It is with the deepest regret that I accept your resignation, as you have requested, as Deputy Secretary of Defense, effective December 13, 1971.
Few men have given so much and so willingly to their country as you have for the past thirty-five months--and few have discharged their responsibilities with such distinction and excellence. In assuming this demanding position--at great personal and financial sacrifice--you demonstrated once again your commitment to effective public service and gave testimony to your belief that every American can and should contribute to the cause of good government.
Managing a vast array of exceedingly complex defense matters, you have shown outstanding judgment and uncommon ability, and have justly won the admiration and respect of your colleagues. Your wise counsel in vitally important national security questions has been of immense value to Mel Laird and to me, and I want you to know that these exceptional accomplishments have earned for you the Nation's gratitude.
As you return to private life, I am sure that each and every one of your many friends and associates here would want to join me in thanking you for a job superbly done and in wishing Lucile and you the happiness you so richly deserve.
[Honorable David Packard, The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C. 20301]Note: Secretary Packard's letter, dated December 10, 1971, and released with the President's letter on December 11, read as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
Last July I informed you that for strictly personal reasons I could not continue in a full-time government position after this year. I want to advise you today that I must resign as Deputy Secretary of Defense effective December 13, 1971.
I will leave the Department of Defense with both regrets and a real sense of accomplishment. I have developed great admiration and respect for the men and women of the Department-military and civilian. Their dedication and personal competence is the Department's greatest source of strength and our best assurance of maintaining our national security.
Secretary Laird has built an excellent management team in the Department and I believe that its accomplishments have established this excellence. I have seen what I believe to be major forward steps, particularly in the fields of management, procurement and equal opportunity. I am sure these steps will help you in the years ahead in maintaining both a more economical and effective national defense. I am equally confident that this team will continue its effective implementation of your national security programs and will work closely and well with my successor.
I want to take this opportunity as a citizen and as Deputy Secretary of Defense to express my appreciation and admiration for the outstanding leadership you have provided to the nation and the Department of Defense. Under your leadership I have seen the Vietnamization program turn the nation from war to peace, seen great new initiatives in negotiations and in nation-to-nation contacts, and seen a basic restructuring of national and international programs to recognize new realities and essential new priorities. You have established the basis for a generation or more of peace.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve you and to play a small role in assisting you in exercising American leadership for world peace and in supporting your determination that our nation remain both strong and free.
I want to emphasize that my decision to resign from a full time government position has been made for strictly personal reasons. I am, of course, available to assist you from private life in any way you may feel appropriate. I am certain the American people will re-elect you in 1972 so that you can continue your great work for peace and stability both at home and abroad. I want to help and will help in this important job of pointing out in coming months your accomplishments, your goals, and the importance of your re-election to the welfare not just of the United States, but to the entire Free World.
It has been the greatest honor of my lifetime to have served in your Administration. Your leadership, backed by courage, wisdom and understanding, has been magnificent. Thank you for the opportunity to serve my President and my country.
[The President, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]