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DoD News Briefing: Welcoming Ceremony for Dr. John J. Hamre

Presenter: Welcoming Ceremony for Dr. John J. Hamre
September 23, 1997

Secretary Cohen: Dr. Hamre and Julie and Janet, members of the House and Senate, Executive Branch, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and so many friends of John Hamre -- we welcome you here today.

At the close of the Civil War the poet Joshua Hollen described what a time of historic change demands. He said it demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands; men and women who possess opinions and a will and honor; whose sun crowns live above the fog in public duty and in private thinking. Today, in another time of historic change, we welcome a strong mind and a great heart to the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense, John Hamre, who also, had any of you been listening, was singing with a great tenor voice during the Star Spangled Banner.

From the prairie hills of South Dakota, this son of a banker and teacher became a student of political science and divinity. And when he came to Washington to serve in Congress and in the Pentagon, John harnessed all four influences to protect the public dollar. He has the thrift of a banker, the patience of a teacher, the analytical mind of a political scientist, and the divine faith of a minister in the goodness of mankind, which is a remarkable trait to retain after 20 years of being in Washington.

For his strong record of public duty and thinking, John Hamre is the ideal choice to help lead this Department. He's someone I have known and liked and trusted for many years.

As our Department looks toward a new century, we face a great many challenges. The challenge to help shape the world events, to bring more stability to more regions, more democracy to more nations, and thus, fewer threats to American interests. The challenge to respond to the threats that inevitably are going to emerge so that we can maintain strong forces poised on the ready and forward deployed. The challenge to prepare for the future to harness the technological revolution in military affairs so that our forces can dominate the battlefield of tomorrow. And finally, the challenge to shape a new Department of Defense, as Chairman Shali has just mentioned.

And to celebrate our Golden Anniversary, our 50 years of success, we're building a modern new organization, a 21st Century Pentagon, a model of action, economy, efficiency, and versatility. John Hamre's leadership is going to be a vital part of our success.

As most of you are aware, there have been many in the past that have tried to reform the Defense Department and said "mission impossible". As defense Comptroller, John has tackled a good portion of reform, and he has said "mission accomplished" -- streamlining our financial operations and stretching our defense dollars.

But defense reform is only a part of John Hamre's job. As Deputy Secretary he's going to serve as my right hand on a full spectrum of defense issues. He's going to join me and our civilian and military leadership to keep our forces strong, to use them wisely, to harness their minds, and to exploit modern technology.

John Hamre has come a very long way for a native son of Willow Lake -- a South Dakota town with 100 people, 40 buildings, one paved road, and a grain silo. Today, he is my partner in leading an organization of more than three million people who are serving all over the world.

In every job that he's ever held, in every challenge he's ever faced, John Hamre has brought a quick mind, a ready smile, and a mighty heart, and we are very fortunate, indeed, to have a person of his caliber at the Defense Department, and Janet and I send heartfelt congratulations to John and Julie on this magnificent day.

Welcome aboard, and God bless both of you.

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