Commencement Address at the Naval War College: Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Newport, Rhode Island, Friday, June 20, 2003

U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, June 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

Commencement Address at the Naval War College: Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Newport, Rhode Island, Friday, June 20, 2003


Thank you, [President of the Naval War College, Rear] Admiral Rempt. Distinguished faculty, honored guests, members of the graduating class, families and friends.

What a wonderful day for a graduation! It's a shame that meteorology is not an exact science, or you could have taken this tent down and we could have enjoyed this beautiful Newport weather. But it's a great atmosphere inside here anyway.

Admiral, thank you for that warm welcome. President Johnson on one occasion received a particularly effusive introduction and he commented afterwards, saying he was just sorry that his late parents couldn't be there to hear it. He said, "My father would have been so proud. And my mother would have believed it!" [Laughter]

But today the honor is truly mine. It is a privilege to be able to join you this morning to recognize the Class of 2003 at America's oldest military graduate school.

I was also very pleased to learn that roughly half of your military officers here come from other branches of the U.S. military, which makes us I think a truly joint military graduate school. And that is particularly important in an era when we are taking jointness to unprecedented levels.

And in an era when coalition warfare is the order of the day, I was also pleased to learn that this class includes 70 international students from 58 countries around the world. I thank you because you bring an added dimension to the academic program and your attendance is a tribute to the quality of education here at the Naval War College.

It's customary in commencement speeches to say something about the dynamic world that graduates are about to enter and how that change is going to affect their lives. But that traditional message doesn't work on this occasion with this audience. You are graduating, but you are certainly not commencing. "To commence," after all, is "to begin." And when you return to your fleet or to your units you will not be beginning a brand new career. You will be going back to the noble profession to which you have chosen to dedicate your lives. But you will be going back enriched by what you've learned here and by what you will continue to learn with the tools that you've acquired here.

There have been dramatic changes in the world during your year at the Naval War College, particularly in the world of the military. You will be going back to operational assignments having had a chance to study those developments from a critical perspective. Your study here has prepared you to bring fresh ideas to the dynamic process of innovation

that is underway in our military today.

One of the most significant elements that you observed was the battle of Iraq. I expect like many of the rest of the country you were glued to televisions for much of March and April. The battlefield--or what we should more correctly call "the battle space"--is the ultimate classroom for your profession and we are still learning the lessons from those crucial weeks.

But some of those lessons are already obvious, and they indicate lasting changes in the way the United States Armed Forces will operate in the future.

Some of those changes have been in the works for quite a long time. And I'm sure that many of you in this room and many here on the stage with me have contributed to those changes. But in the last year the whole world has had a chance to see what they are, and the effect has been dramatic. Thanks in part to yet another innovation, the concept of embedded reporters, the world has had a chance to see some remarkable changes in our military:

* First has been the application of new networking and communications technologies, which has taken the integration of air and ground forces to an entirely new level and gave our soldiers and Marines on the ground nearly instantaneous access to precision air support. The presence of those brave soldiers and Marines in turn enabled our long range striking power to find targets with precision. …

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