Entries in Mike Mullen (4)


Biden, Panetta Honor Pentagon Victims on 9/11 Anniversary

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Under a warm morning sky, about 1,000 invited guests gathered in a parking lot by the Pentagon Memorial on Sunday for an observance ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The guests were mostly family members of victims and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, as well as some first responders.  Sitting among them was Speaker of the House John Boehner and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who left his office that day to assist with the relief and rescue efforts.   

In front of them was the Pentagon Memorial and the rebuilt section of the Pentagon that was a smoldering crater 10 years ago.   A large flag draped the building on the same spot where first responders had unfurled a large flag on the day after the attack.

The Pentagon Memorial consists of 184 benches aligned by ascending age to honor those who perished aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and inside the building when it was struck by the airplane.  The small pools of running water that lie underneath each bench were turned off Sunday as part of the morning’s moment of silence, timed to coincide with the exact time that the plane struck the building.   Alongside each bench stood a member of one of the military services holding a wreath of white flowers.  

Scheduled to take place at 9:37 a.m., the moment of silence actually occurred a few minutes earlier than planned.  The remarks that followed it evoked the painful memories of that day and America’s resolve in the face of such tragedy.

Vice President Joe Biden praised the inspiration the families gathered at Sunday’s event had provided to the nation that “hope can grow from tragedy, there can be a second life."

Biden said that what took place after the plane struck the Pentagon “was far more remarkable than the damage inflicted in the building behind me,” as Pentagon employees and  first responders risked their lives to help those trapped by the plane’s impact.

To applause he declared, “I can say without fear of contradiction or being accused of exaggeration, the 9/11 generation ranks among the greatest our nation has ever produced.  And it was born, it was born, it was born right here on 9/11.'

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the families as being “the greatest monument, the most enduring memorial…You, the families, have shown the rest of us the way, quietly honoring the memory of your loved ones by how you live and what you do.”

He continued, “These are the things the terrorists could not eradicate. They could bring down walls, but they could not bring down America.  They could kill our citizens, but they could not kill our citizenship.  And in that spirit and with that pride, a whole new generation has been inspired to serve -- many of them in uniform.” 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also spoke of how since 9/11, a generation of Americans had “stepped forward to serve in uniform, determined to confront our enemies and respond to them swiftly and justly.” 

He said that in the last decade “they have taken on the burden of protecting America, relentlessly pursuing those who would do us harm and threaten our homeland,” ultimately bringing Osama bin Laden to “a fitting end."

The ceremony concluded with the servicemembers placing the wreaths one by one on the bench they had been standing next to.  As the last of the servicemembers exited the memorial grounds, a lone Army bugler remained to sound taps, bringing the ceremony to a close.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


West Point Graduates Urged to be Soldiers and Statesmen

Stockbyte(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- As graduation season continues at educational institutions around the country, Saturday also marked graduation day for the class of 2011 at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, addressed the 1,031 graduating cadets at the ceremony and called on them to work towards being soldiers as well as statesmen.

“I’m going to ask you to remember that you are citizens, first and foremost,” said Mullen.

According to a news release by the Department of Defense, Mullen also reminded the newly commission officers that they would be part of a team that has worked to bring about “success in Iraq” and that has made progress in Afghanistan.

“You’re going to be expected to support and to encourage and to lead that team almost from Day One,” Mullen said. “That’s a tall order, and hard enough all by itself, but today I’m going to give you another assignment.”

Information from the Department of Defense states that among the graduating class there were 310 minorities, 225 women, 10 international cadets and 20 combat veterans who served in Afghanistan, Iraq or both

Since being founded in 1802, the West Point academy has produced some 67,000 graduates over the years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Petraeus Addresses His Future; Headed to the CIA?

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a small press conference in Kabul, Gen. David Petraeus addressed widespread speculation that he will soon leave his post as commander of 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.

He said he was “committed to staying here through the fighting season,” a statement that he and his aides have made for months, and roughly translates until about October or November.

But as one military official has put it, just because he has committed to staying that long doesn’t mean the White House will keep him there that long.

With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates leaving in the next few months and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen leaving this fall, it’s clear the jobs Petraeus could take will be open long before the fighting season finishes.

He was asked directly whether he would want to become the nation’s top spy if, as has been widely suggested, current CIA chief Leon Panetta succeeds Gates.

Petraeus declined to comment.

He did, however, call speculation in the media about which jobs he could take “trial balloons” -- suggesting he believes somebody is purposely leaking the possible jobs in order to gauge the reaction. Perhaps realizing he shouldn’t have suggested that, he quickly backed away from that statement and repeated his commitment to “serve with the pleasure of elected leaders.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Planning to Step Down; Replacements Unknown

Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates upon Gates' arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan last month. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There will be a new top leadership team at the Pentagon later this year when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen step down from their posts. Gates has said on multiple occasions that he intends to retire from his post later this year, though he has never said exactly when he would do so.

Just Thursday in Baghdad, he told a group of American soldiers that he was likely on his last trip to Iraq as Secretary of Defense. Having made quarterly visits to Iraq in recent years, he lent some credence to speculation that he could step down this summer following the start of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan scheduled for July.

Mullen's second two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs will run out on Oct. 1. Mullen's successor would likely have to be named by the White House in early summer to allow enough time for the Senate confirmation process.

Leon Panetta's name surfaced in recent weeks as a potential Gates successor, but Washington was abuzz this week with the possibility that Gen. David Petraeus could replace Panetta if he does head to the Pentagon.

A U.S. official tells ABC News there are White House discussions about having Petraeus take over at the CIA. But that possibility would only be contingent on an opening at the CIA if Panetta were to move on.

But CIA spokesman George Little says about the Panetta talk, "He isn't seeking any other job and hasn't been asked by the President to take on a different role." He added, "Director Panetta is proud to lead the men and women of the CIA and is focused squarely on the agency's mission."

While Panetta has garnered all the recent attention, others seen as potential contenders to succeed Gates are Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Under Secretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended speculation she was in the running when she told reporters last month that she intended to remain at her post and then leave the administration after the 2012 election.

Conventional wisdom has Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the leading candidate to succeed Mullen, who will have served four years as the President's top military advisor. His profile became higher after Bob Woodward, in his book Obama's Wars, labeled him as "Obama's favorite general."

But Gen. Petraeus has also been discussed as a potential successor to Mullen since it was first reported that he is scheduled to step down later this year as the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan. It's unclear when Petraeus would leave his post, but a Defense official says he has "pledged to see this through another fighting season if that was necessary."

But with few four-star openings available to Petraeus if he remains in the military, the possibility that he could take over at the CIA seemed an intriguing choice to many in Washington.

A Defense official says such talk is just "premature."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio