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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the NDU Change of Presidency Ceremony

By As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
ANNOUNCER: Today’s ceremony will celebrate the transition of leadership here at the nation’s premiere military education and leader development institution – from Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, the senior vice president here at NDU, who served as the interim president for the past three months, to Major General Gregg Martin, United States Army.

For our military guests, today’s events will be an uncovered indoor ceremony, so no salutes will be required. The 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey will preside over today’s ceremony.

I’d like to thank the members of the Quantico Marine Corps Band for the beautiful music they will perform today, as also thanking Ms. Rebecca Schosek for what I’m sure will be an outstanding rendition of our national anthem in just a moment.

We are especially honored to welcome these distinguished guests here today. The Honorable Ike Skelton, a longtime champion of joint professional military education and very close friend of NDU; General Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force; Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, director general of the Foreign Service; Ambassador Richard Solomon, president of the United States Institute for Peace; retired General Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; retired Lieutenant General Julius Becton, our most recent inductee into the NDU Hall of Fame; and Lieutenant General George Flynn, director of the Joint Staff J-7.

I’d like to thank all our distinguished guests, national and international luminaries, staff and faculty of the National Defense University and the broader military education enterprise and, most importantly, the friends, family and comrades in arms of General Martin who are here today to witness yet another milestone in his career and in the history of NDU. Thank you all for attending.

Would the guests please rise for the arrival of the official party and remain standing for the presentation of the colors, the national anthem and the invocation. (Pause.)

The Marine Corps Band will now play “Four Ruffles and Four Flourishes” as part of the military ceremony honors being rendered to the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(Band playing.)

ANNOUNCER: Advance the colors.

(Singing of the national anthem.)

KEN SAMPSON (Army Chaplain, National Defense University): Almighty God, we come with gratitude for this change of presidency ceremony. We thank you for Ambassador McEldowney’s awe-inspiring ability to clearly articulate direction, and confidently lead this university during these months of transition.

Uphold General Martin as he now assumes the mantle of president of the National Defense University that he may continue to connect us all through shared confidence and expectant hope that united in purpose together we may fulfill our education mandate and generate thoughtful creative armed forces leaders dedicated to fight aggression, relieve suffering and be an inspiration to freedom-seeking people throughout the globe.

Continue to grace this event, eternal and all-powerful God. Amen.

ANNOUNCER: Retire the colors. (Pause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated.

Ladies and gentlemen, the interim president of the National Defense University, Ambassador Nancy McEldowney. (Applause.)

NANCY MCELDOWNEY: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, good morning, good afternoon, and a very warm welcome to you all. Thank you so much for honoring us with your presence today.

A short time ago, on April 11, we stood on this same stage and bade farewell to a great leader, Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, who brought passion and brilliance to her presidency. Today, we welcome another great leader, Major General Gregg Martin, whose broad experience and deep intellect are certain to take this university to even greater heights of success.

In the intervening three months, I have had the enormous honor of guiding this fantastic operation and the truly world-class faculty and staff that are the lifeblood of what we do every day.

Mine has been a brief but not entirely uneventful tenure. It has been to be sure a time of transition, transition to new leadership, to a new mission, and to a time of new resource constraints. As we have journeyed together through this transition, two things have been and remain abundantly clear.

First is the critical importance and enduring value of this enterprise. By bringing together military and civilian officers from throughout the U.S. government and from partner countries around the globe, by preparing them to solve tomorrow’s problems, we are quite literally producing the world’s leaders. We are producing the leaders of our international community that will take us forward. And in executing a task of such momentous value we can never falter.

The second thing – the other side of the coin of our enduring value is the imperative of change – change in the face of a changing world. Just as the chairman has focused on the development of the “Joint Force of 2020,” so too must we prepare the National Defense University of 2020. Recognizing that there are only two directions in life – forward or down – we have moved forward to adapt and to embrace the innovation necessary so that we can peer around the corner of tomorrow and even further enhance our status as a world renowned center of learning and leader development.

None of these things would be possible without the compelling vision, the constant support and the occasional course correction of our senior-most leaders.

