President Bush elevated today, pending expected Senate confirmation, Marine Corps General Peter Pace from Vice Chairman to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the President's remarks he said of Gen. Pace:
"I'm confident that the great work that General Dick Myers set in motion at the Pentagon will continue under the leadership of General Pete Pace. The first thing America needs to know about Pete Pace is that he is a Marine. To the American people, "Marine" is shorthand for "can do." And I'm counting on Pete Pace to bring the Marine spirit to these new responsibilities.
This is a big moment not only for Gen. Pace but for all Marines. This is the first Marine to be nominated for the position. Given the tremendous amount of work, courage and dedication the Marine Corps has shown in Afghanistan and Iraq, he is a fitting individual for the task. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reorganized by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 that reformed the military and changed the position to have up to two consecutive two-year terms. President Bush gives Gen. Pace's history:
"General Pete Pace's life is the story of the American Dream. His father was an immigrant from Italy. Pete Pace was born in Brooklyn. He grew up in New Jersey and he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam; he commanded Marines in Somalia; and he went on to command U.S. Marine forces in the Atlantic, and became the head of the U.S. Southern Command. It tells you something about Pete Pace's devotion to his troops that under the glass on his desk at the Pentagon, he keeps a photo of Lance Corporal Guido Farinaro. He was the first Marine he lost in combat in Vietnam.
I've come to rely on Pete Pace's wisdom, judgment and sense of humor. I will continue to rely on those qualities as he serves our nation as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We'll need his wisdom and determination as we continue to transform our Armed Forces, so we can defeat today's enemies, while preparing ourselves for military challenges we will face as this new century unfolds."
Gen. Pace has a large task to take on as the US military continues carrying out its mission at high tempo pace and looks to continue to transform itself under Sec. Rumsfeld. Gen. Pace had this to say about the role:
"This is an incredible moment for me. It is both exhilarating and humbling. It's exhilarating because I have the opportunity, if confirmed by the Senate, to continue the serve this great nation. It's humbling because I know the challenges ahead are formidable. But I have great faith in our ability to meet those challenges -- for both personal and professional reasons."
He has an impressive military history that is diverse and makes him a qualified candidate. Not only serving at Camp Pendleton, just south of San Clemente where I live, he has served in Latin America and Africa. According to the NYT:
"General Pace is a graduate of the Naval Academy. Born in Brooklyn and reared in Teaneck, N.J., he led a rifle platoon during the Vietnam War. He is known in the Pentagon as "Perfect Pete," for his good looks and military bearing.
The general also served in Somalia during the ill-fated American intervention there in the early 1990's and commanded American troops in Latin America until he was tapped as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
The Marriage Factor
What attributes do the men who have served our country in this role share in common? I am no expert on their lives, nor do I have personal experience of sharing in their service to their country, but I do find it interesting that they seem to be of a different caliber than the average American. Gen. Pace this Sunday will celebrate his 34th wedding anniversary with his wife Jennifer. Current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Myers has been married to his wife for over 40 years now as well. The trend continues. Former Chairman Colin Powell has been married to his wife Alma for 42 years, former JCSC Hugh Shelton for 42 years, and former JCSC John Shalikashvili for 38 years.
I think this dedication and commitment to their marriage and obviously having their spouses' support has played a tremendous role in their ability to attain and successfully execute their top military position.
Thanks to tdaxp for pointing out Gen. Pace's promotion.