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CHIPS Articles: DISA component keeps secretary of defense connected, cyber-secure

DISA component keeps secretary of defense connected, cyber-secure
Military personnel career opportunities available
By James Verchio, DISA Strategic Communication and Public Affairs - April 24, 2019
The Secretary of Defense Communications (SDC) organization provides dedicated communications support, decision support, and situational awareness services to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense, their immediate offices, and designated special emissaries.

Integrated into the Defense Information Systems Agency’s mission portfolio in 2017, SDC provides an integrated communications solution that delivers global situational awareness across all threat scenarios and geographic locations, enabling the secretary to exercise his command and control authorities and responsibilities mandated in U.S. Code Titles 10 and 50.

Serving as the defense secretary’s trusted provider, the joint service team accomplishes a sizeable mission while maintaining a very small footprint.

One small but important component of SDC that is continuously seeking talented service members to support its mission is the Cables Branch.

“The Cables Branch is SDC’s operational information management and command and control support center, which is staffed by approximately 20 service members, working in three-man teams,” said Army Lt. Col. George Randolph, SDC’s senior executive support officer. “We provide comprehensive voice, video, and data capabilities to the secretary and his immediate staff, regardless of their location, across multiple platforms and classifications.”

Members of the Cables Branch also serve as liaisons to the White House Situation Room, State Department, Department of Defense agencies, and foreign counterparts.

Randolph said the mission is demanding but also rewarding. He also said every day on the job is different from the day before.

“Personnel within SDC provide 24/7 direct communication support across multiple platforms 365 days a year,” he said. “It’s really satisfying to provide senior leaders with technical capabilities they cannot live without.”

Because the team is constantly standing at the ready, they are able to execute at a moment’s notice.

“SDC, through the Cables Branch, is the primary communications focal point and principle liaison between the secretary of defense and all other agencies, including the White House, State Department, and Congress, which requires the Cables Branch to deliver performance at the speed of relevance,” said Randolph.

The Cables Branch delivers communication and information services through:

  • A 24/7 watch floor presence.
  • Comprehensive voice, video, and data services delivered across all security enclaves.
  • Information and knowledge management.
  • Call center support providing rapid establishment of telephone connections via a wide array of classified and non-classified systems, including the Defense Telephone Link network.
  • An organizational messaging center for the secretary and deputy secretary of defense, their immediate offices, and other entities receiving SDC support.
  • Collaboration with the National Military Command Center.

“Technology is a driving force of change for SDC, which has evolved from the Cables Division established during Robert S. McNamara’s tenure in the early 1960’s to delivering an integrated decision support capability to meet constant global and situational awareness demands,” said Simon Mantel, SDC’s deputy director. “Over 50 years later, the underlying mission to provide dedicated communications support and enable decision superiority for our department’s leadership has remained constant.”

Career Opportunities

Military personnel assigned to the SDC Cables Branch ensure the secretary’s dynamic information and communications requirements are met and liaise daily with many senior leaders.

Military professionals with extensive operational experience are eligible to apply through their respective military service branch process. Incumbents serve as an executive support officer (watch officer) or executive support supervisor (watch noncommissioned officer).

Randolph described the selection process in broad terms. He said SDC submits a requisition to the military services, then works with each branch to narrow the search to two or three candidates. Then, all finalists are interviewed.

“We’re looking for candidates who are self-driven, motivated, and passionate about what they do,” he said. “We want to provide America’s sons and daughters with an opportunity to serve one of their nation’s most respected offices. If you are fortunate enough to be selected to this prestigious organization, come prepared for a challenge that causes you to think outside the box.”

Military personnel seeking more information about the SDC Cables Division, or who wish to apply, should email:, or phone: 703-692-7001/7003.

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