|By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta pledged there
will be no hollow force on his watch.
The secretary made the commitment in a message to the Defense Department
released after he took the oath of office July 1. Department of Defense
General Counsel Jeh Johnson administered the oath in the secretary’s
office. Taking the oath transferred responsibility for the department
from Robert M. Gates.
Leon E. Panetta takes the oath of
office as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Defense during a Pentagon
ceremony, July 1, 2011. Department of Defense General Counsel
Jeh Johnson administered the oath in the secretary’s office.
(Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)
Panetta also pledged to be a tireless advocate for servicemembers
and their Families.
“You and your Families will always be foremost on my mind and at the
top of my agenda,” he said.
The secretary will not hesitate to do what needs to be done to
defend America. He also will fight for the needs “of the men and
women who serve in harm’s way, and the Families who support them,”
“Even as the United States addresses fiscal challenges at home,
there will be no hollow force on my watch. That will require us all
to be disciplined in how we manage taxpayer resources.”
The secretary, who served as the director of the CIA, said the
nation is at war, he said, and must prevail against its enemies.
“We will persist in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately
defeat al-Qaida,” he said. “The successful operation that killed
Osama Bin Laden — a mission that showcased American military
strength and precision — is a major step toward that goal.”
In Afghanistan, the secretary said service members must continue to
work with Afghan security forces and coalition partners to
transition security responsibility to the Afghans by 2014.