Nakasone ’86 confirmed to head National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command

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April 30, 2018

Paul NakasoneSaint John’s University graduate Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone was confirmed by the Senate April 24 to become director of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

Nakasone, 54, will succeed Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, who is retiring. The new assignment also comes with a promotion to four-star general. A change-of-command ceremony is scheduled for May 4, according to the Washington Post newspaper.

The National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command have shared a leader since the Pentagon launched Cyber Command in 2009.

Nakasone is a 1986 graduate of SJU with a degree in economics. Nakasone received his commission in the Army through the ROTC program.

“SJU and CSB provided me with an idea or framework for thinking,” Nakasone said in a CSB/SJU online story posted in 2015, when he visited SJU for the unveiling of the Military Honor Roll. “Life isn’t made up of multiple choice questions and answers. It’s really made up of being able to look at a lot of data, examine it and make creative solutions from it.

“Secondly (attending CSB and SJU) gave me a rich feeling of my faith, in terms of who I was and a sense of compassion. Thirdly, it gave me a tremendous amount of friends. My closest friends are from the Class of 1986 and 1985 of Saint John’s University.”

Nakasone has held command and staff positions across all levels of the Army with assignments in the U.S., the Republic of Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, he was chief of Army Cyber Command, a post he held since 2016. In that role, he also directed Joint Task Force Ares, a special unit that develops digital weapons to attack and disrupt the Islamic State’s online operations, Politico reported.

Nakasone has twice worked as a staff officer to the Joint Staffs of Staff. He has received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star, among other awards and decorations.

His ascension comes as the United States faces strategic threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, the Post reported.

The NSA has about 38,000 civilian and military personnel, and about 17,000 contractors providing support. Cybercom has about 7,000 personnel, the Post reported.