General Dempsey, General Flynn, I am deeply grateful for the confidence and the trust that you have placed in me. I am also profoundly gratified by the progress that we achieved together during this interim period. And now, I gladly return to my day job as the senior vice president of the National Defense University. As I do so, I say to you now that I will continue to serve you, General Martin, and this great university with pride and pleasure and unwavering commitment.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are so very privileged to have with us today the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to preside over this ceremony. As the senior ranking officer of the United States military, he has called for a return to the core principles of the profession of arms. He has challenged us to rekindle the foundational bonds of trust throughout commands, between agencies and across borders. And he has urged that we foster a system of lifelong learning for all of our leaders. He is a soldier, a scholar and a statesman. And he is our 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome General Martin Dempsey. (Applause.)

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Well, thanks for waiting. I should begin by apologizing for being late. In fact, I will apologize for being late. I would have felt even worse if you were outside. Thank you for not scheduling us as an outdoor ceremony. But I am honored to be here to officiate over this change in responsibility.

And thank you, Ambassador McEldowney, for not only that kind introduction but for what was described as a moment ago as ‘you‘re awe-inspiring’; I thought the chaplain would – where did the chaplain go? Well chosen, chaplain. I thought those were pretty good adjectives and pretty accurate adjectives.

I actually – some of you know – was the acting commander of the United States Central Command for a period of time, so I know how tough being an acting-anything can be. You get twice the work, you get none of the credit, and you get all of the blame if something goes wrong in between. (Laughter.) But the truth is on your watch not only did nothing go wrong, but you set your successor, Gregg Martin, up for success. This university and our armed forces are better for your steady leadership.

Now, I know you didn’t hold down the fort all by yourself, so I do want to also recognize and thank all of the dedicated university world-class staff and faculty. So let’s give the ambassador and the staff and faculty a round of applause. (Applause.)

I’m particularly proud to welcome Chairman Ike Skelton back to Fort McNair today. Thank you, sir, for your many years of dedicated leadership and service both here and in that other building across the way, with the big round dome on it, for many, many years. And I will tell you that we are committed to maintaining your vision for senior joint professional military education, which is building strategic leaders who literally, as the ambassador mentioned, will lead our country, in particular the security instrument of national power, but who also will build relationships with our many valued partners around the world. And it’s especially gratifying today to see a good bit, I think, of the Washington, D.C., attaché corps and community here. Let’s give them a round of applause. (Applause.)

But chairman, you are one of the few guys I get to call chairman, as chairman. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help us see ourselves and to become more attuned to the needs of professional military education over your long career and I promise you we will maintain your legacy and stay in touch with you throughout.

I’m a big ‘this-day-in-history-guy,’ and one of the things about this day in history is that in, that Bradley, Omar Bradley – by the way, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- it was on this day just in 1944 that he sketched out his plan to break out from the Normandy beachhead. That was called Operation Cobra. And it was literally a breakout, because they had become somewhat bogged down in the bocage, the hedgerows of Normandy. And on this day, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acting in his capacity as Army commander in Normandy, sketched out how he would breakout from that – through that bocage.

So I’m here to talk to you today a little bit about the next chapter in National Defense University, in joint professional military education. And I’d like you to kind of link those two facts together in some ways. What I’m encouraging us to think about is a breakout of sorts based on the last 10 years of learning that we’ve done at great cost and also as we look to the challenges, the security challenges that we see and maybe in some cases don’t see on the horizon. So I’m encouraging kind of an intellectual breakout led by the National Defense University and we can – we’ll get a chance to talk about that more and more in the months ahead.

You also, though, have to share – there’s a bit of history you have to share with another star in the military educational constellation – and I’d like to point out, as I see my brother in arms, the chief staff of the Air Force Norty Schwartz here, that on this day in 1955, the United States Air Force Academy was dedicated at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. At the ceremony marking that occasion, then-Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott charged the Air Force Academy to be, I quote, “a bridge to the future gleaming with the promise of peace in a stable and sane world.” And I think we’d agree that much has changed in the nearly 60 years that have passed since that dedication of the Air Force Academy in Denver, Colorado.

