President Obama has chosen Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers as the new director of the embattled National Security Agency as his administration begins working to implement a bevy of surveillance reforms, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Rogers currently runs the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and will take the over the reins of the NSA from Gen. Keith Alexander, who will resign his post March 14. Alexander is the longest-serving head of the intelligence agency and was the first to oversee both the NSA and Cyber Command.
“This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Admiral Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama’s reforms,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. “I am also confident that Admiral Rogers has the wisdom to help balance the demands of security, privacy, and liberty in our digital age.”
Rogers can be appointed directly to head the NSA, but he will require Senate approval to be given a four-star rank and subsequently be eligible to be named head of Cyber Command. Rogers currently has three stars to his name.
Rogers is a cryptologist with 30 years of Navy experience to his resume who, unlike his predecessors, possesses heavy experience in code-breaking. The selection comes as little surprise to most observers who have long seen Rogers as the most likely pick to succeed Alexander.
Obama additionally plans to appoint Richard Ledgett as the next deputy director of the NSA, the agency’s highest ranking civilian post. Ledgett currently serves as the agency’s chief operating officer.
“Ahead of General Alexander’s retirement in March and following Chris Inglis’ recent departure, the President believes Admiral Rogers and Rick Ledgett are the right people to provide experienced and principled leadership for the NSA moving forward, including in implementing the reforms he announced on January 17,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
In December of last year a presidential review board recommended splitting the the authority of the NSA and Cyber Command. Obama flatly rejected the suggestion before the group’s report became public.