Story highlights

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe takes over as head of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, U.S. 10th Fleet

She succeeds Adm. Michael Rogers, who moved on to become the NSA director

"I believe (this) is just a stepping stone," recent NSA director Keith Alexander says of Tighe

The Navy, other branches have faced criticism for the treatment of female personnel

CNN  — 

Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe has made history with her appointment as head of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. 10th Fleet, making her “the first female commander of a numbered fleet in U.S. Navy history,” according to that military branch.

Tighe succeeded Adm. Michael S. Rogers – who is moving on to become director of the embattled National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command – in a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Meade in Maryland.

She’s the fleet’s third commander ever and had been its deputy commander since November, according to the Navy.

“Jan Tighe, you are one of the best people that our military has across all of the services,” recently retired NSA chief Keith Alexander said. “… You are exceptional in every category, and you will do great with the 10th Fleet, which I believe is just a stepping stone for future things for you.”

Born in Kentucky and raised in Plantation, Florida, Tighe graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute and earned advanced degrees in electrical engineering and applied mathematics from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Her extensive Navy history includes stints in the Naval Network Warfare Command, the U.S. Cyber Command and the Naval Security Group Activities. Among other assignments, she was an airborne special evaluator in the Persian Gulf during Operations Desert Shield and Storm during the early 1990s.

Tighe’s new job will be heading the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, which has a mission that includes cryptologic operations and electronic warfare.

Her appointment comes at a time when the Navy and other military branches have been on the defensive over accusations that not enough is being done to protect women within their ranks from sexual assault. Figures have shown the rate of assaults in the armed forces is increasing, and some top officers are under fire for condoning such acts.

President Barack Obama told newly commissioned officers at the Naval Academy last May that a rash of sexual assaults undermines Americans’ confidence in the military.