General Raymond T. Odierno
Chief of Staff of the Army
USMA COC
July 17, 2013


General Odierno: Good morning everyone. It is always tough to follow someone with such a great voice. He always does such a great job. I am so happy to see so many people here attending the Change of Command, and what a great place, an incredible view. I know originally we thought we would do this at Trophy Point, but this is a great decision to do it inside today. It is a little warm out there. (Applause).

I want to just recognize a few distinguished guests here: former Congressman Todd Platts and Nan Hayworth. Also General Fred Franks, sir, it is always great to see you. Thank you for being here. The 57th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, Lieutenant General Buster Hagenbeck and his wife Judy. Susan and Anne Eisenhower are friends of the Huntoons.

Thank you so much for being here. Many members of the Huntoon and Caslen families, and I specifically want to point out Alice. It is great to see you here. Also the Caslen family, first Shelly, Nick, Jeff and Robert. I would also like to add a special welcome to Bob Caslen's father Robert, who joined the Army in World War II serving as a Sergeant in the 3rd Infantry Regiment as part of the assault forces across France and Germany. Sir, I want to thank you for being here. It is an honor that you are here in our presence today. We truly appreciate you being here. (Applause).

I want to welcome all of the civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army that are here, other community leaders who continue to support this great institution. It truly is an honor to have all of you here today.

In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt, speaking at West Point's Centennial Graduation commented that "no other educational institution in the land has contributed as many names as West Point has contributed to the honor roll of the Nation's greatest citizens, and of all the institutions in the country, none is more absolutely American." This great institution's mission is to produce leaders of character, committed to the values of duty, honor, country. People across our country, and indeed across the globe, recognize West Point's legacy. They recognize it as the world's preeminent institution of leadership and education.

Today, as we look around the world in a time of great uncertainty, whether it's in the Middle East or Asia Pacific or here at home with our fiscal uncertainties, it is during times like these when strength of leadership is paramount. So just like other difficult times in our Nation's history we will look to here United States Military Academy at West Point to provide our leaders of the future. This institution remains steadfast in its commitment to develop and deliver the future leaders of our Nation.

For over 200 years, West Point has developed leaders of character who led us through many difficult times, and today is no different. Since 9/11, over 13,500 West Point graduates have led our experienced, combat-tested leaders and Soldiers in combat. 99 of them have given the ultimate sacrifice and hundreds of others have been wounded. West Point graduates have earned over a hundred Medals of Valor, to include 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 12 Silver Stars, and 77 Bronze Stars for Valor. When we look for leadership, we look to the United States Military Academy.

We will continue to need leaders that represent America's values and have the competencies, commitment and character to lead us into the future. America entrusts her most precious assets, her sons and daughters, to the care of West Point graduates. These young officers hold our war-fighters' well-being, and indeed our Nation's future, in their hands. West Point, as it has since 1802, will continue to produce the greatest leaders of a generation.

So today we celebrate the legacy of West Point as we pass the colors between the 58th and 59th Superintendent of this great Academy. This morning is our opportunity to recognize the great accomplishments Lieutenant General Dave Huntoon and his family for their service. Dave has made a life-long commitment to our Army, and today is a day to thank him for his incredible contributions.

We also welcome a seasoned and experienced leader in Lieutenant General Bob Caslen and his family. Bob has all the right credentials to lead West Point into the future. The Superintendent at West Point leads an institution that represents our country world-wide. He must develop individuals mentally, academically, militarily, and physically so that upon graduation, graduates are able to immediately take on incredible responsibilities. That's what makes this position of Superintendent and this institution so critical to our Army and our Nation.

As the Superintendent, General Dave Huntoon has answered the call. During his time, West Point consistently ranked among the country's top public and liberal arts colleges. 38 cadets have been selected for prestigious scholarships like Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Fulbright and many others. Dave increased West Point's connection to the Army by tripling the number of Soldiers entering West Point from Army units and by bringing officers straight from current operations back into the classroom and cadet field training.

