Admiral Cohen brings more than four decades of expertise in science and technology research, development, testing and evaluation as well as extensive knowledge in nuclear, explosives and chemical technologies. He has served as a Principal with The Chertoff Group since 2009. After retiring from a 38 year career in the U.S. Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral, he served as Undersecretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS S&T). As a testament to his force of personality and management prowess, in two short years Admiral Cohen transformed DHS S&T. At the time of his Undersecretary appointment, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 U.S. Senate Appropriations Report described DHS S&T as “a rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course”. Through Admiral Cohen’s leadership and the people and programs he put in place, the FY 2008 Senate Appropriations Report stated the committee “is pleased with the rapid progress S&T appears to be making…” and in FY 2009 the Congress added $63M to the nearly $1B DHS S&T budget and directed that Admiral Cohen be given acquisition authority over his responsible programs. The output focused, customer oriented makeover of DHS S&T (from the lowest morale federal government component in 2006 to amongst the highest in 2008) is a success story that is captured in Hill testimony, press articles, international partnerships, and a National Geographic TV special “Hi-Tech War on Terror” that documents the high risk/high gain innovation portfolio which he put in place to make the nation safer.
Prior to his role with DHS, Admiral Cohen held increasingly responsible positions with the U.S. Navy. In June 2000, he became the 20th Chief of Naval Research (CNR). He served as CNR for nearly six years during Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Department of the Navy’s Chief Technology Officer, reporting directly to the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In that capacity, he was responsible for the $2B+/year Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology (S&T) Program (involving basic research to applied technology portfolios and contracting), and coordinated investments with other U.S. and international S&T providers to rapidly meet war fighter combat needs. Before that, from 1999 to 2000, he acted as Director of the Navy Y2K Project, the organization responsible for transitioning all Navy computer systems into the 21st century. In October 1997 he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral following four years as Deputy Chief of Navy Legislative Affairs. His first Flag officer assignment was as Deputy Director for Operations for the Joint Staff, and was responsible to the President and Department of Defense leaders for strategic weapons release authority. His earlier Navy assignments included service on conventional and nuclear submarines. From 1985 to 1988, Admiral Cohen commanded USS HYMAN G. RICKOVER, and from 1991 to 1993 he commanded the submarine tender USS L.Y. SPEAR, including a deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Between commands he served on the U.S. Atlantic Fleet as a senior member of the Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board, responsible for certifying the safe operation of nuclear powered ships and crews.
Admiral Cohen holds a Master of Science in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a joint Ocean Engineering degree from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was commissioned into the Navy in 1968 upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy.