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Work Receives Praise, DoD Distinguished Public Service Award

Jan. 13, 2017 | BY Cheryl Pellerin , DOD News

Defense Secretary Ash Carter today presented Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work with the Defense Department’s highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Public Service Award, during a recognition ceremony at the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work during Work's farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work during Work's farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work during Work's farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Farewell Ceremony
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work during Work's farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Photo By: Sgt. Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 170113-D-SV709-007

Carter said the department was recognizing Work “for his outstanding work and partnership [and] his visionary leadership and management of the defense enterprise as deputy. And, I'm going to repay in small measure a great personal debt and award him our highest civilian honor -- DoD’s Distinguished Public Service Award.”

Work, who will stay on until the incoming administration’s deputy defense secretary is confirmed, was named in the award citation as leading the third offset strategy’s development and the department's crucial effort to maintain conventional deterrence.

He also was praised for driving the department to strengthen defense analysis, cultivate innovative concepts and pursue advanced capabilities.  Work also guided DoD through three planning, programming, budgeting and execution cycles, “fashioning a defense program that assured U.S. military superiority for years to come,” the citation read.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaks during his farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaks during his farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaks during his farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Work Speaks
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaks during his farewell ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Photo By: Sgt. Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 170113-D-SV709-008

Work implemented more than $7.9 billion in management reforms, headed the Nuclear Deterrence Enterprise Review Group, the Women in Service review, the Force of the Future implementation group, and the Military Health System review. He led three ministerial-level multilateral engagements with the Nordic and Baltic countries and focused the department on emerging cyber, space and electronic warfare threats, according to the citation.

Recognition Ceremony

Carter and Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke during Work’s recognition ceremony, praising the deputy defense secretary’s intelligence, energy and love of the department and its service members and civilian employees and contractors.

Selva spoke first, describing a friendship with Work that arose during their 18-month service together co-chairing the Defense Management Action Group and working together on budgets and strategic issues.

Work’s father enlisted in the Marine Corps in World War II and earned a Silver Star in the Korean War, Selva said. Later, he said, Work’s father attended Officer Candidate School and became a Marine Corps’ officer.

01:04
VIDEO | 01:04 | Vice Chairman Salutes Deputy Defense Secretary

The deputy defense secretary followed his father’s path, Selva said, noting that Work served as a Marine officer for 27 years. Work, he said, has been an artilleryman, brigade commander, a base commander at Camp Fuji and an adviser to the secretary of the Navy.

“When I met Lt. Col. Work he was a fellow in a research program ... and I remember the first time we met. We were in a seminar at Johns Hopkins University, and sitting across the table from him my thought was: ‘This guy is special,’” Selva recalled.

Selva said Work is incredibly bright and engaging.

Work is also a movie buff, who loves movie quotes, he added.

The deputy defense secretary has taken his talents to every part of DoD, civilian and military, Selva said, “as an adviser and a consultant outside of government, as an analyst and thinker inside of government, as the undersecretary of the Navy and as the deputy secretary of defense.”

Most Challenging, Least Visible

Carter, himself a former deputy defense secretary, said Work’s job is one of the most challenging, but least visible, roles in the department.

Work understands “like few others in all of Washington that our defense is so vital that we to whom it is entrusted have to ensure its continuity and excellence across the years and across the domains of conflict -- not just air, land, and sea, but also space, and cyberspace -- across our whole government, across government agencies, from strategic era to strategic era and from presidential administration to presidential administration,” Carter said.

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VIDEO | 00:46 | Carter Praises Work’s Achievements

“As we come to the end of this presidential administration and my time as secretary of defense,” Carter added, “I couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Bob.”

Carter said Work has helped him and the department tackle Russian aggression and coercion; manage historic change in the Asia-Pacific; strengthen deterrence and defense forces in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations; check Iranian aggression and malign influence; help defend friends and allies in the Middle East; and counter terrorism and accelerating the certain and lasting defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

At the same time, Carter said, “as we deal with this complex present, Bob’s been particularly key as we’ve also been mindful as we prepare to contend with an uncertain future … ensuring that America’s military is ready for challenges we may not anticipate today.”

To maintain the finest fighting force the world has ever known, Carter said, “we have to invest and we have to innovate. And, Bob’s been the point man in helping us develop and fight for the budget investments we need -- from greater lethality in the Navy, to fully resourced readiness in the Army and Marine Corps, to advanced capabilities in the Air Force and much more.”

Carter said Work “knows we need to innovate for the uncertain future we face, and that’s why he’s been with me all the way in thinking outside the Pentagon’s five-sided-box, to ensure our technology and our plans and our management of people stay the best for decades to come.”

To the deputy defense secretary, Carter said, “Bob, three years ago at your confirmation hearing, you promised to ‘spend every waking day doing everything humanly possible to address forthrightly the pressing national security challenges that face our country.’ You’ve met that commitment -- and more -- and this department and the nation are indebted to you.”

Greatest Competitive Advantage

In his remarks, Work said he’d remain at the Pentagon “a little longer” until his successor is confirmed.

But, he added, “Let me just say to all of you, my friends, my colleagues, my mentors, thank you. Every single person in this room, in one way or the other, has made your mark on me at some place or some time and you've made me a better person for it.”

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VIDEO | 02:26 | Deputy Defense Secretary Reflects on Career

“I am extremely embarrassed to be recognized for doing a job I absolutely love,” Work said, “and for doing things I simply could not have done without the help of many of the people in this room and many, many, many more besides.”

As Work expressed his appreciation to all who have helped him succeed as the deputy defense secretary, his love of movies became apparent.

He likened the five undersecretaries, the DoD general counsel and the director of the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation to the 2016 film, “The Magnificent Seven,” in which seven Old West gunmen unite to help a poor village confront savage thieves.

The Joint Chiefs, Work said, make him think of the 2014 American superhero film, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The 11 combatant commanders and the subunified commanders make him think of Danny Ocean and the cast of the 2001 film “Ocean’s Eleven.” And the Joint Staff he likened to the 2016 movie remake of “Ben Hur.”

In many speeches on domestic and international trips, Work liked to describe his own job, to the delight of nearly every audience, as similar to that of the tethered goat in the 1993 film “Jurassic Park,” who was set out as a meal for the Tyrannosaurus rex.

But a highlight of his job, Work said, is working with the people of DoD.

“The greatest competitive advantage that this department enjoys is its people,” he said. “And, I believe that deeply in my heart and soul.”

Work said he enjoyed his 27 years in the Marines and seven years in government service, living alongside the men and women who serve the country in uniform and the civilian and contractor workforce.

“There are simply no better people,” he added, describing them as patriotic, mission-oriented, selfless, caring and brave.

“No matter how crazy things get, no matter how trying or frustrating the circumstances, you can always count on the people in this enormous and great enterprise known as the Department of Defense to be there to pick you up, encourage you and when necessary kick you in the ass and get you moving,” he said.

Another highlight, he said, was watching Carter “up close and personal” and getting to know him very well.

“It was both an education and an honor,” Work added.

And, to Carter, Work said, “What a difference your strong and steady leadership has made to this department and to our nation's security, ensuring that our military remains the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

That leadership, Work added, “is going to be one of the key reasons that ISIL is on its way to a lasting and decisive defeat.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)