SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. And I love the volume of conversation that is occurring. It’s one of the ancillary benefits that we hoped would occur because of the opportunity for people to come together and share ideas and catch up with each other.
We are really fortunate today to have someone who really understands what civilian power means. Although he has committed his life to serving our country in the United States Navy, he is someone who grasps in a very deep and profound way a vision of integrated American power and is one of the State Department’s and USAID’s strongest advocates and champions.
I have personally really appreciated the opportunity to get to know Admiral Mullen, to work with him. Before I had this job, I did not know how many hours I would spend in the Situation Room, usually sitting across from Secretary Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen. So we have spent many quality hours together talking through some thorny, difficult problems that don’t have any easy answer or they wouldn’t be the subject of our meetings.
And time and time again, he has brought a sensitivity and an insight into the causes of the dilemmas we’re watching unfold, the forces that are at work. And he has also graciously, on two occasions, opened his home on Navy Hill just across the way to some very important and serious discussions with high-ranking civilian and military leaders from Pakistan to try to get beyond our usual dialogue into the kind of strategic consideration that we hope might lead to some better understandings and mutual efforts.
So we’re very fortunate to have Mike Mullen here today. And he has graciously offered to make some remarks, but then he wants to answer questions. And when he finishes his remarks, we’ll have the press leave so you can ask him anything. (Laughter.) And if that isn’t inviting enough, we’ll think of something else. (Laughter.)
But please join me in welcoming the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen. (Applause.)
ADM MULLEN: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I certainly appreciate that kind introduction, and just the introduction alone says an awful lot about the time we’ve spent together, and certainly not just myself and Bob Gates, but so many in this room who work so closely with those of us in the Pentagon. And I would hope to leave several messages today, but first of all, one of them would be just to say thanks. Thanks for what you do. Thanks for what you do for our country. And thanks for what you do for people around the world.
Certainly, as someone that grew up in the Navy, I was trained very early in ports around the world how important the country team was. And actually, it was a very well-blended interagency team in whatever country I existed, and so came to have an understanding about that and certainly look at that at a much higher level, and can’t say enough about the importance of the team right now. And as someone who has spent over four decades in the military, I am very fond of saying that we don’t create policy; we execute policy. And policy has the lead, and you are at the fore in that regard.
And obviously, we’ve been going through some fairly significant challenges in the last few days, and it is very easy to see in that this relationship between policy – I’m sorry, between the civilian lead and, obviously, the military support. And I’ll just use this as an example. There is no — there isn’t a better example of that right now. And I appreciate all that, in a very difficult situation, the strength of that leadership and the conviction of that leadership. And obviously, we are, from a military standpoint, here to support.
It hasn’t just been a $1.3 billion investment in Egypt over the last 30 years. It hasn’t just been dollars, and it hasn’t just been a military investment in their armed services, which have been a critical part. It has been an investment on the part of the United States that goes back, actually, a long way, even further back than 30 years in terms of the relationship – the historic relationship we’ve had with a country. And so this part of it – to see it gel and to see it focus in this very, very difficult time – is a wonderful example.
As I look around the room – in fact, I went through the list, and I didn’t realize we had – I’m not sure I knew we had this many countries in the world. (Laughter.) I think the number was 178 of you who are here, and it’s just terrific that the field can come to Washington every now and again and – because Washington has a mind of its own – I don’t have to tell you that – in that regard. But your participation and feedback is absolutely critical in everything that we’re doing.
And many of you I know and many of you I don’t, but I’ll tell you a story. Part of what I try to focus on – I have always tried to focus on – are our young ones, because I’m always concerned about who comes next. How are we growing the bench? And I think it was last July, I was having lunch in Kandahar at the PRT and there were half a dozen to ten 30-somethings sitting around the table there at lunch that were in the PRT who were so engaged and so enthused about what they were doing. And what I thought was a little bit ironic is when I asked them where they came from. My recollection was they had come from Lima and from London and from Tokyo and from Lisbon and places that probably when they joined up they thought they’d want to go and end up there, and they had. But when I asked them how many of you expected to be in Kandahar, the answer was none at that point.
But they were providing such an important part of our mission and that interface between the two in support of our military. And to listen to them and their plans and their enthusiasm and their dedication, and Kandahar is a pretty tough town. It was last July; it still is. And if I go back even to the summer of ’09, I was in Helmand right after the Marines went in, 10,000 of them. And you see Marines all over the place, and I got all that.
But the individual I remember is this young State Department Foreign Service officer who was there the second day after the Marines went in. And I have seen that time and time again, whether, quite frankly, it’s in Iraq or Afghanistan. And I don’t get to travel to – I get invited to London, I get invited to Paris and – which are places I used to spend a lot of time in. I think I’ve been to London once in this job and to Paris once in this job. But I don’t get to go there anymore. I’m in Baghdad and Kabul and Islamabad and places that we – and others that we have challenges in. And that doesn’t mean that those countries and allies aren’t critically important, because they are. And the relationships are critically important.
But the – what I’ve seen, the merging of these two teams in these wars – and these wars have changed us. They’ve changed how we think. They’ve changed how career paths, certainly in the military, have been and are going to be. And I think and hope that they would certainly have that kind of impact in the Foreign Service world as well.
I had the great pleasure of rejoining up just a few minutes with Anne Patterson, and I’ve watched Anne in Pakistan. And it’s another country which presents an exceptional number of challenges, to say the least. But I can remember in the long march a couple years ago the impact that she had and that the State Department and diplomacy had in resolving a hugely critical time-sensitive situation at that time.
