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Gen. Dempsey's remarks at Deputy Secretary Carter's farewell ceremony

By As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey
Washington —

ANNOUNCER: Please be seated. Ladies and Gentleman, General Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY:  Well it's my honor to begin the festivities today as we celebrate, I do mean celebrate, the career and accomplishments and contributions of Doctor Ash Carter, who has served most recently as our Deputy Secretary of Defense to a quite an impressive gathering of people. Can't be much getting done in the government right now, at least in the executive branch. Well actually, all over the government probably not much getting done.  But, I do want to welcome you all here.

I speak on behalf of the Joint Chiefs … and we're gonna give Doctor Carter an award here in a moment, our highest award to a civilian in recognition of what he's done for the force. And of course the Joint Chiefs who [are] seated right there in a row do look very behaved right now, [it’s] not always that way. But I do wanna make mention of the fact that you, Doctor Carter, that your impact on us as a group and individually has been absolutely remarkable - and we can't thank you enough for the things you've done, but more on that just in a moment.

The first thing I want you to know though is, I took the time to Google "Ashton" before I came here today and you'll be interested to know that when you Google "Ashton" you get three returns: Ashton Kutcher, can we get the picture of Ashton Kutcher up there? There we go. Ashton Kutcher has been described as "hot", but kind of a mediocre model-turned-actor. You also get Ashton Irwin. Ashton Irwin is also "hot" but a mediocre drummer for an Australian boy band.

Then of course you get Ashton Carter - who has been described as by some as a “middle-aged uber-wonk”. And in the words of Politico, "makes think-tankers hearts flutter". Now in the words of Paris Hilton, "now that's hot". However, "hot" in DOD. terms, takes on a completely different meaning. Issues are hot. Suspenses are hot. Regions are hot. And I can tell you that no one has handled the heat like Doctor Ash Carter.

We're proud of him. We're thankful for what he's done, and we're very appreciative of the way you've done it. Not just what you've done it, but the way you've done it. It's lucky for us that you have worked without glamour or fame behind the scenes to make sure through good management and common sense and discipline that we are an organization that continues to adapt to the challenge that we find in front of us.

He did it all again without fanfare - in fact I think he's been called the Least … the most-importantleast-known figure in Washington, or some language to that effect - and I agree with that. He did have a moment, a brief recent brush with fame when he decided to give back a fifth of his paycheck during the recent furloughs and he in fact became known as the superhero of sequestration. I don't know if that's a title I'd actually aspire to have myself, but, but it worked for you I think and we did in fact respect his willingness to put skin in the game, to be personally invested and to think big when many around him were thinking small.

So, you see that picture right there of him being piped over the side by a great group of sailors in a recent trip, and farewells are always a sign of how much we value leadership, service and big-decision making. And in that context, Doctor Carter, it's my great pleasure on behalf of the Joint Chiefs to present you with the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award.