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Remarks by Secretary Carter and Air Force Secretary James regarding the Nomination of General Goldfein to be Air Force Chief of Staff

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER:  Good afternoon, everyone.

I am very honored to bring to this room a tested warrior, one of most proven strategic thinkers across our joint force, and that is General Dave Goldfein.
I want to extend my deepest congratulations to Dave on his nomination by President Obama as our next Air Force chief of staff.

Then-Colonel Goldfein wrote in his book, "Sharing Success, Owning Failure," quote, "the single most important element of success in war is leadership."  And it was because of General Goldfein's strong and also visionary leadership over a demanding succession of roles, including commander of U.S. Air Forces-Central Command, director of the joint staff, and most recently vice chief of staff of the Air Force, that I recommended General Goldfein to the president to serve as the next Air Force chief of staff.

In each of these positions, Dave has led with the courage and commitment of the combat-tested pilot he is, one who has logged 4,200 hours in the cockpit, flown missions during the conflicts in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

From his experience in CENTCOM and as combined forces air component commander, Dave developed a deep knowledge of a region where the U.S. Air Force is now carrying out the vast majority of airstrikes against ISIL.

It was also during that tour that he advanced the integrated air missile defense of the Arabian Gulf, and developed the Gulf Command Air Operation Center, working closely with nations who are today our critical partners in the counter-ISIL campaign.

If confirmed as Air Force chief of staff, Dave's extensive politico-military experience will be to our great benefit as we continue to accelerate our efforts to deal ISIL a lasting defeat.

As director of the joint staff and as vice chief of staff of the Air Force, Dave has also demonstrated superb skill as a consensus builder and a manager.  During a time when our joint forces' need for the Air Force's global vigilance, global reach and global power has only increased, General Goldfein has helped to expertly manage competing demands on the Air Force's 55 combat-coded fighter squadrons and other forces in an era of exceptional demand.

I myself have worked with General Goldfein frequently as secretary, deputy secretary.  We go back quite a ways.  And I've seen how Dave's strategic approach and his management skill have helped the Air Force maintain investments in near-term readiness while making sure that we continue also the Air Force's vital modernization efforts.

I've seen Dave bring creative problem-solving to bear in helping the Air Force manage our ISR enterprise during a time, as I said, of insatiable demand for these resources.

And as we've worked together to move forward with critical new platforms, including the KC-46 tanker, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the B-21 long-range strike bomber, I've seen Dave's ability not just to manage current demands but also to steer a course towards the Air Force of the next five years, and the next 50 years.

From General Goldfein's experience at the highest levels of the Air Force and the joint force, he understands deeply the evolving nature of warfare and the threats we face.  Dave knows how the security environment today is far different from what we've command -- confronted over the last 25 years.  He's developed a keen appreciation for the strategic horizon and in particular, the need to develop resilient cyber and space capabilities as well, which will allow the United States to continue to dominate across all domains.

He knows how to foster innovation by conducting what then-Chairman Dempsey called a campaign of learning.  It's a program which drills tunnels through the walls of the Pentagon and brings in experts from academia and private sector to lend insight to our efforts.

Across Dave's career, with all of that, he's also never forgotten where our greatest strength lies, and that's in our people.  And in fact, on Tuesday, when his nomination went to the Hill and was announced publicly, he was with one of the people who has been so vital to his own career, and might -- and one might even say to his own longevity, to his being here in the first place.

He was at a summit for wounded warriors and caregivers at the time, and Jeremy Hardy, one of the airmen who rescued him after his F-16 was hit by a SAM in Serbia 17 years ago, was at his side.  Just happened to be at his side.  Great, great, meaningful coincidence.

Dave's never forgotten the men and women he served alongside nor his responsibility to the people under his command.  That's important to me.  I know it's important to the president and all of you.

And his commitment to our people extends to efforts to ensure that the Air Force of the future remains as strong as the Air Force of today.  As vice chief of staff, he's emphasized the Air Force's ability to recruit and retain talented men and women in some of the most critical fields for the future, including cyber, intelligence, battlefield airmen.

From cyberspace to outer space to the defense of the global commons, every one of us, not just in this country but around the world, benefits from the security and peace of mind the United States Air Force provides.  And there's no -- and there's no one more qualified than General Goldfein to serve as our next Air Force chief of staff, to lead the 660,000 men and women of the Air Force as they confront today's full-spectrum threats and prepare for future challenges.
It's my hope that his nomination will move through quickly through Congress.  I'm sure it will.

I also want to congratulate and thank Dave's wife, Dawn, and not here but daughter Diana and his other daughter Dani.  Now this, if you're getting the pattern; this is going to be easy to remember.


So this is good, because we've got Dave, and we've got Dawn, and we got Diana and Dani and -- we'll all be in the same rowboat here for quite a while.  Good to have a way to remember all that.

Dani, by the way, is an Air Force captain herself, carrying forward the proud family tradition.

So I want to thank them also for their continued service and support.

And finally, while there'll be ample time for celebration and congratulations, I also want to thank General Mark Welsh for his strong and steady leadership as Air Force chief of staff over the past four years.

Mark and his family, especially his wife, Betty, have given so much to this country over so many difficult tours.  I've worked so long with him, that I hardly know what it will be like around here without Mark Welsh.

On behalf of this department and a grateful nation, I want to say thank you to Mark for four decades of selfless and skillful service to this country.
Let me now turn it over to a leader who knows General Goldfein very well and that will be a great partner in the time to come, and that's our excellent Air Force secretary, Debbie James.


SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE DEBORAH LEE JAMES:  Thank you very much, Secretary Carter. And I, too, would just like to take a few moments with all of you today and first echo Secretary Carter's comments.  But I'd like to begin with just a few comments about General Welsh.

First of all, I want to thank you, Mark, and you, Betty, for the 40 years of dedicated service to our nation.  And as the secretary said, we are looking forward to celebrating your combined legacy extensively later on this year.

But from day one on the job as our chief of staff of the United States Air Force, General Welsh has made it his daily mission to ensure that we maintain the greatest air force on the planet.  And because -- precisely because of his steadfast leadership and the ability to rally our approximately 660,000 airmen of the U.S. Air Force, we've done exactly that.

You see, it was his strategic vision that established global vigilance, global reach and global power as Air Force hallmarks.  And we were able to deliver these combat capabilities to the joint force in Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve.

It was under General's -- General Welsh's watch that we advanced the ball in so many ways.  We improved our nuclear enterprise, while maintaining a safe, secure and credible nuclear deterrent.  We're working also diligently to modernize air, space and cyberspace capabilities.

But most importantly of all, Mark and Betty understand the importance of taking care of people, which is always number one with us.  And together, they have championed our push to improve wounded warrior care, and to professionalize airmen development, to improve diversity and inclusion in our Air Force, to take care of our families, and the list goes on and on.

These are true people, individuals.  And as I look forward to the future and examine today's strategic landscape, I can think of none other better suited to follow in General Welsh's shoes than our next chief of staff, General Dave Goldfein.

President Obama certainly nominated a battle proven and highly respected airman in Dave, someone who also, by the way, cares very, very deeply about our people.  And as Secretary Carter noted, I, too, hope that his nomination will move swiftly through the process.

As the 21st chief of staff of the Air Force, Dave will bring his extensive experience and unique qualifications to bear as the Air Force seeks to address today's increasingly complex and very challenging geopolitical environment.

Now, as you already heard, earlier in his career, Dave was flying combat missions, and later on he led the entire Middle East air campaign during his time as the combined forces air component commander.

Then as director of the joint staff he helped to ensure the U.S.' ability to defend the homeland and conduct missions abroad, despite what I think everyone would agree has been a highly challenging fiscal environment.

And of course most recently as vice chief of staff, together with our under secretary, Lisa Disbrow, he has played a major, major role in developing our Air Force budget, in developing the Air Force's input and contribution to the third offset strategy, and also has worked tirelessly to increase our capabilities in all three of our war-fighting domains.

Moving forwarding, I know that we'll be able to rely on Dave's ability to partner with the Congress and other stakeholders to solve some of our most pressing national security concerns.

Now, Dave, you are fond of saying, "In every challenge there is an opportunity."  And I say, ain't that the truth?  That for sure is the truth.

If confirmed, becoming the chief of staff of the United States Air Force I know will be an honor, it will be a privilege and it certainly will be a challenge.
And I know that you, Dave, and you, Dawn, are very much up for that challenge, and you and your family are also thankful, I know, for that opportunity.
So, General Goldfein, on behalf of the entire United States Air Force, many, many congratulations on your nomination.


GENERAL DAVID GOLDFEIN:  Well Mr. Secretary, Madam Secretary, Chairman, I thank you, first, for your trust and your confidence.

I'm reminded of a time when I was young squadron commander and our then-chief of staff of the Air Force, John Jumper, came and talked to all of us, and he said something I've never forgotten.  He looked at all of us and he said, "Never forget, it's truly an honor to be chosen to lead in the United States Air Force.  And your job every day is to be worthy of that honor."

That's my commitment to you:  to ensure I am worthy of this honor.  Not only for you, the president, Madam Secretary, but also for the 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian airmen who make up today's greatest air force.

And if confirmed I'm also looking forward to joining my fellow chiefs and the chairman to offer creative solutions to many of the complex challenges that we face as a nation.  So I look forward to getting started, and I thank you again for your trust and confidence.