Then, Lowry Air Force Base was the interim location for the Air Force Academy, and it was also a training site for rockets and radars intended for use against the Soviet Union. Today, Lowry Air Force Base is largely a residential area. In fact, one of Lowry’s old hangers houses an indoor ice skating ring, where for the most part Russian hockey coaches rule. (Laughter.)

But some things haven’t changed. The world isn’t any more stable or sane today than it was in 1955. In fact, many would argue that it is more complex and more dangerous. Now, we can probably argue that; I’ve actually been in a bit of an argument about that in the blogosphere. But I think there’s one thing on which we all can agree, and that is that education is the strongest and most secure bridge to the future, just as Secretary of the Air Force Talbott envisioned in 1955. And we’re going to need just such a bridge as that to work our way through some of the challenging transitions that we face.

Two I’ll note. Among them is the transition after more than 10 years of war from a force that was relatively static and acting in stability operations to the restoration of some of our atrophied maneuver skills and broader interests in a global environment. So we have to transition from a narrow focus on what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years and really open the aperture. And opening that aperture must start with our – shifting our intellectual bandwidth to that effort. So that’s one pretty significant transition.

The other transition, as Ambassador McEldowney alluded to is bigger budgets to smaller budgets. And if there’s anybody in the room that can enlighten me on how much smaller – I almost said how much bigger, but I know the answer to that one – bigger budgets to smaller budgets. We have to manage that transition and preserve that which has made us who we are over these many decades of successful service, not only to our own country but to peace and stability throughout the world.

So each of those transitions is significant in its own right, with far-reaching impacts at the individual, at the institutional and at the global level. And taking together they certainly describe comprehensive change and it’s that change that I’m challenging General Martin and the staff in faculty of National Defense University to help us manage.

In such an environment and among the transitions it’s also very clear to me and I’m sure to you that people are the key to that more stable and sane future that Secretary Talbott of the Air Force talked about in 1955. If we can get the people part right, everything else will fall into place. You know as I do that education is the foundation of the people part. Education helps make military service the nation’s preeminent leadership experience. Now, think about that. That’s a claim that I make, and incidentally I make broadly. I make it in academia. I make it in the business community. And nobody challenges me on it – that the United States military and its professional military education system is the premier leadership experience in the United States of America. And shame on us if we don’t preserve that in the face of all the changes that we know are coming.

We have to get education right to get the people part right. And that’s why I’m asking our senior education leaders through the Military Education Coordination Council to conduct a review. I want the review to update the value proposition of our joint professional education enterprise to meet – to determine whether we’ve got the attributes right, the outcomes rights that are demanded by the future security environment.

I want to ensure that our educational practices align with our needs and our expectations. I want to make sure that we’re focused on developing leaders who are the standard-bearers not just for their individual services but for the broader profession of arms. As I said, I want a Bradley-like moment in breaking out after the last 10 years of war and looking ahead to the next decade.

So with this in mind, it’s clear that Major General Gregg Martin is the right leader at the right place, the right time. I see he has some admirers that have joined him here today. You’ll probably hear them break out with a hoo-ah or two here in a moment. (Laughter.)

But Gregg is – I’ve known Gregg for most of his professional life. He’s been a student and instructor and a leader at the undergraduate and graduate level of our profession of military education. He’s earned a doctorate at one of the country’s most prestigious engineering schools. He’s a combat leader whose brigade conducted full spectrum operations during the initial assault from Kuwait into Baghdad, and then beyond that in the stability ops that we began to undertake as part of that mission. He understands what the nation needs from its leaders now and he understands what we will need from our leaders in the future.

His personal life reflects how deeply he believes in that. A military family in every sense of the term, Gregg and Maggie – well, mostly Maggie – raised three sons, all of whom became Eagle Scouts, and two of them are currently soldiers and combat veterans. And the third, Connor – where is Connor? There is, Connor, who I’m glad could be here – is still in college. I don’t know for how much longer. Maybe you’ve had a conversation about that with your parents. (Laughter.) I’m kidding, Connor. I know how proud your parents are of you and your brothers, Connor, so well done to you all.

