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SPEECH | Nov. 15, 2013

USSTRATCOM Change of Command Remarks

Good Morning.  I’m awestruck at the opportunity to return to lead and serve this vast talent that makes up U. S. Strategic Command.  What a privilege it is for Bonny and I to return to the patriotic heartland of America and this Combatant Command.  Thank you Mr. Secretary and General Dempsey for being here with your wives, Lilibet and Deanie, but also for your service to our Nation and, of course, for giving me the opportunity and your confidence in me for this leadership opportunity. 

I would also like to thank some of the special guests assembled here.  I don’t have time to thank each and every one of you.  You are all VIPs.  But in particular Nebraska Governor Heineman, Mrs. Diane Nelson wife of former Senator Ben Nelson, from the White House Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood Randall, General James “Hoss” Cartwright and his wife Sandee, General Keith  Alexander, Mayors Sanders and Bowman, from the Office of Secretary of Defense Madelyn Creedon and Elaine Bunn, and, of course, the men and women so assembled here before you that make-up U.S. Strategic Command - the most junior to the most senior folks and, of course, the Task Force and Component Commanders. 

Clearly, I wouldn’t be here without a lot of friends and family help.  So it’s good to have people as far away from the middle of the country here. From Washington, D. C.; California; even the state of Maine.  Donald Jones, Sally Knockold, Tony Clark, Gery Porter, just to name a few.  Thanks for making these journeys to join me here.  You’ve been part of my life for some time. 

You know, we just celebrated Veterans Day earlier this week.  And I consider veterans a special class of people who understand clearly that our freedom is not free.  I want to thank each of you for your remarkable service.  For example, in the audience today I see my good friend Gery Porter, ninety-one (91) years old, who came all the way from Newport Beach, California, to join us here.  He served in the Navy on the Battleship West Virginia.  He’s a Pearl Harbor survivor from December 7, 1941.  And this unique individual continues to (Audience clapping) , this unique individual continues to follow closely what is going on in the military—even today.  He is representative of so many of our veterans in understanding the importance of preventing strategic surprise.  And the importance of having the capability to promptly resource appropriate military capability to deal with surprise. 

Finally, I want to thank my family and other friends who have come to join me here. Of course their love and support allow me to serve in uniform.  Now some of my friends, like a, United States Naval Academy classmate Brett Ayotte may remember me.  I think in his case he just came here to make sure I would show up--coming from Hawaii to Nebraska in winter time!  But my wife, Bonny, and I are elated, are really elated to return to the homeland to reacquaint ourselves with so many of the warm, patriotic folks here.  And we are just eager to restore those bonds.  We have fond memories of this community.  And I want to publicly thank the political, the business, and community leadership here, including the Strategic Command Consultation Committee, for their support and inclusiveness in the team here at Offutt.  And also including First Lutheran Church who’s also been a part of my family from my first time being assigned here, throughout my tour in Hawaii, and now I’m back.

Finally, Nebraska offers the distinct advantage of allowing Bonny and I to be a lot closer to our first grandchild.  I’m not as far along as Chairman Dempsey, but we’re excited about our number one that lives in North Carolina.  You see, family is important to Bonny and I.  Our Moms, our siblings couldn’t be here today, but my Uncle Ellsworth Brewer is here—represents our Washington, D. C., family.  Bonny, thank you for enduring many moves and another one; and for your love and support throughout our military journey.  Elizabeth, who’s my daughter, thank you also for joining us again representing your other two siblings, your brothers who are not here.  And know that I’m proud of all of you.  I know I can count on Elizabeth here keeping me in shape with that exercise program that she’s developed.  Obviously I love you, both of you, thanks for being here.

Having served as the Deputy Commander of U. S. Strategic Command under General Kehler’s leadership - I applaud and thank you General Kehler for all you and Marj have done - turning over to me this stellar organization; for your years of service in uniform; for your remarkable leadership here; and your example as a General Flag Officer, and just how far you have taken this Command. 

While it seems I have not been away from U. S. Strategic Command that long, a lot has happened since I departed in 2011.  To the Headquarters and the Commanders, I look forward to continuing to work with you addressing the U. S. Strategic Command mission areas that are so critical to the United States of America and to the U. S. Joint Force capabilities.   It’s fantastic getting back with you at this time as your Commander.  I intend to work diligently with this team of professionals to ensure the effectiveness of the global operations that U.S. Strategic Command conducts in coordination with other combatant commands, services, and appropriate government agencies to deter, to detect strategic attacks against the United States and its allies and to be ready to respond if deterrence fails, now and, of course, well into the future.  You should note that our work here has my utmost attention.  I can’t thank this resilient workforce and their families enough for their dedication, especially in the uncertainty of our fiscal environment, that they have and they continue to work through.  I value each of you and I do not take any of what you do in your contributions for granted.  I know you respect the fact of the important work ahead given our unique security challenges and will continue to require you to be focused professionals in team, and full of teamwork.  We must be effective partners, synchronizing efforts, adaptable, flexible, with innovative thinking, and, of course, with affordable solutions.  Just know, though, that we must all value our talented workforce, both in and out of uniform. Our Nation demands it, nothing less.  As the incoming Commander I know my role is brief for this ceremony, so I will end it here.  Commanders and staff, just know it is my distinct pleasure to be here today and to work with you in the future.  May God continue to bless the team here at U. S. Strategic Command, our joint military forces, and a grateful Nation.  Thank you.  (Audience clapping)