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Microsoft Corporation
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen , Washington, Thursday, February 18, 1999

Thank you, Bill [Gates] for your kind words. And thank you Bob Herbold [Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft] for inviting me here.

I am aware that my journey to the cutting-edge world of information technology is rather unusual. It is expected that a Secretary of Defense who visits the Seattle area will walk the assembly line at Boeing, and, in fact, I spent an interesting morning doing just that.

But I come to you as part of a continuing effort to strengthen the connection between the military and the citizens they serve. When Americans think of the military, they tend to think of Washington, of the Pentagon. But, in truth, the military is an extension of the people - it is your military. The men and women of our armed forces are your neighbors and cousins, your sisters and brothers. The security they protect is your security. And the prosperity they enable is your prosperity. It is in your name that they fight, and you who they rely upon for support.

I began this campaign last month with an address to the Illinois State Legislature. And I am here today to spread that message, through you, to another important segment of American life -- the high technology industry that you lead.

The worlds in which you and I operate are, in many ways, two of the most striking examples of American success, areas in which the United States holds unquestioned superiority. The innovation, creativity, and economic dynamism of American information technology are the marvel of the global economy. Your intellectual endeavor has reduced our oceans to mere ponds, transforming the globe into a small ball spinning on the finger of science. Indeed, your contributions to the world’s productivity and the changes you have brought to everyday life astound even our modern minds. Because of who you are and what you do, the United States is the unquestioned leader in what may be the most energetic and important industry of the 21st Century.

Similarly, no nation can match the military power of the United States. We have the mostly highly skilled, well-trained service members in the world. Our weapons and military capability are, today without peer, and our forces execute mission after mission with a precision and professionalism that astounds friend and foe alike.

So we represent two pre-eminent pillars of American prestige and talent. At the same time, I believe there exists a gap between some in this industry and our military, a gap that is not unique to this industry, but rather indicative of our country. There is a sense that in many places beyond this campus, from Sunnyvale to Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley, that some in the "digital world" dismiss the importance of the national security world. That some soldiers in the high tech revolution do not fully understand or appreciate the soldiers in camouflage. That tanks and guns are somehow rusty relics of the past, nearly obsolete in the new information-based world that will carry us into the future.

One executive in Silicon Valley said as much to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. "We don’t even care about Washington," he declared. "Money is extracted from Silicon Valley and then wasted by Washington. Why would I care about...wealth destroyers?"

Indeed, we live in a world where private sector innovation is so powerful that it is tempting to view the world in that fashion, where the intellectual property and virtual assets of Yahoo are more highly valued by Wall Street than the oil reserves and supertankers of Texaco. So it can be easy to forget that this global marketplace was neither created by magic nor will it be kept by marketing.

I am here today because I believe that Microsoft does understand the crucial connection between our national security and our national prosperity. Your work on issues of critical infrastructure, your new initiative to train departing service members for information technology careers, and even your support for the restoration of the historic battleship Missouri show that you know and appreciate this connection.

And, as an icon of the Information Age, I believe you are in a unique position to help engender greater understanding of this central role of our armed forces in our national life. Few appreciate more than you the interdependence of our global economy. Your products are sold the world over, and an incident in Jakarta or Dublin affects your business, as surely as events in Jacksonville or Denver. President Eisenhower’s observation from over 40 years ago is even more true today: "What happens in Indonesia affects Indiana."

Indeed, peace and stability are the very cornerstones of prosperity. When our diplomats and military forces combine to help create stability and security in a nation or a region, that same stability and security attracts investment. Investment generates prosperity. And prosperity strengthens democracy, which creates more stability and more security. And I should note that real stability involves predictability -- predictable and secure borders, threats that do not emerge unexpectedly, and confidence that opposing interests will be resolved peacefully. There is only one nation with the power and reach to fill this role.

So we must be mindful that the prosperity derived from our vibrant world economy, the stability which allows vigorous trade, and the economic and intellectual freedom that enables innovation would simply be impossible without the persuasiveness of our ideals, the persistence of our diplomacy and the power, actions and sacrifices of the U.S. military.

So I ask you to use your prominent voice to remind your colleagues and contemporaries of the service and sacrifice of the 1.4 million military personnel serving across the globe, keeping a fragile peace in the frozen hills of Bosnia, standing watch at on the tense Korean Peninsula, on station in the waters of the Persian Gulf and living without the comforts and freedoms we take for granted, always prepared to offer the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we cherish.

Today, those men and women in uniform face a landscape of new and diverse threats. The menacing instability of Stalinist North Korea launching new and powerful missiles over Japan. Iraq developing and concealing the deadly vessels of chemical and biological weapons. The growing list of nations who grasp at the nuclear genie. Instability that flashes from Serbia to Central Africa, fueled by those who would prefer to dig fresh graves than heal old wounds. And the specter of increasingly lethal terrorist attacks, such as those we witnessed last summer at our embassies in Africa. Indeed, we have moved from a Cold War to a Simmering Peace.

To maintain peace and stability in this uncertain world, we have mapped out a strategy defined by three words: Shape, Respond, Prepare. First, we use our military to shape international conditions in ways favorable to American interests and values. Our wisest and most cost-effective actions are those that encourage peace and discourage violence and instability -- instability which destroys lives and markets. That means being forward deployed in Asia and Europe, establishing cooperative contacts with other military forces, and addressing instability before it turns into full scale war.

Imagine the events of the past year without the stabilizing force of the American military. Consider the consequences for Asia, where economic crisis has pushed millions into poverty and humbled proud nations. Or ponder the benefit of forward-deployed troops standing vigilant against the possibility of a million North Korean soldiers sweeping across the DMZ, thirty miles to Seoul, the fourth largest city in the world. All the productive and technological progress of that once and future Asian Tiger could be destroyed in a matter of hours. The economic cost would defy calculation. The human cost would defy imagination.

At the same time, we must also be ready to respond to any crisis at home or abroad. Consider a world in which there was no force equipped to respond when Hurricane Mitch devastated millions of lives in Central America or when Iraq attempted to develop and deploy chemical and biological weapons, or when conflict threatened to spread from Bosnia into the heart of Europe. Indeed, the gleaming towers and sterile workrooms of the modern world remain vulnerable to the deadly virus of Medieval hatreds. But in each of these cases, our service members responded when the nation called and their skill and professionalism made an incalculable difference.

Finally, we must prepare for the future. We must invest in the next generation of weapons and technology if we are to maintain our ability to shape and respond to world events in the 21st Century. And we must recruit and retain the highest quality personnel and provide them with the quality of life and pay they need and deserve, a challenge that only grows more difficult with every month our economy continues its meteoric growth.

That is why President Clinton has asked Congress for the first sustained increase in military spending since 1985. Just as software that only a few years ago was state-of-the art is now nearly antiquated, so will our military lose its dominant edge without significant investment. The life cycle of your products may be shorter than ours, but the consequences of falling behind, for us, are enormous for the safety of our service members, for the security of our nation and for the stability of our world.

Indeed, our weapons and technology are the finest in the world, but they will not remain so without the next generation of ships, planes, and armor. Our service members are the most highly skilled and best trained in the world, but they will not remain so without significant attention to their quality of life and training. As futurist Alvin Toffler has said, "The United States has the best, most elegant, most well-trained, best-armed, smartest military in the world. But it would be a mistake to assume that that lead is permanent." That is why our new budget provides an increase of billions of dollars for weapons modernization and the largest pay increase for our service members in a generation.

We would not ask for this new funding – indeed, we would have no right to ask – if we were not doing everything possible to generate savings ourselves. I know that many of you may view a bureaucracy like the Department of Defense as a management dinosaur, something Nathan Myhrvold [Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft] might study in his spare time. But we are making progress through reforms that will ensure any new money is spent wisely.

We are engaged in a dramatic initiative to reform the Department of Defense that is saving money, improving efficiency, cutting waste and emulating the best of corporate America. We are cutting our headquarters staff, competing hundreds of thousands of government jobs with the private sector, and destroying thousands of unused buildings. We are moving aggressively to catapult our business practices into the digital age, replacing costly paper contracts with on-line purchasing catalogues that include everything from antibiotics to combat boots. We are switching to less expensive, more flexible commercial technology in our weapons systems, for instance, putting a commercial Power PC chip in the circuitry of the F-15 fighter to decrease maintenance costs, and increase flexibility.

We are also fighting for the politically difficult but absolutely necessary step of more base closures. The billions we waste on unneeded facilities is robbing our men and women in uniform of funds for needed training, weapons modernization, and quality of life. To be good stewards of our defense dollars now and in the future, this must be done and I ask you to lend your voices on behalf of our men and women in uniform.

We are also preparing for the future by addressing dangers you know well -- threats to the integrity of our information infrastructure. The Department of Defense has more than 2.1 million computers, with one hundred long distance and one hundred thousand local area networks. Our reliance on information technology makes us more efficient, but it also makes us vulnerable.

A year ago, during a tense build-up in the Persian Gulf, a cyber-attack on our systems exposed the extent of our vulnerability. No data was compromised, but it was the most serious and sustained attack ever against our information systems, and it was conducted by teenagers. Today, as you well know, small groups, even single individuals, can wage electronic war against the most powerful nation in the world using off the shelf, existing tools and technologies.

We are taking this problem very seriously, continuing to build defenses against this threat. We have created a new Chief Information Officer for the department, who is reorganizing our strategies to better confront the danger. All together, the Department of Defense will spend $3.6 billion on computer security in the next four years.

Our work is part of a larger government effort to keep our information-based economy safe from disruption. Our national infrastructure not only runs everything from air traffic control to financial transactions. It carries ninety-five percent of all Department of Defense communications, everything from satellite navigation, to command and control, to transportation.

That is why the Administration is implementing a new presidential plan to build national information assurance measures, directed by a senior coordinator on the National Security Council. We have already created a National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI but, of course, we cannot hope to solve these problems without a partnership with your industry. Time and again, our national security has benefited when government and private organizations join hands to serve the public interest. Together we can insure that the technology, which has enabled leaps in productivity, does not endanger our prosperity.

We share an abiding belief in the abundant future of a world that is peaceful, open, and free. Your work is ever expanding, ever improving, pushing out to new peoples, new regions and new realms, bringing the dazzling vision of a New Age to billions across the globe. And rushing to meet you is a world that, though at times uncertain and dangerous, has limitless potential – potential that depends upon the noble work of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Together, these two forces can move us toward a better, safer, freer, and more prosperous future. Thank you for listening and thank you for your support of the brave and dedicated men and women of our armed forces.