Arlington, Virginia - Remarks by Vice President Pence at an Armed Forces Welcome Ceremony in Honor of the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President, Secretary Esper, Secretary Pompeo, members of the Cabinet, General Dunford, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and especially the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States: It’s an honor to be here, at “America’s post” — the home of the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, the Old Guard — at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, as we install the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley.  (Applause.)

Today, as we mark the beginning of General Milley’s tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, we do well to pay a debt of gratitude to a man who has served this nation with distinction for now 42 years.  He led troops in battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He served as Commandant of the Marine Corps.  And over the past five years, I can personally attest, during our tenure, I have witnessed his strong leadership and sound counsel at the highest levels of our military and our government.

Today, we may a debt of gratitude to General Joseph F. Dunford.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you for being always faithful.  (Applause.)

And to General Milley, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: I know I speak on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief and a grateful nation when I say to you and to your family, thank you for answering the call to serve once again.

Over your nearly 40-year career, you’ve served with courage and distinction as a Green Beret.  You’ve led troops in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You served as the 39th Chief of Staff of the Army.  And as your tenure begins, General Milley, let me assure you, you have the confidence of your Commander-in-Chief, and you are carried with the confidence and the prayers of the American people.  Thank you for your leadership and service.  (Applause.)

And, General Milley, as your tenure as Chairman begins, I know that you’ll be pleased to know that, thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, you are inheriting the best-equipped, best-supplied, and best-trained military in the history of the world.

The United States military is the greatest force for good the world has ever known.  And since the first day of this administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to make the strongest military in the history of this planet stronger still.

After years of budget cuts, President Trump fought for and secured the largest investment in our national defense in more than a generation, including the largest pay raise for our troops in more than a decade.  (Applause.)

And at the President’s direction, we produced a National Security Strategy that puts America first.  Initiated the modernization of our nuclear arsenal.  Our NATO Allies are contributing more to our common defense than ever before.  And with the strong support of leaders in Congress, we’re well on our way, at the President’s direction, to establishing the sixth branch of our Armed Forces.  The United States Space Force will soon be a reality.  (Applause.)

And finally, Chairman Milley, as you know, this summer, thanks to the President’s strong leadership, Congress approved a budget deal that preserves the historic investments we’ve made in our national defense.  It provides for our veterans and ends the defense sequester once and for all.

The American people know that President Donald Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of this nation.  And today, by providing renewed leadership to the Joint Chiefs in General Mark Milley, President Trump is proving once again that as Commander-in-Chief, he will provide for the common defense with unyielding strength.  And as he said, “We will defend our country, we will defend our people.”

It is my great honor to be with all of you and most especially with all of those who wear the uniform of our Armed Forces gathered here today, and all who are gathered here who have worn the uniform of the United States.

And on this momentous occasion of the transfer of responsibility to the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce your Commander-in-Chief and a great champion of all the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, past, present, and future: the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.