Mullen will oversee Sprint's compliance with its national security agreement and will be the government's point of contact for security issues.
“Admiral Mullen is an admired leader with an impeccable record,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement. “We are fortunate that a person with his experience, accomplishments and reputation will be a member of our new board.”
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, Mullen was the top military adviser for Presidents George W. Bush and Obama. He also served as chief of naval operations, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and commander of Allied Joint Force Command in Naples. He is also on the board of directors of General Motors.
The deal must still receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which is considering whether the purchase would be in the public's interest. Sprint's shareholders are scheduled to vote on whether to accept SoftBank's offer on June 12.
Dish Network is pushing a competing offer for Sprint and has been drumming up fears that SoftBank could expose Sprint's networks to hackers.
Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Redistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want MORE (R-Ariz.) echoed that concern in letters to regulators last month.
The fears stem from the fact that in many countries, SoftBank relies on telecommunications equipment produced by Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE. Because of those companies' ties to the Chinese government, the House Intelligence Committee determined in a report last year that they pose a threat to U.S. national security.
The congressional investigators feared Huawei and ZTE could build back doors into their equipment, allowing the Chinese government to spy on the communications of U.S. companies and people.
In addition to having a government-approved security director, SoftBank also agreed to allow the U.S. to review and approve contracts with certain network equipment makers.
SoftBank also told regulators it would strip out Huawei's equipment from Clearwire — a wireless network operator that Sprint is trying to buy.
After SoftBank made those commitments, an interagency committee led by the Treasury Department gave the deal national security clearance.