General Ralston's decision to withdraw his name from consideration to be my successor makes this a very sad day for me.
For over 32 years, General Joe Ralston has distinguished himself as a warrior, leader, and a consummate professional. Over the past year and a half, he has been my most trusted adviser and a most valued friend. His service as Vice Chairman has been superb, ranging from his management of the Quadrennial Defense Review to his many contributions in the field of crisis management.
I fully support the Secretary's decision to further review our policies on training and our policies to ensure equality in our pursuit of good order and discipline. We will be a stronger force for these efforts. Secondly, I am heartened that General Ralston, despite the stress of the last week, will continue to serve as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Personally, I know that my last four months in office will be much easier with his wise counsel. His agreement to continue to serve, despite recent events, is but one more example of his patriotism and devotion to duty.
In conclusion, it is my fervent hope that we can all learn from this incident and get on with solving the larger problems connected with our national defense.