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NSA21: Facing Challenges With Innovation, Integration

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The National Security Agency (NSA) has launched a comprehensive campaign to ensure NSA maintains its position as the world’s preeminent foreign signals intelligence and information assurance organization. The vision and framework for this initiative, known as NSA21 – meaning NSA in the 21st Century – was unveiled to the agency earlier this year by NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers, in an address to the agency’s workforce.

NSA21 is the result of an effort by the NSA workforce which, together with the agency’s leaders at all levels, collectively sought to answer a critical question Rogers asked early in his tenure: “How do we ensure the same or higher level of success five to 10 years into the future?”

Foreign threats to the national security are complex and evolving. As it has done throughout its history, NSA regularly assesses its processes and structure to make sure the agency is optimized to defend the nation.

In other words, NSA is always dedicated to staying ahead of current and anticipated threats.

The launch of NSA21 is the beginning of a forward-leaning, decisive response. It is a two-year plan to position the agency to meet increasingly complicated challenges stemming from the proliferation of asymmetric threats to national security, the rapid evolution of the global communications network, fast-growing demand for NSA’s products and services and the continuing evolution of its cyber mission.

Drawing on the results of workforce surveys, focus groups, and hundreds of interviews with internal and external stakeholders, NSA21 centers on three key themes.

People. The workforce is its most important asset. NSA will invest in and enhance career-development and leadership programs.

Integration. To achieve mission success, NSA21 will continue to operate as a cohesive global enterprise. As NSA’s workforce evolves, so will the way a keen sense of unity at NSA is built, in order to allow each and every employee to strongly identify with the agency and its mission.

Innovation. It has been in NSA’s DNA since its founding 63 years ago. It will harness the innovative spirit of its world-class workforce to overcome current and future mission challenges.

Six new directorates, taking shape during the coming months, will provide a renewed operating framework and address the three themes and implement related initiatives. The directorates are in the areas of workforce and support activities, business management and acquisition, engagement and policy, operations, capabilities and research. NSA’s core missions of foreign signals intelligence and information assurance remain unchanged.

The “new structure will enable us to consolidate capabilities and talents to ensure that we’re using all of our resources to maximum effect to accomplish our mission, and to make sure that each of you has the opportunity to grow and develop in your career at NSA,” said Rogers, in his workforce address. That mission includes the following.

  • Thwarting terrorists
  • Enhancing cybersecurity
  • Protecting the warfighter
  • Containing, controlling and protecting strategic weapons

At NSA, it’s an around-the-clock mission, and it is not getting any easier. The agency is embarking on this comprehensive, integrated campaign to be primed for success during the next decade and beyond.

“A chance like this, to take part in building something this important, doesn’t come along every day,” Rogers said. “I feel privileged to be working on it with you. I’m excited about the possibilities that NSA21 will open for us as we move forward.”