Gen. Michael Hayden was sworn in as CIA director Tuesday and told the officers at the embattled agency they must be competent and cooperative to keep the "central" in Central Intelligence Agency.

Even with those marching orders, Hayden reassured the agency that it remains key to U.S. spy operations and analysis.

In his first day on the job, Hayden told his staff that only the CIA has the "connective tissue" to bring the intelligence community together. A fan of sports metaphors, Hayden compared the CIA to the star player on a football team: critical but part of a whole that must work together.

Hayden addressed the work force for under an hour, taking questions and getting a standing ovation, said agency spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyke.

While the CIA once was pre-eminent among the 15 other spy agencies, the 2004 intelligence reform law made it equal to other spy organizations including the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency.

According to Dyke, Hayden said the CIA must make sure it is "competent" and "cooperative" to ensure it is "central."

The audience was limited to CIA employees, with no reporters or other outsiders admitted.

Hayden — the former NSA chief who served as the No. 2 intelligence official for the last year — was sworn-in by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. President Bush plans to come to the CIA's Langley, Va., campus Wednesday afternoon for a second, presidential swearing-in.

At his confirmation hearing this month, Hayden said he wants the CIA to focus on traditional spycraft and to reward risks taken by operatives in the agency's clandestine service. He also wants CIA analysts to be clear when they aren't sure of judgments, but to be unafraid of hard-edged assessments.

It's not clear what immediate changes Hayden will make. He met with his leadership team for the first time Tuesday. Later, he had lunch in the CIA's cafeteria.

Hayden plans to choose as his deputy Stephen Kappes, a veteran of the clandestine service who retired after unusually public clashes with the close advisers of former Director Porter Goss.

Kappes played a key role in negotiations with Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, that led the country to declare publicly in December 2003 that it was renouncing nuclear, biological and chemical arms.