Former United States Ambassador John Bolton summing up his viewpoint on international conflicts

Jun 28, 2024

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton

Former United States Ambassador John Bolton served as national security adviser to President Donald Trump from 2018-2019 and previously served as interim U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005–2006. He began his federal service in the administration of Ronald Reagan and later worked under George H.W. Bush as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, as well as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs for George W. Bush.


The Cold War ended in 1991. We drew a lot of incorrect conclusions, like we had come to the end of history, and there would be a great peace dividend. Defense budgets were cut dramatically. We got an unexpected wakeup call on 911.”

— Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton

Dr. Ron Ross, Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Feb 19, 2024

Dr. Ron RossRoss heads the NIST Systems Security Engineering Project to develop standards and guidelines for the federal government, contractors and United States critical infrastructure. He also supports the U.S. State Department in its international outreach program for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection, focusing on computer security, systems security engineering, trustworthy systems and security risk management. The speaker has been inducted into both the National Cyber Security and Information Systems Security Association Halls of Fame.


You have a great academic institution. You have great companies here who need you. Mentoring the next generation is like building a football team – you’re getting grounded in the fundamentals. Our country rolls on innovation. It’s in our DNA.”

— Dr. Ron Ross

Dr. Brian M. Sadler, Senior Research Scientist for Intelligent Systems, Army Research Laboratory

Nov 7, 2023

Brian M. Sadler

Dr. Brian M. Sadler is the Senior Research Scientist for Intelligent Systems at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). He has been an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer for the Signal Processing and Communications Societies and an editor for a variety of publications including the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, and the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing. His research interests include multi-agent intelligent systems, networking, signal processing, and learning. He is an ARL Fellow, IEEE Life Fellow, and received the Presidential Rank Award in 2021.

a quotation mark icon A new national defense challenge is open source. There is so much code out there now. That changes the adversarial problem. The cyber beast is huge. We have to learn to fight with cyber and misinformation.

— Dr. Brian M. Sadler

Dr. Mark T. Esper, former U.S. Secretary of Defense

May 15, 2023

Mark EsperDr. Mark T. Esper became the 27th Secretary of Defense in July 2019 when he was confirmed in an overwhelming 90-8 vote by the U.S. Senate in rare bipartisan fashion. Esper went on to successfully lead the Defense Department through an unprecedented time in the nation’s history: from conflict with Iran, an ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan, and counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East; to open competition with China and Russia amidst a fundamental shift in the geo-strategic environment. And from the greatest civil unrest and political turmoil America has seen in decades, to a major recession and the spread of a global pandemic the world had not experienced in over one hundred years, all while dealing with an unpredictable White House. Dr. Esper’s memoir, A Sacred Oath, chronicles this turbulentand critical period of modern American history.


You want to lead, like here at UAH – you have the cyber, optics center, directed energy, hypersonics. You set a high standard here for other universities to aspire to. You have this remarkable ecosystem here to do that.”

- Dr. Mark T. Esper

Charles Richard, 11th Commander of the United States Strategic Command

May 17, 2022

Charles RichardAs the 11th Commander of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), Admiral Charles “Chas” Richard, a Decatur native, is responsible for one of 11 unified commands under the U.S. Department of Defense and is the senior commander of unified military forces from all five branches of the military assigned to the command. USSTRATCOM is responsible for the global command and control of U.S. strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives, providing a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the president and secretary of defense. He is the leader, steward and advocate of the nation's strategic capabilities.


“In the Cold War era, people did think about the possibility of a nuclear attack. For 30 years, that has never happened. That equals victory in strategic defense. My victory is when nothing happens.”

- Adm. Charles “Chas” Richard

Michael Rogers, former National Security Agency Director

December 1, 2021

Michael RogersAs director of the NSA until 2018, Rogers oversaw the largest intelligence organization in the U.S. government, with a multibillion-dollar budget and tens of thousands of military, civilian and contract employees around the globe.

Rogers spoke at UAH as part of the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series. The series brings nationally recognized guest speakers to Huntsville to enhance community collaboration and assist the development of Redstone Arsenal. It fosters better understanding of current events and future trends, how they impact the federal organizations at Redstone and how they could influence U.S. reaction to world events and the nation’s future exploration, discovery and technological development.


“We used to be very focused on a small subset of things, and we relied on the oceans as the great global buffers,... But cyber doesn’t recognize these boundaries.”

- Michael Rogers

Susan M. Gordon, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence

March 9, 2020

Susan M. GordonWith more than three decades of service, Gordon led at every level of the intelligence community with roles spanning numerous organizations and disciplines. Prior to assuming the role of PDDNI, Gordon served as the deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from 2015 to 2017. Before her NGA assignment, she served 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency and was involved in some of the most monumental operations in U.S. history, including the raid on Osama Bin Laden. During her tenure, she rose to senior executive positions in each of the agency’s four directorates: operations, analysis, science and technology, and support.


The world is changing, and this change is big...If there are two things that we have to invest in most as a free and open society, they are trust and truth.

- Susan M. Gordon

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

August 8, 2019

Robert AshleyOn Oct. 3, 2017, Ashley became the 21st director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He formerly served as the U.S. Army’s deputy chief of staff, where he was the senior advisor to the secretary of the Army and Army chief of staff for intelligence, counterintelligence and security.

