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Rededicate, Press On, Cohen Tells Field

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 1997 – Shortly after being sworn in by Vice President Al Gore Jan. 24., Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen sent a message to the field.

Here is the text of his message:

"I am both honored and privileged to have been asked by President Clinton to serve as Secretary of Defense. I approach these demanding duties with humility and with a full appreciation of the important work ahead as we confront the uncertainties of future threats to the security of our nation and our allies.

"To those who serve in uniform, regardless of where you are or what you do, you should know that you serve with the support of a grateful nation. Thanks to you and your predecessors, the world is a safer place today, for us and for all nations. Your tenacity and undiminished commitment to the pursuit of peace and freedom brought an end to the Cold War, reversed aggression in Southwest Asia, and today deters those forces that seek to undermine the efforts of nations to live in peace. As a result, our community of nations has a renewed sense of hope as it approaches the new century.

"As I assume the watch from Secretary Perry, I wish to convey to each and every one of you two key thoughts. The first is my great pride in your collective achievements, which have enabled the United States to fulfill its indispensable role as the world's greatest force for peace, prosperity, and freedom. My respect for your achievements is equaled only by the honor of being selected to lead you and the Department of Defense as we work to ensure the security of the United States and to protect and promote our national interests abroad.

"Second, I request an individual and collective rededication on the part of all who wear the uniform to the ideals of protecting our nation. Adlai Stevenson once said, 'Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.' Through your steady dedication to the common defense, you represent the best our nation has to offer -- both to our own country and to the world. Your greatness is measured in many different ways, every day. Be it your compassion in humanitarian missions, your steadfast resolve while deterring potential enemies, or your courage and professionalism when the nation decides to commit its might in the pursuit of our national objectives, you light the path for others to follow. Your countrymen look to your 'dedication of a lifetime' as a constant in their lives. The world depends on it as a condition for peace and stability.

"Let me close by saying that I pledge all of my energies towards achieving the high standards that the American people have come to expect of their armed forces. I further pledge that we shall meet your expectations and those of your families as you discharge your unique and demanding duties on land, at sea, or in the air around the globe. A proud and grateful nation, whose destiny is in your hands, can do no less. Press on."

Cohen also sent letters to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, unified combatant commanders, service secretaries and chiefs of staff. He acknowledged their enormous responsibilities in accomplishing the vital tasks of ensuring the security of the United States and promoting national interests.

He asked the service secretaries to convey his appreciation to the departments' civilians for their "tireless efforts in support of the uniformed military and the defense of our nation."

Cohen told military and civilian leaders he takes the Quadrennial Defense Review seriously and expects all in the department to take it equally seriously. Achieving a proper match of strategy, programs and resources to meet security needs of the present and future poses a major challenge, he said.

"The reductions of recent years have exhausted all the easy options and, properly done, the QDR will present difficult choices," Cohen said.

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