She would be the first operations officer to lead the spy agency since William Colby in 1973, a fact that has deep resonance among fellow operations officers, who do the spying in the field for the CIA.

“She grew up in the directorate of operations. That is what we do: Recruit spies, steal secrets,” said Daniel Hoffman, a retired CIA operator who worked closely with Haspel.

Jason Matthews, a former ops officer who wrote the best-selling spy novel that was turned into the film “Red Sparrow,” told NBC News:

“You want a carpenter to be the CEO of your furniture factory. She knows the patois, she knows the recruitment cycle. We’ve had some good directors and some less good directors, but they’ve never actually recruited an agent. Gina has.”