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U.S. Joint Forces Command Change-of-Command Ceremony
Remarks by Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Norfolk, VA, Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Thank you very much. Chaplain. You know, it says something about Buck Kernan and Ed Giambastiani that, as Dick Myers pointed out, here in the audience are most of the civilian leadership - senior civilian leadership - of the United States Department of Defense, almost all of the senior leadership of the Chiefs, the Joint Chiefs and others, a large number of our NATO allies are represented here and Partnership for Peace countries who participate, a number of distinguished ambassadors -- we thank all of you for being here.

I listened to Dick Myers comment on the region - this area - and I must say, I agree with him. I was stationed here in this area back in 1956, had a daughter born over at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and so I recognize what a hospitable place this is for the men and women in uniform. I see our congressman here from this district, Ed Schrock, why don't you just stand and let us just thank you for the wonderful job you did in the Navy and also for the armed services.

[applause]

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Joint Forces Command, Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines, civilians - I am delighted to be with you. Today we say thank you to the leader of this command, General Buck Kernan, and we welcome Ed Giambastiani. Buck was a parachutist, an Army Ranger, as has been mentioned. Ed, a nuclear submariner. Both excelled in their craft. As they plunged downwards, their careers soared upwards.

[laughter]

 

To jump out of an airplane into thousands of feet of darkness and to dive deep into the ocean, into a mysterious, unknown landscape, takes a special talent and special courage. By being well prepared, each of them have turned those challenges into opportunities.

In this new century, the U.S. military will be taking a bold step into the future. We cannot, and will not, always know what will happen in the global war against terrorism. The next attack could come at any time, from any location. And our assignment is to be ready to deal with the unknown and the unexpected.

During the Cold War, we faced reasonably predictable threats. We came to know a great deal about our adversaries and we designed strategies and capabilities to deter them and to deal with them. And we were successful. But victory in the Cold War is behind us, and fortunately most of us, probably not all of us, are increasingly ready to accept that reality.

There are a few laggards, but we're working on them.

[laughter]

As we learned on September 11th, the challenges of a new century will not be as predictable as in the last century. The enemy is smaller - asymmetrical - more difficult to locate, more difficult to deal with and capable of enormous destruction.

We are no longer threatened by a single superpower. Instead, we face a number of agile, shadowy enemies, willing to commit suicide to kill innocent men, women and children. To deal with our new security environment requires new approaches. We need rapidly deployable, fully integrated joint forces capable of reaching distant theaters in days and weeks, not months or years. And they must be able to strike these new adversaries with devastating effect.

To do so requires improved intelligence, precision, agility, sustainability and flexibility. Achieving jointness in wartime requires building jointness in peacetime. We've all heard the phrase, "we need to train like we fight and fight like we train." We need to that in fact, and not just talk about it. This command - the Joint Forces Command -- is the laboratory to test the new warfare.

But we need to transform not only our armed forces, but also the Department of Defense itself, by encouraging a culture of creativity and sensible risk taking. We need to encourage a more entrepreneurial approach to developing military capabilities -- one that is not mired in the past and one that does not simply wait for new threats to emerge to take us by surprise.

Buck Kernan could not have had a more important job these past years in preparing our forces for this 21st century. This outstanding leader has accelerated our progress on the road of transformation. With his impressive skills and experience, he has significantly helped us to understand how to make our military more responsive, more agile and more lethal - and above all, joint.

I saw that spirit this summer, when I visited Millennium Challenge -- 13,000 troops in the largest joint training experiment ever. Buck, my congratulations to you and to all the men and women of the Joint Forces Command for the outstanding job that you folks have done, to the benefit of the Armed Forces and our country.

[applause]

For 35 years, you have served our country with dedication and inspiration -- combat tours in Vietnam and Grenada and Panama -- you have come a long way from private to general. Some would say from buck private to Buck Rogers in the 21st century.

[laughter]

And Marianne, we are all in your debt. One of the most impressive things that I see as I travel around the world is the role that the spouse of our leading military leaders play and what they do for the men and women in service. Day in, day out, we recognize it, and we appreciate it.

Today this command is going to be assumed by a new talent, a man I've had the pleasure of working with quite closely this past year and a half in the Pentagon. And for that I am truly grateful.

Ed Giambastiani - once you learn how to pronounce his name, it's easy [laughter] -- has been involved in most of the new initiatives that we are determined to see through. He was there for all of the discussions among the senior civilian and military leaders in the Department, both before and after September 11th. In those meetings, we fashioned new ways of thinking about U.S. defense strategy -- about our force-sizing construct. We rethought the concept of risk, and how best to try to balance risks.

We rethought contingency planning, to make it more adaptive, more flexible, to give the Combatant Commanders opportunities to review and refashion their plans to fit our new security environment. We have fashioned a new Unified Command Plan, which fully focuses this Joint Forces Command on experimentation and as Dick mentioned, yesterday, established the new Northern and Strategic Commands.

And it will now be up to Ed and this exciting Command to experiment and help us find where we got it right and where we can still do better. And I'm sure they will find ways that we can do better.

Ed has an innovative spirit, the talent for teamwork, the self- confidence of a submarine commander. He's the right person to pick up where Buck Kernan is leaving off.

Men and women of the Joint Forces Command, you will remain in strong, steady and sure hands.

Buck and Marianne -- you have done so much for the Armed Forces and for our country. We value your patriotism and your dedicated service.

Ed, good luck to you, and Cindy. We look for important things from this Command in the years ahead.

How well this command performs will directly affect our nation's security, let there be no doubt. And I know that you, Ed, and this team, will serve our country well.

Thank you very much.