The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has had to juggle technologies to maintain effective service to its customers-the defense community. Both civilian and military Defense Department organizations depend on DISA for vital connectivity around the clock and around the globe. While the agency has been able to tap commercial capabilities to a greater degree, its customer demands-especially for bandwidth-have been growing faster than expected.
Keeping networks secure is one of the most important and challenging tasks for the U.S. Defense Department as it continues its morph into a network-centric force. The Defense Information Systems Agency’s Field Security Operations Division has the responsibility for ensuring the strength of those networks by certifying and testing them against threats. A few recent, and some gradual, changes have occurred to streamline the security process, as more systems connect into the Global Information Grid. The review process involves multiple levels of urgency along with a range of possible violations.
Leaps in technology innovation and changes in the business enterprise climate are transforming the military’s view of its primary information systems provider. Network stability, computing advances, increased financial transparency, enhanced governance and the compelling need to modernize systems are key instigators in this new perception—and exciting opportunities are likely to keep it going. But because supplying warfighters with bleeding-edge technologies quickly, flexibly and robustly can be an elusive goal, work continues in earnest to remain one step ahead of the next requirement.
A major Defense Information Systems Agency program is serving as a transformational change agent for the U.S. Defense Department by blazing a path toward the much desired network-centric method of data sharing. The system, which enables military information exchange in a trusted environment with dynamic and flexible users and needs, already has begun providing capabilities to customers. It is about to enter the initial operational test and evaluation phase.
The Defense Information Systems Agency has transformed its acquisition policy over the past several years, and the success of the new method has resulted in cost savings and faster deployments of capabilities. As new programs—both large and small—advance, the agency plans to be as open as possible with industry in an effort to create synergy that will generate the best solutions.
Not content with being a global service provider, the Defense Information Systems Agency is striving to extend its network to take advantage of new capabilities that it is introducing into the force. Many of these new capabilities magnify the power of the network as it reaches the tactical edge, and they may change the nature of communications and information flow.
The U.S. military is reducing excess and providing capabilities to personnel faster by implementing nontraditional contracts. The new arrangements allow the military to pay only for what it needs when it needs it and to take advantage of existing tools instead of duplicating efforts. The contracts enable the force to skip the cumbersome acquisition process and scale up services more quickly.
Invisible conflicts are erupting on the battlefield as U.S. and coalition troops compete for precious electromagnetic spectrum. These e-turf wars may be silent, but they can be as deadly as enemy fire when warfighters have to choose between disarming an improvised explosive device and calling for close-air support. To resolve this conflict, the U.S. Defense Department now has an organization whose primary mission is to ensure that all warfighters have the spectrum they need when they need it.
The convergence of media and services in commercial cyberspace has its counterpart in the defense arena, where experts are tapping commercial technologies and standards to provide seamless information access to warfighters and decision makers.
After years of building the military's information superhighway, the U.S. Defense Department now is turning its attention to the information and services that travel on it and simultaneously is searching for ways to ensure a secure trip. To this end, the new head of the agency in charge of providing the department with the technical capabilities it requires will create a strategic vision that ensures that technology programs spiral in the right direction and lead to capabilities for use at the tactical edge. Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, the new director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, says this vision must define roles and responsibilities clearly and that developing it will require collaboration among the agency, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the services and industry.
Every year, scores of wireless communications products enter the commercial marketplace, but ensuring their security in U.S. government applications remains a major cause for concern for federal authorities. Through the Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency, the government is creating an architecture as resistant to hacking and other cybercrime as it is secure and efficient for approved users to navigate. A key part of this effort is an accreditation regime that tests and approves all new technologies set to enter civilian government and military programs.
Focus with flexibility is now the hallmark of the U.S. Defense Department's principal communications capabilities provider. Just 18 months after its third restructuring and in the midst of supporting current operations, the Defense Information Systems Agency is nearing final operational capability of a robust network foundation that will offer warfighters a mega-increase in bandwidth. At the same time, the agency has been meeting immediate needs with new services and scoping out a future that may include modularly designed Web services. These Web services would allow warfighters to harvest the information and intelligence they need from various sources in near-real time.
The U.S. Defense Department's primary information technology support agency is doing its part for military transformation by undertaking a major reorganization. By overhauling its organizational structure, the Defense Information Systems Agency aims to maintain the high level of support to its customers that it has been providing in current operations and in the global war against terrorism. The reorganization will help the agency take advantage of opportunities in five areas and position it to become the department's primary provider of end-to-end global network-centric solutions.