WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service, June 20, 2014) -- Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work saluted the U.S. Army on its 239th birthday for its versatility and adaptability during a cake-cutting celebration in the Pentagon's courtyard here today.
Work wished the Army a happy birthday, and expressed his confidence there will be many more to come.
"Happy 239th birthday to the United States Army, whose fighting spirit, patriotism and unwavering zeal I am absolutely confident will last another 239 years," he said.
Joined by Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, Work lauded the Army for its "illustrious" history.
"It is such a pleasure for me to be here today as we celebrate your 239th birthday which, as a Marine, I have to admit you are the oldest branch of the armed services," he said.
"Two weeks ago ... we commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day when American Soldiers mind you -- not Marines -- stormed ashore in the largest amphibious operation in history," Work said.
The June 6, 1944, D-Day allied landings in Normandy, France, during World War II "led to the breakout in the Normandy beachhead and the dash across France ultimately ending in [the defeat of] Germany," the deputy defense secretary said.
And, while American Soldiers were storming ashore in Normandy, he added, other U.S. Soldiers, alongside U.S. Marines, were fighting in the Pacific Theater on the Japanese-handheld island of Saipan.
"And, at the very same time in the China-Burma-India theater, General Frank Merrill and his famed Marauders were raiding deep behind enemy lines," Work said. "They marched 750 miles through the sweltering jungles ... in the mountains of Burma."
That incredible versatility, the secretary said, fighting on the shores of France, on the islands in the Pacific, in the jungles of Burma and the ability to fight on any terrain, carrying out lightning strikes behind enemy lines, storming through or around even the stoutest of defenses, is a hallmark of the Army.
The secretary noted today's U.S. Army has demonstrated the exact same versatility and adaptability in getting the job done regardless of circumstances.
"Over the past 12 years, this U.S. Army has followed in the footsteps of all those Soldiers who have come before you and have served our nation so proudly and effectively," Work said. "It didn't matter whether it was in the deserts of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan, the jungles of the Philippines or the dark alleys of cities in numerous countries around the world."
Whenever the nation has called, the Army has answered -- and "answered brilliantly," he said.
Today's world presents very complex security threats and challenges, Work said, noting America requires an Army that's just as adaptable, versatile, prepared and lethal as any before it.
America needs an Army that can go anywhere, fight anywhere, and defeat any and all adversaries wherever they may be in any corner of the globe, he added.
"[Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel and I are absolutely confident that today's Army ... is going to continue to provide our nation and our citizens with just such a force," Work said.
For generations, American Soldiers have demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the security of their nation and its citizens, as embodied in the Army motto: 'This We'll Defend,'" Work said.
"And along the way, you've added bright chapters to an already illustrious volume of battle honors," Work said. The same principles that united those freezing, ill-clad Soldiers at Valley Forge, he said, unite those who today patrol the mountains of Afghanistan, train foreign armies in Africa, Central and South America, and assist our allies in Europe and Asia.
"Secretary Hagel and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts," the deputy defense secretary said. "All of you bear a heavy burden protecting our country."
Work, who noted he was raised in a military family before having his own on active duty, paid tribute to Army families around the world for their support.
"I, like Secretary McHugh and the chief, would like to thank the families," he said. "None of us could do our jobs without you ... and I thank you for the love and support you give your Soldiers."