Remarks from Air Force Retirement Ceremony Honoring General Michael V. Hayden
Robert M. Gates, Secretary, Department of Defense
Michael V. Hayden, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
June 20, 2008
SECRETARY ROBERT M. GATES: Members of the Hayden family, friends, distinguished guests, thank you all for being here.
As I look out and see all the senior officials and VIPs here this morning, I’m reminded of my commissioning ceremony as a Second Lieutenant at Lackland Air Force Base in 1967. Before the ceremony we were all asked if we would have any guests attending in the rank of Colonel or GS-15 or above who would warrant VIP treatment. I suspect Mike Hayden might have had a similar experience. None of us in those days had friends in high or, I would say, even low places. (Laughter.)
We’re here to honor General Hayden as he takes off the uniform of the military he has served for nearly four decades. But unlike most retirement ceremonies I attend, this one does not mark the end of a career. Quite the contrary, Mike will wake up Monday, put on a business suit, and continue working in one of the most critical positions in our government today, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Let me tell you from experience it’s not a job for the faint of heart. As General Hayden himself has noticed – has noted, in the intelligence business when you smell the flowers you look around for the coffin. (Laughter.)
You also have to be on the lookout for some of the harebrained ideas that get tossed around. At one point during my tenure as Deputy DCI, I was briefed on a plan to launch balloons into Libya dropping leaflets telling the people to overthrow the government. I told them to make sure the leaflets specifically said it was Gaddafi who should be overthrown because I could see strong westerly winds carrying the balloons with a generic “overthrow your government” right across Libya into Egypt – (laughter) – And I imagine President Mubarak would have been none too pleased. (Laughter.)
I’ve known General Hayden for many years. When the White House asked me to consider taking the newly created position of Director of National Intelligence in January 2005, one of my first requests was that Mike be my deputy because I knew I would need at my side a man of extraordinary experience, independence, and integrity. Though I did not end up in that position, I was very pleased that Mike was made deputy anyway.
I felt the same way when he was nominated to be the Director of CIA. Then as now I consider him the quintessential intelligence professional in government, a man whose career makes him uniquely qualified at that moment in history, a time in which our national security depends on the effective synthesis of intelligence and military operations. On this, General Hayden is the true expert. He was Director of the Intelligence Directorate at U.S. European Command, Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency, Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, Director of the National Security Agency, and as I said, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.
For more than 20 years he has been both an intelligence provider and consumer. He knows the entire spectrum of the business. And he knows what policymakers and military planners need to do their jobs. Wherever General Hayden has been in government we have seen within his orbit a shift away from inefficiencies and turf wars that too often plague government intelligence efforts. It’s no secret that I opposed the creation of the current DNI intelligence apparatus, but Mike has proven that even a flawed bureaucratic structure can be made to work if we have the right leaders and the right relationships in place.
When Mike was first nominated to be Director of CIA, there were some questions about whether that position should be held by a man in uniform. Ironically, when I was DCI, we were trying to get the military more involved in CIA. I worked with Colin Powell to appoint a senior military officer as third ranking officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service. And my successors appointed military officers to even more senior positions. It is clear now that whatever questions were raised about the role of military professionals at CIA have been largely settled. We’ve overcome many of the past divisions and discord that existed between the Department of Defense and other parts of the intelligence community. We are all on one team these days and Mike has played a key role in this effort.
In a world where the principal threats are terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, close cooperation between the military and CIA and clandestine and covert operations and intelligence collection is essential. In Iraq and Afghanistan, countless lives – Iraqi, Afghan, American, and coalition – have been saved through intelligence efforts that have led to the killing or capture of terrorist leaders and facilitators. I would argue that there has never been a better fusion of military operations and intelligence in the history of warfare. This is of great importance in the broader War on Terror, a war whose outcome, as Mike has noted, will depend in large measure on American intelligence capabilities.
Mike understands the threats we face, threats he has likened to a swarm of bees: diffuse, numerous, seemingly random, but with underlying purpose and extremely dangerous. And he knows what we must do to confront them. One key task is to train a new generation of career intelligence experts to make up for the losses of the 1990s. Mike has to manage an incredibly complex and secretive organization that spans the globe. It is representative of his character as a leader that he often makes time to go the cafeteria for lunch to meet with staff. He looks for an empty seat, not an empty table. He once sat down at what turned out to be a baby shower. (Laughter.)
He offered a few potential names before he took his leave. (Laughter.)
I might also note that Mike has held a few jobs in his life that have to be firsts for CIA directors: Pittsburgh Steelers ball boy, bellhop, cabby, and my personal favorite, door-to-door hairbrush and comb salesman. (Laughter.) That irony is not lost on any of us. (Laughter.)
