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Chancellor of Education Swearing In Ceremony - Secretary of Defense Cohen

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
October 02, 1998 2:30 PM EDT

Secretary Cohen: Deputy Secretary Hamre, Dr. Smith, the Smith family, distinguished guests.

I'm delighted to be here to celebrate the investiture of Dr. Smith and the beginning of a new era in this Department's education of its civilian workforce.

President Kennedy once said that "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education." That's equally true of this Department.

Over the years we have put a lot of focus on training our service members and officers and the rewards I think have been immeasurable. We now have to put the same emphasis on developing the skills of our vital civilian workforce.

The 730,000 civilians who serve DoD form a cadre of unsurpassed talent, expertise and promise, and the strength of this Department and the security of this nation hinge in no small measure on their ability to realize their full potential, and therefore it's critically important that we provide world class professional development education for our employees.

So it's with great pleasure that I welcome Jerry Smith as the first Chancellor for Education and Professional Development. He is uniquely qualified and suited to lead our civilian education effort. The Department of Education system is in his blood from his first days as a midshipman at Annapolis to his most recent post as Dean of the Information Resources Management College.

I have full confidence in his ability to establish this position as a vigorous visionary guiding hand on matters involving civilian education. I know he has the support of the entire Department, particularly those in our education community who support him in his new role.

This appointment is also another milestone in our Defense Reform Initiative which has had a very successful first year thanks to Dr. Hamre. Credit really does belong to John and Bill Hoole and the thousands of employees throughout this Department who have contributed their energy and creativity to making DoD a better more efficient organization. And I'd like to offer special thanks to Vice Admiral Jack Baldwin who has done a fantastic job in creating the blueprint for this chancellorship. All of you, I want to express my thanks for your great contribution.

I'll now ask Deputy Secretary Hamre to say a few words, and then officially swear in our new chancellor.

(Chancellor sworn in)

Dr. Smith: Thank you Secretary Cohen and Dr. Hamre. It is indeed an honor for me to have your support in undertaking this new challenge. As the Secretary mentioned, I have personally benefited from the emphasis the U.S. military has placed on education and lifelong learning for career development.

For the past six years I have been privileged to be a part of the professional military education system at its flagship organization the National Defense University. Both the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the Information Resources Management College include civilian members of the Department of Defense as well as other federal government civilians as members of their student body. I know just how much these folks benefit from and value their opportunity for education experience, but I also know that few of our civilians get such a chance.

Therefore, I am delighted to be given the task of working with the educational and career development resources which the Department supports to ensure our civilian workforce has systematic access to quality educational programs.

I must be able to assure departmental leadership that the significant funding invested in education and in education resources is receiving the highest quality return possible.

I look forward to organizing this new office and developing close working relationships with the leaders of our many educational institutions and programs carrying out this work today.

I want to thank Dr. Diane Disney and Vice Admiral Jack Baldwin for their pioneering work in identifying the elements of this challenge. Secretary Cohen, Dr. Hamre, I appreciate your confidence in my ability to pull this together and I pledge my full energies to carry out the mission assigned.

Thank you all very much.

Mr. Bacon: Secretary Cohen will take a few questions and then you can ask Dr. Hamre and Dr. Smith questions.

Secretary Cohen: Or you can ask Dr. Hamre and Dr. Smith questions first. Either way. (Laughter)

Q: Secretary Cohen, on Kosovo. If Milosevic stops all the aggression against ethnic Albanians, is there still enough consensus among NATO nations to go forward with airstrikes if he doesn't meet all the other UN resolution conditions such as allowing access for humanitarian work?

It seems to me that since it's sovereign territory it might be a little bit more of a hard sell if there's no more atrocities taking place.

A: I think most of the NATO allies have been dealing with Mr. Milosevic for some time now and recognize that he always tries to simply pull back at the last moment, only to have the capacity to engage in the type of atrocious behavior he has in recent weeks. I don't think any of the NATO allies are going to be satisfied that he simply stops the killing momentarily, that that will measure up to the requirements of the UN Security Council resolution that was passed last week.

So I would expect that he should and will be required to meet all of the demands. He cannot pick, as I indicated before, a la carte, and pick and choose which provisions he will comply with and leave the others open for negotiation. I think he has to pull back his forces. He has to pull back the army, the police forces; he has to allow the humanitarian organizations in to provide immediate relief; he has to allow for the resettlement of the displaced persons, and he has to agree to sit down at the bargaining table. When he meets all of those demands, then I think that the NATO countries will be satisfied.

Q: Can you say how many aircraft you'll commit to the operation?

A: That's still under development now. We would expect there would be several hundred aircraft with all of the nations, all of the NATO countries participating, but that's still being resolved in terms of how many from each country.

Q: Has there been any change on the ground in Kosovo? Any sign that the Serb forces are withdrawing and that the fighting is halting?

