Rice Calls on Military Grads to Energize National Security
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2002 New perspectives, new ideas and new energy are needed to combat global terrorism, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said here Wednesday during commencement ceremonies at the National Defense University.
"Today, our nation and the cause of freedom need all that you have to offer -- your ideas, your learning and your dedication," Rice told the graduating class of nearly 500 students. "Wars are decided as much by the supremacy of the mind as by the supremacy of the military technology that we often think of as winning wars. And, of course, wars are won by people."
Vice Adm. Paul G. Gaffney II, NDU president, presented Rice with an honorary doctorate in national security affairs. "As President Bush's national security adviser, she stands at his right hand during one of our nation's most stressful periods," he said.
Rice noted that NDU takes the best and the brightest from the armed forces, the executive branch and allied nations and gives them a chance to "think critically and creatively about vital national security issues." She called on the graduates to encourage creative thinking in their next assignments.
"You have operated here in an open, creative environment where intellectual ferment is supported and diversity of thought is rewarded," she said. "You have understood that shifts in strategic paradigms require boldness in thought as well as in action.
"When you leave this place ... , try not to lose that spirit of creativity and diverse thinking," she said. "It will not always be easy in the midst of the bureaucracies and the offices and the crisis of the day. But take your experience here and enthuse it back into those with whom you will work. In doing so, you will bring new perspectives, new ideas and new energy to the United States and to our national security apparatus."
America is now facing unprecedented threats, Rice said. "During the Cold War, we were pitted against a coalition of nations with billions to spend on weapons and millions of men who could be called into battle."
The Sept. 11 assault on America, she noted, "was perpetrated not by elaborate arms buildup, but rather by a small band of radicals who spent a few hundred thousands of dollars and exploited America's openness."
Responding to today's threats requires more than just new weapons, she said. "There is an urgent need to look at security through a new lens, pinpointing where we are vulnerable and who is seeking to exploit those vulnerabilities."
Underscoring the importance of "the mind," she pointed out that Germany almost won World War II on an industrial base a quarter the size of its combined enemies because they had an idea about how to use the new technology of the tank.
"They understood that in mechanized warfare everything had to move at the same speed, and that was the secret of the blitzkrieg," she said. "It was not that others did not have tanks, it was that others did not know how to organize for the battle."
Rice said the nation needs the kind of creative and adaptive thinking that led to the "audacious plan" for the World War II D-Day attack on Normandy. President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have made transforming the military one of the nation's top priorities, she said, and the president has proposed a new Department of Homeland security.
"There is a lot of change in the air," Rice said, and NDU graduates and faculty "will play a valuable role in helping to reorient the nation's security apparatus to meet the challenges of the 21st century.