Air Force General Tapped to Replace Nakasone at Cyber Command, NSA

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh, Twenty-Fifth Air Force commander, presents first remarks during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 29, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sharon Singleton)

President Joe Biden has chosen an Air Force general to be the next head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

An Air Force official confirmed Tuesday that Biden nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, currently the deputy commander of Cyber Command at Fort Meade in Maryland. Biden's pick will be sent to the Senate, which must approve the nomination.

Haugh, if confirmed, will replace Gen. Paul Nakasone, who has served as the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command since May 2018.

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Haugh will be the first Air Force general to head the NSA since Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden led the agency between 1999 and 2005, as well as the first Air Force general to fill the dual-hatted role since it started including the duties of also leading Cyber Command in 2010.

Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and dean of the nonprofit Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told on Tuesday that Haugh's appointment is notable because many top leadership positions are dominated by services such as the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

"For two decades, you've had a Pentagon leadership, from the military perspective, that's been dominated by the surface services," Deptula said. "If you look at this holistically, it's about time."

Deptula also praised Haugh's background and said, if confirmed, he will take Nakasone's initiatives to the next level.

Haugh's more than 30-year career in the Air Force started in 1991 when he was commissioned as an officer through the ROTC program at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

His past leadership roles include serving as the commander of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia; as the commander of the 318th Cyberspace Operations Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; and as the director of intelligence at U.S. Cyber Command.

U.S. Cyber Command is a unified combatant command focusing on protecting the Defense Department's networks, as well as defending against cyber attacks from foreign enemies. The National Security Agency is tasked with collecting intelligence from around the world.

Neither Cyber Command nor the NSA immediately returned a request for comment on Haugh's nomination. The White House also did not immediately return a email seeking comment.

Haugh's confirmation could take some time in the Senate, especially as Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala,, continues his months-long hold on hundreds of military nominees.

Haugh's nomination comes at a time when the Air Force is under intense scrutiny following the arrest of an Air National Guardsman who allegedly leaked classified and sensitive information online.

The Air Force is conducting an internal investigation into how Jack Teixeira obtained the sensitive information, which included photos of numerous classified defense documents pertaining to operations in the Ukraine war, as well as U.S. surveillance efforts around the world, federal officials claim.

The nomination also comes as other Air Force officials are being eyed for top leadership positions.

Gen. Charles "C.Q." Brown is widely seen as the frontrunner and Biden's likely nominee to replace Gen. Mark Milley as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In August, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder was tapped to serve as the Department of Defense press secretary after serving as the director of public affairs for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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