April 22, 2005
WASHINGTON - President Bush on Friday named Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who quietly helped shape the Pentagon's role in the global war on terrorism, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Pace, 59, would succeed Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. He was expected to win easy Senate confirmation.
"He knows the job well," Bush said in announcing the nomination.
The first Marine selected for the top military post, Pace also is only the second vice chairman to rise to chairman. Myers, due to retire Sept. 30 after four years on the job, was the first.
Bush announced his decision in a Roosevelt Room ceremony at the White House.
"The first thing America needs to know about Pete Pace is that he is a Marine," Bush said. "To the American people, the Marine is shorthand for can-do, and I'm counting on Pete Pace to bring the Marine spirit to these new responsibilities."
Praising his "wisdom and determination," the president said Pace would help with the mission of transforming the armed forces "so we can defeat today's enemies while preparing ourselves for military challenges we will face as this new century unfolds."
Meanwhile, the president praised Myers for being "able service over four decades, and his tireless dedication to duty and country."
Pace thanked Bush for his "trust and faith in me."
"This is an incredible moment for me," Pace said. He said the promotion was "exhilarating," but added, "I know the challenges ahead are formidable."
Bush also said he was nominating Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr. as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Giambastiani, 56, was Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's senior military assistant before being named commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2002.
After stumbling over Giambastiani's name several times, Bush said to laughter: "He shall be known as Admiral G."
Later, Pace showed himself to be a quick study. "I am delighted that I'll have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Admiral Ed G.," he said, joking: "I am trainable, Mr. President."
After nearly four years in the No. 2 job - a period in which the war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been the military's dominant focus - Pace has remained a relatively unknown figure to the public.
Privately, he is said to get along well with Rumsfeld, who moved Pace into the vice chairman's spot on Oct. 1, 2001, after Pace had served only one year as commander of U.S. Southern Command.
The Joint Chiefs chairman, who normally serves two two-year terms, is the senior military adviser to the president as well as the secretary of defense. However, he commands no troops and is not in the chain of command that runs from the president to the secretary of defense to commanders in the field.
The son of an Italian immigrant, Pace was born in New York City and raised in Teaneck, N.J. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.
He served in the Vietnam War as a rifle platoon leader. He later served in Korea and was a commander for two years during the Somalia intervention that ended in a U.S. withdrawal.
Pace and his wife, Lynne, have a daughter, Tiffany Marie, and a son, Peter.