Rich and I first became friends in 1977 at Analytic Services, a federally funded “think tank” in Washington, D.C., where we spent a few years supporting future Air Force development. When we left Analytic Services, Rich set off for Harvard Business School and I joined the Defense Intelligence Agency to lead a group of military and civilian analysts in assessing the effectiveness of the Soviet Union’s military forces. While I can’t go into any detail about our work, our findings were critical and I was able to brief the results to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and his Deputies and Undersecretaries, and our senior Arms Control Negotiators.
One of the projects I can mention began immediately after the first Gulf War in 1991 when I was asked to lead an effort to improve intelligence sharing with multiple Intelligence Agencies and their consumers. Intelligence sharing was an area that the armed forces after action reports noted needed improvement. Our team consisted of representatives from each agency, and together we developed, implemented, and operated our own World Wide Web more than a year before the first commercial web sites came online. This effort led to major changes in the ways that intelligence reports were produced, analyzed, and disseminated, and in fact, the changes were so consequential that I was asked to brief a group of senior leaders in England at 10 Downing Street.
One of the high points of my career was being selected to my agency’s seat in the National War College. Officially established in 1946, the College examines America’s overall national strategy and its utilization of the national resources necessary to implement it. This was a yearlong program for people with the potential to be future senior leaders in National Security, ranging from Ambassadors and General Officers to Senior Foreign Service Officers and Senior Civilians in other Agencies. At the end of the year we broke into small groups of about 10 people, and each group visited a different part of the world for 4 weeks to meet with the leaders of the countries we visited. I was very interested in Central America at the time and was in the group that went to Barbados, Panama, El Salvador, and Mexico. We met privately with the Presidents of El Salvador and Panama as well as the Secretary of State of Mexico. We were also hosted for a day by our counterparts in the Mexican War College. The War College also promoted physical fitness, so I took advantage of that opportunity to become a thinner and fitter long distance runner and cyclist.
I retired from the government in September of 2000 after 20 years of service, but I was still offered the opportunity to contribute. In 2004, President Bush commissioned a bipartisan study to examine the problems with intelligence regarding the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. This “WMD Commission” was chaired by a Republican, a retired Court of Appeals Judge and Deputy Attorney General, and co-chaired by a Democrat, a former Senator and Governor of Virginia. Its members consisted of Seven senior luminaries from Academia, and Government. I was asked to join the staff and lead the effort on Information Sharing.
A lot of people over the last few years have been asking “why work for the Government”? I have been fortunate to have had a career in the Intelligence community and consider myself lucky to have done so. Some of the best jobs are not about the money. Instead of just complaining about the government, I was able to contribute to our country and have a fascinating career in the bargain. While I can’t discuss much of what I’ve done, I can say unequivocally how rewarding it was. The work was challenging. It contributed to the national interest and allowed me to work with some of the brightest people in the country both military and civilian. I was also able to meet and work with colleagues from other countries around the world which was very meaningful as well. It is a great feeling to know that you are working on problems that are important and contributing to your country.
As John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. “