Tish Long, ‘Velvet Hammer’ First Female to Run Spy Agency

August 9, 2010

(ChattahBox)–The shadowy world of spies and espionage has long had women in top management positions, but never before, has a woman headed up a major U.S. spy agency, until now. Letitia “Tish” Long, a 32-year veteran, serving the government in various capacities in the intelligence community, has been tapped to head the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Long is highly regarded for her intelligence work and people skills, with one former boss dubbing her the “velvet hammer.” If you have never heard of the NGA, join the club. The NGA is tasked with gathering and analyzing geospatial imagery, such as satellite photos. The NGA’s mission is described on its website, as to “Know the Earth, Show the Way,” by providing “geospatial intelligence support for global world events, disasters and military actions.”

According to CNN’s report, spy women have come close to heading an intelligence agency, but they have only climbed as far as the second in command:

“Women have served as second-in-command in most of the major intelligence agencies. Long spent the last four years as the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Women have also held the number two position at the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and at NGA. The CIA has never had a women in the number two slot. However, the third ranking position at the agency is currently held by a woman, as is the person in charge of all of the CIA’s analysts.”

Long praised the rise in female and ethnically diverse hires, as broadening America’s intelligence gathering capabilities. She calls the contributions of a diverse spy community, “cognitive diversity.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA) chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, CIA director Leon Panetta and others, praised Long’s seasoned experience and capabilities for her new job, especially her former boss, former Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone.

“I talk about her as being the velvet hammer. She could cause people to do things that they otherwise would not have thought they wanted to do and in the end, get them to do it willingly,” said Cambone. He added Long has the instincts, patience and decisiveness to be an effective leader”

Long takes over the helm of the NGA, starting on Monday.

Photo Source: Defense Dept. official photo


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