Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command Commander: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, men and women of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (SCC-WMD), and the Standing Joint Force Headquarters for Elimination (SJFHQ-E) − good afternoon. Thank you all for being here to celebrate and honor Mr. Ken Myers, the fourth and longest serving director of these organizations.
Mr. Frank Kendall, thank you for your thoughtful remarks, for your distinguished service in and out of uniform to our great nation, and for your continued leadership. Your comments provided a great snapshot of Ken’s outstanding leadership and the critical role DTRA plays in countering some of the most dangerous technologies and threats facing our nation and the international community at large.
Our nation has been blessed with Ken’s exceptional leadership, vision, and ability to adapt to a constantly changing global landscape. Ken’s contributions have been especially critical given the importance of the mission of countering weapons of mass destruction.
As such, it’s a distinct privilege to publicly salute Ken’s 20+ years of civil service and his tremendous impact on national security. I’m especially pleased to do this with his family present.
Heather, I know you have been a tremendous support system for Ken, while also balancing your own career and a family. I want to thank you not only for that support, but also for your work with the non-profit called “Serve our Willing Warriors” that works to provide a “home away from home” for our nation’s ill and injured service members who are currently residing at nearby military hospitals.
I cannot begin to truly capture how vitally important these type of programs are for our members and their families. Thank you for your service to our nation.
Kenny and Mackenzie − I also want to recognize how you have supported your dad. I had concern, though, for his choice of travel agents. Over the course of his career, he has travelled to some interesting, but austere locations such as Siberia, Kazakhstan, and remote areas in Africa.
I am sure your dad has shared some amazing stories. He has done some incredible work for our country that at the end of the day is saving lives across the globe. I hope you are very, very proud of him.
Mom, Susan, and in-laws, Rusty and James − your being here is a testament to the importance of family.
Susan, you not only raised a son passionate about protecting against the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, you also supported your husband − who I had the pleasure of meeting back when I was the Pacific Fleet commander.
In fact, when we met, he was with Sen. Lugar, who is also with us this afternoon. Senator, it’s a pleasure to have you in the audience. I’m grateful for your service and dedication in reducing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons around the world.
I must also thank you for your mentorship of Ken, and for keeping him on your team, back in 2005, when you and then Sen. Obama were detained for three hours in a Russian airport. Ken was the staffer who busily coordinated your departure with the Russian authorities.
Now, I will admit, the story relayed to me simply said, “Ken was the staffer who almost got the future president jailed in Russia’s Ural Mountains.”
Given that you are both here with us today, I can only assume that all went well.
Ken, I am sure you would agree with me that the success you have enjoyed as the director is due, in part, to your extraordinary workforce, some of whom are assembled here today. These strategic warriors − the three teams of DTRA, SCC-WMD and the SJFHQ-E represent the single greatest concentration of expertise related to WMD.
While your mission areas are distinct and unique, you seamlessly work together, in conjunction with other combatant commands, the interagency, and allies and partners to identify, prioritize, and mitigate WMD risks. I thank you for what you do − 24/7, every day of the year − for USSTRATCOM.
In a moment I will share with you some of the outstanding accomplishments these men and women have achieved under the direction and leadership of Ken Myers. But first let me provide some context why this work remains so important in 2016.
As our National Security Strategy states, “there is no greater threat to the American people than weapons of mass destruction, particularly the danger posed by the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists.”
Just a glance at today’s headlines illustrates the complexity and volatility of the global security environment.
While we are busy in our ongoing fight to defeat terrorist activity, we are also concerned with the actions and activities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
Ken has approached these challenges through the lens of countering weapons of mass destruction and providing solutions to these dangerous technologies.
Given this dynamic world, I am thankful for Ken’s leadership. Since my time as deputy and now as the commander, I have benefited tremendously from his rich, decades-long experience in non-proliferation, counter-proliferation and arms control.
He brought to USSTRATCOM the full intellectual, technical and operational expertise of DTRA. In doing so, he strengthened our readiness and responsiveness to real-world events.
As you will hear in his medal citation, Ken has driven results.
For example, following the earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Ken sent some of the world’s best consequence management experts to Japan to provide real-time modelling and technical assistance to the US military and Japanese government.
Around the same time, Ken also deployed a team to support U.S. Africa Command for operations in Libya. Here, the team provided vital planning analysis, ensuring response steps were in place if air strikes hit WMD facilities or WMD materials were proliferated beyond control. The team also played a key role in the subsequent destruction of Libya’s declared chemical weapons.
In response to Syria’s use of sarin gas on its civilian population, Ken worked closely with the interagency and international partners, facilitating the first-ever field-deployed chemical weapons destruction facility on board a ship − ultimately destroying more than 600 metric tons of Syria’s declared chemical weapons and materials.
It was not so long ago that the Ebola virus was spreading rapidly. Focused on disaster preparedness and emergency response, Ken led several lines of effort that were critical in containing this deadly pathogen: developing and providing medical countermeasures and diagnostic equipment; creating and sharing situational awareness tools and modelling data; facilitating the delivery of mobile labs and equipment; and developing and fielding an isolation system.
While I could spend another couple of days describing the enormous impact Ken has had in countering weapons of mass destruction, let me finish with one of his most enduring accomplishments − expanding relationships outside of the Department of Defense.
Just this past Monday, Ken hosted more than 750 people from across our government and the globe at the 14th Global Synchronization Conference, focused on “Expanding Partnerships to Counter WMD Globally.”
As part of this, he also brought together a large number of senior leaders to participate in our fourth in a series of tabletop exercises to contemplate “unthinkable” scenarios, stretching our intellectual bounds and increasing our critical thinking.
By bringing together multiple allies and government agencies yet again, he has widened the aperture of our understanding of each other’s capabilities, capacities and mode of operations.
Ken − you have truly made a difference to the safety and security of WMD around the globe. I am grateful for your leadership, talent, skills and innovation, as well as your continued drive and passion.
Just like Hokie [Virginia Tech] comrade Frank Beamer − you are both going out on a winning streak.
Seriously, the men and women working for you will sorely miss your leadership and mentorship, as well as your charismatic and gregarious personality.
I thank you and Heather, once again, for your loyal, selfless service to our country, although I am confident that even as you move on to the private sector you will continue serving.
I hope you continue to coach Kenny in soccer and have more time to watch McKenzie at gymnastics. I look forward to hearing updates on their athletic journey.
General John Horner will now add to his roles and responsibilities. Originally, the deputy of DTRA, I am thankful that you have agreed to step up to the plate and continue leading these three organizations.
You are exactly the right person to do this. Your operationally focused, even-keeled leadership and combat experience is exactly the right fit, and I look forward to continuing our work together, along with the stellar professionals of the organizations you are now charged with.
Heather, I must also thank you for continuing to support John’s career, and allowing him to fill the gap. As my bride of almost 38 years often reminds me − it doesn’t matter how many stars I have on my shoulders, she is the boss.
Once again, thank you all for coming, and may God continue to bless these families, our joint military forces and the United States.