Defense Secretary James N. Mattis presented the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service to House Speaker Paul Ryan during a Pentagon ceremony today.
Mattis said the rules of the road for the budget process were foreign to him when he became defense secretary in January 2017, and that Ryan explained the process to him. “We trusted Speaker Ryan for his instincts and keen insights,” the secretary said. “He knew the terrain and the legislative and human landscape. He led us through the hazardous terrain.”
The result was bipartisan passage of 2018 and 2019 budgets that will provide the U.S. military with what it needs to dominate in the great power competition with Russia and China.
Ryan has been an ambassador for peace and goodwill abroad and an advocate for human dignity, Mattis said. These are incredibly positive traits in helping the U.S. military as it seeks to build alliances and coalitions, he added.
Mattis also described Ryan as a powerful thinker, a policy architect, a person of character and master at the art of building compromise. These, too, are traits the military values, the secretary said.
Ryan, who retires from Congress in January, said he was deeply moved at getting the award. He said some of the most important and personally touching work he has done is visiting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple occasions.
The divisions and tribalism that are often seen in government are absent in the men and women who proudly wear the uniform, he said. They collaborate, strive to do the right thing and develop intense bonds of personal trust with each other.
For that, he added, Congress is truly grateful.
(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @VergunDoD)