NSA Historical Figures

Joseph E. Gilligan, Jr.

2021 Hall of Honor Inductee

Joseph Gilligan was a pioneer in signals intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities, and led NSA through the communications revolution of the 1980s. Joe had a passion for the collection mission and a determination to get things done. He was an expert in conventional collection and a visionary who realized the kinds of technology NSA needed to remain relevant in a time of far-reaching technical change.  
 
Although Joe could be demanding and indomitable, he had an impressive ability to work across NSA and the Intelligence Community to acquire the people and capabilities to build multiple high-technology programs for which there was no precedent.
 
As one who worked for Joe put it: “He had pit-bull resolve, an ability to deliver, and had trust in his people, giving them a fair shot, regardless of their grade or gender. He was always ‘punching above his weight class’ in working programs with senior-level government leaders and national decision makers. Joe was known as a SIGINT professional who got the job done, even if that job seemed impossible.”
 
Joseph Gilligan entered on duty at NSA in 1960; he retired in 1997 and passed away in 2010.