Prior to his current role as DIA director, Ashley was the director of intelligence, United States Army Joint Special Operations Command; the director of intelligence, United States Central Command; the deputy chief of staff, intelligence, International Security Assistance Force; and director of intelligence, United States Forces, Afghanistan; and commanding general, the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence.


Over the last 50 years, what was science fiction has now become science reality.

- Lt. Gen. Robrt P. Ashley, Jr.


Paul Abbate, Associate Deputy Director of the FBI

May 16, 2019

Paul AbbatePaul Abbate was named the associate deputy director of the FBI in February 2018. In this position, he is responsible for the management of all FBI personnel, budget, administration and infrastructure.

Abbate began his FBI career as a special agent in March 1996, assigned to the New York City Field Office, where he worked in the Criminal Division and served as a member of the SWAT team.

Prior to being named associate deputy director, Abbate was assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, where he served until his appointment as the executive assistant director over the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch from December 2016 to February 2018. In this capacity, Abbate oversaw all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, international operations, critical incident response and victim assistance.


We know that you have a highly skilled, highly educated workforce and a new crop is constantly coming out of the university. And we want to tap into that.

- Paul Abbate


General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Army, Retired

March 11, 2019

General Martin DempseyGeneral Martin Dempsey specializes in the complexity that characterizes today’s strategic environment. A decorated four-star general, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dempsey brought his impeccable military record to his role as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer and the principal military advisor to the President, secretary of defense and National Security Council.

In 2015, General Dempsey was named one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world by TIME Magazine.

General Martin E. Dempsey retired after 41 years of military service. He will provide his experienced insight on security in a multifaceted geopolitical environment and the 21st-century challenges facing the U.S.


The future of this little sphere we all cohabitate in, you can’t solve by yourself...We’ve got to make sure that we never lose sight of the fact that, despite the technology, we still need to relate to each other.

- Gen. Martin Dempsey

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence

August 29, 2018

James ClapperJim Clapper is one of the finest intelligence minds of the 21st century. From 2010 until 2017, he served as the fourth-ever Director of National Intelligence, the nation’s top intelligence official and the principal intelligence advisor to the president. He provided the President Obama’s daily morning brief and held one of the broadest portfolios in the entire government, overseeing 200,000 intelligence employees internationally, a $52 billion budget, and high-profile organizations like the CIA, NSA, and FBI.

Director Clapper is a retired Air Force Lieutenant General who served two tours in Southeast Asia. He brings 50 plus years of military and intelligence experience to discussions regarding the unprecedented breadth of challenges facing the U.S. today—including transnational threats like terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attacks, as well as the domestic threats posed by nation states like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. He is the author of a new book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence.

While a majority of Director Clapper’s accomplishments remain shrouded in classification, notable public achievements include improving communication amongst domestic agencies, building partnerships with foreign governments, procurement reform, and sweeping IT upgrades. Director Clapper was in the Situation Room during the famous 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden and also played a pivotal role in uncovering the likely parties at work behind the 2016 hack of the DNC. He has been praised by Senator John McCain for providing "steady leadership for the Intelligence Community and wise counsel to the President and the Congress."

Director Clapper is the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President George H.W. Bush, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency under President George W. Bush, and the first Director of Defense Intelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.



There is great uncertainty among our allies about our long-term leadership role. When people are in trouble and they call for help, they don’t call for Russia or China or some other country, they call for us.

- James Clapper


Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director

May 15, 2018

General Michael HaydenGeneral Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency when the course of world events was changing at a rapid rate. As head of the country’s premier intelligence agencies, he was on the front lines of global change, the war on terrorism, and the growing cyber challenge. He understands the dangers, risks, and potential rewards of the political, economic, and security situations facing us.

General Hayden dissects hot spots around the world, analyzing the tumultuous global environment, the impact of the recent US election and what it all means for Americans and America’s interests. He speaks on the delicate balance between liberty and security in intelligence work, as well the potential benefits and dangers associated with the cyber domain. As the former head of two multi-billion dollar enterprises, he can also address the challenges of managing complex organizations in times of stress and risk, and the need to develop effective internal and external communications.

In addition to leading CIA and NSA, General Hayden was the country’s first principal deputy director of national intelligence and the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the country. In all of these jobs, he worked to put a human face on American intelligence, explaining to the American people the role of espionage in protecting both American security and American liberty. Hayden also served as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center and served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at U.S. European Command, at the National Security Council, and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. He was also the deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in South Korea.

Hayden has been a frequent expert and commentator on major news outlets and in top publications, valued for his expertise on intelligence matters like cybersecurity, government surveillance, geopolitics, and more. He was featured in the HBO documentary Manhunt, which looked at espionage through the eyes of the insiders who led the secret war against Osama bin Laden, and in Showtime’s The Spymasters, a detailed look at the directors of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Hayden is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group and a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. He is on the board of directors of Motorola Solutions and serves on a variety of other boards and consultancies. In 2013, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) awarded Hayden the 29th annual William Oliver Baker Award. General Hayden is also the first recipient of the Helms Award presented by the CIA Officers’ Memorial Foundation. In 2014 he was the inaugural Humanitas visiting professor in intelligence studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. His 2016 memoir, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, was a New York Times best-seller and was selected as one of the 100 most notable books of 2016.



That structure we have used to sustain world order since World War Two is dying because the structure we used to establish it – the industrial society – is going away. What do the Americans now view to be their role? That’s the grand debate.

- Gen. Michael Hayden