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Name: Syring, James
Current Position: Director

In the wake of the dismissal of Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly as head of the Missile Defense Agency for outrageously abusive conduct toward his staff, President Obama has nominated Rear Admiral James D. Syring to be promoted to Vice Admiral and head the agency, which researches, develops, and tests missile defense programs. Syring takes the helm of an agency which, since its founding during the Reagan administration as the Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars” program, has had several high-profile failures and where O’Reilly’s tenure led to plummeting morale. The agency has an annual budget of $8 billion. As for O’Reilly, who is expected to leave in August, military rules require that he be demoted to major general if his departure occurs before the end of his expected four-year term in November, according to Pentagon officials.


Born circa 1963, James Syring hails from Muncie, Indiana, where he graduated Northside High School in 1981. He earned a B.S. in Marine Engineering at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1985, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School in 1992.


Commissioned as a Navy ensign upon graduating from Annapolis, Syring was designated an engineering duty officer. At sea, he qualified as a surface warfare officer on the USS Downes (FF 1070) where he served as auxiliaries, electrical and electronics material officer. Syring served as ship superintendent for the USS Port Royal (CG 73) and Aegis test officer for the new construction DDG 51 class ships on the staff of the supervisor of Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, from 1992 to 1996. Continuing his work on the DDG 51 class ships, which is the Navy’s first class of destroyer built around the Aegis Combat System and the SPY-1D multi-function phased array radar, Syring was combat systems, test and trials officer in the DDG 51 Aegis Shipbuilding Program Office from 1996 to 1999 and combat systems baseline manager at the Aegis Technical Division, responsible for new construction Aegis baseline computer program development from 1999 to 2001. Syring served as director for Surface Combatants in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, where he provided advice on acquisition issues related to several classes of ships, including the CG 47 cruisers, DDG 51 destroyers, DDG 1000 destroyers and LCS class ships from 2001 to 2003.


Syring served in the DDG 1000 Shipbuilding Program for the following seven years, first as technical director from 2003 to 2005, and then as program manager from 2005 to 2010. Since 2010, Syring has served as the program executive officer for Integrated Warfare Systems in the Naval Sea Systems Command.


-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Navy’s Stealth Battleship ‘On Time, Budget’ (by David Axe, Wired)

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