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Remarks before Administering the Oath of Office to Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning

What a great honor it is for me to administer the Oath of Office to Eric Fanning, one of our finest and most accomplished public servants as he becomes Secretary of the Army today.

Over the course of my career, it has been a privilege to work alongside Eric now -- we were just saying -- many years, and watch him develop into one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced civil servants.  And over the past several years I’ve seen firsthand why Eric Fanning is one of this Administration’s most trusted and capable appointees and one of the Pentagon’s most dependable civilian leaders.

When Eric served as my chief of staff when I first became Secretary of Defense, I looked to him to help me recruit and attract a talented and innovative team of civilian and military leaders, many of whom are with us today.  Eric also understands the Army well, and having served more over in three senior leadership roles in each of the services, he understands the pivotal connections that bind them all together.  From his service in positions of responsibility on non-proliferation issues and weapon of mass destruction, to his proven leadership in resource management, Eric understands the full spectrum of responsibilities and opportunities that we confront as a 21st century military.

As Secretary of the Army, Eric will strengthen the Army’s unparalleled ability, forged over the last 15 years, to seize, hold, and dominate physical and human terrain.  But I know Eric is also a leader who is never satisfied and always innovative.  I know he won’t rest on the current excellence of our Army; he will double down on it, ensuring that our ground forces are agile, unrivaled in posture, full spectrum ready, and always ready to defend America’s interests and values.

Eric embodies the kind of strong and steady servant leadership and civilian commitment to our men and women in uniform that have made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  And I look forward to working with him as he strengthens our Army, builds on its best traditions, and prepares our ground forces to confront a new generation of challenges.

Of course, the strength of our force is built upon strong civilian-military relations.  And General Milley is no stranger to trusted teamwork, whether playing hockey at Princeton – and I know you and Eric might have a friendly rivalry in a Princeton-Dartmouth way – or commanding a battalion in the regiment made famous by Band of Brothers, Mark has always been, not only a gifted warrior, but a consummate team-player.  I know how pleased he is to have Eric, as I sure am, finally on board and to be part of a now complete team tasked with winning the nation’s wars.

Eric, I know it’s been a long time waiting and it’s been a long time coming.  But I think we can all say today: it’s been worth the wait.  By the way, I won’t justify that wait.  By any means it had nothing to do with Eric.  But I’m glad it’s over.  And I want to thank you for your patience and fortitude during this process.

And I also want to give my special appreciation to Patrick Murphy, a combat veteran who’s never lost sight of our most important commitment, and that’s to the people of our force.  He has done an excellent job as Acting Secretary over these past months and I look forward to continuing to work with him as Undersecretary of the Army. Patrick, we’re all in your debt.

In so many ways the people of the Pentagon have always been innovators, adapting to the next generation of challenges, expanding the opportunity to fight for our country to all Americans who can meet our rigorous standards -- innovating in our operations, in our strategy, in how we manage ourselves, how we manage our people.

And so it’s now my great honor to administer the Oath of Office to one of those leaders and innovators, one who will undoubtedly strengthen our force, and, as he becomes Secretary of the Army today, is one more reflection of the founding promise of this great country.

Eric, come on up--I will administer the Oath to you: