National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is America’s cryptologic organization. It coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. government information systems and produce foreign signals intelligence information. A high technology organization, NSA is on the frontiers of communications and data processing. It is also one of the most important centers of foreign language analysis and research within the government.
Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is a unique discipline with a long and storied past. SIGINT's modern era dates to World War II, when the U.S. broke the Japanese military code and learned of plans to invade Midway Island. This intelligence allowed the U.S. to defeat Japan's superior fleet. The use of SIGINT is believed to have directly contributed to shortening the war by at least one year. Today, SIGINT continues to play an important role in keeping the United States a step ahead of its enemies.
As the world becomes more and more technology-oriented, the Information Assurance (IA) mission becomes increasingly challenging. This mission involves protecting all classified and sensitive information that is stored or sent through U.S. government equipment. IA professionals go to great lengths to make certain that government systems remain impenetrable. This support spans from the highest levels of U.S. government to the individual warfighter in the field.
NSA conducts one of the U.S. government's leading research and development (R&D) programs. Some of the Agency's R&D projects have significantly advanced the state of the art in the scientific and business worlds.
NSA's early interest in cryptanalytic research led to the first large-scale computer and the first solid-state computer, predecessors to the modern computer. NSA pioneered efforts in flexible storage capabilities, which led to the development of the tape cassette. NSA also made ground-breaking developments in semiconductor technology and remains a world leader in many technological fields.
NSA employs the country's premier cryptologists. It is said to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States and perhaps the world. Its mathematicians contribute directly to the two missions of the Agency: designing cipher systems that will protect the integrity of U.S. information systems and searching for weaknesses in adversaries' systems and codes.
Technology and the world change rapidly, and great emphasis is placed on staying ahead of these changes with employee training programs. The National Cryptologic School is indicative of the Agency's commitment to professional development. The school not only provides unique training for the NSA workforce, but it also serves as a training resource for the entire Department of Defense. NSA sponsors employees for bachelor and graduate studies at the Nation's top universities and colleges, and selected Agency employees attend the various war colleges of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Most NSA/CSS employees, both civilian and military, are headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, centrally located between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Its workforce represents an unusual combination of specialties: analysts, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, linguists, computer scientists, researchers, as well as customer relations specialists, security officers, data flow experts, managers, administrative officers and clerical assistants.