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American Forces Press Service

Mullen Becomes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2007 – Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen took the helm today as the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vowing to work to give servicemembers “clear direction, outstanding equipment and focused policies” to accomplish current missions and prepare for future ones.

Mullen paused following his swearing-in ceremony at Fort Myer, Va., to honor members of the armed forces, particularly those “in harm’s way spreading the promise of a brighter future.”

“You are our greatest asset. Your bravery and your commitment are our nation’s greatest gifts,” Mullen said, addressing the 2.4 million active, Guard and reserve members of the armed forces. “You are true heroes who, understanding that your missions are demanding, dangerous and often deadly, still raise your right hand with a promise and an oath to continue building on the legacy of service endearing you to the people of this nation.”

This support will be critical, Mullen said, as he, his vice chairman, Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, and the service chiefs and combatant commanders work together to develop and execute a strategy that supports U.S. national interests in the Middle East.

Mullen promised to reset, reconstitute and revitalize the military, especially the ground forces, to confront this challenge, while balancing risks around the globe to prepare for the future. “Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will one day end,” he said. “We must be ready for who and what comes after. That's the promise we've made.”

President Bush praised Mullen as the man to carry out that promise by carrying the torch passed by the retiring Marine Gen. Peter Pace.

Bush cited Mullen’s broad talents and experience: serving on a destroyer during intense operations in Vietnam, commanding three ships, serving as commander of all U.S. naval forces in Europe then Joint Forces Command before becoming chief of naval operations.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates thanked Mullen for his “willingness yet again to answer your country's call.”

As Mullen answers the call, Bush noted, he brings personal experience of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and an understanding of “what's at stake in the war on terror.”

“He was on duty at the Pentagon when Flight 77 made its doomed plunge. He felt the plane slam into the building. He saw the carnage and devastation, and like all who worked there that terrible day, he still carries the pain and the loss,” the president said. “Admiral Mullen was there when war reached America's shores, and he brings the talent, vision and judgment needed to help us fight and win that war.”

Mullen recognizes the strength of the joint military in waging that war and believes “every member of our armed forces is, as he put it, ‘part of one team and one fight,’” Bush said.

He called Mullen “a man of decency and honor” who “will bring judgment and candor to decisions that may mean the difference between life and death for young Americans who are serving our nation.”

As Mullen begins his service as chairman, Bush said, he’s fortunate to have the example set by Pace, “one of the most respected and accomplished military leaders I have ever known.”

Pace praised his successor, noting that he and Mullen were midshipmen together at the U.S. Naval Academy and that Mullen introduced Pace to his future wife, Lynne.

“Mike Mullen is as fine an officer as this nation has ever produced,” Pace said. “He has a keen intellect; he has the grit and the ability to speak his mind and to speak in a way that is clearly understood.”

While acknowledging that he regrets relinquishing his post, Pace told Mullen he’s “so proud that you are the one who will take on the responsibilities as 17th chairman.”

Mullen thanked Pace for his leadership as chairman and said he is honored to follow him in carrying out the legacy of military service. “You led in a tough time, perhaps the toughest, and it's been a great honor serving with you,” Mullen said. “I'm ready to take the watch, but I do not take it alone. With me is the supporting cast of over 2 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who also promised to serve.”

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