Dunford Hosts Armed Forces Farewell Tribute to Carter

Farewell Ceremony Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his wife, Stephanie, pose with Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Ellyn, during a farewell ceremony for Carter on behalf of the armed forces at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 9, 2017

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Washington, DC – Calling Defense Secretary Ash Carter “a man of action,” the nation’s top military officer on Monday (Jan 9) hosted a farewell tribute to Carter on behalf of the armed forces today at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford praised the secretary as “a man gifted with a keen intellect.” “I’ve never worked with someone so quick to identify the key elements of complex issues,” Dunford said. “He’s a visionary. While most of us struggle to tackle today’s challenges, he’s always been someone who could look around the corner and see where the department needed to be in the future.”

‘Man of Action’ Saved Lives

Dunford credited Carter with saving lives during his years in policy roles, as the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, and as deputy secretary and secretary of defense.

“He’s a man of action. Despite his many years in the department, he was never driven by process or protocol,” Dunford said. “His impatience with red tape is legendary. He’s known for getting things done and demanding the same of others.”

Dunford said the Warfighter Senior Integration Group, an initiative Carter started in 2009, “cut through the bureaucratic processes and delivered urgent capabilities and resources to the warfighter when and where they were needed.” With one phone call from Iraq or Afghanistan, he said, commanders “could get immediate results in solving problems to save lives and enable battlefield success.”

No strategic leader played a more significant role in fielding vehicles and equipment to counter roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dunford said.

“Mr. Secretary, it would be hard to overstate the impact of your actions in saving lives and limbs,” the chairman said. “A lot of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines came home because you cared, and because you decisively engaged.”

A Leader Across the Board

Dunford said Carter’s qualities as a leader are also evident in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al-Qaida and associated groups.

“He’s been instrumental in building a 67-member coalition and implementing a military campaign that has significantly reduced ISIL-held territory, degraded ISIL’s capabilities, limited its freedom of movement, reduced its resources and stemmed the flow of foreign fighters in the region,” the general said.

Dunford noted that Carter has traveled tirelessly as secretary, “coordinating and collaborating with our partners and allies and along the way building strong, meaningful and lasting relationships across the globe.”

Carter’s “quiet weekend visits” to wounded warriors along with his wife, Stephanie, were also hallmarks of his tenure as secretary, Dunford said.

“He was always comfortable sitting down, looking in the eye, and connecting with the wounded and their families,” the general said. “He never rushed a visit.”

From Cold War to Cyber Domain

Carter thanked the general and said his best decision as secretary was recommending Dunford as chairman. The secretary then reflected on his career.

“It was 35 years ago this year that I first walked the halls of the Pentagon,” he said. “In those decades, I worked at administrations of both parties and for 11 secretaries of defense.”

Carter thanked President Barack Obama “for the trust and the confidence he reposed in me in three different positions over eight years.” The secretary also thanked his “perfect wife,” and said her travels with him had meant a lot to the mostly married troops they have visited.

“It matters to troops on far-flung bases and around the world when our family shows our love for their family,” he said.

Carter said during a career that started during the Cold War and has stretched into the cyber age, he has learned that defense leaders must be “mindful of the arc of history.”

The secretary said even while facing “the five challenges” of North Korea, Iran, Russia, China and terrorism, “there’s a whole other side to being secretary of defense” – ensuring the future of “the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

“I have tried to the best of my ability as secretary, and indeed in each of my roles in the department, to meet that sacred commitment,” he said.

Keeping it About the People

In a rapidly changing, uncertain and “fiercely competitive” world, Carter said, “Remaining the best will require the best: technology, agility, full-spectrum readiness, innovative war plans, and above all recruiting, retaining and developing the people, uniform and civilian, who will comprise the force of the future.”

Carter noted that in troop talks around the world he has told service members that they are why he wakes up in the morning.

“I’m so proud to be their leader,” he said. The security US troops provide their fellow citizens to live lives that are full, he added.

“Everywhere I go in the world, leaders say they like working with America’s troops,” he said. “It’s not just because they’re awesomely capable, it’s also because of how they conduct themselves and the values they embody.”

Because of them, “America’s future is bright,” Carter said.

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