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U.S. Transportation Command Change of Command

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Monday, May 05, 2014

Good afternoon.  General Dempsey, Mrs. Dempsey, General Fraser, Mrs. Fraser, General Selva, Congressman Shimkus, members of the diplomatic community, men and women of our armed forces, and ladies and gentlemen, today we gather to honor Will and Bev Fraser, and to welcome Paul and Ricki Selva back to Transportation Command, and to reaffirm TRANSCOM's indispensable role in assuring the global reach of the U.S. military.

It's no exaggeration to say that our military could not do its job -- could not do its job without TRANSCOM's capabilities on the ground, at sea, and in the air.  You help keep our people fed, our equipment fueled, and you help get everyone and everything to where they need to be on a scale that surpasses any organization in the world.

We are living in an age when people expect immediate gratification, and that's not easy.  But even though you don't always get the recognition you deserve, every field commander, every troop knows that when it absolutely, positively has to be there -- overnight or not -- they can always count on TRANSCOM to deliver.

As you all know, General Fraser was a bomber pilot before coming to TRANSCOM.  But that didn't stop him from exceeding here -- succeeding here.  Because, in the words of TRANSCOM's first commander, General Duane Cassidy, "Leadership does not depend upon whether you can operate the equipment.  You can be taught how to fly airplanes, operate tanks, or drive ships; you cannot be taught how to be a leader.  You have to be willing to make a commitment to somebody other than yourself."

That's the kind of leader General Fraser is.  And he made that commitment to all of you because he had a keen understanding of TRANSCOM's importance, its responsibilities -- not only in giving his aircraft the mid-air refueling they needed to complete all missions, but in making sure that the entire military always had the mobility, the agility, and the flexibility that has always been the hallmark of our force.

Under General Fraser's leadership, TRANSCOM has operated on every single continent -- from drawing down our forces in Afghanistan to transporting scientists and equipment to and from the U.S. research center in Antarctica.  What General Fraser says is true:  "The sun never sets on TRANSCOM."  On his watch, TRANSCOM has transported more than 1.1 million passengers; flown nearly 950 million pounds of air cargo; dispensed some 300 million gallons of tanker fuel; and shipped over land and sea roughly 1.6 billion pounds of cargo and 900 million gallons of fuel.

And that's not all.  General Fraser also led TRANSCOM in undertaking the most comprehensive and collaborative strategic planning effort in the command's 26-year history, giving his successors the guidance to understand TRANSCOM's responsibilities, its challenges, and its opportunities.

He had a vision that was not only about logistics, but also about relationships.  Having learned the diplomatic dimension of global affairs as military aide to Secretary of State Rice, General Fraser was able to forge new relationships and strengthen existing partnerships, traveling as often as necessary to ensure that TRANSCOM can always accomplish its missions.

He also embraced TRANSCOM's role in DOD's expanded mission of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, helping make TRANSCOM a force for good around the world whenever disaster struck.

And when the United States took on the responsibility of a task that had never been done before -- destroying at sea one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical materials -- General Fraser helped ensure that the MV Cape Ray got activated and modified for its mission.

It is now General Selva's responsibility to continue this work.  After growing up watching Air Force tanker and cargo aircraft fly in and out of the Azores, he found his future, and he found his wife, Ricki, at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  This began a career of excellence spanning nearly 35 years in uniform.

In that time, General Selva has proven himself to be a unique leader who embraces change and innovation.  Just recently, as the leader of Air Mobility Command, he oversaw the critical design review for America's newest refueling tanker, the KC-46, and he personally delivered the final C-17 to complete the Air Force's fleet.

He helped deploy new aeromedical evacuation teams that not only get wounded patients out of difficult locations quickly, but can also perform critical stabilizing surgery either before takeoff or while in-flight.  He also brings to the table diplomatic expertise on par with General Fraser's, having succeeded General Fraser as military aide to Secretary Rice and staying on to advise Secretary Clinton for more than two-and-a-half years.

General Selva's time in the front seat of diplomacy and his openness to new ideas will be critical assets as he takes command of TRANSCOM at this important time in our history.

General Fraser, we wish you and Bev and your family all the best as you conclude nearly four action-packed -- four decades of service to your country, distinguished service to your country.  Everyone here today knows that together, you delivered.

To you, Bev, thank you and your family.  To General Selva and Ricki, and to the Fraser and Selva families who are here today, we are proud of all of you, very proud of all of you, and we're grateful.  We're grateful to you not only for your service to our country, but for your service to all the men and women of this command and all who serve our nation across the globe.

Thank you, and God bless you all.  Thank you.  

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