|By C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After assuming responsibility as the Army’s new chief
of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno discussed challenges ranging from
transnational terrorism to “uncertainty of the Arab Spring,” to looming
resource cuts, and he called for caution to avoid a hollowing of the
Secretary of the Army John McHugh
administers the oath to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno during a
change-of-responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson
Hall, Va., as Odierno’s wife Linda looks on. Upon completion of
the oath, Odierno became the Army’s 38th chief of staff.
(Photo by U.S. Army)
Before an auditorium full of members of Congress, current and
former leaders in the Department of Defense, Soldiers, and Family
members at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Odierno took an oath
as the 38th chief of staff of the Army.
“I pledge I will work with all the Joint Chiefs and our service
secretaries and the secretary of Defense, as we face these very
difficult challenges,” Odierno said. “But I do have a word of
caution. We must avoid our historical pattern of drawing down too
fast and getting too small. Especially since our record of
predicting the future is frankly not a very good one. So as we make
difficult resource decisions we must be thoughtful and understanding
of the risk we incur to the future security of this great nation.”
Odierno said the Army must continue to provide combatant commanders
a trained and ready Army to ensure the United States prevails in
both Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to do that, he said, the nation
must sustain the all-volunteer Army and continue to develop leaders
and commitment to the profession of arms.
“Today is like no other in our history,” said the new chief of
staff. “It is a time of uncertainty and historic change. We face a
multitude of security challenges such as transnational and regional
terrorism (from) places like Yemen and Somalia, North Africa, and
Pakistan’s federally-administered tribal areas.
“We have the uncertainty of the Arab Spring,” he said about the
revolts in North Africa and elsewhere.
He warned of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the
challenges of rising national powers.
“All of that is underpinned by our own fiscal challenges,” he said.
“The strength of our nation is our Army,” Odierno said. “The
strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers
is our Families. This is what makes us ‘Army strong.”’
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised Odierno, and commented on
his ascent to the top military position in the Army.
“He brings a wealth of combat experience, with three long
deployments to Iraq that totaled over 50 months,” Panetta said.
“After leading the 4th Infantry Division in the early years of that
war, he later returned, as General Petraeus’ right-hand man.”
Panetta said Odierno was the operational architect of the troop
surge that “turned the tide” in Iraq.
The general was commander of Multi-National Corp-Iraq during those
days and later became the overall commander in Iraq, from 2008 to
“A very crucial time when our military was trying to make sure we
lock in the gains that were made with the surge,” Panetta said.
After having sworn in his new chief of staff, Secretary of the Army
John McHugh commented on the “transfer of responsibility” of the
Army — the name of the process is different for the chief of staff
than it is for a command position — saying it is a reflection of
“The transfer of authority from one CSA to another (takes place) not
with weapons, not with force — as we have seen in so many places
across the planet in recent days — but with honor and tradition and
even reverence,” McHugh said.
“It’s a credit to our democratic principles and a credit to our
nation, and to the military’s respect of civilian authority,” McHugh
said. “But most importantly, it’s a credit to the selfless men and
women of profound character and conviction who take up arms and don
uniforms in defense of our nation, our liberties and our freedom.”
McHugh, a former congressman from New York, said Odierno brings to
his position as the new chief of staff “impeccable credentials as a
Soldier, (and) as a leader,” and noted that the general had
commanded units at every level during a career that has spanned more
than 35 years.
“As a testament to his leadership and acumen on the battlefield,
General Odierno is only the second officer since Vietnam to command
up to division, corps and Army level during the same conflict,”
The secretary said it was during Odierno’s time in Iraq the two
first met. Over a period of 10 years, McHugh said, he’s visited Iraq
about 14 times.
“As I recall, Ray was there for just about every one of them,”
McHugh said. “Every time I returned to Washington thereafter, I felt
better about our presence in that theater, better about our mission
and better about the leadership in that nation, because of Ray
Odierno himself thanked many in the audience, including the members
of the 1974 graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West
Point — his own classmates.
The outgoing chief of staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who had just
passed responsibility for the Army to his counterpart, had these
words for the Army’s 38th chief of staff and for his wife, Linda.
“I wish I could’ve gotten a few more things ironed out before you
Ray, but you two know more about service and sacrifice than just out
anybody we now,” he said. “And you’re going to be a terrific 38th
Dempsey, after serving just five months as the Army’s chief of
staff, will move on to assume new duties as the chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff following the Sept. 30 retirement of Adm. Mike