Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld today released the following statement:
"Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush, Gen. and Mrs. Myers, Gen. and Mrs. Pace, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. President, you have spoken about the need to transform our armed forces. You told us to challenge the status quo, and work to build a 21st century military that can deter aggression and help extend peace and freedom well into the new century.
"Change is hard, and changing so vital an institution as the U.S. Department of Defense is not undertaken lightly. It takes clarity of vision and unity of purpose.
"And it takes leadership. Gen. Dick Myers is a leader. I've had the great good fortune to work closely with Dick Myers and with Gen. Hugh Shelton over these past months. We've met for hours at a time, days on end, working and analyzing, discussing and debating.
"You get to know someone pretty well after the kind of effort we've put behind the work you have assigned us. What I have come to know and expect of Gen. Myers is candor, deliberation, judgment, keen insights, fiber and good humor.
"He is from Kansas, a man of the prairie who has conquered the skies. From service as a fighter pilot in Vietnam to commander of the U.S. Space Command, his career is the embodiment of the transformation with which he will be charged as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Mr. President, I am proud to join you today to welcome Gen. Myers to the opportunities we will share together over the years ahead. No one will have a greater responsibility than he to turn your vision into reality for the two million plus men and women who don our nation's uniforms to carry out their vital assignments. Gen. Myers, I am delighted with this nomination and I look forward to working with you.
"It also gives me great pleasure to be here with Gen. Pete Pace, who the president will nominate to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the streets of Mogadishu, Gen. Pace has fought our country's fights small and large and demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for leadership along the way.
"As a former deputy commander of U.S. forces in Japan and as the current commander of the Southern Command, Gen. Pace brings a combatant commander's perspective to a position that has immense responsibility for establishing the war fighting requirements of the weapons systems and platforms our forces bring to the fight.
"Like Gen. Myers, Gen. Pace is well suited to meet the transformation challenge we face. Never before has a Marine officer served in the position of vice chairman. Pete Pace's background, expertise and insight will fit well and complement Gen. Myers. Pete, we welcome your nomination to the Department of Defense leadership team.
"Military command blends technological competence, war fighting capacity, intellectual rigor, and the willingness and ability to lead. I know of better way to describe Gen. Hugh Shelton, whose military service to our country is coming to a close. Hugh has been a truly fine chairman, and I know Gen. Myers, as I, has benefited greatly from working so closely with Gen. Shelton. On behalf of our armed forces, I thank Gen. Hugh Shelton for his outstanding and courageous service and I commend him for his professionalism.
"Hugh Shelton leaves behind an institution that I know will be up to the challenges before it. In these two men, Gen. Dick Myers and Gen. Pete Pace, our forces are in fine hands.
"Mr. President, I thank you for all your support for the men and women of the armed forces, those who willingly put their lives at risk so that each of us are able to go about our daily lives in peace and freedom.
"We thank you, sir."