A: There have been some indications in the past day or two that some of the forces have withdrawn. Not all of them, but there seems to be some movement back. But it has not been complete, and again, it's not a question of Milosevic simply pulling some forces back and saying, there, I've complied with the Security Council demands.

Q: Have you signed any redeployment orders for forces, to get forces in place for military action?

A: I have not signed any deployment orders that would require us to shift forces around at this point. Whether that becomes necessary remains to be determined.

Q: NATO has now taken a step further and they're discussing, they will over the next few days, ground troops that would be used in the event of a cease-fire. Will the U.S. commit ground troops for such an option?

A: That really hasn't been formally addressed. There have been no plans that I'm aware of that have been nearing any kind of finalization as far as any sort of a cease-fire monitoring group. And we would indicate that we obviously would be involved in some planning of such an international force but we have made no commitment to having any participation on the ground at all. That's a decision that has yet to be made, and there has been no even preliminary planning on our part for such a participation that I've been a part of, certainly.

Q: Mr. Secretary, how concerned are you that this period of time now between, prior to the NAC meeting on Wednesday and some period of days after that, simply gives Milosevic a built-in timeframe to either pull back below the pain threshold of action or to finish his campaign in Kosovo?

A: There was a report that at least two weeks are contemplated before any such action could take place. I believe action, if it's required, will take place before that time. That there will not be a two week hiatus between now and the time that it would be necessary to provide relief for the people who are currently suffering.

In addition, there was a report that I planned to visit Brussels. My plans are tentative. I would hope if I do go to Brussels I would meet with the SACEUR, Wes Clarke, to review any last minute plans as far as the actual operations are concerned and perhaps meet with Secretary General Solana. But that's only tentative at this point and has not been finalized yet.

Q: Mr. Secretary, are you at all concerned that airstrikes may complicate the possibility of reaching a political settlement in Kosovo?

A: That's always a potentiality in terms of complicating the situation. What complicates the situation is for Milosevic's troops to be viciously murdering a lot of people. That's complicating matters and that's got to stop. I think we have seen from past behavior on his part that absent any real credible threat to take action against him then he's unlikely to cease and desist from this kind of behavior.

So it's always a risk that there will be a complicating factor, but I think what's complicating right now is how you get 50,000 people down out of the hills and into their villages or homes? How do we do that in a very short timeframe to make sure that they don't starve to death or freeze to death? So that's a complicating factor, and I think he has contributed immensely to that problem.

Q: Are you confident that airstrikes can achieve that?

A: I think that airstrikes can do several things. It certainly can send a message that he has to agree to the Security Council resolutions and demands. Secondly, if he refuses to do so, I think we're in a position as a NATO organization to inflict substantial damage on his capacity to harm innocent people in the future. So that's what I'm confident of. Whether or not it will lead to the kind of peaceful solution that we hope will be achieved is still a question. But I think it's a better opportunity to achieve that if we are forced to take action in the face of his obstruction.

Q: Is Milosevic's word good enough at the moment for all of the conditions that you've set out, or does NATO need to see something in writing from him or something better than just his word?

A: I don't think whether it's oral or in written form, that that should satisfy anyone. I think what we have to do is see actual deeds carried out by him, rather than whatever he might say. I think we have to not trust, but we do need to verify.

Mr. Bacon: Do you have questions on the new education executive here?

Q: From the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. How will military communities overseas benefit by having a Chancellor of Education in Washington?

A: (Smith) I don't know the answer to that question yet, but I'm going to start out and find out.

Q: You said you were in the military education system for six years. What aspects of military education are you going to bring to civilian education?

A: (Smith) Actually, I've been in the military education system since I signed up in 1957 as a midshipman, and that's one of the neat things about the professional military education system. It's a lifelong process.

For the last six years I've been at National Defense University which is the capstone institution.

That system serves as a pretty good model, along with some others, of the kind of quality education system we would like to have for our civilians including regular returns to school and opportunities for continuous professional development. World class companies do that. We're competing with them for the best people.

Q: What are your first initiatives going to be?

A: (Smith) The first thing I've got to do is get the office organized. It consists of, about 15 minutes ago, of one person, so... (Laughter) We'll work on that, and to start working with my colleagues here who operate those institutions and making sure that Secretary Hamre's can get greater confidence that we're doing right by our people with quality education. So developing quality standards, being in touch with the organizations, and the mechanics of standing up an office.

A: (Hamre) And I have a first assignment. That is he is, Jerry is going to be sitting with me when we look at the budget submissions this fall. I want him to get familiar with everybody that's under his purview, but I need his help this fall looking at how we're spending our money. I need him to get smart real quick.

Q: Is this going to mean maybe a bigger budget for civilian education?

A: (Hamre) I personally believe that we have to invest more in our professionals. How we do that and in what ways we do that and how much is still an open question and that's going to be very much Dr. Smith's responsibility to guide us on that.

Mr. Bacon: Any more questions? (No response) Thank you very much.

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