped a phrase on our refrigerator a few years ago
asserting that life is what happens when you're making
other plans.
And our last year has certainly validated that assertion.
There are so many distinguished guests here today,
too many to mention individually.
I thank you all, military and civilian,
for dedicating your lives to our country.
You are what makes us a nation that dares to be great.
I'm honored by the presence of my fellow chiefs of defense from
around the world.
You are my brothers.
My other brothers of the West Point Class of 1974,
Pride of the Corps, are here again.
I hope this --
(cheers and applause)
-- yeah, well, I hope this is our last gathering for a while,
or it will mean that something hasn't gone very well.
(laughter)
I also have some high school classmates here from
John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen, New York.
(cheers and applause)
They are here to confirm the fact that miracles do happen.
(laughter)
Admiral Mullen and Deborah, "thanks" just seems somehow
inadequate; "awesome" seems a little more appropriate,
but maybe a phrase better uttered by another generation.
However we describe your last four years,
you've been extraordinary patriots and friends.
Although you're a sailor and I'm a soldier,
in the tradition of the horse cavalry,
I want you to know that I will be proud to tell people that I
rode with Mike Mullen during some of the most challenging
times in our nation's history.
Thanks for everything.
Now, you've all heard me just a moment ago swear an oath to our
nation and to the ideals that define it as those ideals are
embodied in our Constitution.
The oath reflects the sacred trust that exists between the
military forces of the United States and the people of the
United States.
I will live up to that oath and I will maintain that trust.
As I begin my tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
the armed forces of the United States are powerful, responsive,
resilient, versatile and admired.
We provide our nation's leaders with a wide range of options to
counter the threats and crises we face,
and when sent to do the nation's bidding,
we are an unambiguous signal of our nation's resolve.
Our people, America's sons and daughters,
are our decisive edge.
We'll change and we'll be challenged,
but when I complete my tenure as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, I intend to be able to say exactly the same thing.
We will be the joint force the nation needs us to be,
so help me, God.
Thank you.
(applause)