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Recruiters of the Year Awards Ceremony
Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, The Pentagon, Washington, DC, Thursday, June 29, 2000

Thank you for being here this morning at the Pentagon. Secretary [of the Navy, Richard] Danzig and the other Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries that participated in our [Recruiting] Forum. We have our senior military leaders that are here from each of the services. We have Samantha [Lipson]'s daughter who is making her debut at the Pentagon. [Laughter.] We're glad that both of you are here and that the other spouses are here as well.

Today we're gathered to honor the men and women who have excelled at what has been one of our greatest military challenges. In 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, General George McClellan sent word that he needed fresh recruits before he could engage the enemy. A weary President Lincoln, then the nation's recruiter-in-chief, responded this way, "When you ask for 50,000 men to be promptly sent to you, surely you labor under some gross mistake of fact."

The men and women we honor today face the toughest of tasks every day, providing our nation with soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen to protect America's interests and ideals around the world. Indeed, the mission of America's armed forces from Kosovo to Korea, and the peace, security and prosperity of our nation, would literally be impossible without the very hard work of America's outstanding corps of recruiters.

At the same time that we call for more recruits, we also are enlisting only the best that this nation has to offer. Because our military is increasingly reliant on the most sophisticated technologies, because we ask our men and women in uniform to be warriors, diplomats and engineers, we can only succeed if we are able to attract the highest quality of recruits our country can offer.

I just spent the last hour, along with Secretary Danzig and Under Secretary [of the Air Force, Carol] DiBattiste, Assistant Secretary of the Army P.T. Henry, Assistant Secretary of Defense [for Force Management Policy] Al Maldon and [Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Personnel & Readiness] Charlie Cragin, listening to our recruiters and getting their observations on what is one of the most challenging missions in the armed forces today.

We all know that getting the best becomes harder with every drop in unemployment and every rise in wages in our red-hot economy. But despite the enormity of the challenge of recruiting nearly 30,000 young people every month, America's recruiters, our honorees, have demonstrated time and again that they're up to this job. That is why we are supporting our recruiters with increased enlistment bonuses and educational benefits and by a major rise in recruiting advertising over the last year.

Each of the services has worked recruiting advertising to make sure that it's purposeful and relevant. But I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Secretary Danzig and [Assistant] Secretary P.T. Henry in this area.

These twelve individuals, the recruiters that we honor, are the best of the best. We also honor them as a gesture of thanks to all recruiters who labor each day to keep America's armed forces robust and ready. They stand for the more than 20,000 Active, Guard, and Reserve recruiters who deliver the message of military service opportunities to the American people every day. Representing each service, these men and women were chosen because they have excelled beyond their peers in a very tough and challenging business.

Please join me in honoring those who make possible everything that we do. Thank you. [Applause.]