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DISA: Information technology is what we need to protect the nation

Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Executive Deputy Director Tony Montemarano hosted a DISA familiarization workshop prior to the official opening of the 2018 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defense Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland, May 15.

As part of the three-day symposium, the annual workshop gives Montemarano an opportunity to inform industry and mission partners about DISA’s mission and organizational structure, update attendees on the agency’s newest services and capabilities, and discuss key areas of interest.

“DISA 104 is a session to help you understand the agency as a whole and understand some changes within it,” he said.

DISA and JFHQ-DODIN: Two organizations with a synchronized mission focus

Navy Vice Adm. Nancy Norton is the director of DISA and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).

As the director of DISA, Norton reports to the DOD chief information officer, Dana Deasy.

As the commander of JFHQ-DODIN, she reports to Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and chief of the Central Security Service.

“DISA and JFHQ-DODIN have two different and distinct missions, but have a synchronized mission focus,” said Montemarano.

DISA builds, operates, and secures the component of the DODIN that functions as DOD’s intranet.

“DISA supports an ecosystem from Kabul to Seoul, South Korea,” he said. “We provide enterprise services, unified capabilities, and mobility options to support DOD operations anywhere, anytime.”

JFHQ-DODIN is responsible for commanding and controlling the DODIN and oversees the larger environment, defending it from threats and intrusions.

“JFHQ-DODIN synchronizes cyberdefense across the DOD, since the department is under constant attack,” Montemarano said.

Leadership changes within the agency

Montemarano’s briefing slides illustrated leadership responsibilities throughout the agency. He also announced three leadership changes that will take effect this summer.

  • Air Force Col. Bradley Barnhart, chief of the Mission Partner Engagement Office, will assume the role of DISA Chief of Staff, replacing Army Col. Joel Lindeman.
  • Mike Williams will assume the role of the Defense Spectrum Organization Executive, replacing Alan Lewis, who will retire at the end of May.
  • Chris Barnhurst will assume the role of DISA’s chief financial officer, comptroller, and Resource Management Center director. He is currently acting in this position.

Continuing the combat support mission

As an information technology combat support agency, DISA provides niche services that support combatant commands and the warfighter, including joint interoperability testing, electromagnetic spectrum management, communications support for the White House and national leadership, desktop support, and contracting.

To accomplish this, the agency relies on the support of industry and mission partners.

“We need industry to be responsive and give us good information so we can be more aggressive. We're trying to be more flexible, and we need industry to be there for us and perform,” Montemarano said.

In order to get ahead of adversaries, he said DISA is focusing on areas such as cloud, cybersecurity, mobility, identity management, and “software-defined everything.”

He provided an example of software-defined everything: assured identity that evolves beyond the Common Access Card.

“It’s time to look at the next generation of identity management and get away from being hardware focused and dependent.”

Montemarano said the agency will move more applications to the cloud on an aggressive timeline, a critical step that supports where the department is going.

DISA also aims to use mobility to support the servicemembers of tomorrow.

“We have to come to grips with innovation and that the younger generation is using technology at a much younger age. Tomorrow's war is cyber-based. As a warfighting department, are we thinking that way?”

Montemarano concluded his remarks by emphasizing the agency’s primary mission is supporting the warfighter.

“Information technology is no longer convenient, it’s what we need to protect the nation. We are a warfighting department and we’re thinking that way,” he said.



Posted May 15, 2018