Remarks at Gen. Alexander Retirement

Remarks at the March 28, 2014, retirement ceremony for GEN Keith Alexander, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service provide further insight into the U.S. military’s thinking about cyber security.

Highlights of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel remarks include:

  • “President Obama’s reforms, including his announcement yesterday on government retention of telephone metadata, reflect both the importance, the importance of signals intelligence—and the importance of honoring our nation’s tradition of privacy rights.”
  • “During the course of my remarks today, DOD’s systems will have been scanned by adversaries around 50,000 times”
  • “Even though we can respond to cyber attacks in any domain, this force is expanding the president’s options with full-spectrum cyber capabilities that can complement other military assets.’
  • “The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace.”
  • “DOD will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside the U.S. Government networks.”
  • “[W]e are recruiting talent from everywhere.”

Here is video of the entire 91-minute ceremony:

Full text of Secretary Hagel’s remarks as delivered:

Retirement Ceremony for General Keith Alexander

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Fort Meade, MD, Friday, March 28, 2014

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

To my distinguished colleagues, whom I have the honor of sitting with here on this platform this afternoon, to members of Congress who are here, today, we thank and we honor the extraordinary service of General Keith Alexander. We also thank his family: Debbie, Jennifer, Julie, Diana, and Heather, and their hundreds and hundreds of grandchildren.

We thank you all for your tremendous support of Keith over many years, and your tremendous sacrifice to our country.  Thank you.

Keith, our country thanks you for your extraordinary 40 years of service and your West Point classmate, Marty Dempsey, will have something to say about you a little later.

He may not be as kind.

As we end an era at the “Fort,” I want to say a few words to the men and women of the National Security Agency, because today, we also honor you, America’s silent sentries.

Given your skills and your training, many of you have left or turned down far more lucrative positions to work here. A 75 percent pay cut is hardly unheard of.

Thousands of you have undertaken multiple, voluntary deployments to combat zones, and your contributions have been decisive. They have made a difference. You enabled the military to dramatically reduce casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan by helping disable improvised explosive devices, and provided critical intelligence that helped hunt down the world’s most notorious terrorists.

Closer to home, your support to U.S. and Mexican authorities has helped combat the violence associated with the ongoing struggle against drug cartels operating near the U.S.-Mexican border.

There is much more that we just simply can’t discuss in public. But we can say this: from the Battle of Midway to the age of terror, our nation’s history would read far differently were it not for the NSA and its predecessors.

As the longest-serving Director of NSA, General Alexander has led this agency through countless intelligence breakthrough and successes. He’s also led NSA through one of the most challenging periods in its history, in our history. And he did so with a fierce, but necessary determination to develop and protect tools vital to our national security.

President Obama’s reforms, including his announcement yesterday on government retention of telephone metadata, reflect both the importance, the importance of signals intelligence—and the importance of honoring our nation’s tradition of privacy rights.

We will continue to engage in a more open dialogue with the American public, as Admiral Rogers emphasized a few weeks ago during his Senate hearing to succeed General Alexander.  That is the spirit of today’s first-ever live broadcast from the headquarters of NSA in CYBERCOM.

But we will sustain our investments in intelligence be because it’s one of our most important national assets, because it keeps our troops a step ahead on the battlefield, and because America depends on it.

We also are protecting critical investments in our military’s cyber capabilities, which have been anchored by General Alexander’s vision for CYBERCOM.

The first email was sent on the DOD supported ARPANET when Keith was at West Point, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Today more than 40 trillion emails are sent each year. There are 60 trillion web pages. The internet accounts for one-fifth of GDP growth among developed countries, and it continues to connect, improve, and transform the lives of billions of people all over the world.

But our nation’s reliance on cyberspace outpaces our cybersecurity. During the course of my remarks today, DOD’s systems will have been scanned by adversaries around 50,000 times.  Our nation confronts the proliferation of destructive malware and a new reality of steady, ongoing and aggressive efforts to probe, access or disrupt public and private networks, and the industrial control systems that manage our water and our energy and our food supplies.

The United States Government and the private sector grasp cyber threats far better than we did just a few years ago. And thanks to General Alexander’s visionary leadership as the first commander of U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense is on its way to building a modern cyber force of really true and tremendous professionals.

And this force is enhancing our ability to deter aggression in cyber space, deny adversaries their objectives, and defend the nation from cyber attacks that threaten our national security.

Even though we can respond to cyber attacks in any domain, this force is expanding the president’s options with full-spectrum cyber capabilities that can complement other military assets.

Our military’s first responsibility is to prevent and de-escalate conflict and that is DOD’s overriding purpose in cyberspace as well. General Alexander has helped leaders across DOD recognize that cyberspace will be a part of all future conflicts. And if we don’t adapt to that reality, our national security will be at great risk.

The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace. Instead, our government is promoting the very qualities of the internet in integrity, reliability, and openness that have made it a catalyst for freedom and prosperity in the United States and around the world.

Consistent with these efforts, DOD will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside the U.S. Government networks. We are urging other nations to do the same.

We will continue to take steps to be open and transparent about our cyber capabilities, our doctrine, and our forces with the American people, our allies and our partners, and even our competitors.

DOD’s initiatives in cyberspace are managed by the professionals that General Alexander has been recruiting and training here at Cyber Command. In 2016, that force should number over 6,000 professionals who, with the close support of NSA, will be integrated with our combatant commands around the world, and defend the United States against major cyber attacks.  Continuing General Alexander’s work to build this cyber force will remain one of DOD’s top priorities.

To accomplish this goal, we are recruiting talent from everywhere.  But we’re also encouraging people already here in the military, in DOD, to develop…cyber skills.

When I was here last year, I had the privilege of meeting dozens of people, many in this room, including Petty Officer First Class Chase Hardison. Chase Hardison is an Interactive Operator at CYBERCOM. Four years ago when Petty Officer Hardison was a Machinist’s Mate tending turbines, generators, and valves on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, he had a conversation with his wife about his future in the Navy, and he decided to sign up for a cyber course in Pensacola.

Petty Officer Hardison grew up in a town without high-speed Internet access, but he went on to graduate second in his class at Pensacola, missing first by only 4/100ths of a point. For now, he’s focused on his seven-month-old son Noah, and his making his way up to journeyman and then master operator. But he also knows he’ll have great options and opportunities when he’s ready to leave the Navy.

To continue recruiting and retaining talent like Petty Officer Hardison, we must build rewarding, long-term cyber career paths. Our military must enable our people to reinvent themselves for life and beyond their service. That’s a proud tradition of our armed forces. It is also how we shape a modern, cutting edge military that outmatches the most advanced adversaries. It’s how we stay ahead. It’s how we protect our country, our economy, our interests.

One of America’s most venerable historians, C. Vann Woodward once wrote that America’s enjoyment of nature’s gifts of three vast bodies of water — the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic — buffered us unlike any other nation from powers that might threaten our safety, freed us of anxieties, inspired our unique optimism, and put…a stamp on our special national character.

America has always adapted to new threats. But today, a networked world — a world in which oceans are crossed at the speed of light—presents challenges to American security that our nation has never before confronted.

Our responsibility, all of us, whatever the revolutions in technology, is to guard not only our nation, but also the fundamental character of our open society.

General Alexander, your vision, your dedication, your leadership have allowed us to begin that task. Now, it is ours to carry.

From a grateful nation, thank you, Keith.

Please follow and like us:

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


Follow by Email