In what is typically one of the highest attended events of the symposium, DISA’s Special Assistant to the Director, Tony Montemarano opened TechNet Cyber 2020 with an overview of what to expect from AFCEA’s annual event and to provide valuable insight into DISA’s flight plan moving toward 2021 and beyond.
TechNet Cyber 2020, held virtually for the first time due the COVID-19 pandemic, is the staging area for military, industry and academia to discuss and plan how to achieve persistent engagement, persistent presence and innovation. It is the opportunity to devise a new strategy to build resilience and defend networks.
“I’d like to take this opportunity this morning to talk about the agency to distinguish it from the Joint Force Headquarters – DODIN, and to give you a better understanding of the paths with which you would interact with the various seniors within the agency,” he said. “It is absolutely incredibly important that our industry partners, as well as our mission partners, totally understand the agency so that we can collectively do a better job of supporting our warfighters.”
DISA and JFHQ-DODIN have different responsibilities
Montemarano explained for attendees the distinct differences between the agency and the command.
“DISA is here as a combat-support agency,” he said. “We build, we operate, we secure global infrastructure – a foundational infrastructure if you will – that’s finite, defined and of course, that’s accounted for, etc.” He continued, “In the case of the Joint Force Headquarters – DoDIN, they are a command and control outfit. Their focus on life is not only to oversee what DISA is doing, for an operation and protection perspective, but also to oversee everyone else’s infrastuctures that are deployed throughout the world.”
He then continued by describing the commonalities between DISA and the command.
“As far as the two organizations are concerned, we do come together,” he said.
“We are synchronized in our operations. We come together with a dual-hatted director and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters – DoDIN, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton.”
He then defined Norton’s supporting cast of senior civilian and military leaders.
“Supporting her from the Defense Information Systems Agency’s perspective is the new Executive Deputy Director, Christopher Barnhurst, along with the Assistant to the Director, and that is of course, Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee,” he said.
Montemarano then defined the JFHQ-DODIN senior support staff.
“From the Joint Force Headquarters – DODIN perspective is Brig. Gen. Paul Fredenburgh and his staff.”
A mission breakdown
Montemarano offered a look into DISA’s mission, which dates back more than 60 years.
“DISA itself, again, an IT combat-support agency, derives our roots from the Defense Communications Agency,” he said. “We provide connectivity – global connectivity – around the world, supporting various enterprise services, voice, data and video services.” He continued, “In addition to that, we also provide command and control support for the combatant commanders, and as recently as a year ago, this October, we picked up responsibility of taking the various Fourth Estate Networks and trying to bring them together in a – if you will – an integrate environment.
“We also have some niche responsibilities,” he said. “We do interoperability testing, we do spectrum management, we provide support for the president – in some cases of course at the White House, and while traveling, but we also provide continuity of government and continuity of operations support for the senior leadership.”
He also explained how the agency provides desktop support for the Pentagon and for most of the players in the National Capital Region.
The outgoing executive shared with attendees a picture of DISA’s global presence. From Ford Island in Hawaii, to DISA Central in Bahrain, the agency’s global reach is critical for empowering warfighter lethality. He also provided attendees a look behind the curtain at DISA’s administrative structure to include the agency’s mission support functions of procurement, workforce services, chief financial officer and the Risk Management Executive.
His presentation identified organizations DISA administratively supports as well as those organizations that have since moved on. These organizations include the Joint System Engineering and Integration Office, the Phoenix Air Ground Communication Network, the National Background Investigation System and the Consolidated Adjudication Facility.
To ensure mission partners, and those who might want to partner with DISA, are familiar with the agency’s senior civilian and military leadership, Montemarano identified DISA Special Staff, Mission Support staff, Development and Business Center staff, several agency leaders by name and duty responsibility, Joint Service Provider staff, Operations Center staff, and Cyberspace Operations field commanders.
He then wrapped his presentation with a mission summary.
“Our primary focus in life is building new solutions while operating and defending deployed infrastructures,” he said. “Providing what is out there today and ensuring it’s working 24/7/365 is job one.”
In closing, Montemarano admits in the ever-evolving IT world, DISA can’t rest on its reputation as the trusted provider to connect and protect the warfighter in cyberspace.
“In the wonderful world of information technology, you just can’t sit on that,” he said. “You have to keep moving, you have to be evolving.”