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SPEECH | Oct. 17, 2007

Assumption of Command ceremony remarks

General Chilton:  Thank you, and good morning.  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.  Governor Heineman, thank you so much for being here with us today.  All our distinguished civic leaders and supporters.  Not only of Strategic Command but also of Offutt Air Force Base.  It's so important for you to be here today to us, and we're very grateful for that.

Some very dear friends and family here today, thank you, for those of you who traveled particularly from so far away.  Mr. Golden, I appreciate your surprise visit today -- my former boss at NASA.

Mostly I want to say good morning to the men and women of Strategic Command. Thanks for being able to be so flexible this morning with the weather, and you look fantastic.  The folks up here in front represent the entire command to us today, and I'd like to give them a round of applause. 


Mr. Secretary, we were talking about your travel schedule as we walked out here today.  Unbelievable.  Again, I want to thank you for coming out here.  You do this command and myself great honor by being here today.

 Before I begin my remarks there are some other folks I want to thank, too.  Thirty-one years ago I raised my right hand to support and defend the Constitution and I've been proudly doing that ever since, but there's a group with me here today who serve our nation and they weren't there to raise their right hand and volunteer, they just kind of got born into it and married into it.  That's my wife and children  Four moves in three years, four different schools in four years, and not a word of complaint out of them.  I couldn't do what I do without your loving support.  Thank you.


 We're no different than any other Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Coast Guard family.  It is our families that have served every bit as much as we do, and we just can't get it done without you.  I love you guys.

 I'm not sure words can adequately capture the feelings I'm having right now.  Excited, proud, humbled.  All true, but seeming inadequate, particularly considering as you reflect on the story and history of this command, as the Secretary alluded to.  We were birthed out of a command that served the nation for over 50 years in the Cold War.  A command that for 54 years stood watch and was ready with one singular focus -- to provide a nuclear deterrent, an umbrella for our nation to keep the peace.

To accomplish that mission over that time period required great weapon systems, tremendously technical weapon systems with great capability, and they're manifested in our land base and our sea base, ballistic missiles, and our long range bomber force.

 But just as important, to deter the adversary of those days required a level of credibility to make them believe that we not only had the weapons, but we were committed and trained and ready to do it, to execute those weapons.  It took people.  It took the people of this command to be trained, ready and focused.

 Capable and credible weapon systems, and people with a 24 hour a day focus on being razor sharp ready to perform a mission that they hoped they would never have to do.

 Like our predecessors, today U.S. Strategic Command is still called to be ready.  We are and we will be.  But there's even more for us to focus on today.  In 2002 this command did not experience a sea-state change but a tsunami of change in the way it was organized and the missions that they were given to perform.  It was all precipitated by September 11th and the vents in 2001.  But it was also caused by the realization that we must change to address not only the threats of today but the threats that will face this nation tomorrow.

 We have our readiness mission, but now we also have missions that require us to execute operations every day.  Under the visionary leadership of General "Hoss" Cartwright, this command weathered the tsunami of change and established a truly operational executing command. 

 Here in Omaha we are an operational headquarters working to enable the successful prosecution of our component commanders that are scattered throughout the country.  We are called on to be the most, in my view, the most responsive combatant command in the U.S. arsenal.  Responsible today for providing the Secretary of Defense time sensitive planning to conduct global strike operations anywhere on the planet.  We are tasked to conduct operations and support the global fight we are engaged in today, and we are doing just that.

And we are tasked to be the masters and defenders of domains that have become every more critical not only to the way we fight as a nation, but to our way of life as a nation -- those being the domains of space and cyberspace.

The disturbance in the force here at STRATCOM is settling down.  The tsunami is passed.  And now we must focus more than ever on the planning and execution of our missions.  We will remain as ready as ever in our nuclear deterrent role and global strike mission areas, but we will also increase focus on our 24x7 execution responsibilities in our assigned domains of operations in space and cyberspace while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities to integrate global missile defense for the nation, to support global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the nation and information operations, and to integrate our nation's efforts in combating the dangers of weapons of mass destruction.

We are a command that is in the fight today.  We will focus on executing today while at the same time looking to the future to prepare for the threats of tomorrow.  The type of combat that we will face in the 21st Century will go beyond physical force on force combat and the battles of the centuries gone by.  The type of combat we will be involved in will take innovation, it will take speed, it will take agility, and it will take focus.  The men and women standing behind me and the men and women in this command are just the key America needs to defend her today and tomorrow.

I am excited and I am proud and I am humbled to join this great team in our noble endeavor.

God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.

 Thank you.