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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Welcoming Ceremony for the New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Aired October 15, 2001 - 15:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to move you quickly down to Fort Myer in Virginia. You see there Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense speaking. This is the official welcome for the new joints chiefs of staff, who of course is General Richard Myers. You have been seeing him appear at Pentagon briefings with the secretary, but this is the official welcome for him. The general is replacing General Hugh Shelton, who has just retired and stepped down just in the last week or so. And Secretary Rumsfeld is making the opening remarks. Let's listen to the secretary.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... responsibilities, but it has always been so.

Like the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Omar Bradley, Dick Myers is a man of America's heartland, well grounded in the hard work and solid values nurtured there. Genial and self- effacing, his quiet self-confidence is forged from long familiarity with responsibility, accepted willingly and discharged with great skill.

His career has spanned the globe and beyond. A combat pilot in the skies of Vietnam, more recently responsible for the vast domain of space as commander of the U.S. Space Command. As a former commander of our Pacific air forces and of all U.S. forces in Japan, Dick is an expert in a region that will be of critical importance to us in the years ahead.

As vice chairman, Dick Myers has helped us think through how we transform our Cold War forces to meet the challenges that were brought home so vividly on September 11. We've worked closely together for hours and days on end, analyzing, anticipating, discussing, debating how we might best transform our armed forces to meet the threats of a dangerous new century, as you, Mr. President, charged us to do last January. Now our task is to achieve that transformation, and we will.

But Dick Myers was selected not just for his past performance, but for what that performance promises for the future. He knows that the decisions we make today will shape the security of our country for decades to come.

General Myers' public presence, as America is beginning to learn from his press briefings and his remarks at the memorial service last week, is reassuring. One earlier Air Force chief has noted his Gary Cooper persona.

It's true: His integrity shines through.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to also recognize Mary Jo Myers.

Mary Jo, you have also answered the call to serve. For all the good counsel to Dick and your personal sacrifice for our country through so many years, we thank you. You are a bright star and we most enthusiastically welcome you in your new role.

General Myers and I will have the able support of General Peter Pace, who assumes Dick's former post as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the streets of Mogadishu, General Pace has fought the country's fights, large and small. Smart, tough, he has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for leadership every step of the way.

Deputy commander of U.S. forces in Japan and for the past year the combatant commander of the U.S. Southern Command.

In this region terrorism has been a persistent threat. And Peter Pace is well-prepared for our campaign against global terrorism.

And military history is being made today. He becomes the first Marine to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a fact that all Marines who enjoy the rigors of recruit training will no doubt now be required to recite to the drill instructors over and over and over again.

(APPLAUSE)

There must be a few Marines here.

Of course, history is never made alone. And this talented Marine has had the able and unwavering support of his wife, Lynne.

Lynne, welcome back to Washington. We're delighted to have your spirit and your energy back in this key role.

Mr. President, destiny has called you to meet a new and different challenge, and an urgent challenge it is. Your words and your example in the days since the attack here at the Pentagon and on the World Trade Center have drawn Americans together. As you have reminded us, this is not just America's fight, and what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is a fight for all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

Your emphasis on freedom finds a distinguished lineage in the Department of Defense. As we welcome our 15th chairman to that cause, I would remind us of the words of the first chairman, General Omar Bradley, who said about freedom that, and I quote, "No word was ever spoken that has held out greater sacrifice, needed more to be nurtured, blessed more the giver, damned more its destroyer or came closer to being God's will on Earth. May America ever be its protector," unquote.

In these men, at this moment, freedom has able protectors. With their leadership, America will be the protector of freedom, here at home and throughout the world.

General Myers, General Pace, on behalf of the men and women of the armed forces, I welcome you. The president and I are counting on you. Indeed, America is counting on you. And I know you will meet the test.

(APPLAUSE)

STAFF: Ladies and gentlemen, General Pace.

PETER PACE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Mr. President, thank you very much for being here today, sir. You do General Myers and myself, and more importantly all of your men and women in uniform, great honor by being here.

