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CHIPS Articles: Vice Adm. Norton reports ‘we have not just survived, we have thrived’

Vice Adm. Norton reports ‘we have not just survived, we have thrived’
By Marco Villasana, DISA Strategic Communication and Public Affairs - December 2, 2020
Defense Information Systems Agency Director and Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network Commander, Navy Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton provided a keynote address to help kick off AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2020 Dec. 1.

The virtual conference continues through Dec. 3, and brings together military, government, industry and academic organizations worldwide to help align technology and strategy to meet the needs of the global defense and security community.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are participating in this conference in a new way this year. If 2020 has proven anything, it is that we have to be ready for any crisis,” said Norton. “As the theme for AFCEA TechNet Cyber indicates, DISA has accomplished its no-fail mission for more than 60 years by ‘Empowering Partnerships and Driving Innovation’ across the Department of Defense and around the world. That is especially true during this unprecedented health crisis.”

She explained how DISA has utilized virtual events this year to increase engagement with mission partners, government, industry and academic organizations, then highlighted the critical roles DISA and JFHQ-DODIN play in defending the nation.

“DISA is the nation’s premier IT combat support agency … we build, operate and defend the DISA component of the global enterprise that empowers multi-domain operations,” she said. “Everything we do helps to increase lethality and mission readiness of our forces around the world. Everyday DISA delivers secure, available and reliable services and capabilities to mission partners in the contested and rapidly changing cyber domain.”

Norton went on to describe JFHQ-DODIN’s mission to command, control and synchronize operations and defense of the DoD Information Network.

“During the pandemic, JFHQ-DODIN’s top priorities were protecting DoD networks, systems and DoD information, while ensuring DoD core functions had the network access and tools they needed, wherever they were working,” she said. “We knew that our new maximum telework posture would increase opportunities for adversaries in cyberspace and potentially increase vulnerabilities across the attack surface of the DoDIN.”

Together DISA and JFHQ-DoDIN established new procedures to better assist DoD components while ensuring adequate security measures for new or commercial telework systems.

“This is critically important because to continue to enhance lethality and mission readiness across every warfighting domain, we must be able to maintain our information advantage against increasingly sophisticated foes who seek to exploit any vulnerabilities they can find in the cyber domain, during this pandemic or any other crisis they aim to exploit,” she said.

The agency recently released an updated version of its strategic plan, which outlines the agency’s priorities, resource allocation and assessment criteria.

“Our strategic plan continues to support the National Defense Strategy’s three lines of effort to build a more lethal force, strengthen our alliances and reform our business practices,” said Norton. “It also enables the DoD chief information officer’s Digital Modernization Strategy and the pillars of cloud, artificial intelligence, cyber, C3 and data.”

DISA’s three strategic goals remain to operate and defend, adopt before we buy and buy before we create and enable people and reform the agency. All to support its ability to adapt, be resilient and flexible to combat any challenge under any condition.

“Years of planning and telework exercises enabled our own workforce to rapidly shift to maximum telework and still exceed all expectations from the challenge of changing our environment,” she said. “Today, I’m very proud to report: we have not just survived, we have thrived. We have helped to maintain mission readiness across DoD and supported the whole-of-government effort to combat the pandemic, while protecting our own workforce.”

Norton emphasized the importance of continuing interagency and international partnerships and strengthening cybersecurity.

“The work that we are doing together today ensures that our military can benefit from emerging technology innovations to maintain information superiority and increase lethality,” she said. “For 60 years, DISA has provided critical communications to the warfighters who put their lives on the line for our nation … and this global health crisis has once again proven that one of our greatest strengths is our partnerships that help us to drive innovation.”

Defense Information Systems Agency Director and Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network Commander, Navy Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton provides a keynote address to help kick off AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2020 Dec. 1.
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