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Remarks at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Rollout Ceremony
Edited remarks Dr. John J. Hamre, Deputy Secretary of Defense , Dulles International Airport, Va., Monday, November 02, 1998

Thank you, Admiral Blair. I guess after the secretary's overly generous remarks and yours too, everybody knows who to fault, anyway, for being here today. (Laughter)

I need to begin first with a thank you. I would thank Congressman Skelton for coming today. You've been such a leader for the department and for all of the country in pioneering ways in the House National Security Committee, and it means a great deal to us that you would come today. Thank you.

I also wish to thank [Under Secretary of the Navy] Jerry Hultin. I know this has been a very busy day for you to take time out, Jerry. We're very glad to have you here.

I especially would like to thank our hosts today -- [Brigadier] General Wilfried Scheffer [German Air Force], wir danken ihnen for your hospitality to let us share these facilities. Thank you.

This is really quite a major milestone. It was only ten years ago when we all sat in amazement and saw the Berlin Wall come down. We remember those exciting days, and we knew it was big, but we didn't know where it was going. It was both thrilling and a little bit frightening at the time. That was ten years ago.

During the intervening ten years we've had quite a transition. It has not turned out to be a peaceful world, as we had hoped. It turned out to be a very complex world. In many ways a very dangerous world.

We are here to mark the merger of four organizations: OSIA, DSWA, DTSA -- and the fourth organization we haven't mentioned yet are the men and women who work in the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, Biological Weapons. They, too, are part of this consolidation today. These four organizations in various ways were all born of the Cold War. Of course the Defense Special Weapons Agency -- I almost slipped and said Defense Nuclear Agency, that shows how old I am -- was present, virtually a creation going back 50 years to the Manhattan Project.

The Defense Technology Security Administration goes back to the mid '80s. Actually its antecedent goes back even further when we were trying to prevent America's technology from becoming a useful tool to our opponent.

The On-Site Inspection Agency was born late in the Cold War, but became such an important and instrumental organization for helping to facilitate the very difficult transition that we went through during the last ten years.

And of course the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, Biological Weapons. This is an organization that goes back deep in the history of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In each instance these organizations have seen a dramatically changing world and we felt that it was more appropriate to now align them together and get the advantage of their energies and bring them together as a coherent organization. That lies in our future.

But today, this day, I think it's most important that we say thank you to these remarkable people who have been a part of this terrific history.

First to the men and women who have worked at the Defense Special Weapons Agency. You have been an absolutely remarkable organization. I saw it just last week. I was in Korea meeting with General Tilleli and General Hurd and others. We spent a considerable amount of time talking about how you in DSWA have been so instrumental in helping them think through how they're going to protect themselves and fight in a chemical environment. It's without exaggeration to say that tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people's lives will be saved because of your efforts. Thank you. (Applause)

To the men and women who are at the On-Site Inspection Agency. You work for probably one of the least known acronyms in Washington and probably one of the most successful organizations in the federal government. It's really been remarkable to see what you've done. It's been exciting. You've created probably one of the most innovative bureaucratic cultures that I have ever seen in Washington and you've done it under very stressful conditions. I don't know how many days on the average the people in OSIA are in the field. It is far in excess of even our most taxed units, and yet I see a spirit and a confidence that is only seen in the eyes of people who know what they're doing is truly crucial for the defense of this country. I want to thank you for that. (Applause)

I think DTSA was probably even less well known than OSIA until this year. (Laughter) It has now become the latest four-letter word in Washington. That's hugely unfair.

We have forgotten how important it is to guard our national industrial secrets in America. These last ten years we thought that with the Wall coming down that the threats were gone. That's not true, and it's probably more important now than it ever has been that we have a vigorous and dynamic organization to safeguard these very, very important secrets.

The folks at DTSA have endured some scorn during the last year, but in many ways you did for DoD what the monasteries did in the dark ages, by keeping knowledge alive. You folks at DTSA kept technology security alive for these past 10 years. I want you all to know your role in the future is going to be more important than it's been for the last 20 years. Your role is crucial for the security of this nation, and I want to thank you for everything you've done and endured during this last year. (Applause)

And finally to the men and women who have been in the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, Biological Weapons, and Dr. Smith, thank you for joining us today. You did the pioneering work that led to this afternoon. It was because of your efforts that we have been able to bring together this integrated vision. You created that. The way in which you and Roland Lajoie and others were able to build and create the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, bringing together these disparate organizations is probably one of the most remarkable things that's ever happened in history; the CTR program led Russia to willingly destroy 4,000 warheads that were all aimed at us, and it's because of your efforts. Thank you. (Applause)

If I may just say a word to everyone who's here, and this is in more of a personal way. How grateful I am that people like you are still willing to serve in the government. It's not necessarily an easy task, especially since in recent years government workers have been subjected to considerable scorn.

I'm not sure why you chose this path. Each one of you, frankly, could have done much better if you'd have gone into the private sector. The rewards would have been greater financially. Certainly you wouldn't have had the frustrations or necessarily the abuse of working for the government. Yet something inside each of you sets you apart as just a little different from other people.

It isn't that you wanted to be rich, God knows you didn't join the government to become rich. But somewhere inside, you said "my life is bigger than that. I want to do more with my life than just that. I want to be a part of something big and important and grand." I thank you for that. There's precious little appreciation in this country for what it takes and what you have given, and I want to take this opportunity above all to say thank you to every one of you.