[Strategic Intel]: NSA said to be shedding ‘top talent’

Experts are exiting the National Security Agency at an increasingly fast clip, leaving in their wake a dearth of experience that can’t be quickly or easily replaced, officials say.

Since 2015 the NSA has lost hundreds of hackers, engineers, and data scientists. The reasons including lower pay and decreased morale.

Among those who have departed ways with the agency include people tasked with gathering data for the president’s daily briefing and with monitoring ongoing security concerns like the Islamic State in Iraq and North Korea.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said Ellison Anne Williams, a former senior researcher at the NSA who left in 2016. Williams started her own data-security firm and said she has 10 former NSA employees working for her.

“The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit,” Williams said. [source]

(Analyst comment: This is getting to be serious since NSA doesn’t simply hire people ‘off the street.’ Because many employees have to obtain the nation’s highest security clearances — and then maintain them — it is a long and arduous process to be hired by the nation’s premier spy agency. Any dearth of talent leaves the country at greater risk. The answer isn’t to speed through the process of vetting potential employees; the answer is something the American people likely don’t want to hear: More money for top talent, to stop the bleeding into the private sector.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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