12/30/2011)Leadership of U.S. Customs and Border Protection changed hands today as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administered the oath of office to Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Acting Deputy Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski. Outgoing Commissioner Alan D. Bersin gave his farewell address during the ceremony at CBP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Napolitano lauded Bersin’s management of CBP since he assumed agency leadership in March 2010. “He has set clear priorities and implemented innovative policies and strategies to meet them,” said Napolitano. “And he has achieved remarkable results.”

The secretary added that although Bersin is leaving CBP, “he is not going far.” She announced that President Barack Obama appointed Bersin to the newly created position of assistant secretary of international affairs and chief diplomatic officer. In that role, Bersin “will oversee the strategic development and execution of DHS’s international plans and policies and will be responsible for forging new partnerships with foreign governments and international organizations,” said Napolitano.

After introducing the accomplishments of incoming CBP leaders Aguilar and Winkowski, Napolitano added that “we’re very pleased to have two, long-time CBP veterans serving at the helm and bringing their broad range of experience to their daily mission.”

In his remarks, Aguilar said that his CBP team will continue to build on the foundation that has been set. “Our job is complex,” he said to the men and women of CBP. “It is tough; it is very demanding, but I know your mettle—I know what you’re made of.”

Aguilar paid homage to the history of CBP’s legacy agencies and expressed confidence in the anticipated achievements of CBP’s employees, “so that those who come after us will stand on even tougher and harder ground than we stand on today in protecting our nation.”

Bersin saluted and thanked the many people with whom he worked during his tenure as commissioner. “I really love this job, and I really love this agency,” he said. “They’ve made me a more capable leader and a better manager. I’ll miss them very much.”

“I’ve learned the tremendous capacities of the CBP work force to rise to any occasion, to adapt to any challenge and to honor their solemn vow to the citizens of this country,” said Bersin. “Thank you for all you do to protect this country.”

In closing, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute honored and thanked the families of the CBP leaders, recognizing their often unsung sacrifices.

As Winkowski moves to the acting deputy commissioner position, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Field Operations Kevin McAleenan will become the Office of Field Operations acting assistant commissioner.



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