According to 10 U.S.C.§ 201 of the United States Code, the Director of the NSA is recommended by the Secretary of Defense and nominated for appointment by the President. The nominee must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate. In accordance with Department of Defense Directive 5100.20, dated December 23, 1971, the Director of the NSA must always be a commissioned officer of the military services. Because the assignment is currently part of a tri-hatted position, the Director of the NSA is appointed to the grade of a four-star general or admiral during the period of his incumbency. The Deputy Director is always a technically experienced civilian.
^Originally a lieutenant general when he first assumed office on August 1, 2005. Alexander was promoted to general when he assumed the additional assignment as Commander, U.S. Cyber Command on May 21, 2010.