WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2010 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today presided over a ceremony at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that put in place the first woman to head a major U.S. intelligence agency.
Gates said Letitia Long’s 30 years in engineering and intelligence made her the right choice to lead the agency. Gates chose Long, then deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in February to head NGA, replacing Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, who served as NGA’s director since 2006.
The secretary presented Murrett with the Distinguished Service Medal in a ceremony today at NGA’s new headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Gates noted his special interest in NGA. As CIA director in 1992, he wanted to create the agency then, and helped to put the processes in place that led eight federal agencies to become the National Imagery and Mapping agency in 1996, the predecessor to the current NGA.
The impact of NGA on U.S. national security is real, Gates said, “and is making a big difference in the lives of our men and women in uniform.”
The NGA has provided a “common operating picture” for operations such as earthquake relief in Haiti and oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, Gates said. Also, he said, the agency is helping officials at all levels of government make informed choices with the most up-to-date equipment and analysis.
“This organization has grown into a critical link in the nation’s national intelligence apparatus,” Gates said. “To the men and women of NGA, I’m grateful for your service and what you do every day to protect our country.”
James R. Clapper Jr., a former NGA director and President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the director of national intelligence, also spoke at the ceremony, saying the work of Gates and others in creating the agency “allowed us to collaborate, focus outward, and deploy forward.”
That focus and collaboration has made NGA “the world experts at imagery, imagery intelligence and mapping,” Clapper said. “We are in so many settings, so many places around the world.”
For her part, Long said she is “excited by the opportunity to build on the firm foundation that NGA’s four former directors have provided.” The agency will continue to build on its partnerships in the military and intelligence communities “to benefit our nation and the warfighters,” she said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)