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When it comes to understanding the U.S. Intelligence Community’s most pressing issues, I offer a unique perspective—I’ve lived them. I am a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Army, served as the Army’s senior intelligence officer, and retired as a three-star general.
An optimist by nature, my approach to client engagement as the firm’s lead for the military intelligence business is inspired by my drive to serve.
I love being part of something that could collectively make a difference far more than you could do by yourself.
Bob Noonan is the chief security officer of Booz Allen’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) military intelligence account. His work supports DIA, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the armed services, and combatant commands.
His expertise lies primarily in the following areas:
Bob is a member of the firm’s risk board and the sponsor of the Booz Allen Armed Services and Military Spouses Forums. He has spoken on ISR issues at numerous conferences and symposiums. He currently sits on the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association intelligence committee and the advisory board for the George Mason University College of Education and Human Development. Previously, he served on the U.S. Army science board, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance board of directors, and the advisory board for the Knollwood Distaff Foundation.
Bob is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general with 35 years of service, primarily in the intelligence field. Prior to joining Booz Allen, he held the following Army and Joint Staff leadership and management positions: U.S. Army deputy chief of staff (G2), intelligence; commanding general for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command; and director of intelligence (J2), U.S. Central Command.
He has a B.A. in government and international relations from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from Western New England College. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.
Tell me about a moment in your life that influenced the direction of your personal life or career. I’m a Vietnam veteran; I think the Vietnam experience, and the subsequent 30 plus years in the Army, really influenced me. It matured me. I went to Vietnam when I was 22 years old, came back when I was 23, but I felt like I was a lot older in the way I looked at the world and relationships with people. My military experience nurtured my love of our country and I love the idea of service to the nation.
How does your Army experience help you work with your clients? After 35 years, I think I’m recognized as a subject-matter expert in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance business. They think, “This guy understands the challenges we are facing because he’s faced them before.” The basic problems we have in the world have been around a long time, so it’s about how provide better intelligence to support national and military decision-makers. Additionally, I’ve used contractors before soI’ve learned from my own mistakes and successes as to how to deliver quality results.
What are your clients’ most pressing challenges? Our clients have the responsibility to help protect national security. The are all responsible for providing timely all-source intelligence to decision makers. Those decision makers in peace time can be making the right decisions to advise the national command authority on actions that need to be taken to deter threats. If that doesn’t work, and we have to go to war, it’s providing the right intelligence at the right time to the right commanders, so that they can achieve their mission to defeat the enemy with minimal loss to U.S. life.
How do you personally help allay the fears or concerns of your clients? We tell them we will provide them with a world-class analytical and technical workforce. We tell them we’re not just here to provide you with people, although that’s often what they just want. We encourage them to think of us as partners. So, it’s delivering from day one and building trust, and you build trust by providing results and bringing in really smart people and putting them in front of the clients and saying here’s what else we can do for you. That goes a long way. This idea of collective ingenuity—clients know if they have a tough problem, Booz Allen can help them solve it.
Why did you choose Booz Allen? What impressed me, and still does, is the culture. What I saw here is this view of collaboration—people are expected to help each other. The idea is that we can all work together on a tough problem, regardless of what account you’re in. That’s exciting; you’re not restricted because of organizational constraints. I’ve always been a big believer in that kind of problem solving. I’ve been here since 2003 and learn something new every day.
What advice do you give to someone looking to take on a leadership role? First, understand what it means to lead, because leading isn’t managing. Management is more about process and leadership is more about people. Leadership is influencing people and organizations to do things that they would not do on their own. When I talk to people about leadership, I tell them you’ve got to step up, you’ve got to take an introspective look at yourself: How do you stack up, what kind of person are you, what kind of leadership style do you want to have? You’ve got to take a look at yourself and be willing to change You’ve got to expand your network, get ready for change, and identify and, most importantly, decide what needs to occur.
Outside of work, what is your passion? I have two kids, six perfect grandchildren and I’ve been married to the same woman for 44 years, so I’m big on family. I’m also a passionate Notre Dame and Patriots fan, like to do things outdoors, and travel.