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Carter Honors Former Senate Armed Services Chairs For Dedication to DoD

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2016 — Former U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee chairmen Carl Levin and John W. Warner shared uncompromising dedication to the nation’s defense and its men and women in uniform, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in an honor ceremony for the two chairmen here today.

In the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, the secretary also presented Warner with the Defense Department’s highest honor, the Medal for Distinguished Public Service, and he dedicated the Levin-Warner Legislative Affairs Suite in the Pentagon. Levin previously received the department’s top award, he noted.

Carter said while it might seem unusual for a defense secretary to honor two former senators for their distinguished service to DoD through their work on the SASC, he did so “because our defense is so vital, we must shepherd it from strategic era to strategic era, from administration to administration, from Congress to Congress, across parties, and across our government.”

Models of Bipartisan Leadership

Carter called Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and Warner, a Republican from Virginia, models for bipartisan leadership on national defense.

“They demonstrated unflinching dedication to our personnel, in uniform and out, on the battlefield and here at home. And they are examples of civility in public debate and discourse,” the secretary said.

Particularly important, Carter noted, is how the nation’s troops “need to be able to look up to their leaders here in Washington and see strength, consistency and respect, as well as a loyalty to -- and caring for -- our DoD personnel and their families.”

The American people also need to be able to look to Congress and the Pentagon and be confident in the institutions dedicated to the country’s national security, he said, adding, “And our friends and allies around the world need to see in Washington a commitment to the strength and principles that the United States has long represented.”

Senators Supported a Changing DoD

Under Levin’s and Warner’s leadership, the United States closed out the Cold War and helped DoD address opportunities and challenges of the post-9/11 world, Carter said.

“That’s not always easy, but they took the long view when ensuring our nation’s defense,” he said. “They appreciated how today’s challenges fall into the long arc of history, and that there’s much to be gained by considering history’s lessons when developing today’s policies … and planning for the future.”

The secretary pointed out how the bipartisan examples set by both senators have critical meaning today as DoD faces a new strategic era of no less than five major, immediate and evolving challenges.

Those challenges comprise countering the prospect of Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe; managing historic change in the vital Asia-Pacific region; strengthening the nation’s deterrent and defense forces in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations; checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf; and accelerating the defeat of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “in its parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and everywhere it’s metastasizing around the world,” Carter said.

Senators Ensured U.S. Military’s Edge

America’s military is unrivaled across the globe, the secretary said, adding, “That’s a fact every American ought to be proud of, and a fact every American should thank statesmen like Carl and John for. In their years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, they sharpened our military edge and helped us stay ahead of our adversaries -- ensuring that we were not only ready to address current threats and challenges, but also poised for future success.”

And while the nation doesn’t get to choose the security challenges it faces, “we can prepare for tomorrow by setting a strategic course, establishing defense priorities, and making the right investments,” Carter said.

DoD Priorities Need Congressional Cooperation

Preparing for that course and setting those priorities require cooperation and coordination across the government, Carter emphasized.

He added, “But in particular, it requires a partnership between Congress and DoD -- and strong partnerships within Congress itself.”

Besides honoring Levin’s and Warner’s successful Senate careers, Carter said, the department also is honoring the enduring friendship and partnership of these two men.”

The secretary added, “They traveled together, they talked together and they passed the gavel to one another. As they did so, they developed the trust and respect necessary to put the nation’s defense and our service members’ welfare ahead of, as [Warner] has said, ‘All other considerations.’”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

Distribution channels: Military