Gen. Burgess to talk cybersecurity as part of counterterrorism program

By Lorraine U. Martinelle
Special to The Citizen Chronicle

DUDLEY—Former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ronald L. Burgess Jr. will speak at Nichols College Tuesday, April 3, about cybersecurity threats to the United States. This special presentation is sponsored by the Nichols College Master of Science in Counterterrorism program. It starts at 2:15 p.m. in Davis Hall, Room 205/207 on Center Road, and is free and open to the public.

During his 38-year career in the U.S. Army, and now as senior counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn University in Alabama, Burgess serves as a driving force in the U.S. intelligence community to safeguard national security interests. As head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a former acting principal deputy director of national intelligence during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidential administrations, respectively, Burgess was a key player in the national security arena and was called upon by the presidents and Congress for his expertise. His leadership skills were used to focus the Defense Intelligence Agency on the greatest challenges confronting the United States at the time: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, transnational terrorism, and preventing strategic surprises elsewhere around the world.

Embattled U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who resigned in February 2017 as national security advisor under President Donald Trump, succeeded the retiring Lt. Gen. Burgess as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012.

At Nichols, Burgess’ presentation—titled “The Cyber Threat and Way Ahead”—will address the roles government, private and public companies, and academia can play in combating cyber threats to U.S. national security in an interconnected world. He will take questions from the audience after the talk.

“Nichols College Graduate & Professional Studies is honored to host Lt. General Burgess,” said Nichols College Professor Allison McDowell-Smith, Ph.D., director of the counterterrorism graduate program. “Not only will Nichols students, faculty, staff, and members of the public have the rare opportunity to hear from a world-renowned and distinguished leader within the realm of U.S. national security, they will also have the opportunity to ask questions of this former acting principal deputy director of national intelligence.”

In 2017, Nichols College Graduate & Professional Studies launched a leadership-focused Master of Science in Counterterrorism developed for those pursuing careers in the fields of intelligence, public policy, and security. Through an innovative in-class and online experience, students learn from counterterrorism experts the factors contributing to the radicalization process of violent extremism, and explore strategies to counter both terrorism and violent extremism. Nichols faculty saw a need to create this program for students once the Department of Homeland Security stressed the importance of countering violent extremism as a top priority for the United States.

“General Burgess has commended the Nichols College Master of Science in Counterterrorism degree, which is the first graduate program in the United States to exclusively focus on violent extremism,” added Professor McDowell-Smith, an internationally recognized expert in counterterrorism and violent extremism who has interviewed members of ISIS. “He has also applauded our relationships and partnerships with institutions, both domestically and internationally, in an effort to assist in combating national security threats.”

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