By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoJune 13, 2014
Good morning. It is great to see so many here. This is a great day and one that I very much look forward to. It is an honor and privilege to be here today to do this. I want to thank all of our leaders from the Army here both here on the Army staff and the leaders from the National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve. Thank you all for being here. I want to thank Colonel (retired) Hammond who is the former McArthur Foundation Executive Director. I want to thank them for keeping this award alive. This is the 27th year. He talked to me earlier about General Wickam who was the Chief of Staff of the Army that established this award. What an incredible award and an important one for the future of our Army.
Before I go any further I want to thank all the families. The families that are here that supported your Soldier. None of us as Soldiers do this alone. We do it with the support of our husbands, our wives, our mothers, our fathers, and our children. I want to thank you for the great support that you have given these tremendous Officers who are being recognized here today. So let's please give the families a round of applause. (Applause)
Just to put this in perspective, this is the 27th year of the award. There have been 677 recipients. Just think about that. Think about the thousands upon thousands of Officers - Lieutenants, and Captains - who have gone through the ranks of our Army and all three components of our Army. Only 677 have been recognized. So, you should be very proud of your accomplishments here today.
I want to take a few minutes just to talk about my thoughts on the importance of leadership and specifically it has to do with these young men and women sitting before us today. I talk often as I look at the future of the Army, the future of the complexity of the world around us, and the great uncertainty that we face every single day. The one thing even though this is a time of fiscal constraints and concerns about resources, the one thing that is constant is leadership. The one advantage that we maintain in our Armed Forces and I am very proud of specifically in our Army is the development of our leaders. In my opinion that gives us a greater advantage in any event that we might have to face in the future. It is our development of our Non-Commissioned Officers, and it is the development of our Company Grade Officers. There is no more important job in our Army than being a Company Grade Officer. You are the individual that is there every single day with our Soldiers. The most precious resource that we have in our Army is our Soldiers.
The young men and women here being awarded today are representative of thousands who have that responsibility to ensure that our Soldiers are trained, to ensure that our Soldiers are ready, to ensure that our Soldiers are meeting the highest standards necessary in order for us to do the many missions that we might have to do around the globe, in many cases representing the United States. I have been using the example lately of four 150-man Companies out of the 173rd Airborne Brigade - one in Latvia, one in Estonia, one in Lithuania, and one in Poland - led by a Company Commander with Platoon leaders with our Non-Commissioned Officers that are frankly executing U.S. strategic policy and assuring our Eastern European allies against Russian aggression. Company Grade Officers conducting strategic level operations. That happens all around the world. That is why it is so important for us to invest in our young leaders, to invest and ensure that they have the capabilities to do the complex jobs that they are going to have to do.
So as you think about that, I want to think about these 27 great Officers who have stood apart from the incredible talent that we have in our Army. So for me, it is a great honor to have the opportunity to recognize them. They are the future of our Army. They are the future of our national security. Today during times of transition, there is no more important time for leaders from Sergeant to Four Star General must step forward and lead our Army into the future. These young men and women are going to be leading us for a very long time. I am very proud of what they have accomplished. Their recognition today brings solace to me in the fact that we are continuing to develop the greatest leaders in the world.
General Douglas McArthur represents innovation, risk taking, passion, and he always talked about duty, honor, country. Those are three words that are incredibly important. We must understand our duty. We are held to a higher standard. The American people expect us to do our job in the right way with the right moral and ethical values. That is our duty. Our duty to represent our country no matter how difficult it might be that we will lead our most precious resources, our sons and daughters, to accomplish the mission. Honor, doing it with integrity, doing it with integrity under the most difficult and chaotic conditions. Finally, country. We all raise our right hand and swear to the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We have a true belief in our system. I will tell you as I have had the opportunity during my 38 years in the Army to travel to many, many different nations, the one lesson I learned when I travel to these nations is I realize how fortunate I am that I was born n this country.
What these young leaders represent is that they understand the importance of defending this country and defending the ideals of freedom and liberty that we sometimes take for granted. So for me it is a distinct honor to recognize these incredible leaders here today. I know that they will continue to serve with great honor, with great duty, and understanding how important it is for our country.
The strength of our nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. That is what makes us Army Strong. Thank you very much.