WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 – The U.S. military is a learning and growing entity, and young officers must be flexible enough to lead their organizations, the commander of U.S. Africa Command told ROTC cadets here today.
Ham, who is the senior ROTC graduate in the Army today, compared what he faced when he entered the Army in 1974 with what today’s ROTC graduates will face. He noted that when he entered the Army, the draft had just ended and the enemy was the Soviet Union.
“We focused everything we did on that one single, but very dangerous and predictable threat,” he said. “The Army that you will lead is very different from that.”
The threat environment is unpredictable, Ham said, and that will create more challenges for young officers coming into the force. “The good news is, the soldiers and noncommissioned officers that you will lead are tremendously experienced in this environment,” the general told the cadets. “They are combat tested. They are culturally savvy. And they have demonstrated their ability to perform a wide range of tasks across the spectrum of conflict.”
“Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are values that don’t change,” he said. “They are the foundation upon which you and your leadership and professional knowledge will be built upon.”
“My crystal ball is a little bit fuzzy, and I don’t know what the future holds,” Ham said, “but I do know that wherever you are going to operate as Army officers, it is going to be inside somebody else’s culture, and the more we understand about that, the better off we’ll be.”
Young soldiers today will be working even more closely with sailors, Marines and airmen in joint operations, and the ability to work with civilian agencies and international partners also will be an important asset for young officers, Ham noted.
“We have a hard time predicting what will happen,” he said, “but we can identify the attributes that will be necessary for success.”
Biography – General Carter F. Ham
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA: Good afternoon.
Let me start, before I turn this over to Holly Petraeus, if I could make a brief personnel announcement for Department of Defense.
Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command.
General Rodriguez currently leads U.S. Army Forces Command, and as I think many of you know, he has served in a variety of key leadership roles on the battlefield.
While serving as commander of ISAF Joint Command, he oversaw the coalition and Afghan forces during the surge, and was a key architect of the successful campaign plan that we are now implementing.
He’s a proven leader, extremely well prepared to serve as the next AFRICOM commander, if confirmed, and I believe he will be.
I’ll have a lot more to say about General Carter Ham’s service in the months ahead, but let me say this. Under his leadership, AFRICOM has played a very central role in some very important missions, from the NATO campaign in Libya that led to the fall of Gadhafi; to successful counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, Yemen; to efforts that we are now involved in, in Nigeria, in Mali and elsewhere.
General Ham has really brought AFRICOM into a very pivotal role in that challenging region. I and the nation are deeply grateful for his outstanding service.
As you all know, last week in Brussels I announced that President Obama will nominate General Joe Dunford to succeed General John Allen as the leader of the coalition forces in Afghanistan. And General Allen will be nominated to be commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
Today, I’d also like to announce that President Obama will nominate Lieutenant General John Paxton to succeed Joe as assistant commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
General Paxton has served in a number of key leadership roles in the Marine Corps and here at the Pentagon, where he recently served as director of operations for the Joint Staff. He’s an exceptionally capable leader, and again, if confirmed, he will be an outstanding assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
General Rodriguez, General Paxton join a growing cadre of senior military leaders who have deployed to combat theaters numerous times throughout their careers. And many have served, as we all know, in key leadership positions in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they’re now leading the most experienced and combat-tested military force that our nation has ever assembled.
Building on that perspective will be essential as we shape the force of the 21st century, that institutionalizes the lessons of war, and has the innovative capability to deal with the threats and challenges that we’re going to face in the future.
After listening to the debate between Romney and Obama last night (imo, Romney won in character and facts) and after 4 years of seeing how Obama is the last thing we need to direct our military in this chaotic and lethal global community, I can only pray that the Generals Obama is nominating for these positions will take care of their men and women in spite of their present CinC. I’m also praying that Romney as the next CinC will step up and listen to those who are experienced in fighting Islamafascists and put our kids in uniform above their political careers. I hope he has been collecting BINDERS of qualified brass who have not forgotten the values that General Ham spoke of in the speech above.
Our Military has been through enough, especially with the last 4 years of a community organizer’s incompetency.