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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - During a brief ceremony Aug. 14 at Joint Base Meyer-Henderson just outside of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Gen. Mark A. Milley was sworn in as the 39th U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

Milley replaced Gen. Raymond T. Odierno who will retire after 39 years of service to the nation and a highly decorated career.

Milley last served as the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., and before that he commanded the III Corps at Fort Hood, Tex.

He brings with him an extensive background of combat experience having deployed in support of numerous operational assignments including: Multinational Force and Observers Sinai in Egypt, Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Speaking to attendees at the ceremony Milley made it clear that readiness and taking care of our nation's soldiers will be a few of his top priorities.

"As your Chief of Staff I will ensure that we remain ready, as the world's premier combat force," said Milley. "Readiness to fight and win in ground combat is, and will remain, the United States Army's number one priority."

"As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent," he continued. "We have to be able to fight guerrillas and terrorists all the way up through nation-state militaries. If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong in the air, on the sea and yes, on the ground, then we will pay the butcher's bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom."

Facing an era of dwindling budgets and a rise in conflicts around the globe, Milley made it clear that freedom is a wealth no debt can encumber.

"There is no cheap way to change, and more importantly, there is no cheap way to buy freedom," he said. "The only thing more expensive than fighting and winning a war is fighting and losing a war, and fighting and winning a war is what the United States Army is all about."

As he settles in to his new position, Soldiers can expect a battle-hardened warrior with the knowledge and experience to lead our nation's heroes through uncertain times.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who has worked with Milley in the past echoed similar sentiments.

"He's the right officer for the Army for the next four years to shape our forces and continue restoring its readiness that the nation expects from our Army," explained Carter.

"In addition to decades of…operational experience Mark clearly also has the strategic vision to build upon what (Odierno) started," he continued. "I know he'll succeed because he carries that same unyielding commitment to the Army, to Soldiers, and to families."

Prior to beginning his service in the Army, Milley was an ROTC Cadet and political science major at the prestigious Princeton University. He also possesses two Masters Degrees; one in international relations from Columbia University, and another in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Originally commissioned as an Armor officer in 1980, Milley has spent most of his 35-year career in Infantry and Special Forces assignments. While the future of warfare remains unclear, there is one thing that is certain, the Army is in good hands under the new Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.