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DISA History Photo
Mobile communications center
during Operation Desert Storm
In 1990 and 1991, during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, a team of planners, engineers, and operators from DCA’s Defense Network Systems Organization (DNSO) assisted in the design of a semi-fixed telecommunications system, the Southwest Asia Telecommunications (SATS) for use in support of the theater commander’s operations. SATS included satellite, microwave, copper cable, and fiber optic links; Defense Data Network packet-switching nodes; Defense Switched Network (DSN) multi-function voice switches; and technical control facilities. At their peak, these systems included more than 100 satellite links. During the height of the conflict there were more Defense Information System Network (DISN) voice circuits in the theater than were serving all of Europe.

DISA History Photo
LTG Thurman D. Rodgers,
DISA Director, June 1990 to July 1991
DCA provided extremely reliable communications and data support required to support the Persian Gulf deployment, war effort, and redeployment. Several systems records for high traffic were established in both AUTODIN and the Defense Secure Network (DSNET) 2. DCA organized and arranged the strategic connectivity, consisting at its peak of nine T-1 links, 411 DSN circuits, 26 AUTODIN circuits, and a wide variety of other voice and data services. The connectivity tied together a joint tactical network comprised of 115 earth terminals serving numerous voice and data switches. DCA supported a 300 percentincrease in traffic on the Worldwide Military Command and Control Systems (WWMCCS) while maintaining an in-commission rate of 99 percent.

Gen. Colin Powell
Gen. Colin Powell, USA
during Operation Desert Storm

In March 1991, Army GEN Norman Schwarzkopf, CENTCOM commander, sent a message to Army LTG Thurman D. Rodgers, the DCA director expressing his appreciation for the “absolutely superb” support provided by DCA. Also, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army GEN Colin Powell visited DCA headquarters May 3, 1991 to personally thank DCA employees. For its significant contributions, DCA was awarded a Joint Meritorious Unit Award.


A New Name for the Agency, New Missions

On June 25, 1991, DCA underwent a major reorganization and was renamed the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to reflect its expanded role in implementing the DoD’s CIM (Corporate Information Management) initiative, and to clearly identify DISA as a combat support agency. DISA established the Center for Information Management to provide technical and program execution assistance to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (C3I) and technical products and services to DoD and military components

DISA’s role in DoD information management continued to expand with implementation, in September 1992, of several Defense Management Report Decisions (DMRD ), most notably DMRD 918. DMRD 918 created the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII), and directed DISA to manage and consolidate the Services’ and DoD’s information processing centers into 16 mega-centers.

LTG Alonzo E. Short, Jr.,
DISA Director, Aug. 1991 to July 1994

The DII provided a full spectrum of decision support systems, Defense-wide databases, and a variety of standard applications. At the same time DII was implemented, the concept for the Defense Information System Network (DISN) was created.

The DISN consolidated 122 DoD networks, offering more efficient support to the warfighter. “Our Defense Information Systems Network DISN strategy is to integrate terrestrial and space transmission for a global and seamless network that give s warfighters connectivity and bandwidth-on-demand anywhere, anytime,” stated Army LTG Kelley, DISA director.

During the 1990s, DISA fielded new systems to support the combatant commands. The Global Command and Control System (GCCS) and the Joint Chiefs’ C4I for the Warrior, and the Defense Message System were among the critical systems. GCCS was developed to replace Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS), which had been in existence since the early 1960s.

Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds,
DISA Director, July 1994 to June 1997

GCCS was developed as a response to the lesson learned of Operation Desert Storm, particularly the lack of interoperability of the military services’ information systems. GCCS enabled the warfighters to “push” and “pull” information to support collaborative planning, tactical planning, intelligence analysis and support and communications processes.

GCCS gave the warfighter, for the first time, access to the Common Operational Picture. It enabled the synchronization of the combat power of land, sea, and air forces. The warfighter would be able to use modern tools like newsgroups e-mail web servers and browsers to rapidly and reliably access critical information. DISA officially pulled the plug on WWMCCS in August of 1996.

JTF-GNO and the Global Information Grid (GIG)

In 1998 the DoD recognized a growing cyber threat and in response created the Joint Task Force- Computer Network Defense (JTF-CND), which achieved initial operational capability December 30, 1998, and full operational capability in June 1999. In the fall of 2000, in accordance with DoD doctrine, JTF-CND became the Joint Task Force- Computer Network Operations (JTF-CNO). In October 2002, the new Unified Command Plan, Change 2, re-aligned JTF-CNO under the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

The JTF-CNO began its largest and most comprehensive transformation in April 2004 when the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command approved the Joint Concept of Operations for Global Information Grid Network Operations. This “NetOps CONOPS” provided the common framework and command and control structure to conduct the USSTRATCOM Unified Command Plan assigned mission of Global Network Operations, combining the disciplines of enterprise systems and network management, network defense, and information decision management.

LTG David J. Kelley,
DISA Director, June 1997 to June 2000 

The Secretary of Defense signed a delegation of authority letter June 18, 2004 designating the director of DISA as the commander of the JTF-GNO. With this designation, the new command assumed the responsibility for directing the operation and defense of the GIG. This transformation enhanced the JTF-GNO’s mission and objectives in achieving the Joint Vision 2020 Objective Force and the evolving concept of net-centricity. 

DISA Deals with The Year 2000 (Y2K) Dilemma

At the end of the decade there was one additional challenge to the safety and security of DISA’s information systems Y2K. Now viewed as a non-threat in retrospect, at the time it was an issue of serious concern for the agency. The biggest concern for DISA Director Army LTG Kelley was insuring that DoD’s mission critical system were Y2K compliant. DISA got its own house in order by establishing Y2K compliant operating systems on the Defense Mega-center platforms. DISA worked with its customers and contractors to identify system interfaces and developed detailed test schedules to ensure that there was enough time and capacity to complete the testing.