5 February 1999. Thanks to Richard Lardner.
Inside the Pentagon, February 4, 1999
By Richard Lardner
Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Hayden has emerged as the leading candidate to take over as director of the National Security Agency, the Defense Department component that handles the nation's code-making and code-breaking duties.
If nominated and confirmed, Hayden would replace Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan, who retires next month. The NSA post is a three-star billet, which means Hayden would be due for another star.
Sources also report that Rear Adm. Thomas Wilson, the Joint Staff's intelligence chief, is the favorite to replace Army Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Hayden now serves as deputy chief of staff, U.S. Forces Korea. Prior to that assignment, he was commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, both headquartered at Kelly AFB, TX. Hayden has also held senior staff positions in the Pentagon, U.S. European Command, and National Security Council.
If nominated, Hayden would take over an agency that is trying to transform itself to deal with a world in which sophisticated information systems are ubiquitous. NSA is working to modernize its signals collection operation, and at the same time cultivate a workforce attuned to today's technical challenges. Neither task is easy, and there never seems to be enough money to do it all, observers say (Inside the Pentagon, Nov. 5, 1998, p1).
In an Aug. 14, 1998, e-mail announcing his retirement as NSA chief, Minihan noted the agency has been "confronted with a tidal wave of new technologies and transnational threats which some believed threatened our very existence." During the remainder of his term, Minihan said, he would "continue to advocate the investment our modernization demands."
Ironically, Minihan added in his e-mail message he was announcing his retirement six months ahead of schedule to give officials at the Pentagon and the White House enough time "to identify a new director, have the person confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and allow for a smooth transition into our most important job at a very critical time."
A change of command ceremony at NSA has been scheduled for March 15. At press time, however, no formal announcement on who would succeed Minihan had been made by DOD or the White House.
Because Minihan has been at the helm since February 1996, most observers expected that an Army or Navy officer would get the nod, consistent with an unwritten rule that says senior "joint" slots should be rotated among the services. Indeed, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the Army's deputy chief for intelligence, was initially thought to be a front-runner. The Army leadership, however, may have four-star plans for Kennedy, which preclude her from taking the NSA post, sources say.
Wilson took over as the Joint Staff's director for intelligence in March 1998. He has also served as the vice director for intelligence on the Joint Staff as well as associate director of central intelligence for military support.
Rear Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of naval intelligence, is also mentioned as a contender for the DIA post.