AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - As the first woman to lead a major U.S. intelligence agency, Letitia Long played a key role in finding and killing Osama bin Laden.
Long, who is the retired director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, visited Auburn University on Friday, Nov. 21 to encourage students to continue their engineering studies.
She held a riveting 45 minute lecture and question and answer session with Auburn students.
Long sat down for an interview with News Leader 9's Elizabeth White to describe the day her agency discovered bin Laden's compound and the day he was killed.
Shortly after Long was named director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, America's hunt for Osama Bin Laden came to a head.
"It was about two weeks after I took over the agency and a team of analysts came to me and said Director Long, we need to tell you we think we may have found the compound where Osama Bin Laden is living," Long recalled. "We were a critical part of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, finding that compound and then helping to train the assault team and ensure the safety of that team as they were heading in and heading out of Pakistan.
"It was a very tense day, monitoring every step of the operation and when we heard Geronimo and knew it was in fact Osama bin Laden, it was an amazing moment. But we did not stop holding our breaths until all of our men were out safety and in Afghanistan."
The NGA uses satellite and airplane imaging to gather intelligence for our national security interests, and Long is credited with evolving the NGA from static images to more complex intelligence. After 35 years of federal service, her role in American History is secure. Her new mission is encouraging and supporting young engineering students.
"Our nation faces a critical shortage of women, and men to, but particularly women in STEM careers, Science, Math, Technology and Engineering and I want to encourage them to continue their students and continue with their work in STEM," Long said.
Her visit is a result of the Women's Philanthropy Board and Samuel Ginn College of Engineering's 100 Women Strong.