General Hayden would be the first to admit that he owes a good measure of his success to his family. I would note that his father, Harry Hayden, Jr., is with us today, and of course, Mike’s wife, Jeanine. Jeanine, your support of Mike and your own service to our country is deeply appreciated.
In a speech earlier this year, General Hayden quoted former CIA Director Richard Helms when he said 40 years ago that “the nation, to a degree, must take it on faith that we [at CIA] are honorable men devoted to her service.” There is no doubt that General Hayden is an honorable man devoted to the service of his country. Though he exchanges his uniform for a suit today, he will continue serving an organization built upon the pillars he upheld throughout his military career: duty, honor, patriotism, and service.
Mr. Director, General, thank you for your ongoing service. I wish you and your family all the best.
(Presentation remarks omitted.)
GENERAL MICHAEL V. HAYDEN: Well, good morning, and thanks to all of you for honoring Jeanine and me with your presence here today.
There are so many colleagues and very, very busy people in this room – Steve Hadley and Josh Bolten, General Myers, Chairman, Chairman Reyes, Congresswoman Wilson, Ambassador Richardson, Admiral Fallon, John McLaughlin, many others. Thank you so much for coming. I also see the faces of people who became dear to us – to Jeanine and me and our family during our time on active duty and are now lifelong friends. I see Steve and Penny and Dave and Carolyn and Rod and Kyu Hee, and once again, and many others.
Sir, I’d particularly like to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your generous remarks. I guess that you and I are striking something of a balance; a former CIA director running the Pentagon, an Air Force guy out at Langley. Now that I’m retiring and leaving the service, are you going to reenlist? (Laughter.)
I’ve been in the Air Force for almost 40 years. I also belong to another institution, one that actually predates my active military service: that’s my marriage to Jeanine. That will always remain my greatest treasure, always be the source of my deepest happiness. This has been a team enterprise and none of this would have been possible without her. Jeanine’s work at the Agency these past two years, where she’s working so hard to bring support to our families, simply exemplifies what she had done already many times before. So, I want to just take a moment to thank her for what she has done and especially for who she is. (Applause.)
I also need to thank our daughter Margaret, who is an officer in the Air Force Reserves, our sons Michael and Liam, each Foreign Service officers, for having generously and willingly, most of the time, sharing this journey with us. Jeanine and I actually have some gifts for them and their wonderful spouses and their families that we’ll share later, but they need to know now in this ceremony how proud we are of them.
I also need to recognize other family members here – my dad Harry, a member of the greatest generation – the first Hayden family member to actually pass through Fort Meade. He did it in 1942 en route to North Africa. He will also celebrate his 88th birthday this weekend. Happy birthday, Dad. (Applause.)
My sister Debby and her family. Deb, as you know, you remind me more of Mom everyday. My brother Harry whose friendship means more to me than he can ever realize. Jeanine’s brother Phil who is representing that branch of the family that’s been so supportive of us.
Now, some family members can forever only be here in spirit. That’s Jeanine’s mom and dad, my mom and Aunt Pat. You’ll see in a few minutes that we’ve asked Celtic Aire of the Air Force Band to play for us during the reception. Here’s my reasoning: if my retirement isn’t enough to draw the presence of my mom and aunt, I am convinced that sounds from County Mayo are sure to do it. (Laughter.)
When I jumped – and mind you, jumped, not stepped – when I jumped on a nail when I was seven years old besides giving me some pretty good medical care, my mother and aunt put the offending nail into a potato to speed my recovery. (Laughter.) Thirteen centuries of Catholicism coexisting with druids, banshees and – (laughter).
It’s going to be hard to hang up this uniform. I’ve been proud to be part of some truly remarkable organizations during the course of my career. Those organizations will always be part of who I am, but fundamentally I was an airman first. I joined our Air Force ROTC at Duquesne in 1963. The saying goes if you can remember the late ’60s, you probably weren’t there. (Laughter.) Well, whoever dreamed that one up actually never went to Duquesne. My most notable foray into anything that was mind-bending was trying to draft a thesis on the Marshall Plan.
There are very practical reasons I joined Air Force ROTC at Duquesne – it was mandatory. (Laughter.)
As the Secretary mentioned, during college and graduate school I moonlighted by driving a cab. I did sell Fuller brush products door-to-door. My sister helped me with a delivery. I saw her nod when you mentioned it. (Laughter.)
I worked as a bellhop and I actually coached a junior high school football team. And I took that team, St. Peter’s Grade School on the North Side, to a division title, in fact. I was not, however, noticed by the Steelers, so I sealed the deal with the Air Force and came on active duty. (Laughter.)
