Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Tom Ridge, 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania, 1st US Secretary of Homeland Security
Orrin Hatch, US Senator (UT), President Pro Tempore of the US Senate (remarks via video)
Mark Welsh, Dean of the Bush School and 20th Air Force Chief of Staff (moderator)
Governor Tom Ridge, who served as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, recently visited the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Ridge was on campus to take part in the 2017 George H. W. Bush Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series presented by Wells Fargo.
Prior to the lecture, Ridge met with a group of Bush School students and fielded their questions on a range of topics, responding thoughtfully and with humor. The wide-ranging discussion covered cybersecurity, immigration, transitioning between elected and appointed office, and his reflections on his achievements as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. During the one-hour meeting, the students—most of whom are pursuing the Certificate in Homeland Security—gained a valuable perspective on the career of a public servant. After the meeting, they commented on what an incredible opportunity it was to meet and talk to Secretary Ridge and expressed their gratitude to the Mosbacher Institute for making the meeting possible.
That evening the Bush School’s Mosbacher Institute and the Scowcroft Institute co-hosted a conversation between Secretary Ridge and Bush School Dean Mark Welsh. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah gave remarks by video, in which he urged those in attendance to remain vigilant against evolving threats to US security and do their part to join a strong, dynamic workforce that the senator described as the foundation of national defense.
In the conversation that followed, Secretary Ridge articulated his belief that the United States is stronger when it engages more with the rest of the world, not less. He identified the current threat landscape as one of the most complex the United States has ever faced, with the addition of the space and cyber dimensions to the traditional air, land, and sea.
Dean Welsh then engaged Secretary Ridge in a fast-paced question and answer session on emerging national security issues. One major theme was concern about the development of new superpowers like China and Iran—which Secretary Ridge warned cannot be deterred from acquiring nuclear weapons—in the global threat landscape. A second concern was the resurgence of Russia as a dominant player on the world stage. Secretary Ridge frequently emphasized the need to forge stronger international ties, a strategy that could bear fruit by mediating Russia’s influence and preventing radicalization of young people recruited by groups like ISIS.
In addition to the discussion of military security issues, Ridge and Welsh discussed energy independence, cyber security, and biosecurity. Ridge suggested taking greater advantage of domestic energy resources to free more energy dependent countries from their reliance on Middle Eastern or Russian oil. Ridge also noted that cyber security is an especially important issue for private entities as well as the government. Regarding biosecurity, Secretary Ridge explained that he assesses the emergence of a novel pathogen from nature to be a greater threat than development of a biological weapon by a rogue nation.
Secretary Ridge closed the program by encouraging those considering a career in public service, saying the fulfillment is greater than can be imagined.
Dean Mark Welsh and Secretary Tom Ridge
Secretary Tom Ridge
Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute; David Jones, CEO of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation; Secretary Tom Ridge; Dean Mark Welsh; and Professor Andrew Natsios, Director of the Scowcroft Institute
Tom Ridge is Chairman of Ridge Global. He provides clients with solutions to cyber security, international security, and risk management issues.
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and, on January 24, 2003, became the first Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security. The creation of the country's 15th Cabinet Department marked the largest reorganization of government since the Truman administration and another call to service for the former soldier, congressman and governor of Pennsylvania.
During his DHS tenure, Secretary Ridge worked with more than 180,000 employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology and improved information sharing worldwide. Tom Ridge served as Secretary of this historic and critical endeavor until February 1, 2005.
Before the events of September 11, Tom Ridge was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania. He served as the state's 43rd governor from 1995 to 2001. Governor Ridge's aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state's advances in economic development, education, health care and the environment.
He serves on the boards of the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and other private and public entities. He is currently chairman of the US Chamber of Commerce's National Security Task Force.
He graduated from Harvard with honors. After his first year at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the US Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
After returning to Pennsylvania and to Dickinson, he earned his law degree and, later, became one of the first Vietnam combat veterans elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served six terms.
Orrin Grant Hatch was born on March 22, 1934, to Jesse and Helen Hatch. He married Elaine Hansen of Newton, Utah, in 1957. Orrin and Elaine Hatch are the proud parents of six children, 23 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Now in his seventh term as Utah's senator, Orrin Hatch is the most senior Republican in the Senate. Among his many initiatives are the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, the Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and the Utah School Trust Lands Exchange Act.
Senator Hatch continues to lead in the fight to repeal Obamacare. He is on the front lines of legislative battles to secure the nation’s borders, stop the forced unionization of American workers, and to bring fiscal restraint back to Washington by ending the reckless spending that threatens to bankrupt the nation.
Senator Hatch is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. He is also a member (and former Chairman) of the Judiciary Committee; a member (and former Chairman) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and a member of the Joint Committee on Taxation. He also has the honor of serving on the Board of Directors for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
General Mark A. Welsh III became Dean of the Bush School on August 15, 2016, after retiring from the United States Air Force. Welsh, who was born in San Antonio, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a Master of Science degree in computer resource management from Webster University, and graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College, the Air War College, and the National War College. He was a fellow of Seminar XXI at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a fellow of the National Security Studies Program of Syracuse University and Johns Hopkins University, a fellow of Ukrainian Security Studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a fellow of the Pinnacle Course of the National Defense University, and a graduate of the General Manager Program at the Harvard Business School. During his long military career, he received numerous awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, and the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster.
Welsh became the 20th Chief of Staff of the Air Force in August 2012, serving as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of 664,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he and other service chiefs functioned as military advisers to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council, and the President. His most recent previous post was Commander of the US Air Forces in Europe and Commander of NATO’s Air Command, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He also served as Associate Director of Military Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency, and as Commandant of the United States Air Force Academy.