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SPEECH | Jan. 29, 2011

Change of Command

General Kehler:

Good morning.

Until about eight hours ago the most important objective in my life was to find the box that held my shoes and the iron, armed only with a little red box cutter, and I can successfully report to you that I'm wearing both my shoes and I have a shirt that's been ironed, so I was successful. [Laughter]. It's a welcome relief to be here.

Thank you Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for your kind words and for your leadership of our nation's military. Thanks too, to General Schwartz for your leadership of our Air Force and for the opportunities and mentoring that prepared me to stand here this morning.

For all three of you, I appreciate your confidence in my ability to serve as a combatant commander, and I pledge to you that the strategic challenges facing our nation will command all the energy and commitment I can muster.

To the political leaders who are with us today, I plan to join with you to advance U.S. Strategic Command and to enhance our nation's security.

To our community partners, it's good to be back in Omaha. Omaha is a very special place for us, and Marge and I look forward to getting reacquainted with each of you. The warmth and generosity of those who live in America's heartland is legendary, and our young military men and women appreciate you more than you know.

To all our other distinguished guests and friends, both military and civilians, thank you for joining us today.

I find myself once again following in the footsteps of a great leader, General Kevin Chilton. Chilly, I inherited the product of your leadership at Air Force Space Command, and I can attest that your leadership is nothing short of amazing. It's a privilege to follow you once again. Your leadership has been deeply important in these past critical years to shaping our national security posture. Your service to our nation for the last 34-plus years has been inspirational. Well done, my friend. And please know that Marge and I wish you, Kathy and your family all the best in the future and we hope you continue to count the Kehlers among your many, many friends.

I'm deeply honored to be part of United States Strategic Command again. The very name suggests the importance of our mission. The security challenges facing our nation are complex, unremitting and compelling, and addressing them requires our complete focus, effective partnerships and synchronized efforts. From high end strategic deterrence to confronting the diverse demands of irregular and hybrid warfare, our ability to respond when called depends on the skill and dedication of the great men and women serving in STRATCOM. And answering the call means we must provide a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent force. Answering the call means we must work with the combatant commanders to provide capabilities to support their ongoing operations. Answering the call means we must ensure uninterrupted capabilities from space and improve awareness of objects and activities in space. And answering the call means we must help enhance the nation's cyber security and ensure cyber support to joint operations.

For every challenge there are opportunities, and together we will adjust to the major strategic challenges facing the command. We will work with the other combatant commands and mission partners to bring STRATCOM's formidable capabilities to bear effectively and efficiently. We will look to craft new approaches to difficult problems of deterrence and security. We will also provide unwavering support to our warriors and their families who often bear the heaviest burden of service and sacrifice.

The professionals of United States Strategic Command are simply outstanding. We share a common desire to serve the nation. I know your dedication and focus will be instrumental in fulfilling our commitment to today's operations.

Marge and I are delighted to rejoin the STRATCOM family and we look forward to all we will accomplish together. It is an honor and a privilege to serve with you.

Again, Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen, thank you for this opportunity to serve, and thanks to each of you for being with us today.

Thank you.