[Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Henry H.] Shelton, thank you so much for those kind words and for your outstanding leadership for our country. Deputy Secretary [of Defense] Paul Wolfowitz, this is a very special occasion. Congressman [Jerry] Lewis, and my friends, [former Defense Secretaries] Cap Weinberger and Frank Carlucci here, and [Deputy National Security Advisor] Steve Hadley. Goodness gracious, what a distinguished group. [Outgoing Deputy Secretary of Defense] Rudy de Leon, [Former Deputy Secretary of Defense] John Hamre, and so many other wonderful guests and friends. Secretary [of Agriculture Ann] Veneman, Service Chiefs, and senior enlisted officials.
I want to say to Rudy de Leon who has been helping us during this transition that I've been involved in a lot of transitions in my life, and I have a little experience with them, and I can say that you're a star. Thank you very much. [Applause.] Distinguished guests, and veterans who honor us by their presence, men and women of the Armed Forces. Much has been made of my return to the Pentagon, but I must say that I'm back only for my second time. Paul Wolfowitz is back for his third time. [Airplane flies overhead.] That's your flyover. [Laughter.]
Paul's back for his third time. And as was said about me, Paul, we're going to keep at it until we get it right. When I introduced Paul to the Pentagon Press Corps, one of the first questions was, "Why are you here? Why aren't you out playing golf or writing your memoirs or something like that?" Paul's response was that he doesn't play golf very well, which is true. And he also said that his memoirs wouldn't be very interesting, which is not true. He has had a truly brilliant career.
As a mathematician and a scholar in global affairs, he has an understanding of the relationships that drive events. During his first tour at the Pentagon in the 1970s his groundbreaking analysis of what could happen in the Persian Gulf contributed significantly to what became the foundation of America's response during Desert Storm. Today his insights are already helping to shape the future strategies and force structures our country will need in the decades ahead.
During Paul's second tour at the Pentagon, under then-Secretary [of Defense] Dick Cheney, his diplomatic skills helped to build the coalition that won the Gulf War. And certainly today his skills will be needed and will be central in helping us strengthen the alliances around the globe.
After the Berlin Wall came down, Paul worked with Secretary Cheney to help fashion the strategy and size America's forces. Today we ask him to look to the future once again, to help develop a force capable of dissuading others from behavior hostile to us or their neighbors, and reassuring to those who wish to live in peace.
When Vice President Dick Cheney attended Paul's swearing in, he said that when he was at the Pentagon Paul was his strong right arm because of two very special traits. First, Paul has a gift for looking at old problems in new ways. And second, Paul is one of those individuals who tells it exactly like it is, whether you want to hear it or not.
Over the years I've worked with Paul on a number of occasions, including the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, and I know him to be the right man in the right place at the right time. As General Shelton said, he has intellect and integrity that's surpassed only by his dedication to the men and women in uniform.
The men and women in uniform do truly noble work -- work that is different from the work of others in that they voluntarily put their lives at risk. And I'm delighted that this very talented public servant, who understands that very well, is back again to serve our country.
So to the men and women of the Armed Forces, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure and a privilege to officially welcome the nation's 28th Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz. [Applause.]