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American Forces Press Service

Pace Will Stay Focused on Supporting Troops in Combat

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2007 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today he is going to stay focused on his job of providing the best military advice to the president, vice president, defense secretary and rest of the National Security Council until his term expires at the end of September.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace spoke along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at a Pentagon news conference.

Reporters asked Pace about the fact that Gates did not nominate him for a second two-year term as chairman. Gates, saying he wanted to spare the military a divisive confirmation fight, recommended that President Bush nominate Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as chairman.

“I have had the great honor and privilege of serving first four years as vice chairman, now two years as chairman,” Pace said.

He is chairman until midnight on Sept. 30, “and through midnight on 30 September, I'm going to do all that I can to stay focused on providing support to the troops who are in combat. And come 0001 on 1 October, if he's confirmed, Admiral Mike Mullen will pick up that responsibility, and I'm sure he'll be as honored to serve as I have been,” Pace said.

Gates said it was a tough decision. “As I said at the time, that was a recommendation to the president that I made with great regret and that he accepted with reluctance,” Gates said. “It had been my hope that I would have the opportunity to continue to serve with General Pace through the end of the administration.”

But consultations with both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate convinced him that confirmation hearings for Pace would be focused on the past and “essentially reopen all of the issues of the past six years in a way that was not constructive for the country or for our men and women in uniform or, in my opinion, for General Pace himself,” the secretary explained.

Gates said his decision to not renominate Pace is “just a recognition of reality, and also my belief that at this point, it is important for us all to look to the future and not to the past.”

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