Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Hnororable Gordon R. England
1 February 2007
Thank you, Bill [Dalecky] for the warm introduction…and the opportunity to be here today. And thank you for the great work that you and Precision Strike Association do every day, to help ensure the Department has the capabilities needed to protect and defend America.
Now, today I get the easy – and very pleasurable – job of presenting the 11th annual William J. Perry award, for success in one very special effort. The award is named after a dear friend – I was on the Defense Science Board when he was Secretary of Defense, and I ran a few studies for him. Any award named after Secretary Perry is worth getting – he is universally respected, he has made a mark on the world, and he is a great and direct contributor to the peace and prosperity America enjoys.
Secretary Perry has been a Soldier, a Statesman, an academic Mathematician… and, of course, Secretary of Defense. He also served in the Pentagon as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and later… as Deputy Secretary of Defense. It is a privilege to fill in for a DepSecDef actually capable of moving up to the SecDef job – not all Deputies meet that high standard!
I thought I’d take literally one or two minutes to do a quick walk around the world – the things you read about in the papers – to share a few of my perspectives.
What we do in the Department of Defense – what we spend all of our time doing one thing – is supporting the brave men and women who wear the cloth of this nation, as they protect and defend America, at home and abroad. That’s my job – and I do want to say a special “thank you” to all the veterans here this afternoon. Today, about 400K servicemen and women are deployed, 195K of them in the CENTCOM AOR. They’re there so that we can live our lives, do what we’re doing.
President Bush recently outlined a new way forward in Iraq. As he said, there’s “no magic formula for success” – there never is. Everybody agrees that simply pulling out of Iraq would be a disaster. No one argues that defeat is okay. There is disagreement about the methods – and God bless America, it’s okay here to debate and disagree. But everyone agrees on the need for success. This is not a popularity contest. In my view – it’s easy to be popular. All you have to do is take a poll, look at the results, and do what the majority says. That’s popularity – but it isn’t leadership. Leadership is doing what’s best for the nation.
This isn’t just about Iraq or Afghanistan – this is about a long-term threat. America fought communism for 40 years, and it wasn’t about being a Democratic or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative – it was about recognizing a genuine threat to our way of life.
The key today is the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki, the Iraqi leadership, and the Iraqi security forces. They have to step up, and the US is in a supporting role. The Iraqis will have to be even-handed and fair across the country, and across the political spectrum – and that’s hard. I personally know ADM Bill Fallon, who’s assuming command of CENTCOM – he was VCNO when I was the Secretary of the Navy. And GEN Petraeus, who’s taking over MNF-I, is another great person. These are terrific leaders for the hard jobs ahead.
In Afghanistan, NATO is playing a profound and path-breaking role, bringing troop-contributing countries together to provide security and reconstruction, in support of the host nation. This is a major step forward for NATO, providing combat troops in another country. You’ve been hearing about the Taliban’s “spring offensive” – and no question, they’re planning one. But we’re also planning a spring offensive… and I suspect that ours may be more successful!
The US is paying very close attention to Iran –
· Iran is fomenting unrest inside its neighbor Iraq
· Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons program, which is very destabilizing
· Iran continues to proliferate weapons and dangerous materials.
· Iran provides direct support to Hizbollah and Hamas.
· And Iran seeks to play a dominating role in the region.
The United States simply cannot allow all this to happen.
The Middle East remains critical to the national interests of the United States. This is not a time for America to be hesitant – this is a time for bold leadership. If the US doesn’t do it, there’s no one else out there – we’re the lone superpower, and when you are, you have obligations.
The war goes beyond the Middle East, and so the US continues to enhance partnership in key regions. For example, there has been great success recently in the Philippines, with whom we’ve worked closely, in targeting terrorist leaders. No nation can go it alone – and so the way forward is all about partnership.
The US does remain concerned about the future course that major powers, like China and Russia may choose… They are still powerful, and they are building up their capabilities. China, especially, is developing “interesting” technologies.
Today’s award is special because it recognizes a very successful collaboration between government and industry – between the Air Force and Boeing, and their suppliers. The small diameter bomb they’ve produced and fielded is a smart and necessary tool for counter-insurgency operations on the 21st century battlefield – precise, taking out targets with far less chance of collateral damage in urban areas.
In 2002 when the program was launched, I was in the Pentagon as the Secretary of the Navy, and I remember the kick-off. Secretary of the Air Force Mike Wynne was then with AT&L. There was a lot of discussion about the need for this capability. Mike is the one who made it happen – he really is the father of the program. It goes to show that if you stick around long enough – and Mike and I are still here – you get to see programs through to fielding.
This award today is not just about what the team achieved – but also about how they did it. The program came in ahead of schedule … and under budget. We don’t always see that in DoD!
I do thank all of you – all who have worked on this program, directly or indirectly, and all of you who will use it in the field - for your hard work, your innovation, your commitment, and your refusal to settle for an “acceptable” solution…and your insistence, instead, to reach for, and achieve, a truly exceptional one. And I thank you for what you do every day for America.
God bless you all!
Now how about that award…?