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Adm. Mullen's Speech at the 2010 Asia Society Washington's Annual Dinner

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Asia Society Washington Awards Dinner on June 9, 2010.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Asia Society Washington Awards Dinner on June 9, 2010.

Official Transcript of Remarks as Delivered by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Washington D.C. Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON June 9, 2010 - Well, thank you very much for that award, and it really is, just walking in this evening, very, very special to be with you tonight.  There is - having grown up in Southern California in Los Angeles, the Pacific is very much in my blood.  And my first assignment was on a ship and the first posting of that ship in the late '60s was to the war in Vietnam.

And when we weren't there on the gun line, the first three ports I visited were in Sasebo, Japan, Kaohsiung and Hong Kong.  And I had never been overseas before, and I remember then - and first impressions always stick with you - were what wonderful places they were, not because they were places but because of the people who were there and the warm reception, the engaging dialogues, the outreach and the warmth of the relationship between the American Navy - certainly I was on a Navy ship - and the people that I met.

And I have never forgotten that - the values, the culture, the need to learn more - and I have always been incredibly attracted to the Pacific.  And I have spent a great deal of my career in the Pacific, although not much of it lately.  Most of my career lately has been here in Washington, but it really is special to be with you.

And, Bill, I very much appreciate that kind and mercifully short introduction.  And to Leo and the other leaders here tonight of this great society, it is a society that is of its time.  I'm delighted to see so many people younger than me here because I think refreshing our organizations and societies and relationships, including those who will lead in the future, is absolutely critical as well.

So, it's an honor to accept this award on behalf of the more than 2 million men and women whom I have the privilege of representing and their families who support them.  And I would also like to express my admiration for tonight's other honorees - Dan Kong, John Chambers and Shirin Chaudhury.  It's really a privilege to share this evening with you.

And I truly believe that the Asia Society's leader, Mr. Leo Daly, reflects the values of his organization.  He is a man who puts into action the belief that intercultural exchanges build the relationships upon which our common security, our prosperity and our future depend.  So thanks, Leo, for inviting me to be here tonight.

As both a California native and a naval officer, as I said, I grew up on the Pacific Ocean and I interacted in my career with Asian navies and nations, visiting many of the countries you are from and learning some but not enough about the cultures.  And that's what we call in the Navy, when we pull into port, cultural training.