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Welcoming Ceremony for Senior DoD Leaders

Thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.

We are very pleased you’re here.  We’re happy you’re here.  And we’re very proud that you’re here, because this afternoon we’re going to acknowledge four rather important people for this institution – four individuals that have accumulated not only a respectable, but impressive career of doing important things, doing those things the right way, and focused on making the institution they work in, and those around them, better, better people.  So I’m very proud today to be a part of this. 

And we’re particularly happy that many of the family members of these four individuals are here.  These are the families of Christine, and Mike, Jess, Jamie.  So we welcome you.  And we welcome all of you who are here today who work with these four individuals.  Each of you have and have had special relationships with these four, with this institution, and with and for our country.  And we appreciate that.

We welcome Christine Wormuth as our new Under Secretary for Policy.  

We welcome Mike McCord as our new Under Secretary for Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer.

We welcome Jess Wright as our, well not exactly, new – but, very glad that you’re legitimate and you’re now Good-Housekeeping- and Senate-approved.  As you all know, Jess has been filling the role of our Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness for a long time before she was confirmed, so a particular thanks to Jess.

And also to Jamie Morin, who as you all know is our new Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

Now, I realize, as we all do, that calling this a “welcoming” ceremony is a bit of a misnomer, since they’ve all been working in this building, as I noted, for many years.  However, each has assumed new roles and responsibilities that are among the highest and most challenging in this department.  And I, maybe on a bit of a parochial note, would add, I think, in the United States government, maybe in the world.  The jobs that these four individuals are assuming are big, big-time jobs, and many of you in the audience today have held those jobs very successfully, and to you, we thank you.

The Department of Defense is, as you all know, undergoing a great transition.  We are seeing a world in transformation, a world that is probably building a new world order.  How all that comes out is going to very much depend on the leadership from this country, and the leadership of our most significant institutions, and this department, the Department of Defense, is certainly one of those.

As we all recognize, our first responsibility is to the defense and security of this country.  To successfully navigate this time of uncertainty, we all must completely stay focused on building – as we have from the beginning of this republic – a ready, agile, capable, modern force to defend against the full spectrum of threats and challenges that we face today and into the future. 

We will do that by investing in three pillars of our military: our people, our capabilities, and our partnerships. 

In all three of these areas, DoD must meet the challenges, and probably as important as meeting the challenges is to seize the opportunities, and not squander the opportunities.  And sometimes those opportunities are hard to discern, when we are faced with as many challenges as we are today.  At this complicated and, I think we all agree, dangerous time in the world, we need leaders who are steady, who are engaged, experienced, and forward-thinking. 

We could easily allow our time and energy to be consumed by the crisis of the moment, of the day, the crises of the week… but we must also lay the groundwork to help define the future.  We can’t think just about where we are.  We must also think through where we’re going.

Together, these four leaders represent more than 100 years of experience in the defense field.  They don’t look that old, but that’s pretty incredible.  Over 100 years of experience in this endeavor.  And like our new Deputy Secretary, Bob Work, who is here today, they are tested, tested leaders.

Christine, Mike, Jess, Jamie – we thank the four of you.  We thank you again, for again stepping forward to continue to serve the men and women of this department.  We thank you for what you will do to strengthen our people, our capabilities, and our partnerships.  And we thank you for your families.

We thank your families for their sacrifices, the sacrifices that you’ve made, and the sacrifices for them and on your family life, that they have had to make to support you, and you all know that better than anyone.  And we thank them for their willingness to let our country take even a bit more time from them, and the time you have with them.

People in this room, in this building, across the country, and men and women deployed all over the world will be counting on the four of you.  They’ll be counting on you because their success will depend on your leadership, your guidance, and your wisdom. 

Over the last year and a half, I have come to know and trust each of you.  I’ve known you over the last year and a half as exceptional individuals and exceptional leaders.  The commissions you receive today reflect not only my confidence in you, but the President’s confidence in you.  And I am looking forward to continuing working with all of you to ensure that America’s military remains the best in the world, the most capable in the world, and ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

As I am about to call each of you up to present your commissions, I want to acknowledge two people here in the audience.  I see one, I’m not sure if the other one is here, but – Christine, I’m sorry – Elissa Slotkin, who is here. 

Elissa, for the double-, triple-, quadruple-duty that you performed for a long time, thank you.  You deserve recognition and thanks for doing all those jobs, filling in all those jobs in really a pretty spectacular and special way – Elissa Slotkin. 

Also, Mike Lumpkin.  I don’t know if Lumpkin is here.  He’s working, I’m sure.  But Mike Lumpkin has taken on many projects in this department since he’s come back in the last year and a half.  And I want to acknowledge Mike’s work, because he filled in a number of positions while we were awaiting the wise counsel of the Senate and their confirmation of our distinguished leaders today, so to Mike Lumpkin, wherever you are, thank you.

Now if I could ask each of you to come forward, starting with Christine Wormuth.