Mr. Secretary, Mrs. Rumsfeld, sir, thank you for your very kind words.

To all of you who have already been mentioned by Secretary Rumsfeld as very special visitors, thank you for sharing this time with General Myers and Mary Jo, with Lynne and I, and our families.

I will keep my remarks short, but there is a few things that I really would be remiss if I did not mention. First, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for the honor as serving as your vice chairman. I deeply appreciate your confidence and I will work hard to maintain your trust.

To my good friend, who has been before and is now again my boss, General Dick Myers, about whom I will say a few things more in a minute, thank you, Dick, for you part and your support in the nomination process that brought this day for me.

To my fellow Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the chief of staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki; to the commandant of Marine Corps, General Jim Jones; to our chief of naval operations, Admiral Vern Clark; to our chief of staff of the Air Force, General John Jumper; and to our shipmate, the commandant of our Coast Guard, Admiral Jim Loy; each of you is a personal friend, and I served with each of you multiple times over the years. You are superb leaders. And it is my distinct honor to serve with you as a member of the Joint Chiefs, as we endeavor to give the best possible military advice to our national command authorities.

I have a very special message that I would ask those men and women who serve in our armed forces to hear from me today, and you are so well represented by the men and women on parade here this afternoon.

About 34 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam, I learned from lance corporals and corporals and sergeants what sacrifice was all about. And it was their blood that gave me a debt that I can never fully repay. But I promise to each of you today, that as long as I have the privilege of being the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that my efforts will be to ensure that you continue to receive the support that you so richly deserve.

And lastly to my family: to my mom, Doris Pace, Wharton, New Jersey, who's here today; to my dad, who died when I was lieutenant colonel, thank you for instilling in me family values and a deep love of this country. My dad was born in Italy. He died a proud citizen of the United States of America. And I know he's watching this day from upstairs with great pride.

My mom, of course, would tell you that all the words that the secretary of defense just say were all true. My dad's probably scratching his head a little.

To my brothers, Sam and Tom -- Tom's here today -- my sister Elizabeth (ph) -- thanks for the family support.

To my wife Lynne of 34 years, well, we've been married 30 -- she's been holding my hand for 34, and to our two wonderful children, First Lieutenant/Captain Select Peter Pace, and our daughter Tiffany Marie (ph), both of whom make us so proud and to me embody the American family and all that is good about our country, thank you for your support. You have sacrificed a lot. You would be the first to say that your sacrifice had been no greater than that of so many thousands of other military families around the world. And you're right. But you're my family, and I love you for all that you've done.

Now it is my great honor and privilege to introduce the man who was just the fifth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and is now the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a man who I have served with before as his deputy in Japan, and a man who is ready for the unique challenges that we face today. Dick Myers is a great aviator, he is a visionary leader, and he is the man who is the absolute correct person to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Please join me in welcoming Dick to the lectern.

(APPLAUSE)

RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The secretary of defense is convinced that those crutches have become a crutch and he's tired of fetching my coffee for me, so in about two days they go away.

But President Bush, Secretary and Mrs. Rumsfeld, Joyce, members of the diplomatic corps, members of Congress, Director Allbaugh, Secretary Wolfowitz, service secretaries, the many members of government that I hope are here that I've worked with over the last several years, both NSC staff and so forth, fellow Joint Chiefs past and present, combatant commanders, men and women of the armed forces, great friends from home and from abroad and from assignments past, all the way back to grade school, to combat friends to a couple of friends from Japan who flew in just today for this event and will fly back tonight.

And to family members -- and Pete, I'm just going to echo your words without -- I think, Mary Jo and the children and the rest of the family know how much their support has meant to me. As Mary Jo has said, I'd probably still be pumping gas in Manhattan, Kansas, if it weren't for her. I absolutely agree.

(APPLAUSE)

And ladies and gentleman, well, good afternoon and thank you all for coming. My good friend and new vice chairman, General Pete Pace, did me a great honor with his introduction.