It struck me as a great way to serve my country and to see parts of the world that I’d only read about. To make sure the record’s straight, I mean everyone knows where Pittsburgh is, right? It’s in that southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Debby lives in Steubenville, which is a suburb. You’ve actually got to cross two state lines to get from Pittsburgh to Steubenville. I was 16 years old before I left the state of Pennsylvania. I was one year short of college before I boarded my first airplane. And so joining the Air Force was kind of a conscious choice to go see some things that I would not otherwise be able to see.
Intelligence seemed to be a good fit for a history major, so I put that down on my dream sheet. And in 1969, I went to intel school as my first assignment. I came in at a time that allowed me to be part of an historic transition in America’s Air Force, and I see so many of my Air Force friends here today. The shift from a theory of airpower that was a product of the industrial age to a theory of airpower that’s reflecting the information age, and that’s a transition that is still underway in America’s Air Force.
In 1972, I was with the 8th Air Force on Guam helping plan massive B-52 runs over Vietnam. When I was at EUCOM in the mid ’90s, the hallmark of the Balkans campaign was pinpoint strikes on key facilities. And most recently from the current vantage point in the intelligence community, I see our pilots cap off joint counterterrorism missions by targeting individuals, not even structures. That great arc, a doctrinal leap from mass to precision, is what defines America’s Air Force.
And those of us who wear the intel badge have felt the impact of that trend as much as anyone else in America’s service, and it’s because of a very simply corollary: the need for precision intelligence has risen in direct relationship to the need for precision operations. I actually have a personal experience about that. I felt that principle acutely on the second of June 1995, the day Scott O’Grady was shot down over Bosnia. I was a J2 at EUCOM at the time and I got a call from Jim Clapper, who was Director of DIA. Jim helped me put things into perspective. Mike, he said, they’re beating the drums back here already about what happened. I think you know how it works. There are only two kinds of activities that America’s military undertakes. There are operational successes and there are intelligence failures. (Laughter.)
All right, Jim may have overstated it a bit, but he captured in a very real way the challenge that’s facing men and women in uniform who have chosen intelligence as their vocation. Captain O’Grady’s ordeal brought home to me how information had become absolutely critical to how we operate and it will become a decisive determinant of success.
Now, I’ve been blessed with great mentors in the intelligence profession. I’ve already mentioned Jim, who when he was Director of DIA took a new EUCOM J2 under his wing. Rich O’Lear, also here today, has given me consistently wise counsel and his friendship. Major General Chuck Link, who was the DO of the 51st Fighter Wing in Korea at Osan, would sit and talk with me and expand the horizons of his DOI. That was me.
I think many of you know my entire career has not been in intelligence. When I commanded the Air Intelligence Agency back in 1997, I got a call from a good friend, General John Casciano, and he was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence on the Air Staff, and he says to me in a cold phone call, we’ve just talked to the chief and we’re sending you to Korea. I said, okay. I hung up the phone and called someone else and said, they’re sending me to Korea. Was I just fired? As it turns out I wasn’t. General Ron Fogleman, who was then Air Force chief of staff, was trying to cross-feed specialists, like intelligence specialists, into other fields. I was going to Korea. I was going to be the Deputy Chief of Staff. But I wasn’t going to be the Deputy Chief of Staff for intelligence. I was going to be the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Command for U.S. Forces-Korea.
Nine months later because of that opportunity, I was leading the United Nations side in face-to-face talks with the North Koreans at Panmunjom. Not a bad experience for an intel guy. And when I was sitting at that big table at Panmunjom, I actually thought – it was conscious and I still remember the moment – I thought about my earliest memory of television which was grainy, black and white newsreel of the Korean War. And I remember watching a report on the Korean War with my grandfather, and sensing his concern – as it turned out, his concern was for my uncle who was one of the Marines cut off by the Chinese at the Changjin or Chosin Reservoir. By the way, that Marine, my uncle, was 17 years old, and we’ve forever referred to as Brother Mike.
Now, my granddad, also a Michael, was Big Mike, or occasionally – I’m telling you more than you want to know here – (laughter) – or occasionally – “Chew Tobacco” Mike. Never ever drink out of that beer bottle he keeps beside his big chair. With all those Mikes, that left it to me to be called Mikey, a name that has happily fallen out of usage – (laughter) – until recently resurrected in the Oval Office. I’m wondering what other sources of intelligence the President actually has. (Laughter.)
Another opportunity outside of intelligence came when General Chuck Boyd, who was Air Force director of plans at the time, sent me over to the NSC for a two-year rotation. I had the privilege of writing the national security strategy for the first President Bush under Arnie Kanter. The day the new strategy was to be unveiled, and I was aboard Air Force One on the phone working with the office of the head speechwriter, Tony Snow, making last minute revisions because 14 hours earlier Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait.
George Tenet gave me my first shot at a national-level office when he hired me to be the director of NSA back in 1999. We’ve become very good friends. And when he was at the Agency and I was at the Fort, the hotline on my desk would ring just about everyday – Mike, here’s what I need or Mike, what do your guys think about this? It was that kind of relationship. And George, as all of you know, is a standup guy who never had anything but the interest of the republic as his goal, seven-by-twenty-four.
