Letitia Long, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, has announced she is retiring after a 35-year career in government service, the past four of which she spent leading the agency responsible for the creation and collection of geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT.
The announcement came Monday from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who tapped deputy director of national intelligence for intelligence integration Robert Cardillo to officially replace Long in October 2014.
Long oversaw a growing agency that has doubled in size since 2004 and last year had a budget of $5 billion.
The agency’s growth is largely attributed to the increasing importance of GEOINT. Long – one of the most recognized faces in the intelligence community – helped take the agency from being a producer of static products like old-school maps to layered geospatial intelligence products necessary for today’s digital environment.
Her stated goal since becoming the first woman to head a major intelligence agency in 2010 was to create "immersive intelligence,” and under her leadership, NGA rolled out Map of the World, one of the most important platforms in the intelligence community. Map of the World is a platform for all geo-intelligence, multisource content and knowledge, and it additionally stores all analysis and data reporting as well.
Map of the World allows analysts to focus on particular geographic points in time or targets and see what is happening through multiple layers of intelligence. Some layers may be of classified nature while others may contain open data such as weather information, wind speeds and the like.
NGA has also had a lead role carrying out ODNI’s Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise initiative, not only in its geospatial efforts but in developing a common desktop and application suite with the Defense Intelligence Agency that will soon promulgate the IC.
NGA was also the first intelligence agency to join in the development of open-source software, making available software that facilitates communication between first responders during disasters like hurricanes. In times of disaster, NGA supports FEMA and other domestic agencies to improve situational awareness, response times and recovery efforts.
Long’s future plans remain unclear, but Pentagon officials offered high praise for her and her replacement.
“Tish Long and Robert Cardillo both have led the transformation of intelligence to address the complex global strategic challenges we face as a nation,” said Dr. Mike Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence. “They both have ensured intelligence is relevant to the needs of its important customers – from the president to the warfighter. I congratulate Tish on her successful tenure and very much look forward to having Robert’s leadership and talent for the important work ahead at NGA.”
Cardillo, who in his current role delivers daily intelligence briefings to President Barack Obama, will follow Long for a second time. In 2010, he succeeded her as DIA’s deputy director when she departed for NGA.
"He is bringing this wealth of experience to the helm at NGA, and I expect NGA to continue on its rising trajectory under his leadership," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement.