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Deputy Welcomes Civilian Leaders to "DoD 101" Introduction

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2004 – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz welcomed civilian business, academic and local government leaders from throughout the nation to the Pentagon today to kick off a weeklong schedule that will offer a firsthand look at the military at work in the war on terror.

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Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz greets participants in the 2004 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference June 7 at the Pentagon before they leave for sites in Europe to see service members at work in the war on terror. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Buytas, USAF

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"At times of stress like this, the performance of our military really shines," Wolfowitz told participants in the 2004 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. The group is slated to travel to sites throughout Europe to learn about U.S. service members, their equipment and capabilities and national defense strategies.

Following their meeting with Wolfowitz, the group received briefings about how the military works and toured the Pentagon, including the National Military Command Center.

The group will leave later in the day for a whirlwind visit to military sites supporting the war on terror. During the trip, participants will fly on military aircraft, experience aircraft landings and launches from Navy ships and observe amphibious landings, urban area combat techniques, special operations assaults and other warfare demonstrations.

"You will learn a great deal about issues that confront us as a department as we work to support America's security in a dangerous world," the deputy told the group before their departure.

But one of the most important opportunities, he said, will be to meet "these incredible young men and women in uniform" as they carry out their missions in defense of freedom. "They are Americans like you a cross-section of this country," Wolfowitz said. "They are the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world. They're incredibly brave and they have to be."

Wolfowitz said America's military has played a vital role in answering the terrorist threat. "Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen helped to liberate 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. And in the process, they dealt severe blows to terrorist organizations that use those countries as bases," he said.

But the deputy stressed that the war is far from over. "The terrorists and the Taliban and the gang that ruled Iraq for 35 years didn't just pack up and leave town," he said. "As we know, Saddam (Hussein) was fighting us right up until his capture last December. His closest lieutenants are still fighting us."

Wolfowitz said the mission ahead continues to be "a very dangerous business," one he said won't be accomplished overnight. But the deputy said he has no doubts about the military's commitment to see it through. "The troops out there understand what they are doing," he said, adding that he is "astonished" by the depth of their belief in the mission.

"And we have got to make that mission succeed," he said.

Wolfowitz said the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, following on the heels of the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the World War II dedication, will expose participants to today's military, which he called "every bit as great as that greatest generation."

By the end of the program, he said, "I think you will probably agree with that judgment."

The first U.S. defense secretary, James V. Forrestal, created the JCOC in 1948 to introduce civilian "movers and shakers" with little or no military exposure to the workings of the armed forces.

Nearly six decades later, it remains DoD's premier civic leader program. Participants are selected from hundreds of candidates nominated by military commands worldwide and pay their own expenses throughout the conference. This is just the second year that the conference has included visits to U.S. installations overseas.

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Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz

Related Sites:
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference

Click photo for screen-resolution imageParticipants in the 2004 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference enjoy breakfast at the Pentagon June 7 before setting out on a weeklong visit to military sites throughout Europe. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Buytas, USAF  
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