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National Reconnaissance Office and the Air Force

National Reconnaissance Office and the Air Force -- America's Team

Remarks for the NRO Fall Ball, Tyson's Corner, Va., October 25, 2002, by Dr. James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force.

Thank you (Col.) Mike (Witt, deputy director of security, National Reconnaissance Office) for that gracious introduction. Mr. and Mrs. (Peter) Teets, former directors of the NRO, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and to the men and women of the National Reconnaissance Office, the Central Intelligence Agency and all of the services and departments represented here tonight as well as our corporate partner, it is my great honor to be with you and to share an evening of camaraderie with the silent warriors who serve our nation so diligently and selflessly.

Your missions are absolutely vital to our military operations and to the security of our nation. While the details of what you do are often kept hushed from the public at large, and from many of your colleagues in government, for those of us who know what you do, your dedication and remarkable contributions to our nation's defense are loud and clear. As Pete (Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics) so perfectly stated, the reconnaissance infrastructure you've created and use every day is a vital national asset -- a critical capability without which we would be less secure and more vulnerable to a world of new threats and new enemies.

I'm especially honored to participate in the presentation of your Dagger Awards this evening. Given your diverse achievements in the global war on terrorism, I'm sure it was difficult to single out the best of the best. While some will collect the Daggers tonight, please know that in our eyes, you are all winners and the leadership of this nation must be very proud of what you do. I offer my sincere congratulations to each one of you.

While we'll honor just these few tonight, all of you -- and the thousands you represent around the globe -- have earned a hearty "thank you" from our nation. Your ingenuity in the face of new missions and unforeseen circumstances, and your willingness to serve in a time of national crisis label you as a generation for whom future generations will be as equally grateful as we are for those that preceded us. At least some of the credit for your success as a team must go to your distinguished director, and our able undersecretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Peter Teets.

Dec. 13 is the one-year anniversary of his addition to our NRO and Air Force teams. We welcomed him as one of America's most distinguished corporate leaders from the defense industry. His 34 years of business experience and technical know-how was exactly what we needed to chart our future course in space, intelligence, and reconnaissance operations.

Tonight, I'm proud to announce to you that he and his team have delivered marvelous results. We asked them to take on a wide-ranging and demanding set of missions -- to bring together the military and national elements of space to assure that we're providing the nation with the best national security capabilities.

In terms of the military space equation, Secretary (of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld assigned the Air Force a major responsibility when he told us to take on the role as the Department of Defense's executive agent for space with department-wide responsibility for planning, programming, and acquisition of space systems. Of course, I gladly added this to Pete's plate of responsibilities as well. In this regard, he's done a superb job of marshalling the department through the myriad of challenges associated with sustaining and modernizing our space systems as well as educating the joint warfighters on how to integrate space into their operations.

I can't tell you how pleased I am with his leadership and energy. With the team he has forged, we're taking on challenges we might not have otherwise worked. He's proven himself as an engaging leader and articulate advocate of our national security space objectives, and as the brilliant champion of our space-based reconnaissance and intelligence systems. He has demonstrated depth of understanding and impeccable insight into the needs of our nation. He's been a tremendous partner in our daily challenges of running the U. S. Air Force. Thanks Pete for taking on these challenges, for your outstanding leadership in the Air Force and the NRO, and for your support and friendship.

It is a vitally important time in the history of our nation and, for that matter, the modern world as we work to solve the challenges posed by global terrorism and asymmetric threats.

There is no denying that the world is a decidedly different place than the one we knew in the previous century of world wars and our struggle against communism. Today, our adversaries' goals include creating terror through disruption of our economic system and by striking American interests at home and abroad. These rogue nations and non-state actors have demonstrated an ability to attack with minimal resources relative to the mass devastation they can cause. Just think about the "cost-exchange" ratio of the Sept. 11 plots -- perhaps a couple of million dollars spent by Al Qaeda on that operation, and yet billions of dollars in damage from the attacks as well as the added costs of Operation Noble Eagle and airport security. This doesn't begin to reflect the loss of life nor the dramatic emotional and psychological effects in the exchange.

More troubling, in this new era of stateless actors, these aggressors may be non-deterrable; at least by the traditional means we have employed to prevent wars among nations. While we may not have recognized the extent of the threat, clearly our enemies have been engaged in a concerted campaign to kill Americans and affect our global interests for many years.

The collapse of borders and alliances, and the blending of radicalism with religion make unity of effort in our execution of national security an absolute imperative. Faced with this new threat, we've come to realize the intense need for teamwork across the full spectrum of government. Success in future conflict will require greater integration of all defensive means to ensure our national security -- economic, diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, intelligence and overt/covert military operations. While individually they can contribute to victory, their collective application may be the most reliable strategy for our future success.

Unity of effort is critical to our success in space as well. As a result, we're working with our user agencies, joint warfighters, the intelligence community and civil and commercial space users to ensure we take a comprehensive approach to national security space management. Our objective is to provide our nation with the best military and intelligence capabilities in, through and from space. We need to continue to provide responsible stewardship of space by avoiding investment for space sake, but rather to enhance future diplomatic, and if need be, combat operations.

In the early stages of the space age, most space capabilities were used by a limited group of users and they were highly classified. The current space regime is decidedly different. The former distinctions between black programs, white space, military, civil and commercial space are growing increasingly blurred and becoming virtually seamless. We must ensure our space architectures remain sufficiently capable to support our diplomatic and military missions as well as our civil users who rely on them for the swift flow of information and commercial applications.

Perhaps nowhere is there a better example of how to carry out this teamwork than the NRO. As I look around the crowd before me, with the diversity of your uniforms, agency hats and functional expertise, I realize the NRO has been doing it all along. You've been doing for years the kind of inter-organizational partnering that we're working to achieve in other national security endeavors. It's an example we need to learn from and apply to everything we do, whether fighting in far-away deserts, defending our homeland or positioning our foreign policies.

Your contributions to our global war on terrorism demonstrate this fact magnificently:

You deployed personnel around the globe to a number of military commands and operational staffs to help them leverage NRO-derived data.

You activated NRO reservists to support the war effort, demonstrating the total force concept across our military departments and agencies.

You made equipment available to military commands and developed new architectures to move data to generate faster and greater effects on the enemy.

You trained a wide spectrum of warfighters prior to deployment and in theater to improve awareness and employment of your systems.

Just as important in deploying forward, you made your people, expertise and systems available to support a variety of missions here in the United States.

You have played an invaluable part in the success of Operation Enduring Freedom, and your teamwork has made an incredible difference. I urge you to carry on, the way you've done, continuing to set the example of vision, innovation, cooperation and technical prowess.

I leave you tonight with the simple but prophetic words of one of the great military leaders of the 20th century, Gen. George Patton. In recognizable simplicity of thought, but depth of wisdom, he spoke on the benefits of intelligence in the conduct of military operations: "You can never do too much reconnaissance."

There are few in this room, I suspect, who would disagree with this assertion. Reconnaissance is critical to the security of our nation. It delivers insight. It provides protection. It enables success in military operations, and we couldn't do it without the team of professionals at the NRO and the other intelligence services.

You are a highly successful, motivated and focused team. You are a group of dedicated civilian professionals, members of the armed services, members of corporations who work closely with us, and representatives of intelligence organizations all working together to carry out a vital mission. On this special occasion, I salute you and thank you for all you do for America. May God bless you all and may God bless America.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).