Alongside General (retired) Fred Franks, he led a 16-month task force to inform the Army's leader development strategy and improve officer career management. He oversaw the establishment of West Point's U.S. Army Cyber Center and increased research support for cadets, faculty, and centers of learning. This included such projects as robotic prosthetics, UAV systems, and other capstone projects for the Army and the Department of Defense.

Dave also oversaw the largest cadet exchange expansion in the Academy's history, including exchanges with the Russian and Indian military academies. In concert with the Association of Graduates, he has secured funding for a new cadet barracks and a new visitors center to increase community outreach and tell the Academy's story. Dave, your dedication for preparing America's sons and daughters to lead in the future will be your legacy. By leaving West Point today, your legacy will continue to grow as these young men and women continue to lead our Soldiers into the future, and frankly our Nation into the future. I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to the cadets, to our Soldiers, to our Army, and to our Nation.

I also want to thank Margaret Huntoon for her dedication and commitment to the Academy. She has been an invaluable leader in the community through her tireless work with the senior leader spouse organization, and the West Point Women's Club, and what many people do not realize, hosting countless events representing West Point to international and U.S. dignitaries.

Currently, she is identifying historic Colonial-era sites throughout the post that need repair and restoration, and she is writing the first history of the Superintendent's historic home, Quarters 100, which will be a gift back to the West Point community. As you both depart West Point, I know you will both continue to contribute to our Nation. But I am also certain Dave will enjoy having more time to go on his long runs, think about the complex problems he has faced, and spend more time with his wonderful family. Linda and I wish you and Margaret the very best in all your future endeavors.

Lieutenant General Bob Caslen possesses all the right credentials to lead West Point. He possesses the right balance of experience here at the Academy with an incredible operational resume. Many of you know Bob has served here in many capacities, whether it be Admissions, the Athletic department, as a Company Tactical Officer, and culminating as the Commandant of Cadets when he departed here in 2008. His operational background is as diverse as it is impressive. He has commanded at all levels in our Army with several joint assignments. He commanded the 25th Infantry Division in combat, was the commander of our Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, responsible for creating the doctrine that has transformed our Army to meet future threats. Just recently, Bob returned from being the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.

Bob, as we look to the future, the role of the Superintendent will be to ensure West Point remains on the leading edge of academic excellence that it continues to develop leaders for our future. Ensure that we are teaching cadets how to think, not what to think. The leaders West Point creates must be well-rounded. They must achieve academic excellence, understand and execute the military art, but most importantly, possess mental, physical toughness and excellence.

The leaders of our Army must reflect the diversity of our country. We must continue to recruit cadets from all corners of our Nation. You have a unique opportunity to influence the future of our Army Profession. Today, the Army enjoys an unprecedented level of trust, confidence, and standing with the American people. By its action in this past decade, our Army has again proven to the Nation the professional character of our force. Ensure our Army maintains its moral and ethical foundations through the leaders you commission. I challenge you to continue this great work. Lastly, I give you one last task. That is to beat Navy on 14 December. (Laughter) (Applause).

I also want to thank Shelly for her commitment to the Army. Having supported you throughout your career is her soldiering. Also having children who also served, Shelly, thank you for your commitment and your continuing commitment as you continue to serve here at West Point. Thank you so much. (Applause). Bob, you have my full trust, support and confidence as you assume command today. I want to congratulate you and your family. Linda and I wish you and Shelly all the best.

In a speech in 1945, General George Marshall said that, "modern battles are fought by platoon leaders. The carefully-prepared plans of higher commanders can do no more than project you to the line of departure at the proper place, in proper formation, and start you off in the right direction." For over 200 years, West Point has projected competent, committed leaders of character to the line of departure, ready to confront uncertainty. I'm confident the Academy will continue to do so with incredible results.

The strength of our Nation is our Army; the strength of our Army is our Soldiers, the strength of our Soldiers is our families; and that is what makes us Army Strong. Thank you very much. May God Bless the United States of America. Beat Navy. Thank you. (Applause).

End of Remarks.

Page last updated Fri July 19th, 2013 at 18:41