Betty J. Sapp will succeed the retiring Bruce Carlson as director of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) this summer, according to an April 24 statement by the nation’s top intelligence official.

“I am pleased to announce that Secretary of Defense [Leon] Panetta, with my concurrence, has appointed NRO Principal Deputy Director Betty Sapp to serve as the next director of the NRO,” James R. Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said.

Assuming Senate confirmation, Sapp would become the first female director of the nation’s spy satellite agency.

Sapp, an intelligence community veteran, was appointed to her current NRO position in April 2009. She began her career with the U.S. Air Force and has served in a variety of space- and acquisition-related positions with the service as well as the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency.

Carlson, a retired Air Force general who took the reins of the NRO in June 2009, announced April 18 he would be retiring effective July 20.

“Bruce leaves behind a legacy of remarkable accomplishments,” Clapper said. “Under his leadership, NRO completed their most aggressive launch campaign in more than 25 years, launching six satellites in seven months during 2011.

“Those systems are performing beyond expectations and are delivering intelligence of significant value to the [intelligence community] and to our national leaders. Bruce also helped refocus NRO’s acquisition, engineering and operations teams allowing them to present a new, more resilient and more capable overhead architecture that will be designed to fully integrate our signals and imagery collection.”



NRO Director Stepping Down in July