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SOCOM Change of Command
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL, Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Chairman Dick Myers – I thank you very much for outstanding leadership as the Senior Military Officer for the United States.    Working with you and your Vice Chairman, General Pete Pace, is both a privilege and a pleasure. 


General Holland and Nancy and all of the Holland family and friends there – it is always good to see you and congratulations to all of you.


General and Mrs. Brown and all the Brown family – welcome.  Good to see you.


Chairman [Bill] Young – We greatly appreciate your leadership in the United States House of Representatives as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee – thank you for being here and you certainly are a stalwart supporter of our Armed Services.


Congressman Jim Saxton – thank you for your dedicated service to the United States military. 


We have here a great many distinguished civilian and military leaders.  General Myers mentioned Dr. Cambone and Powell Moore and Tom O’Connell, General Abizaid, Admiral Ed Giambastiani, and so many others.  And certainly a special greetings to those of you here from the Special Operations Command and all of those that you represent all across this world of ours doing a truly outstanding job for our country.


It is an honor to be here among these warriors who are, paradoxically, both the best, and probably the least-known, in the world.


The role that Special Operations Forces have played, and will continue to play, in this global fight to preserve our freedom, is pivotal.    And so I want to say just a few words about the importance of the remarkable men and women of this Command, and those who lead it.


When the war began, our Commander in Chief, President George Bush said it would require many battles, seen and unseen, with victories that are “secret even in success” and you of course are fighting that unseen war on terror.  And though most Americans may know little about your truly remarkable exploits, they do take comfort in knowing that you’re in the fight. 


That same knowledge, which so comforts the American people, at the same time strikes fear in enemies. They also know you're in the fight, watching them, tracking them.  They realize that at any moment, you could come through a door or a window.  That knowledge puts pressure on them, and that pressure causes them to make mistakes -- mistakes that our coalition can and, in fact, does exploit.


So, thanks to your efforts, a large number of senior al-Qaeda operatives have been captured, and terrorist attacks disrupted and stopped.


In Afghanistan, you combined the most high-tech weapons with the most ancient of capabilities -- a man on a horse with a modern weapon -- and you used them together in unprecedented ways.  It took only 49 days from the insertion of the first Special Operations Forces to the fall of Kandahar and the defeat of the Taliban -- a remarkable achievement.  After Afghanistan, someone in Washington said I was so old that my idea of military transformation was to bring back the cavalry.  I kept telling them that it wasn't my idea at all, it was yours.  And it was a darn good idea.


You brought a similar spirit of innovation to the battle in Iraq.   Special Operations Forces slipped quietly into the country while Saddam waited for the air war to begin.  You hunted Scuds, pinpointed high-value targets, secured oil fields, established landing strips in the desert to expedite the flow of coalition forces.  When we were unable to get our forces into Iraq from the north, Special Operations Forces mobilized the Kurdish Peshmerga and not only tied down Saddam Hussein's northern units, but captured Mosul and helped unravel the northern front with amazing speed. 


Today, the Taliban and the Iraqi regimes are gone and the people who struggled to survive under those repressive regimes are free.  Neither of these victories would have been achieved without the skill and courage of U.S. Special Operation Forces, nor without the leadership of General Charlie Holland and his outstanding team: General Doug Brown, General Dale Daily, General Gary Harrell, and all of the men and women of all of the services who perform so outstandingly.


General Holland was, of course, the first Air Force officer, indeed, the first non-Army officer to serve as the commander of this command.   It points out how SOCOM and the rest of America's armed forces are changing to meet the threats we face. 


In the 21st century, wars will certainly not be fought by individual services -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force or the Marines -- but by a truly joint force, with SOCOM in a growing role.


From the first forces on the ground in Afghanistan to the ongoing operations, both in Operation Enduring Freedom, all across the globe, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Charlie Holland and his team have guided major changes and dramatic improvements in this command.  They are overseeing the revamping of SOCOM from a supporting to a supported command in the war on terror.  They've encouraged interservice cooperation, standing up the first Marine element at SOCOM headquarters.  And importantly, they have helped transform SOCOM for the future by standing up the Center for Special Operations and developing the right leadership, in General Doug Brown and Admiral Eric Olson, to move SOCOM into the future.


Charlie, these accomplishments are a fitting conclusion to an outstanding record of service to our country.  I thank you for all you've done to protect and defend freedom at home and across the globe.


And Nancy, thank you as well for your service and for your sacrifice.  Thanks also to your sons, Justin and Chuck, and to all your family members for your service.


Now it's a pleasure to welcome General Doug Brown.  A veteran of 37 years of service, General Brown has a wealth of Special Operations experience from his earliest days in the Army.


He served in a Special Forces “A Team,” was one of the first Army Aviators in Special Ops, a combat assault pilot in Vietnam, and a plank holder in Task Force 160.


He served as Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command, Commanding General of the US Army Special Operations Command, deputy here to Charlie Holland, and I believe, has probably participated in one way or another in almost every SOF combat campaign since Vietnam.


General Brown has been involved in the global war on terror on a daily basis.  He's been a driving force behind reorganizing the SOCOM staff to plan and execute missions in the global war on terror, as a supported command.  He is uniquely qualified to carry out the SOCOM mission and to carry on the transformation that General Holland and his team have set in motion.


General Brown, my congratulations to you.


Penny, thank you for all that you have done and do today to help the men and women in uniform.  They appreciate it, and we appreciate it.


The war on terror is not a war that we asked for.  But it is a war that we must fight and we must win.  There is no safe, easy middle ground.  Either we take this war to the terrorists and fight them where they are, or we will have to deal with them here at home.  All over the world people long for what we have, for what you, the men and women in uniform standing before us and their associates, defend: liberty, democracy and a future without fear.  That is why we must prevail.


On behalf of the President of the United States and the American people, I thank you all for your service to our nation.  God bless you all.


Thank you.