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NSA Historical Figures

Lt. Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF

2019 Hall of Honor Inductee

Lt Gen Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF, Director, National Security Agency / Chief, Central Security Service from 1996 to 1999, conceived of and drove two of NSA’s most momentous transformations. In the 1990s, NSA/CSS abandoned its WWII blueprint. Under his slogan “One team, One mission,” real-time collaboration developed between missions that had previously interacted through episodic exchanges, seldom in real-time operations. 

In the second transformation, Minihan changed external perceptions about 21st century cryptology. His direction during the 1997 Eligible Receiver exercise shocked DoD into preparing for an era in which cyberspace would become a domain in its own right.  NSA analysts hacked into DoD computer networks, using only commercially available soft­ware. It was the first high-level exercise preparing for a cyber-attack, and the outcome was alarming. 

Further, he introduced NSA to an outside world needing to understand its purpose and outcomes. He doubled the size of the National Cryptologic Museum, and conceived of National Vigilance Park.   

General Minihan’s recognition that NSA/CSS success depends on public understanding was 15 years ahead of its time. Together, these transformations set the stage for NSA/CSS success in an age of digital revolution, where friends and foes operate side-by-side in the global commons and at network speed.