President Barack Obama congratulates chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen during the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of responsibility ceremony on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Sept. 30, 2011. Mullen was succeeded by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the ceremony. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey
| ||WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2011 – President Barack Obama today lauded Navy Adm. Mike Mullen during a hail and farewell ceremony here that featured the transfer of responsibilities as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Mullen to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.|
“Mike, as you look back [at] your four consequential years as chairman and your four decades in uniform, [rest] assured our military is stronger and our nation more secure because of the service you have rendered,” Obama told Mullen at the event held at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.
Obama highlighted the nation's achievements during Mullen's tenure.
“Today, we have renewed American leadership in the world,” the president said. “We've strengthened our alliances, including NATO. We're leading again in Asia, and we forged a new treaty with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals.”
The president recognized Mullen for leading a new generation of service members brought forth by the events of 9/11.
“Today, we see the remarkable achievements of our 9/11 generation of service members,” Obama said. “They've given Iraqis a chance to determine their own future. They've pushed the Taliban out of their Afghan strongholds and finally put al-Qaida on the path to defeat.
“Meanwhile, our forces have responded to sudden crisis with compassion, as in Haiti, and with precision, as in Libya,” Obama added. “And it will be long remembered that our troops met these tests on Admiral Mullen's watch and under his leadership.”
Obama observed that America is moving forward from a position of strength as Mullen retires and hands the chairmanship to Dempsey.
“Fewer of our sons and daughters are in harm's way and more will come home,” the president said. “Our soldiers can look forward to shorter deployments, more time with their families and more time training for future missions.
“Put simply, despite the stresses and strains of a hard decade of war, the military that Admiral Mullen passes to General Dempsey today is the best that it has ever been,” the president added.
Obama talked about recent DOD policy changes, such as allowing women to serve aboard submarines and the repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.
“Soon women will report for duty on our submarines and patriotic service members who are gay and lesbians no longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country that they love,” he said.
“History will record that the tipping point towards this progress came when the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went before Congress and told the nation that it was the right thing to do,” Obama said.
With the change of responsibility, Obama said the mantle of leadership now passes to Dempsey, who the president hailed as one of the nation's most respected and combat-tested generals.
“Marty, after a lifetime of service I thank you, Deanie, Chris, Megan and Caitlin for answering the call to serve once more,” Obama said to Dempsey and his family. “In this sense, today begins to complete the transition to our new leadership team.”
Obama also spoke to some of the challenges the U.S. military faces during difficult fiscal times.
“We still have much to do,” the president said. “From bringing the rest of our troops home from Iraq this year, to transitioning to Afghan lead for their own security, from defeating al-Qaida, to our most solemn obligation -- taking care of forces, and their families, when they go to war and when they come home.”
The president, who pledged to maintain America's national security, expressed gratitude for Mullen's four decades of service.
“The United States of America and our armed forces will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known,” Obama said. “As we salute Mike Mullen as an exemplar of this spirit, we salute him for a life of patriotic service.
“Mike, thank you from a grateful nation,” the president said.
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
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