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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > January

Secretary Powell Greets State Department Employees

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
January 22, 2001

Thank you and good morning. Thank you very much. Well, thank you so very, very much, my colleagues. Iím sorry Iím late. (Laughter.) I donít like to keep the troops waiting, but if you will forgive me. And I thank you for this wonderful greeting. It is so marvelous, I think we ought to do it again tomorrow. (Laughter.) I never get anything like this in the Pentagon. (Laughter.) And that is why I am so glad now to be a member of this great State family.  (Applause.)

I am deeply honored that President Bush nominated me to be the 65th Secretary of State. I am very, very pleased to be following in the footsteps of all that went before me, and especially in the footsteps of a good friend of mine, Secretary Madeleine Albright, who served this nation with such distinction over the past eight years as well.(Applause.)

I want to begin by thanking everyone who helped me over the last month as I made my transition into the Department. As you know, I was the head of my own transition team, and we only brought a few people in here. We didnít want to come in with strike teams racing all over the building to rip up everything you have done. We figured that we were inheriting a group of distinguished professionals in the Foreign Service, the Civil Service, and the Foreign Service Nationals who worked for the United States Government, and what we had to do was to understand what you have done so successfully over the years, let you know that there will be consistency, there will be some coherence in our foreign policy, but also let you know that there will be changes coming; that is what elections are all about.

And as I have said to President Bush, I was deeply impressed with the quality of the people I found here, the quality analysis, and I said to him again right after the Inauguration and the parade -- that wet parade on Saturday afternoon -- "Mr. President, I am going to work, and you have got a Department standing behind you, sir, ready to do whatever you want to do to further the interests of the American people." And I know I can count on you to do that for him.

We are going to have a great time together. You will have to forgive me if I occasionally lapse back into my original language, which is infantry. (Laughter and applause.) So from time to time, some of the notes that I have coming out and some of the language I might use may require some deciphering, but I brought some great professionals here with me to help in that translation effort. You will also find that I like to hear things directly. I am going to be asking so many of you to come up and tell me directly what you think. I want to try to make things move faster, cut through things more quickly. You are the experts. You know what is going on. You know your accounts better than I know your accounts, and I want to hear from you as directly as I can with a minimum number of layers in between. So I hope that is consistent with what you want to do. (Applause.)

I also think I know a little bit about organizations. I have run one or two in the course of my career. (Laughter.) As I said to the committee that sat for my confirmation hearings last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Iíve got to empower you to do the peopleís work. We are coming in with a few political appointees. We are taking over a great group of company commanders, battalion commanders, sergeants, privates, all working together. And what I have to do is put you in the best possible position to be empowered to do what you know to do for the service of the nation. So I am going to be doing everything I can to make your jobs easier to do.

I am not coming in just to be the foreign policy adviser to the President, although that is what the principal title is. Iím not just coming in to serve the foreign policy needs of the American people, Iím coming in as the leader and the manager of this Department and the only way I can do that. (Applause.)

So I want you to know that I will do everything I can to give you what you need to do and make sure that all of the units that we have around the world doing the peopleís business get what they need to do that work. It will start this morning when I visit with some of my new friends in the White House who I pigeon-holed at every Inaugural ball and party I went to this weekend. I found the OMB Director, "Come here, son." The Chief of Staff of the White House was ducking me at every turn. I said "Come here Andy Card, I want to talk to you." And he kept going, you know, one of those Dracula things, stay away. But I am going to do everything I can to fight for what you need, because it is not just what you need, it is what the American people need.

We are going to show a vision to the world of the value system of America, what we are all about, what democracy and freedom is all about. It works. The other systems do not work. We are not going to shove it down your throat, we are going to give you the power of our example. We are going to show you what you can have if you will follow in this line of democracy and getting rid of conflicts and empowering your people, and believing as we do that every individual in the world has a destiny that that individual should be allowed to pursue. Thatís what democracy does. Thatís what the free enterprise system does.

We are going to talk about these values all the time and hope that it is a light that we send forth that will influence people around the world, and we will do it from a position of strength, our political strength, our economic strength, our military strength and, above all, our diplomatic strength. And thatís what weíre all going to be about.

We are going to have a great time. I thank you for receiving me so warmly. And I look forward to our days together ahead. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

[Released by the Office of the Spokesman January 22, 2001]



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