Defense IT

DISA's 5-year plan focuses on joint environment, cyberspace operations

DISA headquarters

The Defense Information Systems Agency has released a new five-year strategic plan that focuses on supporting the Pentagon’s Joint Information Environment and cyberspace operations while cutting back on duplicative systems.

The plan for 2015-2020, released June 16, also calls for streamlining its networks, taking advantage of commercial technology and supporting mobile computing to guarantee authorized personnel anytime/anywhere access to Defense Department networks.

Release of the document is likely the last major act of DISA Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, who will soon step down, to be replaced by DISA’s Vice Director Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn.

In the plan, Hawkins, who has been DISA’s director since 2012, said DISA will "be aggressive in our pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness, and no longer support the operations of legacy and costly applications without senior leadership's approval and direction."

Among the goals laid out in the plan is development of the Joint Information Headquarters for DOD Information Networks, a new office set up earlier this year that also falls under the purview of the DISA director. The JIE, an integrated architecture intended to accommodate all of the military services as well as other DOD components and coalition partners, “remains the cornerstone of the Department’s future,” the plan states. DISA, as one of its key goals, plans to continue to deploy the Joint Regional Security Stacks that serve as the cybersecurity foundation of JIE.

Along those lines, the plan also puts a heavy focus on cybersecurity. “We are first and foremost” DOD’s cyberspace IT combat support agency, Hawkins writes. DISA will continue to support development of the cyber workforce, while working with the Intelligence Community and industry “to enable a multi-faceted, highly skilled countermeasure to nation states, rogue entities, insider threats, and malicious attacks by hacktivists.”

A key to DOD’s networking plans and anytime/anywhere access is cloud computing. The plan says that both internal and commercials clouds will be part of a “global elastic infrastructure” that will also incorporate collaboration tools and mobile computing.

Overall, the plan calls for more efficient, streamlined IT services that can be effective in supporting the military against the full range of threats. “We are at an operational crossroads,” Hawkins writes in the plan’s introduction. “We continue to operate in a contested battlespace, where the barrier to entry is low and oftentimes unchallenged. We must recognize that mission success is defined by our ability to pre-emptively disrupt, degrade, or deny our adversaries, both internal and external, unimpeded access to the information and capabilities of the [DOD] Information Network (DODIN).

“We must sustain our operations and defenses before, during, and after an attack by reducing the attack surface, continually improving defensive cyberspace operations, and effectively commanding and controlling the DODIN.”

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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