President Biden will nominate Harry Coker to be the country’s next national cyber director to replace Chris Inglis, who resigned earlier this year, the White House said.
Who is Harry Coker?
Coker is regarded as a senior national security leader and commands more than four decades of public service, including in leadership positions in the U.S. Navy, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).
From 2017 to 2019, Coker served as the Executive Director of the NSA, where he helped lead and manage the U.S. intelligence community, and prior to that, as the Director of Open Source Enterprise in the CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation.
He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security and as an outside advisor for private cyber and technology companies.
Coker served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy in various positions, including as a surface warfare officer at sea, an engineering duty officer, and in the Intelligence Community. He is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School and Georgetown University Law Center.
Biden Cyber Strategy is Top Priority
If confirmed, Coker’s primary task is likely to be implementing Biden’s national cyber strategy published in March along with the recently unveiled implementation blueprint.
Kemba Walden, who was the principal deputy under Inglis, has served as acting director since he left his post.
Biden received some pressure from Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who in May wrote to the president urging him to move quickly on a nomination. The lawmakers suggested that Biden nominate Walden, calling her “highly qualified” and “well suited” for the position, and they believed that she would quickly be confirmed. But some personal complications reportedly scuttled her nomination.
Inglis was the nation’s first national cyber director and said his goal in the position was to establish the bureau and leave it on solid ground. His appointment to the slot followed years of calls from all corners to create the cybersecurity leadership position in the U.S. federal government to present cohesion to how the executive branch builds cyber defenses and response policies.
Inglis stepped into the new role as pressure mounted on security officials to respond more forcefully to cyber aggression by foreign adversaries.