May 30, 2020

VADM Kohler Turns Naval Intelligence Community Management Responsibilities Over to VADM Bob Sharp, DNI Duties to VADM (S) Jeff Trussler

Naval Intelligence Shipmates,

Effective today, I have turned over Naval Intelligence Community Management responsibilities to VADM Bob Sharp. He has held this position before and will lead our Community to new levels as only Bob Sharp can do. RADM Kelly Aeschbach, as Commander ONI, will continue her critical function as the Deputy Naval Intelligence Community Lead, that include executing the major day-to-day functions of leading our community. I valued her counsel each and every day, and I’m certain she will continue to be indispensable to VADM Sharp in this capacity. On 5 June, I will turnover duties of the Director of Naval Intelligence to RADM Jeff Trussler, who will promote to VADM that day. I can’t be more excited for him as he brings considerable and unique skills to this position and expect that he will be deeply involved with Naval Intelligence Community affairs.

I’d like to tell you how much of an honor it has been to have led Naval Intelligence and our Community these past two years – active/reserve military and civilians. The ability to look across our Community and see its modest numbers but vast talent and impact is enough inspiration for a lifetime. Equally humbling has been the privilege to have been called a naval intelligence officer and to have worked alongside you for these past 36 years. Since my earliest days as an Ensign, I have always felt that what we do for our Navy was vital to warfighting. We have adapted to be sure - across the decades our Navy and our Nation called, and we answered at every turn. When I entered the Navy in 1984, OPINTEL was king and Naval Intelligence was fully engaged in our last great power competition against the Soviet Union; we were decisive in its downfall. Naval Intelligence adapted in the 1990’s to operations in Iraq and in regions that in the Cold War we would’ve referred to as “Rest Of World” contingencies. Naval Intelligence adapted to new capabilities and requirements, like targeting - and we got good at it. 9/11 demanded that we rapidly adapt again to meet the unique and challenging demands of Counter Terrorism - we got good at that too, and in so doing, defined a generation of legendary naval intelligence professionals past and present. Now it seems we have come full circle back to Great Power Competition - but it is far different than what we faced in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The power of information - always recognized by naval intelligence, has increased significantly. Technology is moving at a blistering pace, and entire new warfare areas such as cyber have emerged. This has required us to adapt yet again: the complexity of today’s warfighting challenges requires us to harness all of our Navy’s information-based talent in the form of Information Warfare for us to be truly decisive. In this era of Great Power Competition, Naval Intelligence, alongside our fellow IW professionals, is stronger and more vital to our Navy and Nation than ever. What has not changed in the past 36 years is what matters most: the incredible skills and dedication of our military and civilians professionals in this business. I remain in awe of all of you and what you do every day, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this great team.

We all commit ourselves to our duties every day. And if we do it right, we have helped move the ball forward, and the team never notices our departure. I leave knowing Naval Intelligence and Information Warfare is in good hands: VADM Bob Sharp, VADM Brian Brown and our IW Community Designator leaders, VADM(S) Jeff Trussler, RADM Kelly Aeschbach, and all of you, will take us to new heights.

I believe that in our line of work, we engage with the adversary every day. If we defeat the adversary without firing a shot, it will be because of the work that all of you have done. It is the hope I have for all Americans, and our Allies and Partners, that we won’t ever need to go to war again. But if we do, I know that we will prevail because of the quality and character of you, the shipmates that I have served with.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

VR/ Matt