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SPEECH | March 28, 2014

General Alexander Retirement Remarks

Good afternoon! Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, families and friends, thank you for being here to honor General Keith Alexander and of course his wife, Debbie, as we salute Keith's spectacular career that has spanned approximately 40 years of dedicated service to our Army, our joint military force and, of course, a grateful nation.

It's great to share the platform with such distinguished guests: Mr. Secretary and others to my left and, of course, all the members of Congress that have shown up here today. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to recognize Keith. I also want to salute and thank the Allies for being here, as well, as represented by Ambassador Beazley here from Australia. Thank you for being here and, of course, for your support.

As we celebrate this momentous occasion, I would like to take a minute to thank, of course, the families and personal friends, many travelling great distances here to celebrate with Keith and Debbie. It's great to see parents, siblings, children and, of course, grandchildren here in the audience.

Keith and Debbie, I am actually trying to count to see if I can see 16 grandchildren there in the audience. As you see, I'm a bit envious of them because I just barely had my first here from back in October and hoping to catch up with you some day, but we'll see! But you know these are very interesting times in our history. Not a day goes by where you don't hear about some significant event in the world associated with cyber security. Due to its low cost of entry and speed in which an attack can occur, cyber poses one of the biggest risks to our national security.

Cyber represents one of Strategic Command's mission areas, although some of you may be more familiar with our strategic deterrence and assurance mission. Our unique capabilities to integrate space and cyber into global joint military operations are key to my command's associated campaigns.

As with nuclear weapons, cyber can have strategic effects. Inherent in cyber is the ability to target population centers, major infrastructure, financial sectors and national power grids. However, the capability to protect the asymmetric advantages we have by operating in cyberspace and giving us that assured access and the ability to deny others its use has its deterrent effect also.

This is why Keith's development of U.S. Cyber Command as a warfighting capability and building up the necessary cyber teams and capability has been key and remains one of my top priorities. This includes continuing his work to improve cyber policies, moving faster into the joint information environment and improving on the integration of our cyber teams into our joint military construct.

Keith, I am grateful of your talent, skills and innovation, and, especially, the drive and passion you have provided this mission as you stood up and led U.S. Cyber Command, developing true warfighting capabilities, decreasing the risk, as has been mentioned before, to our troops in and out of combat and, of course, keeping America safe.

Keith, I join my team at U.S. Cyber Command and my fellow combatant commands in saluting you for your outstanding leadership and support. You leave behind a tremendous legacy. You are, of course, a role model as a leader and you have maintained a sense of humor while providing the type of heavy cranial work that might give some in the audience a headache.

It should be of no surprise to anyone, as you heard in his award presentation, that General Alexander has truly made a difference to the world of cyberspace, in developing Cyber Command and driving, I repeat driving, success in this mission space. As was stated in a recent news article , it said, "…years from now, students of cyber warfare and cyber security will look upon General Alexander…as a figure whose influence in the domain of cyberspace was similar to those…" of, perhaps, Alfred Thayer Mahan and General Billy Mitchell.

Thank you for your almost 40 years of loyal, selfless service to our country, conducted with honor, integrity and personal courage. You will be sorely missed.

Debbie, this is a big day for you. Military life is, of course, not easy on our family, but you have served, alongside Keith, with dedication, humbleness, selflessness, and I personally thank you. I know that you have been a huge supporter of the NSA and CYBERCOM team of families and you have represented them with dignity and passion.

Julie, Heather, Diana and Jen, I understand that there is one of you for each of your dad's stars. It is not lost on me that it was probably not easy growing up. Changing schools, leaving friends, new areas —what all of our military families endure to allow our members to serve. So, thank you for your service and your support to our nation and, of course, your dad.


In closing, I am sure our leaders here today will agree with me that the capabilities this mission provides would not be possible without the men and women, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, who conduct this mission day in and day out. I thank you and I thank your families for your service, your contributions that you provide 24/7 to our nation.

I hope our Congress will see fit to confirm your replacement, Keith, here in the near future, given the significance of this mission. Keith, again I thank you for your remarkable service and I thank you for continued leadership. Our nation is incredibly blessed to have such a talented leader that has put such a remarkable stamp on the military mission.

Thank you all and may God continue to bless our joint military force and, of course, the United States of America!