Dr. Daniel "Rags" Ragsdale

Office of the Director of Defense Research & Engineering for Modernization (Research & Technology)
Acting Principal Director, Cyber
2021 Pacific Operational Science & Technology (POST) Conference

As the Acting Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Modernization, Dr. Ragsdale is responsible for unifying and advancing the investment and capability analysis of the Pentagon's modernization priorities outlined in the National Defense Strategy. He has oversight of the 11 principal directors assigned to those modernization portfolios and their roadmaps - the comprehensive strategies to manage, provide oversight and guide choices for 5G; Artificial Intelligence; Autonomy; Biotechnology; Cyber; Directed Energy; Fully Networked Command, Control, and Communications (FNC3); Hypersonics; Microelectronics; Quantum Science; and Space.

As the Principal Director for Cyber, Dr. Ragsdale is responsible for coordinating cyber modernization efforts across the Department of Defense. His specific responsibilities involve the establishment of policies, as well as supervision and portfolio management of all DoD cyber modernization programs and activities, including research and engineering, technology development, prototyping, experimentation, test and evaluation, and capability transition. He is also responsible for making recommendations concerning the allocation of resources and alignment of efforts across the DoD focused on building a more lethal force, competing and deterring in cyberspace, and cultivating cyber talent.

Before his return to DoD in early 2019, Dr. Ragsdale was the founding director of the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center. In that capacity, he led, coordinated, and facilitated cybersecurity research and educational activities across the University. Dr. Ragsdale also previously served as a Program Manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In that capacity, he successfully led and managed a $175M portfolio of research and development programs focused on cybersecurity, education, and behavioral science.

Before joining DARPA, Colonel (retired) Ragsdale served 30 years in the U.S. Army in a variety of operational, educational, and research and development roles. His deployments included Operations Urgent Fury (Grenada), Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). Dr. Ragsdale served nearly 15 years at the United States Military Academy, West Point, in an array of teaching and research roles. He culminated his Army service as the Vice Dean for Education, the Principal Deputy to the Dean of the Academic Board, West Point’s Chief Academic Officer.

Author or co-author of more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Ragsdale is a recipient of the Federal Information Systems Security Education Association (FISSEA) Educator of the Year Award, the Texas A&M Engineering Genesis Award for Multidisciplinary Research, and the U.S. Military Academy Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching. Among his military awards, decorations, and qualifications are the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Legion of Merit, six Meritorious Service Medals, the Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Wings, Pathfinder Badge, and Combat Infantryman Badge.

Dr. Ragsdale is a 1981 graduate from the U.S. Military Academy. He has earned a Master of Science degree, in Computer Science, from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Ph.D., in Computer Science, from Texas A&M University.  He and his bride, Cynthia, have been blessed with three children, now adults, they are all currently serving as Officers in the Armed Forces; one in the Army, one in the Air Force, and one in the Navy.