By John M. McHughOctober 3, 2014
WEST POINT, NY--Thank you all very much. Thanks to all of you. Yo state the obvious it's an honor for me to have the chance to join with Colonel Conti; to see once again, Lt. Gen. retired Rhett Hernandez, and so many other individuals who perhaps quietly but never the less very importantly have had a significant hand in this exciting moment. And I want to add my words of welcome to each and every one of you and thank you for taking part in what I feel very confidently will become a very historic moment both for our Army but most importantly for this great institution.
There is an old adage that says a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I want to be very open and honest with you. When it comes to computers and truly high technology, there's no question in my mind I'm the most dangerous man in the room. That doesn't in any way cloud my understanding of the importance of these matters. So before I talk a bit about the actual events that will occur here, let me, if I may, ask you to take a little journey back in time. As I look across the audience you're all much to young to remember the actual time I'm going to revisit. But use your imaginations.
If you can recall 1976, if not, trust me on this [laughter]. I would tell you in 1976 the United States proudly celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. In 1976 there was a little album that went platinum-"Frampton Comes Alive!," it became #1 on the Billboard 200 and was on there for 10 weeks. Truly one of life's great mysteries [laughter]. In 1976, somewhat of note these days. The first diagnosis of the Ebola virus happened in Yambuku, Zaire. In 1976 a little company named Apple Computer was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
On July 7, 1976, 119 women joined the West Point Corps of Cadets, for the very first time. It was a very good year-a very important year.
And for what ever it may matter it was also the year that I first received what I recognized to be something called a computer. It wasn't an Apple. I had just left my job as Assistant City Manager of Watertown, N. Y. As a going away present, my boss, City Manager Ronald Forbes, gave me a Texas Instrument TI SR-50. The box said it was a scientific calculator. For me it was an adding machine. It had more buttons than I really knew what to do with. But it really was my first hand-held computer. It was probably as big as an iPad, abut 10 times as thick. But, it was, for its day, pretty impressive technology. It cost $150. That's about $600 in today's money. I guess that city manager was happy to see me go [laughter].
But now, some four decades later, the centrality of computers to our lives is just about incomprehensible. Indeed, computers in all fashion and form, have become so ingrained into our everyday lives, we don't even think of them as computers anymore. On my Pentagon desk there are two desktop monitors, two iPads and two Blackberries. And I don't even play Angry Birds [laughter].
I recently listened to a gentlemen from Brookings who said that "we're woken by computerized clocks, we take showers in water that's regulated by a computer, we drink coffee made in a computer, eat oatmeal that's been heated up in a computer, drive to work in a car that has hundreds of computers in it while we sneakily check the news on a phone that is really a computer. And then at work, we spend much of our day pushing buttons on a computer, an experience which was once so futuristic that it was the job that George Jetson had." Remember, he was a "Digital Index Operator." That was a crazy concept that one day we'd all work behind a computer.
That one-day is here. Today, we live in a well-wired world, and it's connected at network speed. And sure, it's an exciting time.
And by any measure it's a fundamentally important time, as well. But the spread of digital technology has not been without consequence. It has introduced new dangers into our security and our safety, both individually and as a nation. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called cyber attacks an insidious and dangerous threat, and many of may you remember former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted that ours was a pre-9/11 moment in which attackers are plotting, but our nation remains inadequately prepared.
And that's precisely why a new focus on cyber security and how it connects to our other interest and our other areas of defense policy is so essential right here, right now. And as we'll dedicate in a few moments, right here, at West Point. And that's where all of you come in.
In the last few years, cyber has escalated from a DoD issue of moderate concern to one of the most serious threats facing our national security. And to quote the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, "we now live in a world of weaponized bits and bytes wherein an entire country can be disrupted by a single click of a mouse."
It's why at this institution, the Army Cyber Institute is so welcome and vital to our Army and to our Nation. It will be your job to help us be ready to operate -- and, ultimately, to fight and win - in cyber space.
I can't begin to tell you how excited the Chief and I are about the unique work that will go on here. And as you've heard your multi-disciplinary mandate to outreach, to advise, to research and educate will reap tremendous benefits and augment, again as you heard, the great work already being done at Cyber Command and the Cyber Center for Excellence.
I see this organization, your organization, as attacking the gaps and establishing and leveraging relationships of trust from all corners of this great country. Your ability to make friends, to make colleagues in academia, industry, and the international arena and across the entire U.S. government, to name just a few, will better inform and position our nascent cyber policies and actions. By way of example, we will look to you to make friends with that seasoned banker in Peoria who, no joke, may have something to offer our Army and our nation in the cyber arena if only someone had bothered to ask him. You'll engage with scholars who are taking the time think about and to look into the future. You'll help harness the tremendous diversity and operational experience found all over America and bring them to bear in the cyber fight.
That kind of relationship building is simply vital. For when we network within and beyond government, we add capacity, we add capability, and we gain credibility.
At the same time, you'll play a key role in our cyber leadership development efforts. As we all know, no one knows more about developing leaders of character and competence than the folks right here at West Point.
Now clearly yours is a broad and strategic charter. And the best part about is: you won't just be watching history…you'll be making it.
I'm confident that our Army and our Nation will ultimately owe a great deal to the work, which will be accomplished here, right here at this institute. As our nation's leaders have stated, disruptive and destructive cyber attacks are becoming a part of conflict between states, within states, and among non-state actors. Even where a state adversary might not directly engage in cyber conflict, global hacktivists might, and do so on that nation's behalf. The borderless nature of cyber space means anyone, anywhere in the world can use cyber to affect someone else.
Strengthening our cyber defenses on military systems is critically important, but it's not enough in order to defend the nation. Again, that's where you come in. The evolving security environment calls upon us to expand the envelope of cooperation even further. This means, as you heard, working with new partners and trusted allies in new ways, boosting regional security architectures, and building the sort of public-private partnerships we envision at this institute.
The future, no doubt,will be a difficult journey, but not one any of you will take alone. There's a Middle Eastern proverb that varies a little from one place to the next, but essentially it translates to: "One hand can't clap."
No matter where you come from, you may have found the message or that proverb to be true. The bottom line is each and every one of us has to make the effort together. That's why you'll be here.
So congratulations. Keep working. Take care of one another and take care of the mission. This is your challenge. This is your mission. This is your time. So thank you again for allowing me to be here.
Congratulations to everyone involved. All add it too Supt, "Go Army! Beat Navy!"