JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va, Sept. 7, 2011 — The U.S. Army transitioned to new leadership as it welcomed the 38th Army chief of staff during a change of responsibility ceremony held here today.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno assumed responsibility as the Army’s chief of staff from Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as Dempsey begins his transition to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “As the new secretary of defense, and as someone who shares the immigrant backgrounds of these distinguished officers we pay tribute to today, it is truly a personal privilege for me to honor two of our military’s most talented leaders as they take on new responsibilities,” said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
Panetta welcomed Dempsey as he prepares to take his position as DOD’s senior military officer.
“Having worked closely with General Dempsey since becoming the secretary of defense, I can say that the president has made a truly inspiring choice in picking him to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” the defense secretary said.
“He will be the first Army general in 10 years to occupy that post,” Panetta said of Dempsey. “As a former intelligence officer in the Army, I am truly pleased to have General Dempsey as a partner in running the Department of Defense.”
Panetta praised Dempsey as a “real ‘muddy-boots’ soldier,” and a “battle-hardened commander” who was responsible for transitioning the Army to nine month deployments and 18-month dwell time.
“As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marty will have the opportunity to work with the service chiefs [and] craft a joint force that can defeat a wide range of complex security threats that we face today,” Panetta said.
“And that we will face into the future,” he added. “Today’s military is the finest fighting force in the world. Together, we will work to ensure that it always remains the finest fighting force in the world.”
Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh greeted Odierno as he takes his post as Army chief.
“Ray Odierno brings to this job impressive, even impeccable, credentials as a soldier and leader, commanding units at every level during a career that spans some three-and-a-half decades,” McHugh said.
The Army secretary said he was more than familiar with Odierno, having visited Iraq 14 times during Odierno’s various commands.
“As a testament to his leadership and acumen on the battlefield, General Odierno is only the second officer since Vietnam to command at division, corps and Army level during the same conflict,” McHugh said.
Dempsey shared two highlights from his five-month tour as the Army’s senior leader.
“My time as chief was framed by two events — a visit to the civil war battlefield Antietam early in my tour, and the fact that we’re approaching the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 here at the end of it,” he said.
“My brief tenure as chief has produced a lifetime of memories,” Dempsey added. “It’s been my great honor to serve as the 37th chief of staff of the United States Army. Thank you.”
Odierno expressed his gratitude for being nominated as the 38th Army chief.
“I appreciate the confidence of President Obama, and all the leaders of the Army and the joint force, in allowing me the honor of assuming duties as the 38th chief of staff of the Army,” he said.
“Over the last 10 years, our Army has proven itself in arguably the most difficult environment this nation has ever faced,” Odierno said. “Our leaders at every level have displayed unparalleled ingenuity, flexibility and adaptability.”
“Our soldiers have displayed mental and physical toughness, but most importantly, courage under fire,” Odierno added. Today’s Army, he said, is the most versatile, rapidly deployable, sustainable, strategic land force the world has ever known.
“I’m proud to be a part of that Army,” Odierno said.
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to continue to serve with these great men and women, the next great generation,” he added, “and I’m humbled and honored to serve as the 38th chief of staff of the Army.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)