FORT MYER, Va., (Army News Service, April 10, 2007) - Gen. George W. Casey Jr. today became the 36th chief of staff of the Army, assuming the position from Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker.
Gen. Casey was the first commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, a coalition of more than 30 countries, until February. He had served as Gen. Schoomaker's vice chief of staff before deploying to Iraq in 2003 to assume command of the coalition.
Guest speakers at the ceremony included Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, both of whom praised Gen. Schoomaker for his accomplishments and the positive changes he made to the Army after being called from retirement in 2003 to assume the top uniformed Army position.
Sec. Geren, who hosted the ceremony, called Gen. Schoomaker a great teacher and Soldier, and honored him for nearly four decades of active service characterized by sacrifice, courage and devotion to duty.
"It's been a privilege to work alongside this extraordinary leader, this great teacher, a man who has given so much for his country and the Army he loves," Sec. Geren said. "Pete Schoomaker is a patriot, a man who has always put the country first and always answered the call to duty."
Sec. Gates also expressed his gratitude to Gen. Schoomaker, thanking him for his vision and leadership.
"Challenging times require extraordinary vision and leadership, and Pete has shown both those qualities," Sec. Gates said. "He has entirely changed the manner in which our Army is trained, deployed and organized."
In his parting words, Gen. Schoomaker reaffirmed that today's Soldiers are still the Army's greatest strength, because war will continue to be fought in the human dimension.
"While technology has changed our Army, there can be little doubt that when you look into the eyes of our warriors today, as I have in the last four years, I see the same patriotism that George Washington must have seen at Valley Forge," Gen. Schoomaker said. "I have looked into the eyes of today's warriors and I am proud to report they continue to exceed every expectation for courage, dedication and selfless service - they are the heart of all we do, they are our future, and they demonstrate strength, compassion and warrior ethos."
Gen. Casey spoke last and thanked both secretaries, the president, Congress and Gen. Schoomaker for their faith in his abilities to lead the Army.
"I'm proud to be taking charge of an Army that's regarded as the best in the world at what it does," Gen. Casey said. "I have watched the men and women of our Army in action in the most demanding combat environment. I take great pride in the courage, the confidence and the commitment of our Soldiers and civilians to both the ideals that have made this country great and to making a difference in our world. They epitomize what is best about America.
"They and their families carry heavy burdens in today's war with a hard road ahead, yet their willingness to sacrifice to build a better future for others and to preserve our way of life is a great strength for our nation," he said. "We are Army Strong and I could not be more proud today to be a Soldier and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder during this time of danger and uncertainty."