I see Cameron Munter is here and has certainly jumped into the challenges that are there. I haven’t seen it – where’s Bill Brownfield? Not here. But I think of the challenges and the evolution over time with Bill having come from Venezuela, gone to Colombia, and you look at where Colombia is and that has been another wonderful example and some of our most difficult military challenges were, in fact, supported by great judgment on the part of an ambassador like Bill.
And I see our great Russian ambassador here, and actually we just came from the White House where we signed the START, and Ambassador Beyrle and others, many people. And that’s changing the world and we do that in ways now that some of us didn’t imagine we could a few years ago. Kathy Stephens is here, and certainly the whole issue of this team with respect to what’s going on in the peninsula. So, I guess one – the criticality of it, the policy lead – the policy and diplomacy lead of it and the constancy of it. There are – there seem to be a growing number of challenges that get on the plate and sometimes are pretty difficult to get off the plate these days. So it’s an extraordinary time.
And then really sort of the cap – my capstone view is to be fortunate to literally watch two masters in Secretaries Clinton and Gates together. Many of you have grown up in this business where the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense didn’t necessary have each other over for dinner very often. (Laughter.) And it’s actually fun listening sometimes to – in particular, Secretary Gates – regale me with the stories of the past. But quite frankly, those are stories of the past. We cannot, in this world we’re living in right now, live without the kind of relationship that we have right now between these two secretaries. The different that they make in terms of setting the example, the standard, and it resonates throughout both organizations. You can see it whether – from the very top to the most junior people we have in the field. And I think it is an example for the 21st century that we fundamentally need to adopt.
But I’ve also – and I’ve seen that here in town as well, where for the first time, certainly in my career, we now testify – Secretary Gates and I testify in front of the Foreign Relations Committees. We didn’t seek to do that. We have enough hearings of our own. But in fact, it’s a very powerful message. And Secretary Clinton does – has testified on our side. So there’s – there are an awful lot of signs of change that are ongoing because of the world that we’re living in. And I think we’ve got to continue to foment that, to meet the challenges that we have. And I just give you and so many other people great credit.
I see Raj Shah here, and I ran into Cheryl Mills – whenever I see Cheryl, I just want an update on Haiti, among other things, because of the huge challenge that is there. But I’ve watched Cheryl and Raj and others just make a huge difference. Even though the military – I’ll use Haiti as an example – we had a big footprint initially, obviously the concern that we were going to stay, we weren’t going to stay, we haven’t stayed, and yet the enduring part of this to continue to support the efforts there is being led by Cheryl and others as well.
I know you’ve gone – Secretary Clinton led this QDDR, and actually we were close enough to that to see what’s going on. And I think if you compared the QDR with the QDDR, that again is another example of how we move to the future together.
And also – and I said a long time ago – I said, I think, in 2004, 2005 – I really think we have got to get the State Department budget right. And this has nothing to do with the past – again, it has everything to do with the future – we took too much money away. And when you take money away from the State Department, more than anything else, you take people away. Because in our terms, people are your main battery, your main effort. And so having a robust enough budget to be able to meet the needs of our times is absolutely mandatory. Now I haven’t gone so far as to say you can have some of mine, which is what – (laughter) – which is what the Secretary of State would like to me to say.
But I, believe me, recognize that if this team is going to work together, those budgets have to be about right, and I don’t have to tell anybody – actually, one of the things you will see, if you’re back in town for a little while, is the – a little closer view of the fiscal crisis, which we all recognize we’re in and we all have to participate in, quite frankly, including the Department of Defense, and Secretary Gates led an effort this year to do that.
So I’m – and more than anything else, I want to say thanks. Thanks for your sacrifices, thanks for the difference that you make. Many of you I know well, many of you I don’t know at all, although if I shook your hand, you probably would say, “Great to meet you, when are you coming to Botswana,” for example. (Laughter.) And I – actually, I did ask – I asked about a year ago how many countries there were in the world and I think the answer I got back was at least 192, maybe more depending on how you count.
So there are lots of places and clearly, our focus has been where these fights have been, and I understand that. But we’re also trying to invest in places so that a fight never occurs. And it’s small footprint and we want to do that, and hearing from you on how we can do that is absolutely critical. That’s also a part of what we do.
Jim Jeffrey is here and he said something to me. We were talking recently. I think when I was out in Iraq and had dinner with him over the holidays, there’s – sometimes speed doesn’t get me where we should – there’s not enough speed to deliver the kind of capability we’d like in Iraq or in Afghanistan or Pakistan or some of these areas – countries that are so – where the sense of urgency must be what it is. And as Jim said, there’s another 250 ambassadors out here who are doing the Lord’s work around the world that the State Department also has to focus on. So it’s not just these – it’s not just this main effort, this place where we’re losing our people – and so – and I recognize that.
So, thanks. Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope, and I have great confidence, actually, that you are raising your young to continue to do this because it is a wonderfully impactful way of life. This generation that’s coming up – I actually am someone, an American, who has great confidence in our future because this young generation is wired to serve. I think we just have to figure out how to give them paths to serve. And that’s a responsibility we all have because at some point in time, we’re all going to transcend this business to another part of our life.
So thanks, it’s great to be with you, and I’d be happy to take a few questions. (Applause.)