Now, I think Gregg Martin’s name has a certain ring to it that I appreciate. And while that may not in itself be an indicator of future success, he does sport a first-rate haircut. (Laughter.) And my charge to Gregg Martin and the National Defense University is as clear cut as his barber’s: Get down to the essential elements of military education; execute them with exceptional professionalism that is the hallmark and has been the hallmark of your faculty and staff.

Like our joint force, NDU has become really good at a really wide range of tasks. But today, as you know, we need Marines to get back on ships and fighters to get back in dogfights. And we need tankers to be able – I’m talking about ground tankers – to be able to maneuver, and artillery men to be able to keep up with – in a way, frankly – and logisticians to set theaters in ways that we haven’t really had to fuss about much over the last 10 years. And we need all of that in the framework of an international – of international security thinking and building partner capacity and relationships. Other than that, Gregg, I don’t think you really have anything much to talk about here with the next course as it rolls in, but we do need this university and its colleges to focus on and excel at their core functions.

I know you’re ready, willing, and able to make this corps with students at its center – students at its center as second nature to the institution.

Tom Friedman, pretty decent writer in his own right, noted that pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong, but all the great changes are usually accomplished by optimists. I don’t mind saying that I’m unabashedly optimistic about the future of this country because of its leaders. And education is the bridge to that future, so I invite you to be optimistic with me.

Thank you very much and continue mission. (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the passing of the colors of National Defense University.

Attention to orders. Effective 11 July, 2012, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appoints Major General Gregg F. Martin as president of National Defense University. The passing of the colors is a time honored military tradition which signifies the passing of responsibility from the outgoing president to the incoming president. Effective 11 July, 2012, Ambassador Nancy McEldowney relinquishes her responsibilities as interim president of the National Defense University.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has just passed the colors of the university, along with the responsibilities that go with them, to the incoming president.

Effective 11 July, 2012, Major General Gregg Martin assumes the duties of president of National Defense University.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 14th president of National Defense University, Major General Gregg F. Martin. (Applause.)

Please be seated.

MAJOR GENERAL GREGG F. MARTIN: Well, good morning. It’s great to be here and see so many wonderful friends from around the world that we’ve had the privilege to serve with. Sir, I got it. Break out. Hoo-ah! (Laughter.)

Chairman Skelton, Patricia, wonderful to see you. And sir, thanks for your leadership and I really have learned everything I need to know about being a strategic leader from the chairman because I was blessed with the opportunity to command out at the Mecca, Fort Leavenworth, Missouri.

Sir, wonderful to see you thanks. And General Schwartz, General Myers, General Flynn, thanks.

Distinguished guests, family, friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends again from all over from the past, different assignments, Top of the Line ‘79 from West Point. I see a bunch of you here. Hooah. All right. Chief Deberry – I see you out there, my warrant tech three times and kept all that engineer junk moving. Hooah, great job. Good morning and welcome.

Today, we assembled to celebrate this great institution. I am honored to be chosen to lead NDU. Here at Fort McNair and at our south campus down in Norfolk. Eighteenth, thank you again, for the privilege and the confidence to serve once again, to lead, contribute, make a difference for our magnificent military and our great country. Thank you – (inaudible).

General Flynn, sir, thank you for your trust and your confidence. I look forward to working with you over the coming months and years to achieve our shared goals. This university has so much to gain from your oversight, experience and strong leadership. We’re thrilled to be part of the joint staff team and I welcome you, sir, to the NDU family. Semper Fi.

Thank you, Rebecca Schosek for sharing your beautiful voice with us today. Rebecca is proof that we choose our attitude. Some people have to, some people want to, but some people get to. Like Rebecca, we all get to serve at NDU.

I’d like to thank the university staff, in particulars Mr. Jerry Faber, Ms. Rose Mary Cousins, and Ms. Mini Mercado for their tremendous work and dedication to today’s event. Everything looks great and those cannons were awesome. Hooah! (Laughter.)

Thanks to Mr. Al Zimmerman in the NDU Foundation. Where’s Al? Where you at, brother? There he is. You provide us with a margin of excellence. Thank you.

And to my family, there they are up on the screen, good looking bunch. I wish to thank my bride Maggie, met her as a second lieutenant on my first assignment, in 1980. We’ve been married for 30 years and she has amazing gifts of hospitality and sharing beauty. Thanks, babe, you’re still the one. (Applause.)

I’d also like to thank and recognize my mother, Patricia Kelly, the matriarch of the family, daughter of a Boston cop, Officer James Kelly. She’s from a Coast Guard Navy family. She was nicknamed the drill sergeant when we were growing up. And if you think I have energy and passion and enthusiasm, you should see my mom. She skis every day in the winter, swims every day in Lake Winnipesaukee, rides her bike, she is the best mom in the world. Hooah! (Applause.)

And my dad, Donald, World War II Navy vet, enlisted in June 1944. Dad, see you on the high ground. Thanks mom and dad, great parents. (Applause.)

I’d also like to thank my sisters, Donna, Kelly, Jill and Denise, who’s not here. Thank you for being great sisters and keeping me out of trouble when I was little. Hooah.

I also want to give a shout out to our three boys, Connor, who’s here with us. Connor, you’re looking good. I like the moustache. Sergeant Phil Martin – that’s Phil on the left. He’s deployed in Afghanistan right now. We asked him if he couldn’t put that thing inside a rucksack so he’s a little smaller. Phil’s a signals intel and a Chinese language [linguist] serving in Special Forces currently downrange.

(Inaudible) Pat Martin, infantry officer in transition to Special Forces, recently returned from Afghanistan as an infantry platoon leader, and he came back from an epic tour in Germany with Second Cavalry Regiment. And Pat’s now down at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Phil loves his beard and Pat wants to grow one. (Laughter.) They’re really lucky they got their mom’s good looks and I think they’re both watching on streaming video, so if you are, hooah to you and your teammates. We are all proud of you guys. Stay vigilant. And when this ceremony is over, get back to work. (Laughter.) (Applause.)

Uncle Slater and Aunt Muffy – Uncle Slater is an Army vet – thank you and hooah. Colonel Joe Ryan, Maggie’s dad, 30-year soldier, Vietnam vet. He’s courageously battling cancer. We were with him last week. He’s back home in Indiana. And Colonel Father Joe, if you’re watching, big hooah.

Cousin Bill Kelly and his wife Tammy, where are you at, Bill? Bill just made senior warrant officer in the Coast Guard. Way to go Bill Kelly. And I’d like to thank the entire NDU team for the warm hospitality and great welcome to Maggie and I.

Maggie and I, we have so much to give thanks for and we thank the Lord for our many blessings. We’re honored and humbled to serve at this place, at this time with you.

The next few years are going to be a great ride. I’m honored to follow in the footsteps and to walk upon the shoulders of my great predecessors who along with our world class faculty staff and workforce, and in particular our students and our graduates, have built NDU’s stellar reputation. I’d like to thank and honor Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, our 13th president, for her warm welcome and tremendously open and helpful transitions. Admiral, are you here today? I know she was trying to make it and I think – OK, but anyway, Admiral Rondeau, thank you. Under her stewardship during these transitions, the university began to transform itself more than a year ago. Her visionary leadership moved the university forward. She quietly began changing the university long before change was popular, required, or mandated. And she properly positioned the university for a visit by the middle states accreditation team in March of 2012. Simply said, she was most effective in showing all of us that the whole of university is greater than its parts. Admiral Rondeau, we thank you.

Moreover, this university was blessed when the Department of State assigned the Ambassador Nancy McEldowney as our senior vice president. A career diplomat, Nancy embodies the warrior spirit and has been walking point for NDU through challenging times. On behalf of the university, thank you, Nancy, for your wise, strong leadership and for your courageous stances on so many tough issues, large and small. And Nancy, I could not have picked a better battle buddy or a wingman – or shall I say wing woman – (laughter) ¬– and I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. Hooah!

The world is unpredictable and complex, as the chairman laid out. Our military must adapt to deal effectively with new threats and challenges. This university today is now more relevant and more critical than ever in this volatile uncertain world, and we must transform to remain so. In order for it to remain the premier joint professional military education and leader development institution in the world, the chairman and his staff have asked us to change, and we have embraced that change.

Chairman Dempsey, NDU thanks you for providing us with the new mission statement which is displayed up on the screens. It truly is a blessing. Many organizations spend months attempting to revise and develop a new mission statement. And for many of us, we’ve been through that drill and you’re trying to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Sir, you solved it for us. Thank you. You gave us a mission that is clear, concise and succinct – a precise, forward-looking expression of our top priority and the one big thing. Joint leader development and JPME in support of the warfighter. It will strategically position the university to address the demands and future requirements of the joint force and the combatant commanders in the decades to come.

Thank you.

Let me share with you some of my thoughts for this university. We must retain the best of NDU and its crucial capabilities and reshape functions in order to ensure our long-term vitality through a sustainable business model. During our time together, we as one NDU will do: one, focus on our core mission and purpose given by the 18th, namely, JPME and leader development. Every single person who gets to come to work at NDU should understand, embrace, and align themselves and their work in accordance with our mission and our purpose.

Number two, we must become, once again, the chairman’s university, his go-to place. We will be his thought leaders and his change agents for the joint force while we educate, develop, and inspire our students to be those leaders of change that we need.

Number three, we will transform ourselves into one university from a confederation of colleges and centers. We will adopt a whole-of-NDU approach in terms of how we approach, how we see ourselves, how we behave and operate. We can achieve our mission and our purpose with greater effect in time and space and at better value. We do this by becoming one university.

Four, finally, we will become a true partner, a teammate and a collaborator with the J7, the Joint Staff, in thinking about and creating our future for joint leader development and education.

General Flynn, we look forward to partnering with you and the J7 team as we move forward. Together we will accomplish these tasks and we will build in the momentum that currently exists. Today, I announce the creation of Task Force NDU 2020. This task force begins its work right now under the leadership of Dr. Mike Bell, and its first report is due to me and my senior leaders at our university on-site, off-site on August 2nd, 2012.

Mike Bell, where are you? OK. Mike, I figure you’ll be running out the door to get to work here. (Laughter.)

This task force will relentlessly and rigorously scrutinize and assess ourselves in terms of mission, purpose, function, process, organization and alignment, both internal and external. And once we complete this vital task, we will then develop a concept and a follow-on plan that takes a blank sheet of paper or a clean canvas approach and recreates NDU for 2020. In other words, we’re going to ask ourselves – has anybody seen the movie “Moneyball?” Adapt or die, OK? We’re going to ask: if we weren’t already set up this way, is this how we would set ourselves up for the future? We’re going to look out, and we have the guiding documents.

Chairman, you’ve given us great visionary statements. We’ve got Joint Vision 2020. We’ve got the Profession of Arms White Paper. We now have the draft of the White Paper on JPME. Sir, we know where we need to go and what right looks like and so what the task force is we’re going to take blank canvas, we’re going to create NDU 2020 so we can journey to be what we need to be for 2020. Hooah.

NDU 2020 will provide clear unity of purpose and unity of effort for all that we do: education, outreach, and research in developing our students to be those leaders and advisors needed in joint force 2020.

Now, there are some who think that’s too soon to embark on this initiative, that the task is too intractable to jump into headlong. To that few, I offer the wisdom of General Ulysses S. Grant that – and I quote – “In every battle, there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten. Then he who continues the attack wins.” Breakout.

Over the past two years, this university has studied, we have dreamed, we have dialogued, we have debated and we’ve planned our future. All the essential materials are there. The core documents are all there. So now, with the focused assistance, energy and drive of the task force, we need to complete the task. We need to finish it, reach closure by aligning ourselves under the new mission statement. There it is.

