After taking over as Defense Spectrum Organization director in June, Gregory Wagner set specific goals for the organization he now leads – make DSO the Department of Defense center of excellence for electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) capabilities, services, and operations.
Wagner is moving to achieve that goal through greater collaboration with DSO’s mission partners.
To demonstrate his commitment to his cause, the DSO director is encouraging mission partners to provide input and constructive criticism on ways DSO can better help them achieve their missions.
“Tell me what you think about the services and capabilities DSO provided you in the past. How are they working for you? Tell me what I should be doing to address your concerns and what I should be focusing on to help you,” Wagner said.
Wagner, who previously served as the DSO Strategic Planning Division chief, said that in addition to working with mission partners, he also looks forward to collaborating with DISA’s new Emerging Technologies Directorate, an organization created to deliver innovative processes, service, and capabilities across DISA.
“Working with the Emerging Technologies Directorate is one example of how I think collaboration inside DISA is going to benefit DSO and our mission partners,” Wagner said.
Wagner is leading the charge for DSO as the DoD continues to face a growing demand for EMS access.
“EMS is a finite and reusable resource, so if I’m using it, sometimes other entities can share it with me; sometimes they can’t,” the director said. “Figuring out when we can share and when we need exclusive use has always been a challenge.”
A more recent challenge, Wagner said, is the threat of near-peer adversaries who can launch attacks, which can potentially disrupt DoD’s access to EMS.
This underscores a concern voiced by DISA Director and Joint Force Headquarters DoD Information Networks Commander Navy Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, who said power competition is a real threat affecting the cyber domain, which relies in part on the electromagnetic spectrum. “Nations around the world are accelerating their efforts in cyber, artificial intelligence, spectrum, and other capabilities to challenge our military and national security, and potentially change the international order,” Norton said, during the 2019 AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, May 14.
As far back as 2013, DoD acknowledged the growing complexity of the military’s information technology and communications systems required a unified approach to accessing the electromagnetic spectrum and published the DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy.
Wagner believes DSO’s breadth and depth, combined with its position within DISA, gives it a unique vantage point and set of enterprise capabilities that helps the DoD navigate through what he refers to as the “congested, contested, and constrained” EMS space. He also believes DISA’s unique relationship with JFHQ-DoDIN and U.S. Cyber Command provides a force multiplier in supporting DoD’s spectrum operations.
“We understand the joint force at strategic and operational levels of war, and we understand how military departments operate at an enterprise level,” Wagner said. “We can deliver next-generation capabilities using agile processes that allow us to learn what works and what doesn’t. We can get these capabilities in front of the users, get feedback, and make adjustments.”
Wagner also believes developing workforce talent is crucial to delivery capabilities and improving service to end users.
The DSO director said he expects his organization’s employees to stay current on their education.
”There’s a lot of young talent coming into the workforce now, and we want to find ways to bring young talent into our organization and provide fresh perspectives on things,” he said.
Wagner holds a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate in Information Systems. He also teaches cybersecurity and networking classes at a local community college.
“I like to lead by example. I think the spectrum domain provides interesting challenges and opportunities to learn something new. How often do you get to a chance to do something and see your work directly affect the DoD’s ability to conduct its mission?” Wagner said.
“I’m honored every day to be able to work with the DSO workforce and our mission partners,” he continued.
For more information, contact the DSO front office at 301-225-3818, or the Joint Spectrum Center at 313-919-2836.