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NORAD-NORTHCOM Change of Command

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work , Colorado Springs, Colorado, Friday, December 05, 2014

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE BOB WORK: Well, let me just say this must be a nonstandard podium.

Now I know why they selected "Shortney"-- I mean Adm. Gortney for command.

So ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and leaders from both the United States, and our allies and partners, and the men and women of NORAD and Northern Command, good morning. Thank you all for being here today.

Now it's a pleasure and a double honor for me to be here. A pleasure because as a deputy secretary most of the time I spend in the dark bowels of the Pentagon. And any day I can come out to Colorado in this beautiful locale and this wonderful weather and attend such an event it's a great day.

It's an honor to represent Secretary Hagel [inaudible] to represent him as we honor both Chuck Jacoby and Adm. Gortney, and as they change their commands. And finally really to pay honor to a great American, Chuck Jacoby.

Gen. Chuck Jacoby, his service has been exceptional by all accounts to his commitment to the security of both the United States and Canada and all of our allies, and to recognize the achievements of all the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM. It is such a fitting tribute for us to say goodbye to Chuck and say hello to Adm. Gortney.

Before going on I want to recognize a few people who have already been recognized, but I would feel remiss if I didn't do so. First, I want to thank the Jacoby family, which has provided Chuck with a strong support throughout his career. As a Marine who grew up in a Marine family, I know personally just how hard it is for a family to stay together and to manage all of the difficulties when the father or husband is away.

His wife Grace has guided the family through countless moves, dealing with all the untold challenges and sacrifices faced by so many of our servicemen and women. I also want to thank Chuck's three sons, C.J., Charles Junior, who followed in his father's footsteps, graduating recently from West Point; and Victor and Mike for their love and support of their father.

It's also a pleasure to be able to welcome Adm. William Gortney and his beautiful wife Sherry and their family as they come here to Peterson to take command.

Let me also welcome Sir Robert Nicholson, Canada's minister of defense, as well as Gen. Lawson, who you've both met, who's the chief of defense staff for Canada. Canada's a great ally. Canada's a great partner. Canada is a great neighbor. And Canada is a great friend to the United States of America.

I also want to welcome Gen. Granados and Adm. Zetina, chiefs of staff of the Mexican Secretariats of the National Defense and Navy. And Commodore Roderick Bowe of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. Thank you all for being here, and being such stalwart partners.

Last I want to thank the civic community who are here today representing Colorado Springs. Across the nation there are communities that support our men and women, and no place more so than right here in Colorado Springs.

Now, I was supposed to be here in September to participate in the 9/11 ceremony, but this tether that tied me to the Pentagon was too strong that day. So as I said earlier, I'm very pleased to be able to join all of you in beautiful Colorado Springs to pay tribute to someone I've had the real privilege of getting to know over the last six months since I returned as the deputy secretary.

Throughout nearly four decades of service in uniform, Chuck Jacoby has proven himself of one of our military's most seasoned and capable leaders. He has led troops in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He directed some of our most complex military operations. And he even survived a tour in the Pentagon. And finally wound up here as the commander of NORAD and Northern Command.

He's an infantryman by heart and by trade. His command experience includes at the company level, which is probably the most fun for anyone who's ever been a commander; a battalion commander in the storied 82nd Airborne Division.

He led all ground and air forces in Iraq during the height of the troop search there in 2008. And he has served on the island paradise of Hawaii, and the cold northern latitudes of Alaska, pretty much the extremes of conditions here in the United States. And he served as the director of the Strategic Plans and Policies for the Joint Staff.

Now some might say Chuck Jacoby was an odd choice to command NORAD. He was the first Army officer. He was also the first non-pilot to command either -- and as an Army paratrooper he spent most of his time jumping out of airplanes rather than flying them.

So I set about to find out a little bit more about Chuck, what makes him tick and his leadership style. And what makes him such an effective and admired commander.

When asked what Gen. Jacoby's hobbies are, in his past times one of his staffers said, "Oh that's simple, doing pull-ups and defending America." It's pretty hard to argue with those priorities. From those who served on his staff, a common refrain was that they never worked for a better boss.

Indeed he is so well respected and admired that a former exec named his kid "Jacoby." Also he arrives each morning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, ready to attack the day.

Bit woe be it to any stuffy academic who holds meetings hostage by bloviating at length without allowing Gen. Jacoby to exchange ideas or probe their own.

Now, from my own experience, and many of you who have worked a long time you know when you work long enough in these jobs you'll start to find out the tell of people when they're in a briefing. Sometimes it's subtle. Sometimes it's not so subtle. But at that a point when the tell emerges, the staff who wells know the tell, knows that a meeting has gone on way too long and that an explosion is coming or an intervention is needed.

Now, I'm told that with Chuck his tell falls kind of in the not so subtle category. The key indicator is when he begins running his hands through his hair and his hair stands up straight kind of like an Indian war bonnet. Once this happens, the staff knows the meeting's going off the rails and there's an unannounced emergency drill which takes Chuck away.

