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Nov. 13, 2013

Lt. Gen. Flynn 4th Annual INSA Achievement Awards -- As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you Ambassador DeTrani for the kind introduction and thank you for the gracious invitation to speak at this evening’s INSA award ceremony…Welcome to all the distinguished guests we have here this evening.

It is an honor and a privilege to be here and help congratulate and recognize the significant achievements of the six extraordinary award winners that we’re here to pay tribute to this evening.

It is always a pleasure to be involved in an INSA event.

They are not only flawlessly run, but each and every time I attend one of your dinners, conferences, or panels, I meet another interesting colleague, make another long-lasting professional connection, or enjoy another enlightening conversation about the future of our nation.

Your national security events are unparalleled in this city.

For that reason, I want to thank all the team members of INSA for maintaining such high standards of excellence, and for always keeping our intelligence community and our nation’s security at the forefront of all you do.

As our first president (George Washington) stated so simply, “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means for peace.”

If this statement still rings true (and I believe it does), then it is as important to be better prepared for the inevitably of war, and this is where our intelligence system comes into play…

There has never been, in our nation’s history, a time where intelligence plays such a vital role (now and in the future).

It is one of the few strategic advantages we retain in order to defend this great country of ours.

Today, there is an urgent need for intelligence to provide that timely finger tip feel of the operational environment, as well as a need to accurately gage the strategic ecosystem that is rapidly changing before our eyes…

And for the young people in the audience, how we address these needs will directly impact your future, a future that will dramatically change in many more ways to come…

And all of you represent the future of our country.

So when Joe first asked me to speak at tonight’s INSA event he said it was about mentorship, about excellence, and about outstanding young leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to the intelligence community and our national security mission at an early stage of their careers.

Looking over this list of award recipients and their extensive and impressive resumes, there is no doubt about the trajectory of our future—especially, if this group of awardees has anything to do with it:

Tonight, we recognize Dr. Amber Aiken from the U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center, this year’s Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award winner, who is the champion of NGIC’s Mentoring and Coaching Program.

U.S. Central Command’s LTC Ian Andrew McCulloh, the winner of the Sidney D. Drell Academic Award, who worked as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy, where he developed an outreach program to improve targeting support for U.S. Special Operations Command, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, and the National Security Agency.

The Richard J. Kerr Government Award winner Trey Smith, who is one of the highest performing technical analysts at CIA.

Dr. Anton Pfeiffer, a Research and Development Principal Investigator for Northrop Grumman and the Edwin H. Land Industry Award winner – described as a truly remarkable outside-of-the-box thinker – who pioneered new mission management techniques that are challenging the often times conventional thinking we have in the IC.

Our own US Marine Corps’ Special Operations Command GySgt James Brenneis, the winner of the William O. Studeman Military Award who was the first to essentially create a national SIGINT architecture for Afghan Commando units in support of forces deployed to Afghanistan.

And last, but certainly not to be outdone, the John W. Warner Homeland Security Award winner, Lindsay Hovis, an intelligence analyst in the Pennsylvania State Police’s Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource (CI/KR) unit, who greatly enhanced the ability of her unit, their partners, and the ordinary citizens of Pennsylvania to prepare for and respond to terrorist, cyber, environmental, and other law enforcement related threats in her state.

All I have to say is: WOW!

These six outstanding young people are testament to the six pillars of the INSA Achievement Awards (and how each was judged):

  • There is Leadership.
  • Influence.
  • Proficiency.
  • Values.
  • Team-building.
  • And finally, the personal, intangible aspects, that are so hard to describe or quantify – like kindness, honesty, integrity, and empathy for your fellow colleagues.

While tonight’s award ceremony may in part be about young leaders, mentoring and excellence, it is also about our nation’s future – preparing for it, building a better one, and creating a workforce that is better equipped to handle its many challenges.

And the future is a funny thing. Although very unpredictable, we tend to mistrust it.

But like the phrase, nothing ventured, nothing gained, we cannot be afraid of it, and that is not what these awardees are about—their intellectual courage alone will help lead us into the future.

In fact, each of them have begun shaping the future in ways that will help all of us—their efforts make us stronger, smarter and just better in our own efforts to more fully integrate our intelligence community and our national security system.

Each of these women and men has made significant contributions to better prepare our military, our intelligence community, and our nation the next crisis and the one after that.

Let me take a moment to describe some of the challenges we are likely to face in the future and how each of you can make a difference.

We will face extraordinary and highly complex threats, some known but most unknown, and we will need each and every one of you and your colleagues to get involved, and take charge.

Demographic, migratory, technological, and economic changes that researchers project for the next 50 years promise to challenge almost every aspect of our national security enterprise – which includes not just our military, but our diplomatic corps, our homeland defense infrastructure, and our emergency response procedures.

For the military: aging first world populations, widening gender gaps in developing countries, and a growing pocket of young, underemployed males in third-world and largely economically struggling regions will change the military face of both our enemies and our allies.

Also, the growing migration of people into cities means our future soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will not be fighting in the jungles or deserts they have trained for in the past, but the far more complex urban terrain that is filled with new and different challenges. With all these shifts, we have to change how we think about the way we fight.

For the soft power side of our national security – our partners in diplomacy, development, and international outreach will need our help dealing with regional disputes over critical natural resources that are quickly dwindling in supply, especially water and energy resources, that will threaten already tenuous political and social balances.

I have no doubt that the lines on the map will be drawn and redrawn based on struggles over the planet’s most precious resources in the decades to come.

For all of us, the rapid advancement in technology for destructive or disruptive purposes will challenge us to not only keep up with the pace of change, but stay one step ahead and secure our systems that increasingly rely on technology to exist.

One issue that keeps me up at night, that I know is part of our future, is the potential for our state and non-state adversaries to tactically use cyber attacks for strategic purposes against our military.

In fact, back in May, Secretary Hagel said that the devastatingly destructive potential of cyber attacks has become the security challenge of our age.

But when we think about cyber and its danger, we typically think about the vulnerability of the banking system, or hacking into infrastructure systems, and shutting down websites.

What we need to start taking seriously is the cyber threat to military systems. Information technology is one of our most important military enablers.

It provides us with unparalleled precision and battlespace awareness that allows our military forces the flexibility to act across the operational spectrum.

While we grow ever more worried about the threats to infrastructure and our increasingly wired society, DIA is increasingly focused on the threats that can degrade our military capabilities.

Militarized cyber weapons are a new world. One where we need to understand doctrine and intent of our cyber foes in order to best manage the risk they pose.

So that is the reality of the future that we face.

However, the most important tool we have and the most important weapon system we need in order to face this complex and rapidly shifting environment is a prepared, talented, and top-notch workforce.

That is why I believe these six young professionals we celebrate are exactly the type of national security professionals our country needs to better prepare for this uncertain future.

Each of you:

  • Are multifaceted and able to span the gap between specialization and generalization;
  • You think outside the box and look for solutions beyond how things are “usually done”;
  • You take the initiative without being asked;
  • You have the technical talent to turn ideas into reality;
  • You consider the team before the individual;
  • You default to partnership, collaboration, and integration rather than isolation
  • You think beyond the immediacy of today;
  • You broaden their horizons, skill-sets, and experience to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow; and
  • You are absolutely committed to pushing the envelope as far forward as possible.

With you six at the forefront of our next generation, I am very confident that we’re on the right track.

You give us all faith that even in the darkest days we may face, your talent, your dedication, your leadership, and your commitment will light the way.

Our future is in good hands.

To each of you, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your service to our country and my sincerest congratulations to each and every one of you.

AMB Detrani, the INSA team, thank you for having me here this evening.

It is my personal and professional honor and privilege to be a part of this very special event.

Thank you.