Air Force Col. Bradley Barnhart, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, brings more than 25 years of cyber and information technology experience to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) chief of staff position, where he is now responsible for coordinating the efforts of DISA’s 8,000-member organization and the management of a $12 billion budget.
He says he looks forward to hearing from the staff and hopes people will provide creative ideas regarding how to solve the diverse challenges the agency faces every day.
“My experiences from 13 assignments across the Air Force helps me understand there are multiple perspectives to each issue and gaining insight from several experts is critical to making good decisions,” he said.
He said he has worked with DISA many times during the course of his Air Force career, but it was his experience as commander of the 86th Communications Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, that helps him connect most with his daily duties in the chief of staff position.
“At Ramstein, I commanded more than 500 airmen, and most of my day was spent focused on addressing challenges to improve issues for the workforce. Here, the organization is much larger, but my intention is to set an environment that makes it possible for DISA’s workforce to achieve the best result,” he said.
He believes his two years of experience as chief of the Mission Partner Engagement Office (MPEO), where he was responsible for providing customer engagement and outreach across all Defense Department and federal mission partner organizations, will also help him stay focused on supporting the warfighter.
“Being part of the MPEO team definitely gave me great insight into the business processes and services provided across the agency. Those experiences give me the advantage of having at least a minimal understanding of the many processes to help expedite the solutions needed to address the issues that cross my desk,” he said.
He strongly supports the defense secretary’s first line of effort to focus on lethality of the force and knows it is a task DISA takes very seriously.
“I would like to remind the staff to always stay focused on what each one of you provide to the warfighter and how you keep that Airman, Sailor, Soldier, Marine, civilian, or contractor out of harm's way everyday so they can eventually come home to their families,” he said.
Barnhart is also focused on building trust with the agency’s mission partners and ensuring the agency meets its commitments.
Members of the MPEO team said their loss is the agency’s gain, as Barnhart will affect change in a positive way.
“Col. Barnhart put a lot of trust in the MPEO team to build DISA’s reputation with our mission partners,” said Ted Lewis, who served as Barnhart’s civilian deputy. “He gave us strategic direction and kept his finger on the pulse of how we were doing, but the trust he had in us paid huge dividends as we broke new ground and built MPEO as a critical component of the agency mission.”
Barnhart encourages members of the DISA workforce to share their ideas and concerns with him.
“I will always have an open door,” he said. “…But please also come armed with ideas on how we can improve our customer relationship with our mission partners. There is always more to be done in this area, and my goal, just like the director’s, is to make DISA the trusted information technology and cyber provider to connect and protect the warfighter in cyberspace.”