By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
FORT MEADE, Md., April 3, 2014 – Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers assumed command of U.S. Cyber Command and became director of the National Security Agency and the Central Security Service during a ceremony here today.
He succeeds Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who retired last week, in all three posts. Previously, Rogers was commander of the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the service’s cyber arm. He has already been confirmed by the Senate.
Michael G. Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said Rogers is the right man for the job during a challenging time, and that the NSA has been central to America’s national security.
“The work is not done,” he said. “The security challenges we face today are complex and growing, our adversaries are determined. And when the lives of our nation’s citizens are at stake, failure is not an option.”
Rogers called for a moment of silence during today’s ceremony for “our Army teammates who are facing a great tragedy at Fort Hood.”
The admiral takes the reins at a time of tremendous turmoil in the intelligence community, as thousands of documents published on Wikileaks and others released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden detailing highly classified NSA surveillance operations have caused an uproar. Rogers alluded to that when he said friends told him, “Congratulations, I guess,” when they heard of his new job.
But the still youthful-looking admiral said he had no compunction about taking the posts, “because I believe in the mission of the National Security Agency and I believe in the mission of the United States Cyber Command.”
The admiral noted that for his entire naval career, he has been associated with cyber warriors and he stressed his faith in the men and women of NSA and Cybercom.
“I believe in you,” he said. “I’ve had the honor of working with many of you for almost my entire adult life. I love the people I’ve had the pleasure of serving with and I am honored to be a member of your team.”
Rogers said he has known for a long time that he was being groomed for the jobs he assumed today. “I’m aware of what the department has invested in me,” he said. That, he added, led him to his final reason for wanting the job.
He said he told his wife, Dana, “Now it’s payback time. What kind of leader, what kind of teammate would I be if I turned my back? I don’t pretend for a minute that I’m the only person who could do this job. But this is the time for payback, I am not going to owe them.”
Rogers stressed that the key to success in the future will be about partnerships.
“The most important partnership for all of us will be that between U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency,” he said. “We need each other to execute our missions. That’s why we’re together the way we are, that’s why we have the structure, and I believe in that structure.”
Partnership must extend beyond DOD, the admiral said. The organizations must strengthen partnerships with the FBI, the Homeland Security and Justice departments and the director of national intelligence, “but even more broadly than that,” he said.
Rogers also said he wants greater cooperation with partner nations. The organizations work closely with Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, he noted, but he said he wants to work with a broader world of partner and allied nations. “The key to success, I believe, in the [signals intelligence] and cyber worlds of the 21st century is all about building strong collaboration and being good partners,” he said.
He noted that these are challenging times for the organizations. “I love challenges,” he said, “because I believe that challenge and change represents opportunity, and I love opportunity.”
The organizations have the opportunity to create “something even better, that’s focused not only on the challenges of today, but what people will need in five to 10 years to succeed,” the admiral said.
Rogers said he will squarely accept the challenge of regaining the trust of some Americans “who don’t believe us,” and he pledged to “engage in a dialogue with the citizens of our nation about what we do and why we do it.”
There has not been a discussion about the role of NSA with the public, he acknowledged. “We live in a world of great risk,” he said. “There are individuals, groups out there who, if they had their way, we would not longer exist as a nation. The very values and ideals that we represent are offensive to them and stand against everything they believe in. We need to be mindful of that, and we can’t forget.”
Rogers said there will be strict adherence to law and policy in the cyber world. “There are no shortcuts here, teammates,” he said. “The nation places its trust in us. It has given us great resources and it counts on us to do the right thing, the right way to defend them.”
Americans don’t know the specifics of what the organizations do, “but they want to trust us,” Rogers said. “If we make mistakes we will stand up and hold ourselves accountable and responsible,” he added.