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Carter Welcomes Navy's New Top Officer

Sept. 18, 2015 | BY Lisa Ferdinando , DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

The Navy's new top officer will build the force of the future, and continue the work of his predecessor in advancing the sophisticated fighting force, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.

Carter welcomed Navy Adm. John Richardson to the position of chief of naval operations today, during the change-of-responsibility ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Richardson succeeded Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.

Challenges for the Navy span every domain, Carter said, not only in the sea, but also in air, land, space and cyberspace.

"In the months and years ahead, America’s Navy will continue to be called upon," Carter said. "The Navy is critical to our military’s ability to project power around the world, protect the global commons, and flow ready forces wherever they’re needed."

Where, When It Matters

Carter thanked Greenert for his contributions to the Navy.

Sailors and Marines have been "where it matters, when it matters" under Greenert's watch, he said, including rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific, reinforcing NATO allies, supporting forces ashore in the Middle East, and providing humanitarian assistance around the world.

"Our military is first and foremost a warfighting force, and while we seek to deter wars, we must also be prepared to fight and win them," Carter said. "This means that overall, the Navy’s strategic future will require focusing more on posture, not only on  presence and more on new capabilities, not only ship numbers. "

The Navy is "more than up to this task," and Richardson is the right choice, Carter said.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Greenert was at the helm during a time of many challenges, including operating in an "uncertain and shrinking budget environment while the world has gotten more volatile and more violent and more in need than ever of the United States Navy."

Richardson said he is "optimistic" despite the challenges facing the Navy. "This is exactly the environment in which Americans thrive, and we will thrive," he said.

"We are at our best when the chips are down, when the stakes are high -- and they are very high indeed right now," he said.

'Fond Memories,' Challenges Remain

"When I started the watch in 2011, I said 'Hey, there are storm clouds out there on the horizon,'" Greenert said. "But you know, ladies and gentlemen, there is no place better to be than on the bridge if you're going into a storm."

Challenges remain in an evolving security landscape, he said. "The Navy needs a strong leadership team, and that's exactly what we're going to get. We have a magnificent couple coming in, in John and [his wife] Dana Richardson."

Greenert, who retired after four decades of service, said he has "fond memories" of his time in the Navy.

"I am privileged to have served. It's been a great honor and a remarkable, remarkable time that I shall never, obviously, forget," Greenert said.

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