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Secretary Panetta at the Naval Post-Grad School

By The Pentagon, The Pentagon - August 23, 2011

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            ADM. DANIEL OLIVER:  Thank you very much.  I know you didn't come to see me.  (Laughter.)  But we're very delighted -- this is a great honor for the Naval Postgraduate School to have a couple of very distinguished guests here.  My job is to introduce the first one and he will introduce our -- the second and our guest speaker for this morning. 

            The Honorable Sam Farr is our congressman from the 17th district of California.  He has been in the House of Representatives in Congress since 1993, and he is a strong advocate of the mission of the Naval Postgraduate School, of men and women in uniform, strategically positioned on the Appropriations Committee, and has been a great, great supporter of the school and an advocate of everything that we do here and all of those that come out of it.  He is a fifth generation Californian, graduated from Carmel High School and Willamette University in Oregon.  He spent two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia, South America, and is fluent in Spanish. 

            It's wonderful, Congressman Farr, to have you with us today.  Thank you so much. 

            Please join me in a warm welcome for the Honorable Sam Farr.  (Applause.)

            REP. SAM FARR (D-CA):  Thank you very much, Admiral Oliver, Admiral Moss (ph), Mayor Chuck Della Sala, and other distinguished guests and, most of all, students. 

            What a proud day for us here in Monterey to welcome home our native son.  He left Monterey to be a congressman and then left Congress to go work for the Clinton administration, opened up a seat that the only way you can get elected -- you can get into the House of Representatives is by an election, special election in 1993.  I got elected to succeed him and have been reelected ever since.  And it's a great pleasure for me to welcome back our native son, Leon Edward Panetta.

            He's the 23rd secretary of defense, sworn in this year on July 1st.  And before joining the Department of Defense, Leon served as the director of Central Intelligence Agency from February 2009 until June of 2011.  Mr. Panetta led the agency and managed human intelligence and open source collection programs on behalf of the intelligence community.  He took the leading in finding and removing Osama bin Laden from world terrorism. 

            Secretary Panetta has dedicated much of his life to public service, as well as his wife.  Before joining CIA, he spent 10 years co-directing with his wife, Sylvia, the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute of Public Policy here at our own California State University at Monterey Bay.  The institute is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit center which seeks to instill in young men and women the virtues and values of public service. 

            In March of 2006, he was chosen to be a member of the Iraq Study Committee, a bipartisan committee established at the urging of Congress to conduct an independent assessment of the war in Iraq. 

            From July 1994 to January 1997, Mr. Panetta served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.  Prior to that, he was director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position that built on his years of service as chair of the House Budget Committee.  He represented the 16th congressional district, which became the 17th congressional district, which will next year become the 20th congressional district, for 16 years, rising to chair of the House Budget Committee during his last final four years in Congress -- positions himself very well for these future budget decisions that our nation has to make.

            Early in his career, Leon served as a legislative assistant to Senator Thomas Kuchel of California, and as special assistant to the secretary of Health and Education and welfare director of the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsey of New York.  He also spent five years in law practice here in Monterey. 

            He served as an Army intelligence officer from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Commendation Medal.  He also spent five years in private law practice. 

            Leon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and an LLD degree in law, both from the University of Santa Clara.  He was born on 28 June 1938 here in Monterey, where his Italian immigrant parents operated a restaurant.  Later, they purchased a farm in Carmel Valley, where both he and Sylvia now make their home.  The Panettas have three grown sons.  Two are lawyers.  One is a doctor.  And they have six grandchildren.  

            Please give a big, warm NPS welcome to our friend, our neighbor, our secretary of defense, Leon Panetta.  (Applause.)

            SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Sam.  Sam Farr has been a dear friend and someone that I've worked with a long time in a number of positions and was first on the board of supervisors and served in the assembly.  Obviously now serves in the Congress.  And he has been someone who has been incredibly important to this area in protecting the military establishments that are here.  And I thank him for the support that he has provided the military and his continuing support for the mission of the Navy Postgraduate School, Defense Language Institute, and the other installations here on the peninsula.  He's been a true supporter.