And Pete I thank you for those kind words. To Pete and Lynne, Mary Jo and I are absolutely delighted to be working with you both again. I can think of no one better that I'd want by my side in my tenure as chairman. So thank you, Pete, for accepting this duty again.

And, of course, I wouldn't be here today were it not for the votes of confidence from President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, and for that I thank both of you sincerely.

In a way, it's fitting that we complete this changing of the guard here at Fort Myer, home of our nation's Old Guard. And it's more appropriate still that we're in this hall named for a legendary combat veteran, Colonel Joseph Conmy, a soldier's soldier who epitomized the very best of American values that we defend each day, but particularly those values that we defend in combat today.

So while we're here to mark a significant milestone in the career of two generals, the honor of today's ceremony really belongs with the troops. If we could for just a moment, could we applaud these troops who represent over 1 million men and women?

(APPLAUSE)

Of course, they represent over the 2 million men and women, active, Reserve, National Guard, the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines, the Coast Guardsmen currently defending good against evil, freedom against tyranny, and security against the anarchy of terrorism. It's to them we owe this tribute.

And I couldn't be prouder to represent America's fighting men and women back here in Washington, D.C., and to serve as their advocate in helping ensure a quality of life for them that is commensurate with the obligations, the sacrifices and the risks that they shoulder on behalf of our great nation.

And in that group I've got to include our Department of Defense civilians, who are an integral part of this team and make us as effective as we are.

Some have argued that since the 11th of September the armed forces have seen a radical reordering of our priorities, that our young men and women in uniform never anticipated being foot soldiers in a war against terrorism, that General Pace and I never anticipated such a baptism by fire when offered our new appointments. Of course, that suggestion is partially correct. Sure, a month ago, no one in uniform would have predicted that this fall we'd be actively fighting a worldwide campaign to eradicate terrorism. That much is true.

But make no mistake: The priority of every man and woman who serves in the armed forces of the United States has been and always will be the same, and that is to support and defend the nation against all enemies. And we will not waver from that fundamental task so clearly articulated in the oath that we take.

Fate suggests that you can't choose your moment; it chooses you. But you can rise to fate's challenge, and we will. Those who attacked us clearly don't understand this about our nation. They don't understand that adversity draws us together, strengthens our resolve and sharpens our talons.

As part of America's larger effort to use the full measure of its instruments of power -- its diplomatic means, its economic means, its informational means -- your armed forces will do their part, too, offering, if necessary, the full measure of devotion.

It isn't material awards that drive the devotion, nor the allure of medals from past glories, nor even the prestige -- the perceived prestige of the positions we assume. Rather it's the knowledge that we're part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a chance to make a difference in preserving the national security of the United States.

Today's event is billed as a welcome ceremony, and I appreciate the sentiment. But let me turn that theme on its head for just a moment. Let me tell you instead what I welcome with this office the president and secretary have entrusted to me.

I welcome the opportunity to lead America's joint war-fighting team and winning the global war on terrorism. I welcome the opportunity to make clear that terrorists will find no quarter, no refuge, no solace anywhere on the globe. And, of course, I welcome the opportunity to help secure our nation and ensure the freedom so imbued in the spirit of the American people.

None of this will be easy, but nothing is more important. And, of course, there will be costs, but nothing is more worth the price that we'll pay. And there may be setbacks, but nothing will steel us more in our determination to move forward. These are the challenges I welcome, even as I appreciate your warm reception today.

I know I'm a lucky man. I'll not face those challenges alone. The United States armed forces are captained by an outstanding senior team, led by the secretary of defense, the deputy secretary, the combatant commanders and the service chiefs. With this team, the challenges are surmountable; the perceived roadblocks, simply intangible.

Collectively, we're luckier still. There is another leader; one who ha stepped up to meet those challenges; one who is determined to defeat those who brought evil and violence to our shores on 11 September; one who is leading this nation to victory. Ladies and gentlemen, our commander in chief, the president of the United States, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Thank you very much.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for those kind remarks, and congratulations once again. I know your family is proud, and I want to congratulate Mary Jo, Rich (ph) and your daughters, Nicole (ph) and Erin (ph).

