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Remarks at JIEDDO Change of Command Ceremony

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III, Pentagon Auditorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome to the family of Gen. Metz, Gen. Oats, Gen. Cartwright, Gen. Cody, Secretary Westfall, all the members of the JIEEDO team. Thank you all for coming.

Today we bid farewell to an outstanding officer, and welcome another, and take stock of the important work of JIEDDO, the Joint IED Defeat Organization.

Two years ago this month, Lt. Gen. Metz arrived in Washington to take the reigns of a relatively new organization with an unusual name. Now a good rule of thumb in Washington is -- the longer acronym, the tougher the mission. And this rule definitely applied to JIEDDO.

Gen. Metz was not only asked to tackle the single most deadly threat facing our troops in the field today. He had to do so with a still-maturing organization operating amid unforgiving bureaucratic and institutional forces.

That’s a nice way of saying Gen. Metz had to break a lot of china here in the Pentagon.

Under his leadership, JIEDDO has moved forward along three lines of operation: attacking the networks that place IEDs, devising ways to defeat the device, and training our force to counter the threat.

During his tenure, JEIDDO has become a test-bed of rapid acquisition. Hundreds of initiatives have placed dozens of innovations into the services.
Because of his work, we are closer to achieving the systematic training of our forces. And the infrastructure to harness our nation’s technological prowess, and to hone our ability to defeat human networks, is operating in all the right places.

JIEDDO now works in Iraq, in Afghanistan, with the services, through the CoCOMS, and here in Washington, both in the Pentagon and with defense industry.

It took a leader of uncommon ability to achieve this degree of integration. And uncommon ability is what has distinguished Gen. Metz’s career.

He is an expert infantryman, senior parachutist, licensed engineer, West Point professor, and decorated commander. He has led troops in war, contributed to doctrinal innovations in peace, and held premier commands in the Army.

After a lifetime of service, we wish him well in his new role as a full-time grandfather. We also thank his family for their unwavering support: to his wife Pam; children Elizabeth, Cade, and Patrick; daughter-in-law Melissa; and his three grandsons Jack, Will and Matthew. Congratulations.

Today we also welcome Lt. Gen. Mike Oates. He was just promoted this morning.

Not long ago, General Oates served in southern Iraq--one of the most politically charged places we’re deployed. There, a Shi’a religious hierarchy and network of powerful tribes operate outside the government. At every turn, General Oates had to navigate shifting alliances, uncover hidden agendas, and strike delicate political arrangements.

We believe that was excellent training for taking the command of JIEDDO.

General Oates will need all of our help in the months ahead.

Nine out of ten times that our forces encounter IEDs in Afghanistan, they do so without any casualties. Yet even this success rate is not good enough. 42 coalition soldiers died this October in IED attacks—41 in Afghanistan, 1 in Iraq. IEDs remain a clear and present danger—a threat to our mission there, and therefore our security here.

In Afghanistan, we are up against a determined and clever foe who mastered the use of this deadly technology long before our forces set foot in the mountains of the Hindu-Kush.

Recent translations of Soviet General Staff studies reveal that the Soviets lost nearly 2,000 soldiers and 1,200 vehicles to IEDs during their nine-year Soviet-Afghan war.

That IEDs have defeated another technologically advanced military, in the very same place we fight now, only adds to the urgency of our mission.

And IEDs have implications far beyond the battlefields we fight on today. In the past month, terrorists have detonated improvised explosive devices on five continents. Russia, Spain, and the UK have all seen deadly IED-attacks.

Our ability to project power in this new world of asymmetric threats, and to secure our population at home, depends upon JIEDDO’s success. Secretary Gates and I pledge our full support to General Oates and the JIEDDO organization for the achievement of your mission.

We must, and we will, prevail.

Congratulations again to General Metz and General Oates.

Thank you.

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