Department of Defense | Dr. Henry Kissinger Receives Pentagon’s Highest Civilian Honor
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger for his years of distinguished public service, May 9, 2016.
By Cheryl Pellerin | DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Defense Secretary Ash Carter shakes former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s hand during an award ceremony at the Pentagon honoring Kissinger for his years of distinguished public service, May 9, 2016. Kissinger received the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award. DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday presented former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger with the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the department’s highest honorary award for private citizens and foreign nationals.
The award citation notes that Kissinger is recognized for his distinguished public service since January 1969. He served as national security advisor and also as secretary of state to Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford and as a consultant to the U.S. government throughout his career. The citation credits him with orchestrating countless foreign policy victories.
Through strategic thought, leadership and shuttle democracy, the citation continued, Kissinger pioneered detente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated opening and formalization of relations with China and negotiated the 1973 Paris peace accords that ended the Vietnam War.
Kissinger also helped to end the 1973-1974 Organization of Oil Exporting Countries oil embargo, supported the 1974-1975 Middle East disengagement agreement among Egypt, Israel and Syria, and helped to negotiate the 1975 Helsinki Accord, signed by 35 countries and addressing many issues that promised to improve relations between the Communist Bloc and the West.
“Our defense is so vital,” Carter said in his remarks, “that we must shepherd it from strategic era to strategic era, from administration to administration, across parties and across our government, including the State Department and the National Security Council, which Henry Kissinger ran.”
Cultivating the strategic perspective Kissinger personifies means keeping the world in synoptic view, the secretary added, seeing all its parts and problems at once and using the physical and moral strength of the nation wisely to protect its people and make a better world.
“It means knowing which mix of the full range of foreign policy tools — including but not limited to the finest fighting force the world has ever known — is best for a given situation,” he added.
U.S. strategic objectives must be clearly framed and pursued across the whole of government and with the support of every government agency and every instrument of American power, Carter added.
Leveraging All Resources
“Although the terms ‘whole of government’ and ‘smart power’ are relatively new, the basic concept clearly isn’t,” Carter said. “As Dr. Kissinger knows well, these terms have been applied from Sung China to the Holy Roman Empire. The idea of leveraging all resources of state is an enduring principle of strategy and statecraft.”
Battle-tested soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have come to see that in virtually any context ensuring victory requires more than guns and steel, the secretary noted. In conflict zones, he added, it requires good governance, reconciliation, education and the rule of law. Combining the threat of force with economic and diplomatic leverage also is essential in addressing a catalogue of strategic challenges, he said.
“Today we are applying a whole-of-government approach to addressing two problems Henry Kissinger could not have anticipated decades ago but continues to write and advise about,” Carter said, adding that one is the U.S.-led coalition strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Close Work With State Department
Defeating ISIL in a lasting way, he said, “will require DoD’s continued close work with the State Department to support the government of Iraq. It will require us to continue working with our State counterparts to galvanize financial support and accelerate the activities of our coalition partners.”
It also will require, Carter added, that the Treasury Department continues to squeeze ISIL’s finances while the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community and law enforcement work together to prevent attacks on the homeland.
The second problem is securing cyberspace, he said.
“For our part, we at DoD have stood up [U.S.] Cyber Command, but this is … an enterprise supported by the National Security Agency and the rest of the intelligence community and in close collaboration with Homeland Security,” the secretary said. “At the same time, the State Department continues to push forward tentative efforts to achieve international agreements to apply a rules-based order to behavior in cyberspace.”
Kissinger has emphasized that the potential dangers in cyberspace, and of technologies that have outstripped doctrines and strategies to counter them, present real dangers to global order and stability, Carter added, noting that this is from a 92-year-old statesman who has lived since long before the Internet was imagined.
Kissinger continues to deliver insights of incomparable strategic value to the nation and the defense mission, Carter said, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
“While his contributions are far from complete, we are now beginning to appreciate what his service has provided our country, how it has changed the way we think about strategy, and how he has helped provide greater security for our citizens and people around the world,” the secretary added.
The DoD Distinguished Public Service Award recognizes those who have performed exceptionally distinguished service of significance to the DoD as a whole, or service of such exceptional significance to a DoD component or function that recognition at the component level is insufficient, according to DoD civilian award criteria. The nominee may have rendered service or assistance at considerable personal sacrifice and inconvenience that was motivated by patriotism, good citizenship, and a sense of public responsibility.
To be eligible, the nominee must be an individual who does not derive his or her principal livelihood from the federal government, such as a private citizen, a political appointee, or an employee on a term appointment that is not expected to extend for a significant duration.