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White Press Office Feed

Monday, November 19, 2012


Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. William Fraser III, center, and Marine Gen. John Kelly salute during the national anthem at the Southern Command Change of Command in Miami, Nov 19, 2012. Kelly is the incoming commander and Fraser is the outgoing. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Dempsey Praises Old, New Southern Command Commanders
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 - In presiding at the change of command ceremony at U.S. Southern Command in Miami, today, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said he thought of the words he saw on a monument at the Antietam battlefield, ""Not for themselves, but for their country."

Antietam was the bloodiest day of the American Civil War. On September 17, 1862, more than 23,000 Americans became casualties.

"What you see here today is that spirit played out yet again," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "Where two great military leaders have given their lives ... as families for this country. 'Not for themselves, but for their country.'"

Dempsey presided at the change of command that saw Marine Gen. John Kelly assume command from Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser. He praised both men and their families for their willingness to serve.

Southern Command is a true partnership among American agencies and with international partners, Dempsey said, thanking the international partners who attended the ceremony. He also thanked the interagency partners who are integral parts of the command.

Building trust was a large part of the chairman's speech at the ceremony. He said one reason Fraser traveled so much during his command was "because he knows the importance of building trust," Dempsey said. "He understands that trust is how we turn relationships into partnerships, and how we turn partnerships into friendships."

Fraser has built an impressive interagency team at Southern Command, Dempsey said.

"It reflects the reality of our complex world," he said. "Tragedies like the earthquake in Haiti, or challenges like illicit trafficking, all require us to collaborate in new ways and with new partners."

Fraser has shown what can happen when organizations break down barriers between them and build on the strengths of each organization, the chairman said.

Demspey said Kelly is the right man to succeed Fraser at Southern Command. Kelly, who was promoted to full general just before the ceremony, served as the senior military advisor to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

"He's direct and tough," Dempsey said. "He's a thinker and a learner, and one of the most experienced leaders we have in the military today."

Kelly is well placed to get the friends and neighbors of the region working together to solve common problems. The general will have a full plate with transnational crime, terrorism, natural disasters, and many other challenges awaiting him, Dempsey said.

"Achieving together as friends and neighbors is what SouthCom is all about," he said.