Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines of the United States and our friends and allies, civilian and military leaders, contractors, and your families, General Jones, General Craddock and your families – it’s a privilege, honor and highlight of my career in public service to be with you today.
It’s a rare privilege in one’s lifetime to be able to recognize and to pay tribute to someone who has made such a positive and profound difference in the lives of so many – someone whose departure will leave so many saddened, and someone who has my highest respect and deepest admiration.
I speak, of course, of none other than Diane Jones. Diane, as the reins of command are handed over to General Craddock today, you will be sorely missed in the Corps, in EUCOM, and throughout the Nation’s military – of course, a lot of people will also miss your spouse, General Jim Jones.
General Jim Jones is a magnificent leader, a warrior/statesman in the mold of the famous George C. Marshall … but, most of all, he’s a Marine’s Marine! His service continues a family tradition … from his father, a Marine Colonel, who served in the Pacific in World War II, and to his uncle, the late Lieutenant General William K. Jones, who served in the Pacific in World War II and then in Korea and Vietnam.
His son, Captain Greg Jones, has continued that legacy with two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is now stationed at the Marine Barracks in Washington, DC.
General Jones is the first Marine to be Commander of EUCOM and the first Marine Commandant to move on to a Combatant Command responsibility. Jim’s extraordinary accomplishments and successes throughout his 40-year career will have a lasting influence on EUCOM, the Corps, NATO and the countries of the European Command.
Under Jim’s leadership, this Command has had extraordinary success – hardcore warfighting; building and strengthening partnerships from the Balkans, to the countries of Africa, to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the countries of the former Soviet Union … while simultaneously transforming EUCOM itself, moving toward a more expeditionary posture. All of these efforts directly support the strategic vision of our Nation, and of our friends and allies, for the transformation necessary to meet the security challenges of the 21st century. Jim Jones, you were the right leader at the right time.
There are leaders remembered for their great deeds, but great leaders are remembered for their great effect on everyday people. Being a great leader, Jim will be remembered for many things, and three of those more everyday things that relate to my personal and close association with him when I was SECNAV come to my mind:
First, Jim Jones will be remembered for personally solving the most vexing problem ever faced by a Marine Corps Commandant; namely, he negotiated the relocation of the U.S. Air Force Memorial away from the hallowed ground of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, to its new location next to the Navy Annex.
Second, Jim will be remembered as the father of digital cammies. Since the cammies were introduced into the Marine Corps, all of the other Services have followed. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! By the way, true to Jim’s leadership style, the enlisted Marines made all the final decisions, which is why Marine cammies have pockets on the sleeves, and trousers and blouses of different fabric weights for comfort and durability.
Third, Jim will also be remembered as the father of the USMC martial arts program. Jim Jones recognized that in addition to the superb weapons training the Marine Corps provides - that is, “every Marine a rifleman” - Marines also needed to be world class in hand-to-hand combat.
A young Marine corporal probably said it best: “The martial arts program has given me the extra edge to win in every clime and place.”
General Jones, you are, in many respects, like the Spartan, Leonidas, the warrior and hero of the battle at the Pass of Thermopylae – a leader in the finest tradition. As Jim Jones moves on, none of us have heard the last of him. Although he has earned a long rest and the opportunity to provide for future financial security, he is too big for our nation and the world to ignore, and the problems of our nation and the world are too big for Jim Jones to ignore. We will indeed see him again on the world stage.
As we transition the European Command from General Jones to General Craddock, our nation and the world are facing difficult choices. During the uncertain early years of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “the history of free men is never written by chance but by choice – their choice.” Once again, America and our allies face a choice. It is most appropriate and important that we continually assess the underlying assumptions of our policies and adjust our tactics accordingly. But we also need to do this within our national strategic vision and our commitment to preserve freedom and liberty for our citizens and for people around the world.
Choosing the path of freedom is no easy task, but the greater the freedom enjoyed by other countries, the more secure free nations will be, and the greater the security of the entire world will be. This is not the time for America and our friends and allies to pull back from the world. Rather, this is a critical time for bold leadership and for international cooperation and resolve.
For me, here are two lessons the free world can take forward in this first war of the 21st century. The first is that no war is about political parties – not Democrats, Republicans, liberals, moderates or conservatives.
Rather, it is about will, commitment, determination, and resolve of the political leadership and the citizens … to preserve liberty and freedom for ourselves and for other people throughout the world.
The second lesson is that there is a very thin line between the peace and security and freedom that free people experience every day - and chaos. That thin line is the U.S. military and the militaries of our friends and allies, and organizations like EUCOM and NATO that allow those militaries to operate in unity backed by political resolve.
Fortunately, EUCOM will remain in strong and capable hands. John Craddock, you literally have very big shoes to fill. Fortunately, however, you don’t measure a man by the size of his shoes. As Mark Twain said, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” General Craddock - our nation is blessed to have a person of your caliber and experience to take on this vital mantle of leadership. My very warmest congratulations to the new Commander of the United States European Command.
Like General Jones, John Craddock has a wonderful and supportive wife, and together John and Linda will be another marvelous team at EUCOM. Linda, thank you for your service and commitment. Their 13 years of prior assignments in Europe will prove invaluable in this new responsibility.
Today, we honor two great Combatant Commanders, their spouses, and their families, for their selfless service, leadership, and integrity.
At his Inauguration in 1961, President Kennedy told the American nation, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.”
Today, this generation bears that responsibility. The men and women of the US European Command stand at the front lines of the great struggle for freedom. I do thank each of you – I thank you for your dedication, for your courage, for your service, and for your sacrifices – and for everything you do, every day, to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. God bless each of you and your families – and especially, may God bless the men and women in combat.