Sept. 7, 2011 - Gen. Dempsey at Change of Responsibility Ceremony
September 8, 2011
Secretary Panetta, Secretary McHugh... thanks very much for those very kind words. I assure you it was my great privilege and honor to serve as the 37th Chief of Staff.
To all of you here and other settings, I've expressed my appreciation to the many folks whom have served with me and for whom I've served and those who supported me through the years both inside the Department of Defense, Congress, United States, Family and Friends. I am indebted to you all.
Now, there is someone, however, I need to thank more than once...I need to thank Deanie, again, for all she's done as the Army's first lady and for reenlisting for a slightly expanded portfolio on behalf of servicemen and women and their families. I love you and I'm immensely proud of you and of our kids and our grandkids--represented here today by Chris, Julie, Kayla, and MacKenna.
And, of course, I also need to thank my Mom again who continues to knit Irish sweaters for the expanding ranks of her great grandchildren and who keeps me up to date on issues of importance as they occur on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Fareed Zakaria's Global Public Square, Candy Crowley's, State of the Union and any other number of news talk shows.
Deanie and I are delighted to be handing off the reins of the Army to Ray and Linda Odierno. I wish I could have gotten a few more things "ironed out" for you Ray, but you two know more about service and sacrifice than just about anyone we know, and you're going to be terrific 38th Chief of Staff. Sorry about the chimneys on the house though!
My tenure as the 37th CSA ends today at 149 days. Now, I have a motto that goes like this -- Don't Count the Day, Make the Days Count! But, in the context of a career of 37 years and 3 months -- or 13,497 days -- this tour of duty is but a small fraction. However I assure you it has been the most rewarding 149 days of my career.
My time as Chief was framed by two events: a visit to the Civil War Battlefield at Antietam early in my tour, and the fact that we are approaching the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11here at the end of it. Antietam The fate of the Republic hanging in the balance. 23,000 casualties in a single day. The bloodiest day in American Military History. A monument there says simply "not for themselves but for their country." September 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 casualties. The bloodiest attack on American Citizens in our history. And monuments in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania remind us that we must still be prepared to sacrifice for the Republic.
My brief tenure as Chief has produced a lifetime of memories. I now have a vocabulary of abstract words with new meaning. Courage, Determination, and Commitment brought to life in places like...well, actually, brought to life wherever you find soldiers and their families.
When I'm speaking to groups outside the Army, I get asked a lot about how we're going to deal with the uncertainty, complexity, risk, and declining resources in our future. And, often those who ask have already decided the outcome, and for them it's a foregone conclusion that we're an institution in decline.
But when I get asked that question I think about the 1.1 million men and women we have in uniform today who live by a professional ethos that asserts "we will never accept defeat." I think about Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry learning to use a prosthetic hand, or Tony Odierno learning to use a prosthetic arm, or Colonel Greg Gadson learning to use prosthetic legs, or Captain Scott Smiley learning to live without eyesight. I think about a lone sentinel standing watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a Hurricane. Not for themselves but for their country.
There are some words and phrases that will describe our Army in the future, but decline isn't one of them. Smaller...probably. Different...As a learning organization, I hope so. The best in the world...you better believe it. And, doing what's right for the country...absolutely.
It's been my great honor to serve as the 37th Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
End of Remarks