Defense, Navy Leaders Praise Troops During CNO Ceremonies
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md., July 22, 2005 Fighting the war on terror demands extraordinary capabilities and focus, and today's military leaders are setting the example for the young men and women in uniform following in their footsteps.
Gordon England, right, Navy secretary and acting deputy defense secretary, administers the Oath of Office to Adm. Mike Mullen during the chief of naval operations change of command ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., July 22. Mullen relieved Adm. Vern Clark, second from left, who held the position since July 21, 2000, the longest tenure of anyone holding that office since Adm. Arleigh Burke resigned in 1961. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, far left, attended the ceremony. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Johnny Bivera, USN
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
That's the message the Defense Department's top civilians delivered here today as they said goodbye to the chief of naval operations and welcomed aboard his replacement.
Amid traditional bells, pipes and ceremony, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gordon England, secretary of the Navy and acting deputy defense secretary, praised outgoing CNO Adm. Vern Clark for his leadership and vision in leading the Navy during a particularly tumultuous five years.
Clark was "the right man to be on the job on 9/11 and in the difficult days that followed," England said, speaking on a blue-and-gold-draped stage at the U.S. Naval Academy's Alumni Hall. Under his leadership, the Navy not only responded to the crisis, but also improved its capabilities to face future challenges, England noted.
"He leaves a stronger and more capable Navy, to the great benefit of the United States," Rumsfeld said.
The defense secretary said midshipmen he witnessed training in the yard on the way to today's ceremony, and all other sailors, "will do well to follow" in the footsteps of their senior leaders such as Clark.
"Our Navy will become even more capable and more successful in the years ahead" as they do, Rumsfeld said.
While thanking Clark for his service and looking on as Clark's personal flag was "hauled down" from its mast, the secretary congratulated Adm. Mike Mullen, the incoming chief of naval operations, for his rise to the Navy's top military post.
Mullen, who England swore into office as CNO, thanked the mentors who helped lead him to his new position, and promised to be a solid example for "the world's finest sailors" as they serve the United States during a critical time.
"Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, we find ourselves again in a moment of crisis, at war, defending freedom here at home by defending freedom around the globe," he said.
He assured Rumsfeld and England that "when the president talks about the 'forward defense of freedom,' ... (and) taking the fight to the enemy, he can continue to count on the United States Navy."
It's a fight he acknowledged won't be easy and will demand constant vigilance. "Our enemies take no rest," Mullen said. "Neither can we."
Fighting global terrorism, he said, is "the work of a generation or more" and "the struggle of an age."
It's a struggle Clark said America's servicemembers are committed to seeing through. "We believe in the capability, the genius and the patriotism and valor of our men and women serving in our institution today," he said.
"This generation knows that we hold dear a set of beliefs and that those beliefs are worth fighting for," Clark said. "They also understand that this global insurgency seeks to destroy the political and moral will of the American people."
America's enemies don't really understand the American people, and particularly, the members of its armed services, he said. "They do not know the will, the courage and the character of our servicemen and women. (But) I believe that during the span of this generation, our enemies will come to understand very well the indomitable spirit of our sons and daughters."
This generation "gets it" and is ready to follow their leaders and do what's needed to protect their country, Clark said.
"They know that it's their turn ... to stand up for America," he said. "They are proud of what they are doing and they well know their place in history. They are the bearers."