            Dan Oliver, great to be able to see you again and have a chance to visit here. 

            This is a special place for me and in many ways it's coming home.  I am very proud of the Navy Postgraduate School, proud of its mission and proud of its dedication to protecting this country.  As I said, this is a special place, first of all because this is my home. 

            Monterey is where I was born and raised.  And I've had throughout my life a deep appreciation for the history of this wonderful location here, but more importantly a deep appreciation for the mission of the Postgraduate School. 

            I also in representing this area as congressman was very supportive of the school, its mission and the work that is so important to keeping this country on the cutting edge of the future.  In addition, not only as congressman, but as OMB director and then chief of staff to the president worked very hard when threats came to the school through the BRAC process -- not just once but a number of times -- and had the support of the local community, Mayor Della Sala and Mayor Dan Albert and a number of others who worked very hard to put together a coalition in support of this school and its importance to the defense mission. 

            This isn't just important obviously for this community, but it is extremely important to the defense of this country.  We were successful in making clear how important the school was.  And when I came back actually to California, was appointed chairman of a base committee in California to continue to try to do everything possible to maintain the important bases here in this state. 

            But most importantly, most importantly, the reason that I'm honored to be here and have a chance to be with you is because of the very mission of this school.  And the mission is one of teaching advanced skills, teaching the kind of technological capabilities to our military leaders, to our civilian leaders so that they are better able to lead this country as we would confront those that threaten our peace and our security. 

            As secretary of defense, obviously every day I look at a myriad of challenges that face this country, a range of security challenges that come from a lot of different directions, and as a result require the kind of leaders who are knowledgeable, who are creative, who are strategic, who understand the steps that have to be taken if we're to protect this country.  One of the great thrills I have each day is to work with Mike Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who happens to be an NPS graduate from the class of '85.  And he himself has called the Postgraduate School a national and international treasure.  And it is. 

            In many ways, it's not just true for this school but it's true for all of you.  Everywhere I go, in visiting the forces abroad, in visiting installations here, and for that matter when I was director of the CIA having a chance to visit all of our stations across the world, the first thing I did was to thank all of those who are serving for their public service.  And I do that to all of you.  I thank you for your willingness to serve this country. 

            The strength of our democracy at the core of what a free society is all about is the willingness of those who are part of this country to serve it, to give something back.  That was true for our forefathers.  It was true for the pioneers.  It's true for the immigrants.  It's true for the men and women who have served in uniform throughout the years, throughout our history, the willingness to give something back to this country, to serve this country, to try to serve future generations so that they too can enjoy the remarkable freedoms and liberties that are so precious to this country. 

            And, frankly, my story is the story of public service, 40 years of public service to this country.  And I began really as the son of immigrants.  As Sam said, I am the son of Italian immigrants who made their way to this country like millions of other immigrants in the early '30s. 

            My father was the 13th in his family.  He had brothers who came over to this country, settled in different areas.  And when he came over, he had two brothers at the time.  One was living in Sheridan, Wyoming, and one was living here in California.  The older brother was in Sheridan.  So as is the tradition, he felt obligated to visit his older brother in Sheridan.  And he did.  My mother and I went up there and stayed with them.  They stayed through one winter in Sheridan, Wyoming.  (Laughter.)  My mother said it was time to visit his other brother in California -- (laughter) -- which thankfully ultimately brought him here to Monterey.  Thank God.  (Laughter.) 

            He came to Monterey and, as Sam mentioned, ran a restaurant in downtown Monterey during the war years.  And as you can imagine, that was a pretty rough location because this was a town where Fort Ord was the training base for those that were being trained for the next step, which was to go to war, either in the Pacific or Europe.  And so Monterey was kind of a last piece of civilization.  So it was -- Monterey was kind of rough in those days.  And I can remember -- my earliest recollections were washing glasses in the back of that restaurant.  My parents believed that child labor was a requirement.  (Laughter.) 

            So soon after the war, my father sold the restaurant and bought a place out in Carmel Valley, where we now live, planted a walnut orchard and, again, worked hard out there in the orchard moving irrigation pipes and doing hoeing. 

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