In a ceremony marking Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno’s assumption of command of the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised the new leader who will lead JFCOM into its uncertain future.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised JFCOM and its mission, as well as the steady hand of its new leader, fresh from the battlefield, who now faces another challenge.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates includes plans to shutter JFCOM as part of his far-reaching efficiency initiatives announced in August to free up about $100 billion in the Pentagon’s budget over the next five years.
Mullen insisted the armed forces should continue to look toward the future.
“For most who serve, life is rarely easy and very little is guaranteed,” he said. “Particularly at this time in history, our focus cannot be here at this time. It needs to be about the young Americans over there, fighting for us. They are risking it all.”
He advised putting issues such as wrangling in Washington over budget pressures into perspective.
“And when we think about their sacrifice and service, the challenges we face in Washington, D.C. — while serious — are far less profound than what they, their families, and the families of the fallen have gone through,” he added.
Mullen also reserved words of high praise Odierno, saying he couldn’t think of a better leader, noting his long history of high-level joint and interagency command.
Odierno was previously the commanding general of U.S. Forces in Iraq, and is credited with putting the counter-insurgency strategy of the 2007 Iraq troop surge into practice, which helped lead to a dramatic reduction in violence.
“During times of great change, leadership is all the more essential,” Mullen said. “Ray Odierno was the right leader at the right time in Iraq, and he’s the right leader here today.”