SPEECH | May 1, 2015

JWAC Change of Command and Retirement

Adm. Cecil Haney: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, men and women of the Joint Warfare Analysis Center: good morning!  Chan, thank you for that kind introduction.  Thanks also to the “JWAC Singers” for that wonderful rendition of our National Anthem.  It’s great to be back at Dahlgren with the JWAC team.  It is certainly an honor and privilege to be here with you on this very special day, as we celebrate the spectacular career of Captain Chandler Swallow and witness his passing the “leadership torch” of the JWAC to Captain Andy Feinberg, in this time-honored change of command tradition.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize some of the family members here with us this morning.  It is great to see Captain Swallow’s family:  his wife Commander, United States Navy, retired, Tina; his sons Beau and Jay; his daughter Cate; and his mom Catherine.  It’s a pleasure to welcome the Feinberg’s to the U.S. Strategic Command family: His wife Captain Mary Feinberg; his mom Dena; dad Michael, sister Lauren; and brother Steven.  What wonderful families!  It’s also great to have the General Officers, Flag Officers, and SES’s in the audience.  It’s great to see Mr. Bob Tolhurst, the Executive Director here, and some of our senior enlisted folks such Command Master Chief Dee Allen and Chief Ashley McDevitt.

The military change of command ceremony is rooted in history.  It not only signifies trust and confidence in our military leaders, it also provides an excellent opportunity for me to publicly salute the men and women of the JWAC.  So I thank you all – from the senior leaders to the most junior among you, for all you do, day in and day out for our nation, and in support of our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines conducting operations around the globe.

Now, there may be a few in the audience who do not fully realize just how important the JWAC is to our joint military force, and in some ways that is a good thing.  Even as I get briefed on some of the really, really cool stuff that never sees the light of day, I see the nervous twitches of the briefers, silently wondering if I have the necessary security clearances to receive the info, although, truth be told, access is not really the issue -- it’s my ability to comprehend and keep up.  Let me assure you I’ve never been kicked out of a briefing, and it’s precisely due to that access that I can tell you here that the accomplishments of JWAC are truly exquisite. So while you may not see the accomplishments of the JWAC on Facebook and Twitter – don’t worry I will keep my remarks unclassified -- you should know that this organization of approximately 400 people, with science, engineering, analytic and technical backgrounds are at the “tip of the spear” when it comes to innovative “out of the box” thinking, particularly with their strategic and operational modelling and targeting capabilities that are just so critical to the joint warfighter and U.S. Strategic Command’s global mission.  This organization not only provides unique support to combatant commands around the globe today, they are also simultaneously developing research for strategic, operational, and tactical success for the future, ensuring the U.S. stays ahead of our adversaries and potential adversaries.  Quite frankly, this organization is a “jewel” as there is no other place in the world that provides these types of capabilities. Please accept my thanks and appreciation for what you all do for U.S. Strategic Command and the nation.

What an incredible responsibility. It is one that Chan embraced with excellence, integrity and character.  He took command at a time when our nation was dealing with civilian cuts, sequestration and furloughs.  It was undoubtedly a worrying time for you all, but Chan focused and challenged the command to move forward, stretching the minds of many, as you set the pace for both short and long-term projects.  Chan’s warfighter perspective and innovative thinking was instrumental in guiding the command through turbulent and changing times; providing support to and deploying personnel to war zones, providing deliberate planning support to operational forces, and championing new initiatives in space, cyberspace and economics.  While I could continue to list Chan’s accomplishments over his illustrious career, and there are many, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on his exceptional leadership because Chan is more than “just a commander” getting the mission done.  Chan is a leader who attacks all problems and issues with unrelenting passion, directs his team to find solutions and always makes decisions based on the safety and security of his people and the warfighter.  He is also a leader that cares deeply about his people and has made a lasting impression on everyone he has met.  In fact, if you spent more than five minutes with him you would likely have received a reading assignment and engaged in a hearty discussion of some kind with him.  You see there is nothing Chan appreciates more than the challenge of a debate, simply because he enjoys a “mental game” like many would enjoy a sporting competition.