I also want to congratulate Pete Pace who succeeds General Myers as the vice chairman.

Pete, I want to congratulate Lynne as well, Tiffany, Lieutenant Pete Pace, and, of course, I've got to congratulate your mom, Doris. Moms are pretty important, as I learned first-hand, and so did you.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Secretary, we did a fine job in picking these two men. There's no question we made the right choice. And there's no question I made the right choice when I named you secretary of defense.

(APPLAUSE)

The country is coming to know Don like I know him. He's a no- nonsense kind of guy. He speaks his mind. He's results-oriented. He's the right man at the right time to defeat the evil ones.

I appreciate your service. I appreciate the service of Paul Wolfowitz, your deputy, and all the folks you've assembled at the Defense Department.

I also want to welcome the members of Congress who are here. I know Congressman Ike Skelton's here, and others are as well.

General Myers and I have spent a lot of quality time together recently. He has my complete confidence.

Richard B. Myers is the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, taking his place in a line that began with another general who was born in Missouri, Omar Bradley. And like Omar Bradley, General Myers is known for his calm manner, sound judgment and his clear strategic thinking. Now at any time those qualities would be important, but today they're indispensable.

When General Myers and General Pace stood at my side in Crawford, Texas, this summer, I spoke of our duty to protect and defend America's values and interests in the world. Since that time, those values and interests have come under direct attack. America has awakened to a great danger, we have entered a different kind of war, and the enemy is finding out we are ready. We are fighting this war, and we will win this war, on many fronts: by diplomacy, law enforcement, financial sanctions and intelligence. And our military is playing an essential role. Eight days ago, I sent the armed forces into action. They have preformed with skill and precision. They know their work, and they know the American people are behind them.

I made a commitment to every service man and woman: For the mission that lies ahead, you will have everything you need, every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States, our allies, our friends and the cause of freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

In the war against terror, there'll be times of swift and visible action. There'll be times of steady and quiet progress. We'll be patient, and we will be persistent.

The terrorists are beginning to understand there is no place to run, there is no place to hide, there is no place to rest.

During last week's memorial service at the Pentagon, Secretary Rumsfeld observed that the terrorists reserved special contempt for the United States military, and it's easy to see why. In the values and traditions of our military, you represent everything they hate. You defend human freedom. You value life. Here and around the world, you keep the peace that they seek to destroy. You live by a code of honor and a tradition of loyalty and decency.

The new chairman of the joint chiefs represents the best in this tradition. Since the day he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1965, Dick Myers has brought great credit to his uniform and to his country. He and his outstanding vice chairman have assumed crucial positions at a crucial hour, and our country is thankful for your service.

May God bless you all, and may God bless the United States.

CHEN: President Bush, as you see him there at the formal ceremonies, inducting Richard Myers in as the 15th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Also as well to succeed him as vice chair, General Peter Pace, the first Marine in that role. Two Vietnam veterans credited today with being the right men to lead the war on terrorism, as the president said, the right men to defeat what the president called "the evil ones."

Also, on the threat of evil today, we want to bring you up-to- date on a story we've just gotten last half hour from Cleveland, Ohio. Authorities there have quarantined a Continental Airlines jet because a flight attendant on the flight -- it was Flight 546 from Las Vegas to Cleveland -- a flight attendant on that flight reported finding a white, powdery substance -- that's the full description on it -- white, powdery substance aboard the aircraft while it en route from Vegas to Cleveland.

Authorities have now quarantined this Continental Airlines jet. 155 people are on board. They have not determined whether this is any sort of threatening substance at all, but clearly there is still a great level of concern about any materials. The FBI, Cleveland Police and hazardous materials all working on the scene. A Continental Airlines jet being held, quarantined on the ground in Cleveland. CNN will continue to follow up on this story, bring you any late information we get on that.

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