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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 22, 2005
President Nominates General Pace as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Roosevelt Room
10:12 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. As President, my most solemn duty is protecting the American people. In meeting this responsibility, one of the most important decisions I make is the appointment of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Today I'm pleased to announce my decision to nominate General Peter Pace to take on this vital job.
When confirmed by the Senate, General Pete Pace will be the first Marine in history to hold this vital position. He knows the job well. For the past three-and-a-half years, he has served under our superb Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld. He has been the Deputy to one of the most outstanding Chairmen our nation has ever had, General Richard Myers.
As my most senior military advisor, General Myers has helped prepare military forces so they can meet the threats of this new century. This is a huge task, even in peacetime. Dick Myers did it while defending America from one of the most determined and vicious enemies we have ever faced. On General Myers' watch, we toppled two brutal dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq, and liberated more than 50 million people. By removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein we have made America safer and put a troubled region on the path of freedom and peace.
I want to thank General Dick Myers for his able service over four decades, and his tireless dedication to duty and country. And I also thank his wife, Mary Jo. Dick Myers has had four jobs with fours stars, but the distinction that he is proudest of is not a military one. Last year, the National Father's Day Council named him Father of the Year.
I'm confident that the great work that General Dick Myers set in motion at the Pentagon will continue under the leadership of General Pete Pace. The first thing America needs to know about Pete Pace is that he is a Marine. To the American people, "Marine" is shorthand for "can do." And I'm counting on Pete Pace to bring the Marine spirit to these new responsibilities.
General Pete Pace's life is the story of the American Dream. His father was an immigrant from Italy. Pete Pace was born in Brooklyn. He grew up in New Jersey and he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam; he commanded Marines in Somalia; and he went on to command U.S. Marine forces in the Atlantic, and became the head of the U.S. Southern Command. It tells you something about Pete Pace's devotion to his troops that under the glass on his desk at the Pentagon, he keeps a photo of Lance Corporal Guido Farinaro. He was the first Marine he lost in combat in Vietnam.
I've come to rely on Pete Pace's wisdom, judgment and sense of humor. I will continue to rely on those qualities as he serves our nation as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We'll need his wisdom and determination as we continue to transform our Armed Forces, so we can defeat today's enemies, while preparing ourselves for military challenges we will face as this new century unfolds.
General Pete Pace also understands the critical role military families play in the success of our Armed Forces. That's because he has a great military family, himself. I'm pleased to welcome his wife, Lynne, and daughter, Tiffany, who have joined us today. They're proud of Pete, and they should be.
Because he has served in the job, General Pete Pace also understands the important role that the Vice Chairman plays. Today I am pleased to announce that I have nominated an outstanding military officer, Admiral Ed Giambastiani. (Laughter.) He shall be known as Admiral G. (Laughter.) Anyway, he's going to be the Vice Chairman. (Laughter.)
For the past two-and-a-half years Admiral G -- as his friends, and now the President calls him -- (laughter) -- has been serving our nation while wearing two important hats. As Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, he has been transforming our Armed Forces so they can better work together to defeat the threats of the 21st century. As the first Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, he's been leading the effort to bring reform to NATO military so our alliance is prepared for the threats of tomorrow.
Admiral G is joined today by his wife, Cindy; daughter, Cathie; and his son, Pete, a Navy lieutenant, and Pete's wife Jennifer.
I appreciate the willingness of these men, and their families, to take on these new assignments in an extraordinary moment in our nation's history. We still face ruthless adversaries who wish to attack our country. With the leadership of men like these, the outcome of the struggle is assured: America will defeat freedom's enemies and ensure the security of our country for generations to come.
It's my honor to bring to the podium General Pete Pace. (Applause.)
GENERAL PACE: Thank you. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary, General Myers, I thank each of you, individually and collectively, for your trust and faith in me.
This is an incredible moment for me. It is both exhilarating and humbling. It's exhilarating because I have the opportunity, if confirmed by the Senate, to continue the serve this great nation. It's humbling because I know the challenges ahead are formidable. But I have great faith in our ability to meet those challenges -- for both personal and professional reasons.
On the personal side is my family: my wife, Lynne, with whom I share our 34th wedding anniversary this Sunday; along with her, our two children, Tiffany, who is with us and who, just by being anywhere near me, brings great joy to my life; and our son, Captain Peter Pace, United States Marine Corps Reserve, and his wife, Lindsey, who could not be here today; and my mom, who goes to church every Sunday and lights candles and burns the church down while she prays that I might be on the path I should be on and be safe.
But, professionally, as the President pointed out, we have been fortunate to have an incredible Chairman for the last three-and-a-half years, and it has been my great honor to be his Vice Chairman. And he is still our Chairman, and I look forward to continuing to serve him and this nation as his Vice Chairman. But if confirmed, I am delighted that I'll have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Admiral Ed G. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for bailing me out. (Laughter.)
GENERAL PACE: I am trainable, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
Admiral G, and his wife, Cindy, and family are incredible Americans. He brings great intellect and energy and focus to the job. And I look forward to being shipmates with him as we serve this country.
But the fundamental reason why I have great faith in our ability to overcome whatever challenges lie ahead is the fact that we have the world's best men and women serving in our Armed Forces. Active, Guard, Reserve, civilian -- they simply deliver every time our nation calls. And I'm proud, and I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me this opportunity to continue to serve them and our Commander-in-Chief, if confirmed. And I thank you all today for being here. (Applause.)
ADMIRAL GIAMBASTIANI: Mr. President, Secretary Rumsfeld, Mr. Vice President, General Dick Myers, and, of course, General Pace: Cindy and I thank you for this great honor and this opportunity to continue to serve our nation. For 35 years I've had the privilege of wearing this Navy uniform. For me, and for my family, it has been a wonderful experience and also a great honor.
It's a singular thrill for me to be able to work for you, sir; with Secretary Rumsfeld, again, to continue that relationship; and also, General Pete Pace -- obviously, pending confirmation -- so that we can work on the challenges and the security situations that face our nation in the future. I look forward to working and continuing to serve on behalf of those wonderful human beings, those members of our Armed Services, those people in uniform. They are doing truly remarkable things around the world every single day, and they deserve nothing less than our full support.
Mr. President, there are a lot of challenges ahead. I look forward to working with you, General Pace, Secretary Rumsfeld, and this great team in the future to meet those challenges. Thank you, sir. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
END 10:23 A.M. EDT