Apr 21, 2022
President Biden Meets with the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff 4/20/22 Transcript
President Biden Meets with the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Combatant Commanders 4/20/22. Read the transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:02)
Secretary Austin, deputy secretary Hicks, general Milli, and all our other outstanding military leaders around this cabinet table, I’m honored to welcome you to the white house. And I really mean I’m honored to welcome you to the white house. Above all, I want to thank each of you for your dedication to the service of this country and your members, families, and the longstanding service that you’ve all put in.
Joe Biden: (00:27)
I also want to recognize the groundbreaking nature of this gathering. For the first time in the proud history of the armed forces, we not only have a highly qualified woman as the vice president, but as deputy secretary of defense and two women combatant commanders, and it’s an important milestone. I think that speaks to how we’re harnessing the strength and diversity of our country and making sure women succeed in the military throughout their careers. As I said, when I got elected and I didn’t think people thought I meant it, but my administration’s going to look like America.
Joe Biden: (01:04)
And I mean that sincerely, not just in the military, but across the board. That’s where our strength comes from in my view. And today I want to hear from all of you on your assessments on what you’re seeing in the field and across our forces and the strategic environment this is evolving rapidly in the world. But that means our plans and forced posture have to be equally dynamic. Things are changing and ensuring that the security of the American people are at interest and interest of our allies means having to constantly adapt to anything and everything that’s happening around the world.
Joe Biden: (01:40)
And we’re seeing this very day the need for adaptation as a consequence of us standing with Ukraine against Putin’s brutal and unjustified war. And I want to applaud the exceptional work you’re doing to arm and equip brave Ukrainians to defend their nation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to Ukraine a number times before the war. I’ve spoken to the Rada. I was deeply involved in what was going on in Ukraine, and I knew they were tough and proud, but I tell you what, they’re tougher and more proud than I thought. I’m amazed what they’re doing with your help in terms of providing advice and the weaponry we’re providing along with the rest of NATO.
Joe Biden: (02:27)
Weapons and ammunition are flowing in daily. And we’re seeing just how vital our alliances and partnerships are around the world. Our allies are stepping up amplifying the impact of our response and NATO is united and focused and energized as has ever been. When I was a kid in the United States Senate in my 30s and into my 40s, I was the chairman of the NATO subcommittee and the foreign relations committee. I, not because of me or any particular thing, but I’ve never seen NATO as united. And I’m confident in my view, just as Biden speaking, that I don’t think that Putin counted on being able to hold this together.
Joe Biden: (03:09)
And I’ve spoken well over 150 times to our NATO allies, either like yesterday, there were … How many on …
Speaker 3: (03:19)
Joe Biden: (03:21)
Speaker 3: (03:21)
Joe Biden: (03:24)
12, yesterday for a couple hours. They’re stepping up. And the same is true in the Indo-Pacific, who are our allies, are the foundation for the future. We want to see in that vital region of the world, your central indispensable mission to deter aggression from all our enemies, if required is on display to fight, to win wars, remain critical to American power. As commander in chief, I rely on your advice and maintain our military edge in and remain the ultimate guarantor of America’s security. But quite frankly, even though I’d been vice president for eight years and the Senator for 36, I didn’t fully appreciate how the rest of the world literally looks to us as the leader of the free world.
Joe Biden: (04:18)
I mean, looks to us in very precise, specific ways and something you all fully understand. And I rely, as I said on your advice and your ability to maintain our military edge. And in a return, I promise you and I hope it has been demonstrated since I’ve been president that we, as a nation will uphold the sacred duty we have, we owe you, our military men and women to prepare, properly equip you before we send you into harms way. And when we do, to care for those and your family when you come home, and that’s why we’re doing so much at the Veterans Affairs as well. It’s a sacred obligation. And so I want to thank y’all again. I’m looking forward to our discussion and thank the press for coming in. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (05:12)
Mr. President …