NGA’s new leader to focus on expanding agency’s capabilities

Longtime National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency leader Letitia Long retired from government last week after 36 years, including the last four as the director o...

A short trip into the DoD Reporter’s notebook this week as there was a change of leadership ceremony at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that’s worth mentioning.

Letitia Long retired from government after 36 years, including the last four as the director of NGA. My colleague Jared Serbu has a must-listen to interview with Long before she left on his On DoD program.

Robert Cardillo takes over for Long, coming back to NGA after spending the last four years as the first deputy director for intelligence integration in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Part of Cardillo’s job was to brief President Barack Obama every day on intelligence risks and actions.

Now, Cardillo will oversee an agency whose mission and value have grown considerably over the last five years.

“It’s been no accident, no coincidence that GEOINT has matured as a collection discipline at the same time NGA has matured as an institution,” said James Clapper, the director of national intelligence at the Oct. 3 change of directorship ceremony in Springfield, Virginia. “Under Tish’s magnificent leadership, over the past four years this tremendous NGA workforce has realized Tish’s vision, to put GEOINT into the hands of mission partners. You are actually doing things that we only dreamed and talked about when I was director. I believe Tish’s best accomplishment, her greatest legacy, is this superb workforce that she’s entrusting to Robert today. This workforce under Tish’s leadership has truly made GEOINT a professional discipline.”

Cardillo outlined some of his priorities and focus areas in a press conference after the ceremony.

“My predecessors … have built a foundation now of intimate customer support, dedicated civil service and an aggressive, interactive and dynamic intelligence information service,” he said. “What do I want to do with all that? I want to take it to the next level. What is the next level? We need to build on top of those capabilities and create an even more enhanced conversation with our customers in order to lead them into the future.”

Cardillo said given the broad commercialization of geospatial data and given the opportunities out there, NGA can lead them into a better place — a decision, a military action or the movement of a piece of equipment.

As for Long, she didn’t say what her plans are except to take a vacation on a beach somewhere. Long told Jared Serbu she plans to stay in the community with a focus on ensuring women are involved in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

Long, who followed in her father’s footsteps as a career intelligence official, will be remembered as much for being the first woman to head a major intelligence agency — breaking the so-called glass ceiling — as for her focus on workforce development and intelligence integration of GEOINT across the community.

“We have pursued our vision relentlessly. Together, we have transformed NGA from a static product producer into a provider of dynamic content, analysis and knowledge,” Long said. “Together we have proved the transcendent value of GEOINT and met our customers’ needs with exceptional tradecraft. Together we have set NGA on an irrevocable course as a driver of intelligence integration, creating new value for our mission partners and enabling their mission success.”

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.

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