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1:00AM

The loss of a personal mentor and eminent defense thinker

An old friend, mentor, frequent boss, and co-author, Dr. Gary Federici died recently.

Here is his obit via the Washington Post:

FEDERICI GARY A. FEDERICI, Ph.D. Dr. Gary A. Federici passed away October 20th after a brief illness. He was born in Wareham, MA, on July 28, 1950. Gary was the son of Bernice E. Federici of Wareham, and graduated from Bishop Stang High School, in North Dartmouth. He received his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from U of Mass Lowell, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Syracuse University. Dr. Federici was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Information Operations and Space in September 2004. In his role, Dr. Federici served as the principal advisor for space-related acquisition matters along with related business enterprise acquisition programs and information technology and resources management. In that capacity he provided acquisition guidance, oversight, and policy expertise for both the Navy and Marine Corps planning and programming staffs to ensure acquisition programs remained viable in funding of requirements, schedule and performance to reduce acquisition volatility. Over a 30-year period, Dr. Federici played a substantial role in shaping Navy policy on space and in developing tactical applications of C4ISR and space systems. He was instrumental in moving national security space systems products into mainstream naval operations, and in encouraging the Navy to participate fully in the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and other national security space and intelligence activities. In 2003, the Secretary of the Navy awarded him the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. The Director, National Reconnaissance Office/Under Secretary of the Air Force awarded him the NRO Medal of Distinguished Service in 2004. Dr. Federici received the Department of the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal posthumously from the Secretary of the Navy. In addition to his mother, Bernice, Gary is survived by his cousin Diana L. Sosnowski (Tead), his uncle David F. Barry and numerous loving family members, friends and co-workers. There will be a mass at St. Patrick's Church at 82 High Street in Wareham, MA, on October 30, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. followed by a burial service and reception. Remembrances in Gary's name may be made to the American Heart Association . A Navy memorial service in the Washington, DC area will be held on December 10, 2010.

When I first met Gary at the Center for Naval Analyses in the early 1990s, he was this wonderfully mysterious figure who spent most of his time elsewhere in unnamed and unmentionable activities (i.e., working for NRO before its existence was acknowledged). Gary had a wonderful sense of humor, and was an amazing banterer. He always greeted the same mock-serious way, lowering his head and intoning deeply in his distinctive Cape Cod accent, "DOC-tor Bar-NETT!"  I would always reply, "DOC-tor FED-e-ri-ci!" and then we'd chuckle.  Gary was always self-deprecating about coming from what he saw as humble roots (I believe his people were in cranberries), and he liked that I came from a small town in Nowhere Wisconsin.  So I guess he always liked to celebrate, in that small way, our high academic achievements, as if it still tickled--daily--to consider how far he'd come.

Gary was a huge mentor to me, teaching me untold things about the defense bureaucracy.  He was more intelligent and knowledgable about the Pentagon bureaucracy (factions, wings, movements, etc.) than anybody I've ever met.  Gary's genius was in producing great work--in the movie sense.  He'd assemble the right mix of stars, shape the story and the sponsor's expectations, and then manage it all deftly from his desk, where he rarely sat because he tended to be in perpetual schmoozing motion.  Gary rarely wrote much himself and yet every sentence in every document ever created under him bore some light touch of his.  He was always saying, "You know, I was thinking, we need to get something in the piece about . . .."  

Gary was a social animal of the highest order, and he worked a room with the best.  You always felt better about yourself--no matter the moment--after interacting with him.  He had that glorious, loving touch--a generosity of spirit that is truly rare in the world.  You couldn't help but smile whenever you saw Gary, because he would almost always grin when he saw you--and chuckle like it was a game. Spotting him in elevators and doing our "Dr." drill was a highlight of many of my days at CNA.

Gary simply fascinated me from day one almost two decades ago, and it delighted me to no end to have a short F2F with him in his Pentagon office this summer, and later a nice long lunch at the SECNAV mess. 

Gary's illness and passing were relatively sudden, meaning nobody saw this coming.

I will miss Gary's voice most of all, and especially his personal advice to me regarding my creativity.  Rarely a day goes by when I don't consider his very wise words.  My favorite moments with Gary were actually over the phone. When I worked with him in the mid-1990s on a series of IT-related CNA research docs (to include a fabulous two-week stint with him in Panama for a SOUTHCOM classified intell exercise and two week-long stints out in Hawaii for PACOM command post exercises), he would often call me on Sunday mornings and we'd talk for a couple of hours about . . . just about everything.  I loved his accent, and I love hearing it echo in my RI-born son Jerry's voice today.  It almost always makes me laugh and think of Gary.

For my memory, what I wrote with and for Gary at CNA:

  • Information Warfare Training in Tempo Brave 96:  The Dog That Did Not Bark, by Gary A. Federici and Thomas P.M. Barnett, CNA Annotated Briefing 96-106, March 1997, Center for Naval Analyses.
  • Digital Weave:  Future Trends in Navigation, Telecommunications, and Computing, by Thomas P.M. Barnett and Pat A. Pentland, CNA Annotated Briefing 98-52, June 1998, Center for Naval Analyses.
  • Global Alternative Futures and the NRO, unattributed [but done by me anonymously while a Naval War College professor], CNA Working Paper 99-772, June 1999, Center for Naval Analyses.
  • Moving Military Space Past the Peer Competitor Paradigm:  Is Space a Mission, a Medium or the Message? G.A. Federici (Editor) [I wrote it anonymously again], CNA Professional Paper 549, November 1999, Center for Naval Analyses.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins of Network-Centric Warfare:  A Devil's Advocate Looks at Global 98, by Thomas P.M. Barnett, CNA Occasional Paper, September 1998, Center for Naval Analyses. [this became the later Proceedings article, easily the most influential thing I had ever written up to that point].

When Gary and I met this last summer, he said he still pulled these docs out in his work in the Pentagon and used them, a notion that made us both laugh hard over our navy bean soup.

For me, Gary was legitimately one of those guys where I can say, I wouldn't be where I am today if he hadn't entered my life.  I genuinely loved him like a brother, as did my incredibly discerning wife (whom he'd chat up to no end if he caught me out of the house one of those Sunday mornings, as Vonne spent several years working on the Cape).  

Gary will be greatly missed from our lives.  Just one of the coolest guys I've ever come across.

Reader Comments (1)

Tom,

Thanks for the post on Gary. My wife and I are deeply saddened to hear of his passing. We both had the pleasure of working with him during our years at CNA. Your post beautifully describes what an incredible person he was.

I remember the first time I met him. He had on a dark suit with a white dress shirt, unbuttoned about half way down. Underneath his shirt he had on three or four gold necklaces/medallions. After 20 years, I still have that picture of him in my head. And the voice. I can still hear his voice to this day.

Thanks again for the post. Gary will be greatly missed by many.

October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Ossege

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