NSA creates assistant deputy director, other new entities focused on China

David Frederick was appointed the first assistant deputy director for China at the National Security Agency.
(Getty Images)

The National Security Agency has created a new assistant deputy director position solely dedicated to China, DefenseScoop has learned.

David Frederick was appointed the first assistant deputy director for China in November, according to an NSA spokesperson. Frederick was most recently the executive director of U.S. Cyber Command.

“This is a new leadership position created to set and direct mission strategy for addressing the People’s Republic of China (PRC), prioritize China mission investments, and posture NSA to achieve greater near-and long-term mission outcomes,” an agency spokesperson told DefenseScoop in an email. “The Assistant Deputy Director for China will determine PRC mission talent and technology requirements as well as assess Agency readiness to support policymakers and the warfighter across multiple domains.”

The new role is just one in a series of organizational shifts the agency has made to deal with what the Pentagon refers to as “the pacing challenge.”


NSA has also created a China Strategy Center — aimed at developing a strategic plan to counter Beijing with tangible near- and long-term mission goals — as well as the China Outcomes Group, which is a joint Cybercom-NSA entity.

The China Outcomes Group was announced by Cybercom commander and NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone in congressional testimony last year.

“China is our pacing challenge, which I see as both a sprint and a marathon. China’s military modernization over the past several years threatens to erode deterrence in the western Pacific, which requires immediate steps to redress. At the same time, China is an enduring strategic challenge that is now global in scope. Beijing is exerting influence worldwide through its rising diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power,” Nakasone wrote in prepared testimony.

“China is a challenge unlike any other we have faced. I have therefore created a China Outcomes Group under joint USCYBERCOM and NSA leadership to ensure proper focus, resourcing, planning, and operations to meet this challenge. Although we recognize that much of our effort will be in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, China is a global challenge. The success of our efforts will depend in part on the resilience and capabilities of regional and worldwide partners. We are building operating relationships and also dedicating long-term work to enhance their cybersecurity and cyberspace operations forces,” he added.

The group — which builds upon past efforts such as the Election Security Group and its predecessor, the Russia Small Group — will direct, integrate and synchronize Cybercom and NSA actions to address the China challenge, according to the National Security Agency.


The team will be co-led by a flag officer from Cybercom and an NSA executive. It is meant to be a permanent entity so long as China remains a threat and will be jointly staffed with personnel from each organization.

The strategy center includes a multi-disciplinary team of civilians and uniformed military personnel to oversee the execution of the NSA China strategy, examine future concepts and evaluate mission performance.

All three organizations are meant to work in tandem, according to NSA.

“These positions and organizations have been established to address the unique challenges posed by malicious cyber activity from the People’s Republic of China. These organizations all serve to complement each other to organize, streamline and optimize U.S. Cyber Command and NSA’s actions against the PRC, increase collaboration with partners to protect our nation’s intellectual property and the Defense Industrial Base, and increase Joint Force readiness and interoperability,” the spokesperson told DefenseScoop.

The new assistant deputy director role will oversee the entirety of NSA’s efforts as they relate to China for both intelligence and cybersecurity missions, the spokesperson added.


Meanwhile, Holly Baroody, who was most recently deputy to the commander of the Cyber National Mission Force, has taken on the role of executive director of Cybercom.

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