We must continue the attack. We must become better teachers, better researchers in a better university all focused, each and every member of the NDU team, on educating, developing and inspiring our students, one learner at a time, creating new, cutting-edge expert knowledge for the profession and being better stewards of our scarce resources.

While we will move rapidly and decisively, I want to assure all of you on the NDU team of the old adage, mission first, people always. That will guide us and it will hold true. We will take care of our people during the transition. Changes will come, but we will strive to ensure they are made with this university’s best interests in mind.

That said, we will achieve our vision, not through radical transformation but by building upon the successes that we’ve already achieved. Here at NDU, we support the joint warfighter by developing leaders through education and training along with research and outreach. And those elements then enrich our curricula, strengthen our faculty and produce better graduates. We can improve though by tightly focusing all that we do toward our common goal. And let me be clear: our common goal is joint professional military education and leader development.

What I’m advocating is a whole-of-NDU approach, one university with one goal. And each of us must ask, how am I in my position making the university better? How am I promoting JPME at NDU? How am I and my team focusing on developing our students to be leaders of change, wise, strong, inspired, built to last and committed?

We might be faced with answers that are difficult to hear, but these answers are not nearly as important as how we respond to them. We will respond by actively involving ourselves in accomplishing the university’s mission.

We will make the necessary changes to ensure that all our efforts support leader development, JPME and then the attendant supporting task of developing that new expert knowledge for the profession by conducting research and outreach and support to practitioners and then infusing that new expert knowledge into the professional body of knowledge, into our curricula, and most importantly, into the students we teach and develop, who will then go forth as practitioners and leaders in the profession.

As we do this, we will become the unified dynamic and innovative university that our nation needs us to be. That NDU, the NDU of 2020, will be looked to around the world for excellence in JPME and leader development.

The NDU of 2020 will be a home to the brightest strategic minds and the intellectual resource of choice for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The NDU of 2020 will be the place that people and government, academia, the military and the private sector come to learn and to be inspired.

The NDU of 2020 will be the chairman’s university, the go-to place for all things strategic for our nation’s highest ranking leaders.

The DNU of 2020 will be a university that works tirelessly for its students and its graduates who are the reason that we are here.

The NDU of 2020 will produce leaders that have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world.

I am here to serve you and to help NDU succeed. We all must be more open than ever to change, improvement and new ideas. And that goes for all members of the university, including me. Every member of our community has a voice. I am open-minded and I want to hear your creative ideas.

I will listen. And our first big all-hands town hall is tomorrow and we’re going to do many of them in little groups, big groups, select groups. I’m going to do a lot of listening, a lot of engagement with the workforce up and down the chain of command. Leverage my energy and my passion – I am here for you. Use me. That’s why I’m here. (Scattered laughter.)

The National Defense University is now in a dynamic transitional phase of its existence. This is a momentous and exciting time. We will redefine who we are, what we believe in and in what we will do for decades to come. I am honored to accept this challenge as the 14th president of NDU. We are NDU. (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER: Would the guests please rise for the benediction by Chaplain Sampson, the singing of the Armed Forces Medley and the departure of the official party.

KEN SAMPSON: Please bow with me in prayer. Everlasting God of the ages, as we prepare to depart, continue to join together the mission, plans and programs of education of this National Defense University, that the culture of our people, whether faculty, staff, researcher, administrator, student may be energized and committed to fulfill the great purpose and privileged responsibility we’ve been given by the Department of Defense of these United States of America.

Be especially close this morning to combat zone deployed armed force personnel in dangerous and unsettling postings around the globe. Guide, heal and restore those recovering from wounds and loss. Grant us safety, renewed purpose and increased satisfaction in our calling as we now leave this ceremony, all sustaining God. Amen.

(Band playing) ANNOUNCER: Please remain standing for the departure of the official party. Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the ceremony. Thank you for your attendance today. Please join us for a reception in the H Room of Marshall Hall where there will be a receiving line at the center. General and Mrs. Martin encourage you to enjoy the refreshments and please ask to sign the guest book also located in the H Room. Finally, please join me in thanking the Quantico Marine Band for playing today’s music ceremony. (Applause.)