Press Releases

Feinstein Pays Tribute to General Cartwright

‘40 years of service to the security and defense of our nation’

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) paid tribute to General James E. Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who retires today after 40 years of distinguished service to his country.

Senator Feinstein’s remarks follow:

“General Cartwright is one of America’s most respected four-star generals.  His leadership and dedication to the security of this country will be sorely missed and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

On a personal note, I will miss the detailed briefings, insightful discussions, and honest assessments that I have come to expect from General Cartwright.

Simply put, he has had a notable record of achievement throughout his career. 

As head of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), General Cartwright led the effort to develop new strategies to tackle cyber, nuclear proliferation, space, and missile defense issues.

He transformed Strategic Command from an organization largely dominated by its mission with respect to nuclear weapons and nuclear doctrine to being the true center in the U.S. military for all strategic issues.

Of special note was General Cartwright’s interest and action on cybersecurity and the use of cyberspace.  He saw this as a major emerging threat and responsibility of the Department, and put STRATCOM on a footing to deal with cyber as a major strategic issue.

He distinguished himself as a one of those special leaders who is able to foresee and understand the constantly evolving national security environment rather than getting stuck in the old ways of seeing the world and doing things. 

Based on his notable record of service, on June 28, 2007, President Bush nominated General Cartwright to succeed Admiral Edmund Giambastiani as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Cartwright was confirmed by the full Senate on August 3, 2007 and was sworn in on August 31st as the 8th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Recognizing his exceptional leadership, General Cartwright was confirmed for a second term on July 31, 2009.

He has, not surprisingly, used his capacity as the second most senior military officer in the Pentagon to make the armed forces a more strategic and more nimble military.

As the Vice Chairman, General Cartwright has helped guide the United States through many pivotal moments in our history:  notably, the end of the military mission in Iraq, the implementation of a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, and securing ratification of the New START agreement with Russia which will reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads by 30 percent.

I spoke with General Cartwright many times over the course of the treaty negotiations, and during the Senate’s debate that ultimately led to ratification and signing New START.

He never failed to provide me with his frank and honest assessment and I greatly appreciated his clear and persuasive support for the treaty.

He recognized, as I do, that if we are to convince other nations to forgo acquiring nuclear weapons, it is imperative for the two nations that possess more than 90 percent of these weapons to take meaningful steps to reduce our stockpiles.

General Cartwright knows that lowering the number of nuclear weapons in the world and stopping their spread will enhance our national security, not diminish it.  And we will still maintain a robust arsenal for our defense.

As he stated: “I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or that might emerge in the foreseeable future.”

General Cartwright’s commitment to providing his honest and blunt assessments go beyond nuclear forces and extend to all security threats facing our nation, and the best way to prepare and respond to them, even when it was not popular to do so.

In his recent book, “Obama’s Wars,” Bob Woodward describes General Cartwright as committed to providing the President his candid advice.  Woodward quotes General Cartwright as saying “I’m just not in the business of withholding options.  I have an oath, and when asked for advice I’m going to provide it.”

He certainly has come a long way.

General Cartwright grew up in Rockford, Illinois and joined the Marine Corps in 1971. 

After numerous operational assignments as both a Naval Flight Officer and Naval Aviator, the pinnacle of his Marine Corps operational aviation career came as the Commanding General of First Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan from 2000 to 2002. 

After a tour with the Joint Staff, in 2004, General Cartwright became the first Marine Corps general to lead the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM). 

As always, the security and defense of our nation has been his top priority.  That, along with his commitment to the active, guard, and reserve members of the Armed Forces and their families, is probably his greatest attribute and lasting impact.

I wish General Cartwright all the best as he retires from 40 years of service to his country and, on behalf of the people of California and all Americans, I offer him my most sincere and heartfelt thanks and gratitude.”