Now, he's behind me. So if he's starting to work with his hair I've got people out there to warn me. But when it comes down to it, he's a decorated soldier, a successful commander and a proven strategic thinker.

Secretary Hagel knew from the very beginning that he was the logical choice to lead the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM. A vision of vigilance and security he brought to this command is captured well in his motto: "we have the watch." He reminded all he led on a daily basis that America and Canada depend upon the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM to remain vigilant and to defend our nation.

NORAD is our only bilateral command. It is truly one of a kind. It should be since few nations on earth share the common bonds that we have with Canada. As Dwight Eisenhower once told a Canadian audience, "the U.S. and Canada each have an abiding faith that those 3,000 miles of common border measure as secure a boundary as the world has known, defended as it is by mutual friendship." "It is a bond," he went on to say, "that is mightier than any weapon known to man."

Today once again, and regrettably, we face threats and incursions into our airspace and territory that we haven't faced in a long time, and thought it passed, quite frankly, with the end of the Cold War. So as we look to those who serve here to always be vigilant and ready for both the United States and Canada, we truly need you.

The other hat Chuck wore effectively is NORTHCOM commander. NORTHCOM, as we all know, is charged not only being our nation's last line of defense, but also providing support to the federal, state and local levels when American people are in their greatest need. It's a typical balancing act, protecting the U.S. from external threats as well as dealing with natural disasters and internal emergencies. But under Chuck's leadership, Northern Command has built a strong record of accomplishments.

Consider the command's response to Hurricane Sandy. Literally within hours of Hurricane Sandy making landfall, NORTHCOM was already running operations in coordination with local authorities in both New Jersey and New York, delivering badly needed supplies, expert personnel and helicopter support.

So too with the wildfires here in the mountains last year, and the floods in Colorado. He also handled a difficult situation this past six months responding to the humanitarian challenge of unaccompanied children crossing our southern border this past year.

During his time here Chuck has also built a strong partnership, obviously, with our neighbors to the north and to the south. I've recently met with Canadian [Deputy] Minister of Defense Richard Fadden who, like the minister, sang fantastic praises for the job Chuck has done.

Chuck, our nation truly is more secure and our future is brighter because of your service, your dedication. I know you're an avid historian. And I'm sure you're looking forward to having more time to read and write. I would just ask that you not publish your memoirs for two years.

I understand you'll also be able to continue to enjoy the beauty of Colorado as you and Grace have a house halfway up the Cheyenne Mountain.

As we bid farewell to Chuck and Grace we do so with the confidence that another proven leader and warrior is ready to follow him, lead this vital organization and stand on this very short podium.

When I served as the -- in the Department of the Navy as the undersecretary I had the great good fortune to work closely with Adm. Bill Gortney. He climbed the ranks from commander to four star in eight years. That is an accomplishment which speaks well of his capabilities as a leader, as a warrior and as a visionary.

As a naval aviator, Bill carried on the proud tradition of his father, a retired Navy captain who flew more than 45 combat missions in the Korean War. Bill himself flew over 5,000 hours and made more than 1,230 carrier landings in both the A-7 Corsair and the F/A-18 Hornet, including combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

He led a carrier airway, a carrier strike group and the U.S. fifth lead in support of our troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was a commander of the 5th Fleet when Somali pirates took the captain of the ship Maersk Alabama hostage. And he was the one who oversaw the successful rescue operation as most recently recounted in the movie Captain Phillips.

His last command was U.S. Fleet Forces Command. So with his extensive experience, proven leadership and key mind, Secretary Hagel and I know very, very well that he will do as great a job as Chuck did in defending our nation, responding to national disasters, and when called upon, partnering with our neighbors to secure our borders and our sovereignty.

Bill, all that aside, I'd just like to leave you with one key bit of advice. Do not lose the radar track on Santa in the next few weeks. That would be a very bad way to start your tenure here.

Now let me close by paying tribute to all here who do so much for this country. The quiet professionals who have the watch, remaining vigilant and prepared for whatever threats that may approach our nation. Each and every one of you performs a vital and necessary mission.

People ask me, with all of the things going in the world how do I sleep at night? I tell them I sleep like a baby; I wake up crying every two hours.

But I always go back to sleep confident in our nation's security and safety because they are in the hands of such fine servicemen and women that are here today, thousands more that are across our great nation and thousands more that are around the world.

Secretary Hagel and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your service and the sacrifices you make every day on our nation's behalf. We know you will continue to make all Americans proud of their great military.

To Chuck, Grace, Shortney, Sherry, both of your families. Thank you so much for your dedicated and selfless service and sacrifice to the nation that Chuck, you've given for so long, and Bill you continue to do. We owe you all an enormous debt and gratitude, and wish you all the best as you begin the next chapters of your lives.

And to all here, may God grant his blessings to all of you this coming holiday season. Thank you very much.
 

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