While some of the staff might say “there is nothing he is not expert at talking about,” I hope you learned from him the value of being a lifelong learner.  His career has been the perfect example of how best to develop the “warrior-scholar” ethos needed for today’s military personnel operating in the current and future national security environment.  Starting with his first tours on the nuclear cruisers USS Virginia and USS Bainbridge and subsequent operational sea tours on a wide variety of frigates, destroyers, aircraft carriers and command of the USS Nicholas, Chan developed and honed his operational expertise while balancing his intellectual development with shore tours.  He has also served as an instructor at the National Defense University; as a student at the Naval War College and the Naval Post Graduate School.  The latter I am told was his favorite shore assignment as this is where he met and married Tina, raced sailboats, and won a Military Operations Research Award for his thesis.  I hope that I got this list in the right order.

This combination of in-depth operational experience and robust intellectual development ensured Chan would be well suited to high-level strategic positions.  He served as the Chief of Staff for the Joint Task Force stood up following the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, based in Yemen; current operations officer for Commander, Seventh Fleet, home ported in Yokosuka, Japan; and finally serving as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.  Throughout this amazing career, Chan developed not only himself, but also led and mentored hundreds, and likely touched thousands of Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines. 

Chan, you will be sorely missed.  You leave behind a tremendous legacy in the people you have led and mentored, the relationships you have established, and the goals you have set and achieved.  You joined the United States Navy because of your love for the water, and with every assignment and increase in rank, you made positive changes which directly impacted the readiness and operational effectiveness of our warfighters.  On behalf of the men and women of U.S Strategic Command, I thank you and congratulate you for 30 years of distinguished service to the United States Navy, our joint military force, and a grateful nation.

Andy, this is an exciting day for you, and I could not be more proud to welcome you and Mary to the U.S. Strategic Command team.  You are taking command at a time when there is much turmoil in the world and when our future is increasingly uncertain.  Our adversaries are always looking for ways to harm us, and the world can change rapidly, with the effects being felt more broadly than ever before.  I know you are the “right man” for this job “right” now.  You are a strategic thinker and a respected leader.  You have operational command tours, leading at the tactical and operational levels of war.  You have resource management experience, including planning, programming and budgeting expertise.  You have served as a legislative fellow and staff liaison officer for Congress, and you have a highly analytical and technical background -- two “double E” degrees.

In fact, in your short time at JWAC, you have already been dubbed as “wicked smart,” and I know the extraordinary men and women that you will lead will benefit from the richness of your experience.  There is no doubt that this journey will have its set of challenges, but I know you will turn each challenge into an opportunity. I know you will find innovative solutions that will maximize the agile and effective use of our current and future capabilities that will benefit both the warfighter and decision makers in a meaningful manner.  It also is fortuitous that your arrival comes at a time when, despite constrained budgets and a national debt of more than $18 trillion, our most senior leaders are placing a premium on JWAC capabilities and your ability – as Steve Jobs would put it – to “think differently”.  What you and your team does matters and I look forward to serving with you.  You can count on full support from my team back in Nebraska.

In closing; as I am often reminded, it is not easy being a military spouse or kid, and I can assure you I don’t take that for granted.  Tina, Catherine, Beau, Jay and Cate, thank you for your continued support for what you do for your son, husband and dad. You are representative of the sacrifices and demands of our joint military families at large. Let’s thank them. (Applause)

Chan, fair winds and following seas. Thank you again for your service. You have served your country well, and I wish you the best of luck as you transition out of uniform but not away from the complex problems facing our nation today.  I know you will continue to leverage your extraordinary background and expertise and continue serving our nation.  Andy and Mary congratulations.  To the men and women of JWAC—no matter where you work in the organization, thank you and your families for your service, and the contributions you provide to our grateful nation each and every day!  Thank you all and may God continue to bless our joint military force and the United States of America.