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Deputy Praises Strategic Command as Cartwright Replaces Ellis

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., July 10, 2004 – "America is more secure and deterrence is stronger" thanks to the efforts of the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here July 9.

The secretary spoke during the U.S. Strategic Command change-of-command ceremony. Navy Adm. James O. Ellis relinquished command to Marine Lt. Gen. James Cartwright during the ceremony in a hanger on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Ellis is retiring following 35 years of service. Cartwright was confirmed as the new commander July 8. He assumed command as a lieutenant general but will soon add another star, Wolfowitz said.

Ellis presided over the amalgamation of the old U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command into the new U.S. Strategic Command. The changes took effect Oct. 1, 2002. The command is responsible for "cyber operations to space operations," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who also spoke at the ceremony.

Wolfowitz praised Ellis for his leadership of the command. "I believe Jim Ellis was the perfect leader to meet the challenging task of integrating two complex existing commands to focus together on a new mission," Wolfowitz said.

The command had to change to face the new threats confronting the United States. The main mission of the command's predecessor -- the Strategic Air Command -- was to deter a Soviet nuclear strike. "The enemy that we knew was exchanged for uncertainty and surprise attack from new directions," Wolfowitz said.

Threats emerged from states with homegrown missile technologies and those actively pushing for nuclear arms. Stateless groups using terrorism and asymmetric attacks also emerged. These new threats called for a new strategic approach, the deputy secretary said. This called for active non-proliferation, counterproliferation and defenses. Strategic Command shifted to meet those threats.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave impetus to these changes even as the command took an active part in the global war on terror.

Wolfowitz said the coalition took the fight to the terrorists. And now, thanks to the heroism of America's service members, more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq have the chance to determine their own destinies.

Ellis had commanded the former Strategic Command, and he moved out quickly to fuse the two commands. "Already we see a unified command that combines strategic capability with improved intelligence and reconnaissance, better command and control, better communications, and more integrated information operations," Wolfowitz said.

These changes mean improved global situational awareness to support the strategic decisions of the president and the secretary of defense, the deputy said. "These contributions have proved absolutely critical in the ongoing war on terrorists and their sponsors," he said. "Much of our success on the ground is directly related to the important work being done here in Omaha."

While efforts in the war on terror will be center stage for years to come, the nation must pay attention to the requirements of strategic deterrence and strategic defense. As Cartwright takes the helm, he must work with missile defense technologies. "For the first time we will be able to protect the United States against some possible intercontinental missile attacks," Wolfowitz said.

The general also must ensure that the U.S. nuclear deterrent remains potent so the United States can survive and prosper in the long term. "The nuclear balance of terror is no longer the cornerstone of strategic stability," Wolfowitz said. "Yet even at reduced levels, nuclear weapons must be treated with the same extraordinary attention that we have paid to them for the last half century."

Myers said the Marine general -- the first Marine to hold this command -- will do well in the position. "As STRATCOM's missions continue to evolve and grow, my view is that you are in good hands to plan and execute all these very important missions that are critical to our national defense," Myers said.

The chairman presented the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to the United States Strategic Command. The citation said the award was for managing the "sweeping, transformational changes" the command has made.

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