Please welcome Deborah Lee Jamesand Eric Fanning.
(applause and cheering)
Thank you very much.Thank you.
-Welcome to the show.-Thank you. -Thank you.
-It's great to be here.-It is wonderful to be here,
for you and for us, especiallyjust before Veteran's Day,
which we'll chat about shortly.
But for those who don't know--I mean, there are many positions
within the U.S. government,
there are many positionswithin the military.
What exactly is the roleof a secretary?
Well, a secretary isthe civilian lead
of a military service.
So, in our country, of course,we have the principle
of civilian controlof the military.
So the way to think about it is,Eric and are the civilian CEOs
of the Air Forceand of the Army.
And our job is to workon people issues,
and to work on training issues,and equipping,
both for today and tomorrowso that our military is ready
to do the jobsthat we call upon them to do.
You're basically planningfor the future.
You're always thinking aboutwhat the military needs
to look for in bothof your respective divisions.
You are also really special
in that you arereally the torchbearers,
pioneers in your fields.
Only the second womanto be in the power,
leading a divisionof the military,
and the first openly-gay person
who is leading in the military.
A question to you.
When "don't ask, don't tell"came into effect,
what did that meanfor you personally,
and what did that meanfor the military?
Well, Debbie and I were actuallyboth in the Pentagon
when "don't ask, don't tell"was created.
We go all the way back to 1991,
working togetherin various jobs.
It was a difficult periodfor me personally.
I felt like I was the onlygay person in the Pentagon,
and actually ended upleaving government service,
moving to New York City
and doing somethingentirely different.
Um, but Debbie got me back inWashington D.C. at a think tank
we ended up both working at,
and I was lucky enoughto be in the Pentagon
when "don't ask, don't tell"was repealed.
It's a very different time now,and it was a very exciting thing
that this presidentwas able to do.
It's interesting that you say,"president was able to do."
The president has,as the Commander-in-Chief,
a lot of swaywhen it comes to the military
and the vision that the militaryof the United States has.
So when transitioningfrom one president to another,
do your jobs change?
Does the visionof the military change?
How... how big canthe differences really be?
Well, the president, of course,is the commander-in-chief
of the armed forces, um,
so Eric and I are appointeesof President Obama.
-Mm-hmm. -So we serve atthe pleasure of the president.
So, yes, we will be tendering,um, our resignation,
but until that time,we continue to serve.
-There's work to be done.-Uh-huh.
Um, we have stilla strong agenda
that we are advancing.
And until the very last day,we're gonna continue to do that.
In addition,the orderly transition
is crucially important.
It's importantacross the government,
but most especiallyfor the military.
We have men and womenin harm's way
all around the worldas we speak.
And so, we're going to beworking on that transition
to make sure that it's orderlyand done properly.
When you...when you say the president
obviously has a large roleto play within this,
I mean, Donald Trumphas said before
he is the best at military.
That's a direct quote,by the way.
I feel like we're allin the Twilight Zone.
What is your jobin relating to a president?
What are you doing in serviceof the president?
Well, our direct reportis the Secretary of Defense,
who of course reportsto the president,
but we have both hadthe opportunity
to be directlywith President Obama.
-Yes. -I, for example,had the opportunity
to brief himon our nuclear enterprise
and several other issuesthat are impactful
to the Air Force,really impactful to the nation.
So, um, we, again, serve atthe pleasure of the president,
and there will be those who willtake our jobs into the future
and carry us into the future.
When you... when you lookat a few things that are said,
because... many civiliansmay know this--
I know I don't know the...the real answer to this--
and that is,Donald Trump once said, um...
he would give an order to killthe families of terrorists,
and the Army would haveto execute that.
And, you know, he was then told,no, you know,
the militarywould deny your request,
because that is unlawful.
And he said no, I will tell themto do it and they will.
Um, if something like thatwere to happen,
at what point does the militaryact beyond the president?
At what point does the militarydeny the request
of the commander in chief?
We all, all of us,in or out of uniform,
take an oath to theConstitution.
And the military takes thatincredibly seriously.
Most people conflatewhat the military does
with who the military is.
The military's an incrediblyprofessional, well-trained,
lethal, um, instrument of powerfor the United States,
but civilians decidewhat it does
within the constraintsof the law.
And we certainly havea number of lawyers
that are swirling around usat the Pentagon,
uh, who make sure that we don'tcross those lines.
If you, uh, if you look atyourselves in these positions,
I know it'sa deeply personal question,
but there is a possibility nowthat America could be facing
a time where their presidentdoes not believe
that women or peoplewho are transgender
should be servingin the military.
Uh, I'm not saying for youto disagree with it or not,
but if you were to implore him,
or even tell us why it's soimportant to have that,
what would you say?
I would explain that it'sreally, really important
that as we go into the future,we have to continue
to recruit and retainthe very best young people
that America has to offer,
who are willing to comeinto the military.
We, of course, are anall-volunteer force,
and we're in a war for talent,
just like every corporationacross America.
And so you wantthe widest pool of people
to be able to choose from.
I would also point out that,in my opinion,
having diverse backgrounds,
different waysof approaching problems,
the wayyou've grown up differently,
this is having, uh...innovation springs
from that kind of diversityof thought.
So I would say, if you wantthe best armed forces
that Americacould possibly have,
uh, going into the future,
make sure that you havea diverse armed forces
-going future.-(cheering and applause)
That is, uh...
I guess, uh,that-that says it the best.
Veterans Day coming up tomorrow.
Some people just see it as areason to have a furniture sale.
Uh... Others, I guess,
truly see itas what it is meant to be,
But, as the military,
what is Veterans Day?What does it mean to you?
And what do you feel it shouldmean to the American public?
Well, it... to me,it's a couple of things.
One, it's-it's a...it's a particular day,
um, to think about somethingwe should do every day,
which is be thankfulfor the service of men and women
who-who make this incrediblecommitment to step up
and-and defend our country.
But it's an opportunityfor all the rest of us then
to remember the commitmentwe make to them.
Um, we ask soldiers,sailors, airmen, marines
to do incredible things.
Uh, and every day that I've beendoing this, over 25 years,
I continue to be amazed at-atwhat that they... what they do.
And we owe them a lotfor doing that on our behalf.
Thank you very much.Happy Veterans Day for tomorrow.
-Thank you. -Thank you so much.Thank you for being here.