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Gates Welcomes New Senior Civilian Officials to Pentagon

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2009 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates welcomed a group of recently appointed senior defense civilian officials during a Pentagon ceremony today.

Gates welcomed Michele A. Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy; Robert F. Hale, undersecretary of defense, comptroller; James N. Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy; Alexander R. Vershbow, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, and Jeh C. Johnson, general counsel of the Department of Defense.

“I’m pleased to officially welcome five senior officials to the Department of Defense -- dedicated professionals, all,” Gates said before a mixed military-civilian audience that filled the Pentagon’s auditorium.

The new officials, Gates said, possess “a wide range of experience in strategic and international affairs, management, finance and law.”

Gates also announced that Ashton Carter last night received U.S. Senate confirmation to become the next undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The defense secretary said he and his senior management team “look forward to working closely” with these newly appointed leaders “on a host of critical decisions in the months and years ahead.”

Flournoy “has been on the job now for some time,” Gates said, noting that she has been busy addressing Afghanistan and Pakistan issues. He saluted Flournoy’s expertise in strategic defense matters and said she’s a leading expert on how to apply and integrate the military and civilian elements of national power and international cooperation during unexpected contingency operations.

“It is truly an honor to be standing with you all here today,” Flournoy said during her remarks. Flournoy said she looks forward to providing “the best possible support to the men and women who serve” in America’s military.

Turning to Hale, Gates praised the Pentagon’s new top money manager for his “decades of financial and business management experience in the public and private sectors, much of that in the military setting.”

During his remarks, Hale noted that he enjoys crunching numbers while managing the Pentagon’s financial affairs in support of America’s servicemembers and defense civilians. He added that he appreciates the work of the 50,000 members of the Defense Department’s financial community, noting their efforts “are the key to making all of this work.”

Miller is another accomplished defense expert, Gates said, who as Flournoy’s top deputy “will provide advice on a wide range of national security issues likely to confront the department in the coming years,” including assisting with the Quadrennial Defense Review process that’s now under way.

“It is a great privilege,” Miller said, to work with “talented civilian workers and with the men and women in uniform who put themselves in harm’s way.”

Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, the Russian Federation and South Korea, brings his impeccable credentials in international security affairs, Gates said. The secretary also saluted Vershbow’s multiple talents and his “great dedication and patriotism.”

“I’ve come to respect the courage, the vision and the dedication of our armed forces and become a true believer in the importance of close civil-military coordination in meeting today’s threats,” Vershbow said during his remarks.

Johnson, the Pentagon’s new senior lawyer, brings “a wealth of legal experience and expertise” as well as “an affinity for public service,” Gates said of the former top lawyer for the Air Force. The secretary said he’ll rely on Johnson’s legal expertise and advice as the department closes the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while it continues to safeguard the American people.

“I know you want to help our men and women in uniform accomplish their missions for the American people,” Gates told the new officials. “I also know that your talents and your persistence will be great assets to this department and our country.”

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Robert M. Gates
Michele A. Flournoy
Robert F. Hale
James N. Miller
Alexander R. Vershbow
Jeh C. Johnson

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