USA — Gates Praises Incoming, Outgoing Intel Leaders

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)

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