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Welcome Ceremony for Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Pentagon Auditorium, Monday, June 09, 2014

Thank you.  First, I want to clarify Number Twos versus any other numbers.  Everyone here knows that there’s no such thing as Number Two in this building and I don’t consider these two number two at anything, nor do I consider anyone else in this place number two.  We all have specific positions and specific responsibilities, but we’re all responsible for the same overall objective and that’s the security of this country, and to each other.  

And I say that because I have no Work jokes; I come here disarmed.  But I sure as hell wouldn’t be making fun of his name.  This is a guy I got to rely on an awful lot.  He’s got other ways to deal with it.  But this work and I are tied together on every issue at every moment for our tenure.  I couldn’t be prouder than to have Bob Work as my partner in this endeavor.

It’s probably as important and defining time in our world as any of us have lived through.  We all live through big issues, and times, and moments, but when you look out across the world today, it’s pretty complicated.  

Just what we’re dealing with on the Pacific issue and I specifically appreciate what these two guys are doing on some of the more immediate issues that are attracting considerable attention these days in this country.  Their leadership, their expertise, their credibility and their trust, is tremendously important at this time for this enterprise and for our country. So, to you Sandy thank you and to all of your team.

I want to also welcome so many of Bob’s friends here this afternoon.  I know so many of you have worked with Bob over the years and had the same feeling about him that we all do: we admire him, yes, for his leadership and his competence, but also as an individual.  

He is first and foremost a caring and decent person, and that’s where you always start, and the rest you train for, manufacture, learn, but the human decency is the essential component for any of us.

To his family who are here in the front row: I think most of you know  Cassandra, who is pretty spectacular a sight and before she ever met Work, in her role as Army Nurse she had made tremendous contributions to our country, and to our armed forces, and to the men and women and their families as well.  And then teaming with Bob.  I’ve just learning a little bit from their daughter about his pick-up lines, when he picked her up at Walter Reed Hospital—or at least tried to—but he was an awkward Marine and a Neanderthal in the 70’s, but she actually molded him into something.  To their daughter, Kendyl, who is soaring like a Marine eagle in her endeavors, we’re grateful for your support, which you’ve always given your father.  

To the two people who actually helped raise this guy, Donna and Skip, thank you.  Donna is more mature, of course, since her brothers are both Marines.  Nonetheless, he also informed me that she was the one that had the bedroom in the house, and the other two guys had to find their bedroll wherever they could.  It was good preparation for where they were going in the Marine Corps.   But the two of you, what you mean to Bob and how you’ve supported him and each other over the years—thank you.  We’re grateful for all you do for our country and each other.

I think everyone in this room knows that each job represented in this room and this enterprise is a hard job.  There are no easy jobs in this business, and I make that point because we all recognize that with hard jobs come big responsibilities.  I think the chaplain’s words were exceptionally focused on that reality.  And of course family, we, support not just ourselves and each other but we support a larger group of who we are as Americans and as people.  

That’s part of what Bob will be doing, has been doing, and he is, as Sandy said, taking on, I do believe, one of the most complicated, difficult, and demanding jobs in government.  If there’s one more complicated, more difficult, more demanding, I don’t know where it is. So, he knows what he’s getting into, but yet he was still willing, as Sandy said, I never heard this word before, “come out of the perfumed world of think tanks.”

I think too, that Bob particularly knows that the strategic, budget, and force structure decisions we make today will determine the shape, readiness, and capabilities of our forces for decades to come and we’re all part of that in everything we do around here, every day.  Bob and I have talked about these issues over the last few months and I think the bottom line in any big job is to get the big decisions—right.  We’re going to make choices and judgments and decisions that are probably not always right, but the big ones we can’t get wrong.  The big ones we’ve got to get right, because the big ones have the big long term consequences for our country.  

I know that’s one of the reasons that President Obama wanted Bob Work in this job, and one of the reasons I wanted him to return to the Pentagon, even though he had pretty successful a career already churning and in flight with the Center for a New American Security, yet we were able to convince him that he needed another time out to come back here.

We’ve already begun to benefit from Bob’s leadership and experience, as he settles into his new role as the Chief Operating Officer of this Department.  And as I said earlier, he’s no stranger to the people in this room, and to this building.  He knows his way around.  As Sandy noted a little bit of his more immediate background as the Under Secretary of the Navy, who essentially had the responsibility of managing the Navy day-to-day for four years.  And he served earlier, as has been noted, 27-year career in the Marine Corps—that’s not an easy life and it’s not one without big responsibilities and commitment to your country—and as you also know he served as the military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy at one time, and we appreciate that.  We have former Secretary Danzig with us and Richard, nice to see you again, thank you for what you did in your career around here to help shape the Navy and the Marine Corps, making them better and stronger.

I think that everyone knows that Bob’s a highly respected expert—truly, not a television expert—but he is an expert because he’s done it all on defense strategy and policy.  This is a guy who’s lived it, he’s written about it, he has administered it, and he’s made the tough decisions in this area.  And he’s a thinker, but he’s got all the specifics: the history of it and the strategies, the evolution of precision weaponry, military innovation, and all the components of what we’re dealing with here in a very sophisticated world.

So, Bob, I think you’re pretty clear on this point, we’re all damn glad you’re back.  I am personally, and I know President Obama and the White House are, they like to deal with you, and they look forward to dealing with you.  You’ve already made an impact over there.  I suspect when Bob, a few weeks ago, go cleared by the United States Senate to come over here, which gives you some indication of how fast moving and unpredictable our world is, we didn’t have the same situation that we have today in Ukraine, we didn’t have the Sergeant Bergdahl issue, there are probably another dozen issues that are now present that we’re dealing with day to day, imperfect, complicated that we have to make decisions on. 

We cannot defer, these are not abstractions, these are not theories, these are not think tank deals, these are real life decisions that leaders have to make, the tough calls.  This is a man who knows about tough calls and is prepared for more tough calls ahead.  So, Bob, I’m looking forward to our partnership working together.  I know everyone in this room, and in this building, and our people all over the world are looking to you for leadership and are looking forward to working with you on helping manage our way through these very difficult, complicated issues.  

But we don’t have a choice; we have to make the tough choices, the calls, and the decisions.  They must be informed, they must be thought through, but at the end of the day, somebody has got to make the call, somebody has got to make the decision.  I’m as comfortable having Bob Work at my side as anyone, so Bob, thank you for agreeing to do this.

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