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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - July 10, 2008)


Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, subject to my leadership, I will certainly recommend that be done.

Mr. President, very simply, two of America's finest sons are before this body with the very important responsibility entrusted by the Founding Fathers as they wrote the Constitution of the United States; namely, that the Senate shall give advice and consent. I have had the privilege through my lifetime to be associated with many senior officers of all branches of our military. I say unreservedly, these are two of the most extraordinary that I have been privileged to know and work with in my long career.

On many trips to Afghanistan and to Iraq with the distinguished chairman of the committee--we so often travel together--on a number of those occasions we worked directly with General Petraeus and General Odierno. Therefore, they both have my strongest endorsement, and I congratulate them individually and I also congratulate their families. These are two fine officers, and their families have participated in their careers and backed them. If you look at the length of service that each has had in four deployed regions, most specifically Iraq, it has been a very extensive period of time, and the consequences on the family are often difficult to bear. But the families have stood by these fine officers through these long deployments.

Both nominees have had extraordinary experience, and therefore I anticipate we will have a very positive confirmation by the Senate. They are highly experienced, indeed specifically trained. I sort of edited that word into my remarks because they have served a number of times in Iraq and moved up to higher responsibilities--in the case of General Odierno, and in General Petraeus, he takes on responsibility for the entire region. But he is magnificently trained to do so.

Further, as we approach, again, our constitutional system by which we change Presidents, there is a continuity that these two officers offer by virtue of serving in these positions, if it is the will of the next President. That is invaluable in this region. That is because, as the distinguished occupant of the chair and many others know, the cultural situation in this part of the world is a very challenging one to fully understand and appreciate; to see that our Armed Forces act with them, work with them in such a way as to achieve the goals but at the same time protect our Armed Forces.

I say "with'' because the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan are now sovereign nations. As such, we are there by consent of that sovereignty to work with their forces.

I also add that I don't know that I have ever experienced a dimension in contemporary times where the professional officers have had to work so very closely with other members of the executive branch, notably the National Security Council and the Department of State, working hand in hand.

The current Ambassador in Iraq, Ambassador Crocker, is well known in the Senate, and I believe extremely admired and respected for the services he has rendered. He has been a partner with General Petraeus in working through their individual responsibilities, coming before the Congress jointly to make their reports. They know the region, they know the background, and they are fully qualified to undertake these responsibilities.

At this point, I would like to yield the floor to my other colleagues. I may have a few closing remarks.

I see the distinguished Senator from Georgia, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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