The new U.S. chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff promised Monday to refocus the armed forces to prepare for more challenges beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Admiral Michael Mullen was sworn in by President George W. Bush in a ceremony at Fort Myers, Virginia around noon, to replace General Peter Pace, watched by a crowd of dignitaries that included Vice President Dick Cheney, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers.
"The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will one day end. We must be ready for who and what comes after. That's the promise we've made," Mullen said.
One of aims at the new post, as he said, is to developing a strategy "to support our national interests in the Middle East; to reset, reconstitute and revitalize our armed forces, especially our ground forces; and properly rebalance our risks around the globe."
He also announced a plan to travel to Iraq shortly after he was sworn in.
Bush described the 60-year-old as a man of "decency and honor" who understood what was at stake in the "war on terror" because he was on duty at the Pentagon when Flight 77 made its doomed plunge on Sept. 11, 2001. "He felt the plane slam into the building. He saw the carnage and devastation. And like all who worked there that terrible day, he still carries the pain and the loss," Bush said.
The president also credit Pace for his "candid and sound judgment."
Born to parents who were highly-regarded members in Hollywood community, Mullen left California to the United States Naval Academy for a military career.
The Mullen's appointment was seen to complete a change of military leadership starting December when the president replaced Donald Rumsfeld with Robert Gates as the defense secretary.
A Sunday report by the Washington Post said Mullen's urgent task after he took office should be how to meet the consuming day- to-day demands of the fight in Iraq, but he knows, however, someday that war will be over and it will be too late to decide then what kind of military America will need to defend against threats that may emerge afterward.