William Owens

Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Expert on U.S.-China Relations
William Owens

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Admiral Bill Owens is the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking military officer in the United States. He is the current chairman of AEA Investors ASIA; the executive chairman of Prometheus, Beijing, which specializes in cross-border investment collaboration between China and abroad; and the vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for Asia. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has been active in philanthropy to foster Chinese-American relations, including continuing dialogues between senior economists and officers in both militaries. Owens is an expert on U.S.-China relations, and he helps Asian organizations break into the U.S. and American companies navigate the Chinese business environment. He shares his unique background to discuss the U.S.-China relationship, telecommunications, national and cyber security, America’s military spending, and the business implications of these issues in a global marketplace.

Accomplished Admiral. Owens had responsibility for the reorganization and restructuring of the armed forces in the post-Cold War era. Widely recognized for bringing commercial high technology into the Department of Defense for military applications, Owens was the architect of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), an advanced systems technology approach to military operations that is the most significant change in the system of requirements, budgets, and technology for the four armed forces since World War II.

Owens long career in the military includes serving as the deputy chief of naval operations for resources, warfare requirements and assessments. He was commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and the senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney. Owens has written more than 50 articles on national security and authored two books, High Seas and Lifting the Fog of War.

Telecomm Pioneer and Businessman. Owens is the former CEO and vice chairman of Nortel Networks. Under his leadership, Nortel was reestablished as a strong, stable, ethical Fortune 500 company. Prior to joining Nortel in 2004, Owens was the CEO and chairman of Teledesic, a company that brings worldwide broadband through an extensive satellite network, and before that, he was the president, chief operating officer, and vice chairman of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). He is also currently the chairman of CenturyLink Telecom (the third largest telecoms company in the U.S.) and has founded five technology companies; Lumera, Extend America, Amerilink, Yangtze, and Prometheus.

Accolades. In 2004, Bill Owens received the Intrepid Salute Award in recognition of his business achievements and support of important philanthropic activities. He has been awarded the Legion d’Honore by France and Indonesia’s and Sweden’s the highest awards given to foreign citizens. Owens is the 1996 David Sarnoff Award winner for his contribution to advanced technology. He was also recognized as one of “The 50 Most Powerful People in Networking” by Network World.

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Adm. Bill Owens: Innovation and Leadership

Adm. Bill Owens: U.S. Partnership With China

The China-U.S. Relationship. The China-U.S. relationship may be the most important relationship for the future of the world. Admiral Bill Owens, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, takes a look at the relationship between the two countries from an economic, political, and national security point of view and discusses where we are today and where we are headed. He takes a particular interest in the economic and national security perspectives (the latter is getting more precarious) and answers the questions, “What should we do?” “Whose fault is it?” and “Can we understand, can we trust?”

Living and Doing Business in China from an American Perspective. Is this a great opportunity or a minefield? The former CEO of Nortel and current chairman of AEA Investors ASIA takes a look at how private companies compete and co-exist with state-owned enterprises in China. Owens posits frequently asked questions like: “Are they Communist?” “Can I trust them?” “Who are they (Buddhist, Atheist, Confucian, Maoist?)” “What will it be like when their economy is larger than ours?” He shares his personal experiences and delivers insights into these and other concerns.

A National Security “Walk Around the World.” The former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff takes his audience on a global tour of the great security risks and the players with the power to effect change. Adm. Bill Owens discusses how old thinking needs to be replaced with a new paradigm and uses the Middle East “post social networking/Arab Spring” as a pointed example. He delivers insights on trouble spots around the world from Egypt, Israel, and Syria to the state of Iraq and Iran post U.S. departure. Owens touches on the question of NATO and whether the U.S. and Europe share a common interest? Finally he reminds audiences to take a hard look at South America and Mexico right in our own back yard.

The “Revolution in Military Affairs.” Adm. Bill Owens describes the new American approach to “Lifting the Fog of War.” Is U.S. military power measured in how much we spend? Is it measured on how many ships, tanks or airplanes, or troops we possess or is it measured in whether we “see the battlefield and ensure that ‘the enemy’ does not?” As a key member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff responsible for the downsizing of the military after the Cold War, Owens discusses how our activity in Iraq and Afghanistan has ballooned the budget back where it was before the cuts. He delivers insights into the politics and decision-making behind these issues and whether we are doing what is right for America.

Information Technology. The “cloud,” cyber wars, digital security – are we ready? Who is the “enemy?” Would a national cyber attack be worse than a nuclear attack? Who is in charge of our defenses? Adm. Owens combines his high-level military experience and his telecomm industry expertise to discuss the perils facing today’s businesses and the future of telecomm including insights on privacy, security, and the policies needed to protect today’s marketplace.

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