Meet the New Boss of the NSA. Same as the Old Boss?

Vice Adm. Michael Rogers will take the helm at a crucial time for the agency.

The new NSA Data Center on October 8, 2013 in Bluffdale, Utah.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
Jan. 30, 2014, 6:47 p.m.

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.

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