Senior security advisor finds great reward in serving others

By Maya GreenJune 1, 2023

Senior Security Advisor Howard High of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.
Senior Security Advisor Howard High of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army reflects the nation it is set to protect. This melting pot of a nation blends together a diverse background of cultures and experiences, as evidenced by its extensive history. American Soldiers, civilians and citizens of every ethnicity, race, creed, religion, gender, sexuality, national origin and age can trust in their Army to protect and even sacrifice for the stability and well-being of the country.

Senior Security Advisor Howard High of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command joined the Army to do just that.

The southern Californian native enlisted as a Soldier in 1977 to attend the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center to learn the Russian Language in order to intercept Soviet voice communications. DLIFLC is one of the best stations in the military that someone can go to, High said.

Here, he studied Russian; his primary duty was to be a student. Based on his academic achievements, he was selected for and completed a language program with the National Security Agency to learn more Russian.

High’s goals did not stop there as his focus shifted to becoming an officer. He applied for and received an Army scholarship and attended the University of California in Los Angeles, obtaining a Bachelor’s in Slavic language and literature. High continued to climb the ranks, returning to active duty as a 2nd lieutenant before becoming a senior captain, after which he applied for and was accepted into the Foreign Area Officer program. As part of this program, the Army sent him to the University of Kansas where he completed a master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies. At about that time, the Soviet Union collapsed. With the reduction of threat of the Soviet Union, the Army offered him a Voluntary Separation Incentive, which he accepted, and went on to civilian life.

High returned to the Army in 2006 as a civilian and joined CECOM, serving as a security manager and foreign disclosure officer at the Security Assistance Management Directorate.

CECOM’s Base Realignment and Closure brought High from New Jersey to Maryland in 2010. Today, High’s current role as the senior security advisor of CECOM requires him to ensure that CECOM HQ has the required security support to properly manage various functional areas of security, including information security, personnel security, industrial security, and operations security. Additionally, High serves as CECOM’s principal Foreign Disclosure Officer.

High states that his most significant accomplishment is being able to mentor others. He enjoys sharing his experiences and expertise to provide employees with various procedures to efficiently apply security measures. “I like [advising employees on how to advance their careers], so being an advisor is exactly my lane,” he stated.

Leadership outside of work

High’s passion for leading extends into his personal life as well. It all began when his parents took him to a traditional Japanese karate demonstration at a theme park when he was 14. His piqued interest led his mother to sign him up, and High has been practicing ever since. High now has skills in traditional Japanese samurai sword arts and traditional Japanese karate and is the chairman of the Yudanshakai Executive Council for Japan Karate Do Ryobu-Kai International.

Howard High in a weapon demonstration.
Howard High, senior security advisor of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a weapons demonstration for APG’s Asian Pacific Observance in the Myer Auditorium, May 29, 2014. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

In honor of his heritage and patriotism, High serves as the vice president of the Japanese American Veterans Association. JAVA is a veteran’s service organization whose purpose is to preserve and promote the memory, values, and dedication exemplified by the WWII Nisei Soldiers, second generation Japanese Americans, who fought to prove their patriotism, despite having many of their families being unjustly incarcerated just for having the face of the enemy, High said. The Nisei Soldiers proved not only their patriotism, but also that being an American is of the heart and mind, not the ancestral background of individuals.

High strives to promote the legacy of WWII Nisei Soldiers by sharing their history that typically isn’t taught in schools. He wants all Americans, young and old, to know about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team whose bravery distinguished them as the most decorated unit for their size and length of service in U.S. history.

There also were the WWII Nisei Soldiers who fought in the Pacific Theater as linguists and collectively served in the Military Intelligence Service. Their exploits were classified until about 20 years after the war, when the information about their operations were becoming declassified, High said. The training institution for these linguists was the Military Intelligence Service Language School, which later became the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.

“They proved that they were loyal Americans [and to not] judge people by their race, language or anything.” he said, “If they’re Americans, then they’re Americans.”

Volunteer work

When High isn’t working or practicing martial arts, he volunteers. Post-hurricane Sandy High went to New Jersey to help victims recover from the disaster. Alongside a group of volunteers, he helped gut out damaged houses by tearing down walls and removing mold before putting up drywall and painting walls.

“Helping people get their lives back was very rewarding,” High said.

For the past seven years, High has been a part of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. He participates in the Great Cycle Challenge and volunteers to ride his bike to raise funds to fight children’s cancer. High enjoys the Great Cycle Challenge because it is a great way to exercise and collect donations for such a great cause.

“It’s worth it if you save [just] one life,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to me. Children [with cancer] didn’t have a chance to live yet.”