ACDA's achievements over thirty-five years are legend. Rather than recount them, I'd like to dwell a few minutes on the main reason why they happened -- ACDA's people.
I'll do that without mentioning any names. Otherwise I'd have to mention hundreds -- or thousands. In fact, we've roughly calculated that in 35 years, approximately 6,300 people have been affiliated with ACDA in one capacity or another.
So let me refer to them by description -- and see if that doesn't bring many names and faces to your minds.
They are skilled, diligent, creative negotiators and backstoppers, who've helped bring some 40 arms control and nonproliferation agreements into being.
They are scrupulous implementors of those same agreements.
They are lawyers, who've drafted the biggest part of that legacy, and who are also vigilant in protecting its true meaning.
They are exceptional policy analysts and advocates. Recently I had to choose between two bureaus' conflicting recommendations on a major policy issue. The arguments were so compelling that I found myself in vehement agreement -- with both sides.
They are secretaries and clerical staff who perform superbly, and share the sense that what we all do is not a job but a mission.
They are hard-nosed arms control verifiers -- whose compliance reports, even after interagency clearance, can produce some lively discussions with the states whose activities are described.
They are Congressional and public affairs experts, who unabashedly portray our work as America's highest calling.
They are administrative officers who turn people in other agencies green when they learn how efficiently ACDA does things like preparing budgets and processing expense checks.
They are military officers on detail, who not only perform the same work as everyone else, but also infect us with better work habits -- and posture.
They are overseas contingents in Geneva, Vienna and the Hague, including the vagabonds who shift between Geneva and New York, and told me yesterday they desperately wanted to be here today.
They are computer experts, who've won ACDA recognition by ComputerWorld magazine as 17th among the nation's 100 best work environments for computer professionals.
They have been recruiters and mentors for new talent in arms control. When one recently retired, many of the brightest lights in our field came to trace their involvement in arms control back to him.
They are our alumni, who now drive these issues in other agencies like State or Energy, on Capitol Hill, in the NGOs, and elsewhere.
They have some common characteristics.
-- A kind of scrappiness, developed because a small agency sometimes not only has to fight for its point of view, but also fight its way into the meeting. Other agencies should take comfort in the thought that we can be just as prickly on the inside.
But I can also remark on another, much larger quality.
Since before I arrived, two things have been true. First, ACDA's agenda has been bigger and broader than ever. Second, at exactly the same time, ACDA's very survival has hung in the balance.
And during all that time, with all that pressure, I've marveled at how ACDA's people have always found the extra measure of energy, of focus, of determination, to pour into the NPT extension, the CWC, START implementation, the test ban, or whatever the issue -- even while they were taking shots from behind.
That is a reflection of ACDA's character, built up over all its 35 years. And it suggests that if you have a really hard, complicated job to do, this is the Agency -- these are the people -- to go to.
It has been my privilege at ACDA to walk in the footprints of giants -- and also to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them every day.