TRIBUTE TO VICE ADM. J.M. (MIKE) MCCONNELL (Senate - February 29, 1996)

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, it is always an honor and a privilege to recognize the men and women of our Armed Forces who have diligently and faithfully maintained the security of this great Nation. We do this on Armed Forces Day and on Veteran's Day, but I believe everyone would agree that we do not recognize these individuals as frequently as their deeds would warrant. Today, I stand to recognize and pay tribute to one of the Nation's outstanding military leaders and unsung heroes, Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, Director of the National Security Agency [NSA], who will retire on March 1, 1996 after having unselfishly served his country for over 29 years.

Vice Admiral McConnell's life is truly an American success story. Being the product of humble roots, he attended Furman University in Greenville, SC, also the place of his birth, and was commissioned as a line officer in the Navy in 1967. He served tours in Vietnam, Japan, the Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean as an intelligence officer before being nominated for flag rank and being selected as the Director for Joint Staff Intelligence , J-2. In this critical assignment, he served as the senior military intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [CJCS]. Vice Admiral McConnell's leadership skills and expertise were immediately put to use to keep the Nation's senior policymakers informed of developments during the turmoil and revolutionary changes that swept the former Soviet Union during 1990. More important, however, were his contributions to the Nation during the 1991-92 Persian Gulf crisis. Vice Admiral McConnell's service to the Nation during the gulf war, which included keeping Gen. Colin Powell [CJCS] informed of all enemy activity, was instrumental in saving U.S. and coalition lives and directly contributed to bringing about a quick and decisive victory for allied forces. Realizing that Vice Admiral McConnell had much more to offer the Nation, the President recommended him for a two-star elevation to vice admiral and nominated him to serve as Director of the National Security Agency in 1992.

Vice Admiral McConnell's greatest contributions to the Nation were yet to come. Becoming NSA's 13th Director in May 1992, he committed himself to ensuring that the United States had the world's best cryptologic organization. Vice Admiral McConnell streamlined NSA's operations while ensuring that the Agency had the requisite skills and resources to meet the quickly evolving technological challenges that faced the Nation. His candor and openness with the Congress and its oversight committees helped ensure that the Nation's legislators were well informed of the Agency's operations and how taxpayer dollars were being spent. Realizing that NSA's support saves lives, he also ensured that the Agency provided matchless support to every major military operation undertaken by the United States during his tenure. Most importantly, he crafted a strategy that will enable NSA to ensure that its people will remain its most critical resource.

Mr. President, I close by stating that everyone who calls this great Nation home owed a debt of gratitude to Vice Admiral McConnell. He has quietly, yet dutifully, served the Nation during four different decades and under seven different Commanders in Chief. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know him personally can attest to his dedication, peerless integrity, and unwavering loyalty to this Nation. It is with a sense of great pride and honor that I salute Vice Adm. Mike McConnell.