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DISA and JFHQ-DODIN celebrate 242nd Army birthday

The Defense Information Systems Agency and the Joint Force Headquarters – DOD Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN) workforce celebrated the Army’s 242nd birthday at their joint headquarters on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, June 7.

The official Army birthday is June 14.

The theme of this year's birthday is "Over there: A Celebration of the World War I Soldier," which pays tribute to the American soldiers who fought during World War I (WWI).

"America entered the Great War 100 years ago and built the foundation of the modern army we serve in today," said Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, in a pre-recorded message. "The technological advantage implemented during that war included the use of mechanized vehicles, machine guns, rapid-fire artillery, aircraft, and even plastic surgery and blood transfusions—all of which we still use today. The spirit of innovation seen during WWI is the same spirit we need to cultivate now to build our army for the future."

During the same message, Army Chief of Staff GEN Mark A. Miley acknowledged that in addition to the more than 4 million Americans who served in uniform in WWI, the concerted effort of every American was instrumental to America’s success during the war. 

"It wasn't just soldiers — their families and their communities also served, proving that it takes an entire nation to fight and win a war," said Miley. "Our victory in World War I stands as an example of what is possible when Americans fully mobilizes and work together."

The ceremony's host, DISA Director and JFHQ-DODIN Commander Army LTG Alan R. Lynn, welcomed guest speaker, Army MG Stephen G. Fogarty, U.S. Cyber Command chief of staff.

Fogarty, a career intelligence officer, highlighted the transitional periods of the United States Army and its relationship with its signal corps and burgeoning intelligence capabilities. 

"As an [intelligence] officer, my DNA actually is in the Signal Corps. [In] World War I and World War II, everything was just signal collection; there was no intelligence branch at that point. They were all signal officers. Signal officers who cracked enemy codes, signal officers who actually designed and fielded the [SIGABA Electric Cipher Machine – the United States' equivalent to the German Enigma Machine]. And the big difference was that [the U.S. cipher machine] was never cracked," he said.

Fogarty went on to explain that since 1864, the Army Signal Corps has been instrumental in providing military commanders the necessary communications capabilities to successfully complete their missions. He also expressed concern regarding the importance of maintaining operational security as the likelihood of increased cyber warfare becomes a reality.

"What keeps me up at night is the thought that [the DOD Information Networks], which are important to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines on the ground could be in jeopardy because of an insider threat, or because of external adversary — criminal or a nation state. You truly are the workforce that stands between those threats and our soldiers on the ground that are trying to get the job done under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances," said Fogarty.

"What I believe I would find if I fast-forwarded into the future, is that the job is in the hands of great Americans – regardless of uniform, [military branch], or component. And that is what matters. You are what matter the most," said Fogarty to the assembled members of the DISA and JFHQ-DODIN team. "Technology is going to come and go. It is your job to implement it, exploit it, and push to it to its absolute limits, then move on to the next level."

After thanking all soldiers and civilians for the support they provide to the Army, Fogarty and Lynn – assisted by the oldest and youngest soldiers present – cut a birthday cake with a ceremonial sword. LTC David V. Green, the DISA chaplain and oldest soldier present, served a slice of cake to the youngest soldier present, Army Specialist Jonathan A. Fisher, a systems control watch officer in the Operations Center.

The passing of the cake signified the passing of experience and knowledge, and emphasized the core belief that senior soldiers care for junior soldiers before they care for their own needs.

Following the cake cutting ceremony, current and former soldiers led all personnel in attendance in reciting the Soldier's Creed and the Official Song of the United States Army.

"As we look ahead, we cannot become complacent. Much of the success this nation has enjoyed in the last 16 years [of war] is due to the people who are sitting in this room," said Fogarty. "You understand the [mission] requirement. It's been your sweat, and your blood, and in some cases, your tears. And through the support of your family members, you've done it for the most worthy cause – and that's to take care of each other."