Much has been said already to commend Ron for his accomplishments. I will echo just a few. Ron, in the Defense and national intelligence community, you have clearly been a leader of consequence and a champion of those in harm's way around the globe.
You chose a difficult path early in your career at a time of great transition for our nation. As fellow members of Year Group ’74, we experienced this period’s challenges. The force was exhausted by Vietnam, budgets were in decline, and emerging threats foreshadowed a dramatically changed post-Cold War security environment.
Much of your career has been hidden from public eyes—even sometimes those of your family. You worked behind the scenes, at every level of leadership, across multiple Agencies, commands, and crises to give our nation’s best the critical information they needed … with the speed, precision, and accuracy they required.
Instinctively, you understood that in a security environment full of challenges and surprises, adaptation and flexibility are the keys to success. You consistently led organizations in ways that have strengthened them and produced outstanding results.
Your insights from leading Army and Joint Intelligence operations in SOUTHCOM, at JSOC, and around the world paid dividends a decade later when those same foundations became central to our success in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Your leadership enabled us to better partner with allies, to forge a bond of trust between intelligence and special operations, and ultimately, to keep Americans safe at home and abroad.
Even more importantly, you never forgot that intelligence is fundamentally about people—men and women, military and civilians, serving in harm’s way.
Throughout your career, you set the example for your people and inspired their confidence. You gave them the right tools, pushed them forward, and got out of their way so they could do their best work … and they have.
I know you leave here today confident that your successor, LTG Flynn, shares those very same traits, and will extend the momentum you have established here.
Mike, you are a gifted intelligence professional and leader, and in my judgment there is no better choice for Director, to take the mantle, and carry on the great work of this extraordinary Agency. You have been set up for success, and you and Lorie will be a fantastic Command team for the men, women, and families of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Ron, beyond your remarkable leadership in the intelligence business, we honor your 38 years as a great soldier and family man. Will Rogers once said that all a man can ask in his life is to leave the wood pile a little higher than he found it. You’ve certainly left our profession both better and higher than you found it!
Marta, I want to also extend my gratitude to you for your rock-steady support and for your patience, service, and sacrifices especially keeping a national secret, that Operation “War Eagle” was not code for some new military action, rather, that Ron would be taking a rare Saturday afternoon off work to watch some Auburn football. Your ability to connect with families across our force, including those with unique and special missions, has been simply inspirational. Thank you.
Lee, Regina, Julia, Mary, and John: I offer special thanks for your sacrifice over the years. I know you’ve given your dad great strength and inspiration, and we’re proud of your service too.
Ron and the Burgess family, on behalf of the entire Joint Force, thank you for 38 years of extraordinary service to our Nation. While many will never truly know the details of your journey, the American people are grateful for all you have done. Good luck. God speed. And God bless the great nation we all serve.