As the United States faces growing threats from foreign hackers, Adm. Michael S. Rogers told a Senate committee Thursday that he is preparing to lead the National Security Agency through its first major reorganization in more than a decade.
Just as identifying suspected terrorist networks consumed the eavesdropping agency for much of the past 15 years, the NSA director told the Senate Intelligence Committee, battling hackers and defending sensitive data will become the new focus of the agency based at Fort Meade.
"It will be a foundational mission set that drives us as an organization and will require us to do things on a scale we've never done them before," Rogers said.
Rogers, who also serves as head of U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the Central Security Service, said he has been taking ideas from the NSA's 40,000 workers on how to reshape the agency. He said he received about 200 proposals and asked his staff to focus on a few areas and provide him with recommendations by Oct. 1.
The intelligence community was reorganized after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in an effort to fight more effectively against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Today, the nation's spies are increasingly being asked to protect U.S. computer systems against hackers.
The NSA helped Sony Pictures Entertainment deal with a breach of its networks by North Korea and has been aiding government agencies that have been attacked. Rogers' testimony came months after CIA Director John Brennan announced plans for a similar reshuffle at his agency, also driven in part by the need to respond to cyber threats.
Rogers provided few details, but said he had asked staff members to consider how they would organize the NSA if they were starting from scratch.
"If you were building NSA from the ground up today, is this the structure you would have created?" he asked. "The structure reflects a series of changes and choices that have literally been made over the last 20 years."