DISA’s New Director Is Promoted to Lieutenant General
Robert Skinner prepares to return to Ft. Meade
Today, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s new leader, Lt. Gen. Skinner, USAF, was promoted, and tomorrow, he will take on his new role. Gen. Skinner returns to the agency, known as DISA, this time at the helm. He is taking over from Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the current director of DISA and the commander of the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN) as she retires after three years in the role.
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Hyten, USAF, led Gen. Skinner’s promotion—from major general—at the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, with family and other key leaders in attendance, including Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, director, National Security Agency, and chief, Central Security Service.
“He's going to become the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency tomorrow afternoon, and General Nakasone will be there,” Gen. Hyten explained when introducing Gen. Skinner at the ceremony. “And he’ll take command of maybe the most significant cyber organization under U.S. Cyber Command in terms of operating the defense networks and the communication elements.
“Bob was a squadron commander early on and maybe one of his proudest moments was the fact that as a young officer he became commander of the comm [communications] squadron at Cannon Air Force Base under Air Combat Command (ACC),” Gen. Hyten continued. “ACC has a significant award that is given to the unit that best uses their people, their human resources. The Verne Orr award is named for the [14th] Secretary of the Air Force [George Vernon Orr],” And the Verne Orr award that year went to Bob Skinner's unit, which pretty much tells you right from the beginning that he was a pretty special commander.”
Gen. Skinner, who was confirmed by the Senate for the position in late October, previously served at DISA as the chief of staff from September 2014 to March 2015 for then-Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, USAF. Gen. Skinner followed that initial position at DISA with the role as deputy commander of JFHQ-DODIN for the next two years.
The new director has substantial cyber experience, serving as the Air Force’s representative to the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the job when he was commander of the 24th Air Force and Air Forces Cyber at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas from July 2018 to October 2019, before the Air Force restructured, moving the cyber component to Air Combat Command and merging the 24th and 25th Air Force into the 16th Air Force.
In addition, Gen. Skinner previously served as the deputy commander of Air Forces Cyber at Fort Meade from July 2013 to September 2014.
He also has experience with space domain operations, having served as deputy commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 2017–July 2018.Gen. Skinner comes this time to Ft. Meade from Hawaii, where he had served since October 2019 as the J-6, or director, Command, Control, Communications, and Cyber, at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith.
Notably, Gen. Skinner started his military service in the U.S. Navy, enlisting in 1984 and attending basic training in Orlando. A chief in the Navy saw his leadership abilities and encouraged him to join the Air Force as an officer. He was subsequently commissioned into the Air Force through Officer Training School in 1989, after receiving a Bachelor of Science in computer science, Summa Cum Laude, from Park College in Parkville, Missouri.
“Running the network for our space business, and then you did a remarkable job as wing commander at Lackland and as the numbered Air Force commander at Lackland,” Gen. Hyten said. “And if you look back through that record, and the folks in here know it as well or better than I do, you are the best commander going across the board, and you set the stage for being a three star general.”
“[Another] quote that I try to live by is from Albert Schweitzer, the philanthropist, who said example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing,” said Gen. Skinner. “And I’ve tried to mimic and learn from each and everyone of you, everyone [from my colleagues and family] attending in the virtual world, and you Gen. Hyten, and learn those great traits and lead by example.”