Back to Home

Back to News


ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – 13 January 2003 – Gen. James L. Jones turned over command of the U.S. Marine Corps today to Gen. Michael W. Hagee during a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy here.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the two men have more than 70 years serving the Corps and being advocates for it. "They know the grave consequences of war, they have fought with energy and intellect to keep America safe and our people secure," he said.

Jones will become the commander, U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander, Europe, later this month. Hagee comes to the commandant's job from Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he'd been the commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Rumsfeld said the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, because it represents freedom. "To live as free people in this 21st century, our country must be able to defend our way of life against the forces of terror and fear," he said.

The secretary emphasized the military must transform to face new-millennium threats. "We are truly fortunate to have men and women of courage who are able to look over the horizon at what is possible, and to help in transforming the military to meet the new challenges we face in this dangerous new century," he said.

Rumsfeld said Hagee has demonstrated his fitness to be commandant by commanding at every echelon in the Corps from platoon to MEF. He said he expects Hagee to continue to accelerate the process of transformation in the Marine Corps and the rest of the armed services. The secretary praised Jones for his transformational attitude. He specifically cited the commandant's decision to reactivate the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade – a unit aimed specifically at defeating terrorism – and at his efforts to integrate Navy and Marine Corps aviation.

"He's also initiated a new bond between the Marines and the U.S. Special Operations Command," the secretary said. "Marines and special (operations) forces, both extraordinarily quick and agile, can be even more capable when working closely together."

When Jones goes to Europe, he will become the first Marine officer to hold U.S. and NATO positions. Rumsfeld called on him to champion transformation among the NATO allies. The secretary stated that transformation is as important to the alliance as it is to the Department of Defense, if the alliance is to remain relevant.

During his remarks, Jones called the all-volunteer force, formed in 1973, the "most transformational event" in the military in recent decades. He said the force today is the best and best-educated in the world.

But government has a responsibility to the men and women in exchange for their "special contract with that all-volunteer force," he said. "When young men and women raise their hand to join one of the armed services, they are signing a contract to do what must be done. Those of us who are privileged to lead must meet their expectations because their expectations are equally important as ours."

Jones said that when he became commandant in 1999, the nation was spending roughly 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. He said the military was "woefully underfunded."

But times changed and circumstances changed, and the United States now spends almost 4 percent of GDP on national defense. "What a difference it has made," Jones said. "Four cents on the dollar for the national security and the global relationships that this country has seems a modest price to pay for the freedoms we enjoy." Jones thanked his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all present at the ceremony, saying it demonstrates "a degree of teamwork that is unparalleled and will continue to develop in the years ahead."

He said the Marines are ready for whatever may happen. "This is a time when Marines, along with their colleagues in other services, are marching to the sound of distant drums," he said. "We do so with full confidence that we know who we are, we know what we do, and if we must fight, we will fight and we will win." He said the United States would prefer not to fight, but if it must, "we will get through the difficult time, the world will be a better place, and peace will continue its inevitable march toward its inevitable destiny."

The commandant's wife, Diane, received the Distinguished Public Service Award from Navy Secretary Gordon England. She was cited for her efforts in establishing and "institutionalizing" the Marines' Exceptional Family Member Program.


Back to Home

Back to News