President Biden has nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh to serve as the new head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Cyber Command (CyberCom), according to an Air Force notice viewed by Politico.
Haugh currently serves as the deputy commander of CyberCom.
Filling U.S. Cybersecurity Leadership Void
The notice, obtained by Politico, was sent out on Monday and is titled “General Officer Nomination.” It said the President has nominated Haugh to the Senate for promotion to four-star general and assignment to the dual role, and confirmed Haugh's nomination with an Air Force official.
Gen. Paul Nakasone, who currently heads both the NSA and CyberCom, is widely expected to retire later this summer. His exit and the recent departure of federal cyber czar Chris Inglis has sparked some concern among legislators that the gaps in leadership will leave the nation susceptible to adversarial cyberattacks. Nakasone has served for five years as head of the NSA and Cyber Command.
Kemba Walden, deputy national cyber director, has thus far served as Inglis’s interim replacement.
Legislators Praise Nomination
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) have criticized Biden for the slow pace of replacements for both Nakasone and Inglis, praised Haugh’s nomination to fill both security slots. In a statement to The Hill, Gallagher said that while Nakasone leaves “big shoes to fill,” he believes Haugh can build on General Nakasone’s “successes and strengthen” U.S. cyber defenses.
Gallagher said Haugh’s nomination is only “half of the equation.” President Biden must take the “long overdue step” of nominating Walden to serve as national cyber director, he said.
Gallagher and King had previously written a letter to Biden expressing their concern regarding the empty national cyber director’s chair. They were “extremely concerned” that the continued delay to fill the position could “hinder the implementation” of the national cyber strategy, The Hill reported.
Gallagher went so far as to scold the White House for “moving unacceptably slow” to nominate a new national cyber director. The position is Senate-confirmed and could take months to fill.
In explaining that the national cyber director is the “only position tasked with “delivering and moving forward” a national cyber strategy, “each day the position goes unfilled is a day wasted” to implement the President’s cyber plan, Gallagher said.