The Hon. Leon Edward Panetta, who served as the 23rd Secretary of Defense from July 2011 to February 2013, has dedicated much of his life to public service. Before joining the DOD, Panetta served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from February 2009 to June 2011. He led the agency and managed human intelligence and open-source collection programs on behalf of the intelligence community. Before joining theCIA, he spent 10 years co-directing with his wife, Sylvia, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay. The Institute is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit center that seeks to instill in young men and women the virtues and values of public service. From July 1994 to January 1997, Panetta served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Panetta represented California’s 16th (now 17th) Congressional District from 1977 to 1993, rising to House Budget Committee chairman during his final four years in Congress.Early in his career, Panetta served in several different legislative positions and also spent five years in private law practice. He served as an Army intelligence officer from 1964 to 1966. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a law degree, both from Santa Clara University. Read his full bio here.
Having been born and raised in Monterey, I've got I've had a long relationship with the Naval Postgraduate School in many capacities as a member of Congress and then as director of the CIA and later as Secretary of Defense. And the one thing I always appreciated about the Postgraduate school is that it really was on the cutting edge of trying to develop the education, the capability of the foresight to look at the future of warfare, to look at the future of the world that we have to defend. And I've always felt that the Postgraduate School plays an extremely important role in our national defense.
I'm the son of Italian immigrants, and I've often said that I've had a chance to live the American dream. And it was very important to my parents who had the opportunity to come to this country, to stress to both my brother and I the importance of giving back to the country because of what it gave my parents. And because of that, I've always believed in service to country. That in our democracy, our forefathers created obviously a system that is dependent on leadership, dependent on the people and believe deeply in service to country, going back to George Washington, who thought that service to country is one of the most important qualities that Americans need. And I believe that I've seen that.
Having headed the Department of Defense, we have a lot of professionals. We have a lot of great military leaders. We have a lot of experience in terms of warfare and what we need to do. But the reality is that technology is going to change the nature of warfare in the future. That's what is happening now. The ability to develop artificial intelligence, the ability to develop robotics, the ability to develop quantum computing, these are all areas that are going to define whether or not we really have a strong national defense. And so for that reason, it is incredibly important for the Naval Postgraduate School -- which I consider a center for educating our nation's officers about the future, about the 21st century, about the threats we're going to have to face -- to be working and collaborating with industry, which spends its life figuring out how do we develop new technologies for the future we need. We need to be able to reach out and gain that kind of information base, education base, technological base that we're going to need if we're going to remain the strongest power on the face of the earth.