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Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks' Remarks at the Army 247th Birthday Celebration Cake Cutting and Reenlistment Ceremony (As Prepared)

Good morning everyone – it's great to be here to celebrate the Army's 247th birthday.

Thank you to those joining us in-person at the Pentagon, as well as those joining us virtually. 

At the outset, I would like to recognize the 9 soldiers who are here this morning and reenlisting with the U.S. Army – thank you for your continued dedication and service not just to the Army and the Department of Defense, but to our country. 

Several years ago, I had the honor of serving on the National Commission on the Future of the Army.  

As we reflected on the proud history of the Army, we noted that America had an Army before it became a nation.  It was in fact June 14, 1775 that the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Army — more than a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

And, for the past 247 years – from the American Revolution in the 18th Century, to the First and Second World Wars in the 20th Century – to present day – the U.S. Army has served this nation with honor and defended our freedoms.

Today, the United States Army unquestionably remains the world's premier land-based fighting force. 

The brave women and men of the Army stand ready – across the globe – to advance our national security and defend the United States.

And it does so as a member of our Joint Force, and working alongside America's Allies and partners. 

But our Commission wasn't created simply to praise the rich history of the Army.  Instead, Congress was looking for an independent view on the nation's future need for ground forces.  

Our conclusion in 2016, and my conviction standing before you today, is that America needs her Army. 

The United States faces a number of current challenges that reinforce that reality.  From the PRC, our pacing challenge, to the acute threat posed by Russia, to persistent threats emanating from Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist organizations.

Just as yesterday's Army met the challenges put before it, I know today's Army is more than up to the task. 

And it requires the Army to be ready 24/7- not just today, but also tomorrow. 

Innovation and modernization are vital to the Army's enduring value in deterring aggressors and – when called – fighting and winning wars.

Moreover, American democracy grows stronger each day with the Army's visible and steadfast adherence to military professionalism, respect for the rule of law, and fealty to the United States Constitution.  

"This we'll defend," as the Army motto makes clear.  Citizens from every walk of life and every region of the country; from every race, creed, religion; can see these beliefs and ideals in today's Army.   

So on this 247th Army birthday, let's make sure all Americans remember and celebrate the Army's role — both in defending the nation, and in embodying the nation it's called to defend.  Happy birthday, and thank you for inviting me to celebrate with you.