Blurred Threats: A Conversation with Ex-NATO Commander James Stavridis

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Admiral James Stavridis
Admiral James Stavridis

He battled ISIS, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, but what really worries Retired U.S. Admiral James Stavridis are the threats that concern you most.

“When I was the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, people would say to me, ‘Admiral, well, what really keeps you awake at night? Is it Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, piracy …’ There was plenty to worry about on that job, believe me, but the thing that kept me awake at night was cybersecurity. And the reason is, only cybersecurity, of all those things I just mentioned, proceeds from the highest level of our national interest — our infrastructure, our transportation grids, our water management systems — through our medical, our educational, to our personal finance. And frankly it goes all the way to the most intimate details of our lives.”

Admiral Stavridis joins Gartner ThinkCast for a wide-ranging discussion on digital security. What are the top threats we face today? Why are the lines blurring between military and business threats? And most importantly, what can we do to tackle those threats?

Admiral Stavridis will be a keynote speaker at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations Management & Data Center Conference, December 4-7 in Las Vegas. His presentation will be “Sailing the Cyber Seas: The Realities of 21st Century Security.”


01:43 — Blurring lines between national and business security

03:02 — How is the national security equation changing?

05:00 — The biggest cybersecurity concerns

07:32 — Is there hope?

11:32 — Steps to facilitate culture changes

15:23 — Final thoughts


Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and Chairman of the U.S. Naval Insitute Board of Directors. He has served as Commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida.

A Surface Warfare Officer, he commanded the Destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) from 1993-1995, completing UN/NATO deployments to Haiti and Bosnia, and a combat cruise to the Arabian Gulf.  Barry won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command. In 1998, he commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 and deployed to the Arabian Gulf, winning the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership. From 2002-2004, he commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

From 2006-2009, he commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami, focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. Ashore, he has served as a strategic and long-range planner on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He has also served as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Stavridis earned a PhD and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as an outstanding student.  He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges. He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He is author or co-author of several books on naval ship handling and leadership, including Command at SeaDestroyer CaptainPartnership for the Americas about Latin America, The Accidental Admiral, and his latest, The Leader’s Bookshelf.


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