The six years I served at Fort Meade mean a lot to me. In terms of talent, skill, devotion of its people, its unmatched technical capacity, the essential value of its mission, NSA is a national treasure and I’m so gratified that many folks from that agency are actually here today. Bill Jack, an institution out at the Fort, is with us today and reminds me of the times we had there. He reminds me also of the close attachment I had to the men and women of NSA, as well as an intense responsibility I had then part and parcel of being entrusted with such an irreplaceable national treasure.
You know, as bad as things were on the morning of September 11, 2001, I find inspiration that day, it was actually that evening, when I went to visit NSA’s counterterrorism group. Now, our CT officers they dedicate their lives to preventing the kind of attack that just took place, so they were clearly shaken up. When I got to their office, workmen were tacking up blackout curtains on their window. Think of that-- blackout curtains, twenty-first century, eastern Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.
But the sheer determination in that room to get back into the fight, to put the full weight of signals intelligence into the hunt, well, that’s something I’ll never forget. And from that day on, America’s intelligence officers have played a leading role in the War on Terror. We’ve maintained a wartime ops tempo while learning some hard lessons like working better as a team and sharing what we know, and we’ve come a long way towards building that greater cohesion and integration.
As Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, I had a glimpse of how tough it was to do the job that Ambassador John Negroponte and now Admiral Mike McConnell have done so well. In my time there, Ambassador Negroponte took the lead as senior intelligence adviser to the president and I covered the daily functions of the community. And even after all those years in NSA, during that time at DNI I learned an awful lot about how things work and sometimes don’t work in a community of 16 separate organizations. And it was there, when I was at the DNI’s office, that I realized that there’s an agency out there that had more connective tissue to all the other agencies than anyone else. It had departmental independence, deep expertise that cut across disciplines, and handled all sorts of global issues.
Now, at this point in my remarks I can stop using past tense and start using present and future tense because CIA takes over paying my salary on the first of July. (Laughter.) A big question is whether the workforce will still respect me when they see my selection of suits. (Laughter.)
I arrived at Langley a little over two years ago and I found a culture that wasn’t quite military, but it was expeditionary and it was very can-do, something that any airman would easily recognize. I’ve seen the finest expression of patriotism and the hard work of our men and women in war zones, not just collectors – important work they do – but analysts, technical experts, support specialists, all serving alongside our military colleagues and our community colleagues in Iraq and Afghanistan, forward bases, big cities, places in between. As my wonderful deputy at the agency, Steve Kappes, is fond of saying, from Bangladesh to Marrakech, and all the places in between and beyond, too.
These people give far more than they get. They deserve far better than they usually receive. And when they succeed in their work and help their countrymen feel safe again, they still stay in the shadows, continue their work, and discipline themselves to ignore sometimes shrill and uninformed voices of criticism. After all, if we could delay all-important game decisions in the NFL to the calm light of Monday morning, we’d all be going to Canton and be enshrined there. I’m honored to be on the field playing in real time on the CIA team.
So, when this ceremony is over, I’m happy that my job at Langley won’t be over. I’ll still have the privilege to work with an extraordinarily talented group of officers in a post that I think Secretary Gates and Director Tenet will agree is challenging and rewarding in ways like any other. But I will also be forever grateful to this organization that took me and brought me so far, gave me the chance to hear Mass in almost countless languages – Gaelic, French, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Greek, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out – and above all allowed me the honor of serving my country.
There will not be, there could not be adequate time or words for me to acknowledge all of the Air Force men and women who have meant so much to Jeanine and me over the years, but in a special way because of what they’ve done for today’s events I need to thank Lieutenant Colonel Arnie Nash, and Paula, Cleveland, and Tracy. You, like all of the airmen we have met and their families, will always be in our hearts. And before the Air Force – before the Air Force gave me my calling and showed me the world, there was the family back in the ward, as we called our neighborhood, on the north side of Pittsburgh who gave me their love, their wisdom, and memories of a place that continues to shape who I am more than anything else. So, to the Heffley family, boyhood friends, and to the Zeaks, high school and college companions, thank you for being here, for reminding me who I am and where I’m from.
I left Pittsburgh 39 years ago, but the city has never left me and I hope, I hope that I’ve lived up to the ethic that the immortal war correspondent Ernie Pyle identified with the city in the months just before World War II. Having just visited Pittsburgh, he wrote an article about it, and he summed up the city’s culture, I think, quite accurately and quite succinctly: “This place just goes to work.”
To all you family, dear friends here in the room, around the world, thank you very much. God bless you all.
(Tribute, benediction, Air Force song, and party departure follows.)