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Navy’s cyber chief, NPS alumnus emphasizes adaptive leadership to Fall grads

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Timothy White, Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, gives the commencement address for the Naval Postgraduate School’s 2019 Fall Quarter Graduation ceremony in the university’s King Auditorium, Dec. 20, welcoming 397 new NPS alumni back to the fleet and force.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Timothy White, Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, addressed graduating students, family members, faculty and staff during Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) 2019 Fall Quarter Graduation ceremony held in King Auditorium, Dec. 20. NPS said farewell to 397 graduates, including 25 international students from 18 countries, during the ceremony.

“This event is a celebration of individual commitment, persistence, perseverance and personal accomplishment,” said NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau before conferring the advanced degrees to the graduating students. “We are here today among family, friends and faculty dedicated to this mission to express our pride in or students’ academic achievements.”

After acknowledging the families and faculty, Rondeau went on to thank the students for their commitment to their studies, as well as the commitment of NPS, in realizing their contribution to U.S. national security.

“We’re so proud of your success and your belief in your abilities to further contribute in every way,” said Rondeau. “We have immersed you in an extremely competitive academic environment that has enabled you to focus on the challenges that affect your service. It is upon you that the promise of safety in the global commons is certainly rested and is trusted. It is our commitment to you that makes us alive, it is the blood in our bodies that makes us want to do more for you, our nation and for our globe.”

Before turning the podium over to White, Rondeau highlighted his previous education that included a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the United State Naval Academy, a Master of Science in Systems Technology (Command, Control and Communications) from NPS, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University-Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, District of Columbia.

“This is a man and a leader for whom education has mattered deeply,” said Rondeau, adding that White’s dissertation topic was about human factors and intuition in the command and control environment. “He has become one of the great minds in all of our Navy. He’s a man who understands cyber, but understands the human being and how to lead to make a difference.”

White began his speech congratulating the graduating class and how each field of study contributed to technological development.

“During your time at the Naval Postgraduate School, you’ve had the opportunity to delve deeply into challenging national security issues during a wide variety of degree programs,” said White. “You have reason to be proud of this tremendous accomplishment. You represent the best our nation, our allies and our partner nations have to offer.

“We exist in a modern era which is inextricably bound to and by technology,” continued White. “We are constrained by math and science. Ships need to float and planes need to not fall out of the sky. Networks need to connect so we can communicate at a distance. In the arts and humanities, we exert creativity so that we can move beyond limits. This is where people, ideas, obligations and duty intersect, and all contribute to necessary innovation and critical thinking for problem solving.”

White took a moment to give respect to late NPS professor retired Navy Capt. Wayne P. Hughes.

“[NPS] was where I first became acquainted with and was taught by Capt. Wayne Hughes, a lifelong learner and mentor” said White. “He was the best of us and our Naval service. A true gentleman, a superb commander, and an exceptional mentor. He made us better.”

White praised NPS and its students as they study to face inevitably oncoming technological challenges.

“Today’s investment in your education is essential to the competition we face in the years ahead,” said White. “I am thrilled to see more than 180 of our officers in the Navy’s Information Warfare community enrolled at the Naval Postgraduate School. I applaud the Naval Postgraduate School’s push to increase the number of graduates pursuing STEM degrees regardless of warfare, community, or prior non-STEM degrees. Technical experience among our warfighters, thinkers and policy makers is only becoming more crucial with the development of sophisticated warfighting technologies.”

White concluded his speech with some advice to pay their education forward when they return to the fleet.

“In this era of renewed Great Power Competition, I leave you with this charge: Take your education back to the fleet and pursue change in our Navy with vigor,” said White. “Have the fortitude to inspire and act at every turn, fight and beat the bureaucracy. Congratulations to you and your families and thanks again for the opportunity to speak with you today.”


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