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CHIPS Articles: DISA Director highlights importance of data, diversity, digital modernization

DISA Director highlights importance of data, diversity, digital modernization
By Walter T. Ham, DISA Public Affairs - April 13, 2021
The Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network commander and Defense Information Systems Agency director highlighted the importance of data, diversity and digital modernization during last month’s Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, who assumed the DISA directorship and command of JFHQ-DODIN Feb. 26 after serving as the J6 director for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, moderated a combatant command panel of Command, Control, Communications and Cyber J6 directors at the virtual event.

Army Brig. Gen. Jacqueline “Denise” Brown, J6 director for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Elizabeth Durham-Ruiz, J6 director for U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Brig. Gen. Michelle Hayworth, J6 director for U.S. Transportation Command, also served on the panel and highlighted the challenges and opportunities in their respective commands.

During his opening remarks, Skinner said that data are critical to maintaining information superiority across every warfighting domain and phase of operations, from competition to conflict.

“I look at data as the 21st century center of gravity,” said Skinner. “If you own the data, if you understand the data and you can leverage the data, then you have the decision space ahead of the adversary and ahead of your competition … Data is at the heart of everything that we do.”

Skinner also focused on the importance of building a 21st century cyber workforce that leverages the diversity of the nation.

He emphasized that diversity includes more than race, sex and age.

“It’s diversity of thought,” he said. “It’s diversity of background. It’s diversity of experiences that really put us ahead of the adversary. It puts us ahead of the competition each and every day.”

Highlighting the importance of digital modernization, Skinner called on industry to help the nation stay ahead of great power competitors.

“This is where I think industry can really help. It’s how do we leverage technology as a solution to get after the problem set? It’s not just a tool here or there. It’s a holistic look at a capability that can handle the complex nature of our environment,” said Skinner.

Skinner said industry was crucial to the nation’s success in this era of great power competition.

“I ask industry’s help to come out of the dugout, walk to home plate and help us score some runs so we can stay ahead of the adversary as we strategically compete,” said Skinner.

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