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Speeches and Testimonies
Sept. 9, 2022

Billington Cybersecurity Summit Fireside Chat with DIA Director LTG Scott D. Berrier

Moderated by U.S. Cyber Command Executive Director David Frederick Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity.

U.S. CYBER COMMAND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DAVID FREDERICK: General, so good to see you today. It’s really an honor to be able to moderate this fireside chat. You know, we go way back. I think we actually worked together first in 2005, and had the honor to serve together in U.S. Forces Korea. So, it's just it's just a pleasure to see you again today.

DIA DIRECTOR LTG SCOTT BERRIER: Dave, it's great to be here with you. And we saw some interesting times back in Korea in the day, and we’re seeing interesting times now in this era of strategic competition.

FREDERICK: Absolutely. Well, I'll just jump right in with some questions for you about the Defense Intelligence Agency and your strategy and how you see the role related to cyberspace and support to cyberspace operations. So my first question, General Berrier: The Defense Intelligence Agency is a key player in the Intelligence Community, especially in your role supporting combatant commands. And given the strategic shift toward strategic competition, how is DIA changing its strategy and mission capabilities?

BERRIER: Yeah, thanks, Dave. There have been a number of changes within the Defense Intelligence Agency over the last couple of years, but what hasn't changed, really, is our commitment to foundational military intelligence. That is, to be the master sense makers of foreign militaries around the world, their capabilities, their doctrine and their training, and to be able to bring that to the Department of Defense. I think in this era of strategic competition, what we've tried to do in accordance with the National Defense Strategy is to realign DIA to be able to better support that. Last year, we stood up an office called the Deputy Director for Global Integration. Think of think of that office is sort of the J3 or operations function for the Agency where that individual, the senior that's leading that charge, can really direct activities, realign resources, and move to the sound that we need to move to as it relates to China and Russia.

FREDERICK: Well, speaking of China and Russia, you know, the world is very unsettled right now. And given the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the PRC’s recent saber rattling over Taiwan, can you share your views on maybe some recent lessons learned that's starting to shape your strategy?

BERRIER: Sure. It's been going on for a while now. And I think I think the success that the Intelligence Community had about the prediction of the Russian invasion was really, really interesting. And it was an all-hands effort from really every agency in the IC. From the DIA perspective, though, I think what we brought to the table was the foundational military intelligence perspective of the Russian army at the time, what we knew when we knew it, and then sharing that early with partners. So one of the biggest successes really came from what I would call a dynamic policy environment that was able to modify existing policies to be able to share with more and more partners. And I think as that drama unfolded in Ukraine, we were able to convince partners and allies and others of what was about to happen and when it was going to happen. So, I think that was a huge deal. And then post-invasion, our ability to continue the connectivity with our partners, not only Five Eyes, but others as well, to be able to discuss the ongoing conflict and then share with partners in the region was really, really critical, especially by, with and through our partners at U.S. European Command. As you all know, the unique thing about the Defense Intelligence Agency is that all of our embedded officers within all the combatant command J2 teams are DIA folks, so we have a very close linkage to the combatant commands and, in this case, with U.S. European Command in the stand-up of our Integrated Crisis Group-Russia — a very, very close knit team working on the Russia-Ukraine crisis every single day.

FREDERICK: Okay, great. Great insights there. So, you know, I want to kind of shift now and dig into cyber events. So, you know, sir, you've led intelligence operations at every echelon, in multiple theaters of war, and based on your experience and in the work of doing intelligence support to so many different commands. You know what is very similar between the other domains like land and maritime and space. So where is cyber kind of very similar to other domains, and where is intelligence support to cyber quite different?

BERRIER: Yeah, I would say the thing that's the same is the insatiable demand for information related to cyber activity. That is definitely consistent with what we find in the other domains across the Department of Defense. People just want to know what's going on. What's different, though, you know, when you look at all those other domains — whether it's land, sea, air, space — there is a visible footprint that you can track. And so, if you think about foundational military intelligence, it's based on understanding what the foreign militaries have, what their capabilities are, based on the physical presence of these things. It's harder in cyber because you may know where a cyber facility physically is located. But you really don't know what activity is going on inside that facility. You don't know what tools are being taken advantage of. You don't know what networks are being operated on. And then when you add the layer complexity of all the publicly available information, what's going on and social media in that space, is huge. And it's a large, large gap, I think, for the Intelligence Community. We definitely have to get better.

FREDERICK: Great lead in on the comment about publicly available information, because the next question I want to talk to you about is, you know, major change since we began our careers as intelligence officers 30 years ago, one is the explosive growth of private sector, cyberthreat intelligence for the last few years, and also the volume and variety of open-source information that's available. And so how are those changes affecting the DIA? How are you adapting to this kind of new environment?

BERRIER: Yes, it's really interesting, and it's certainly dynamic. I remember reading a paper written by Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson, who was the Agency director back in the 1970s. This is a World War II vet with a very storied career, even in the 1970s. He was saying that 70% of the information that the IC provides comes from open source. That open-source statement was much different than the open source that we have today with [publicly available information] and [commercially available information], so it's the same but it's much, much different. Last year, DIA was named the Defense Intelligence Enterprise manager for open-source intelligence for the Department of Defense. What that really means for DIA is we now have the responsibility to manage and organize ourselves, so that we've got the right training and tradecraft, that we've got the right policies in place, and that we all have standards to operate in within the open-source enterprise. And I think there's a large intersection with cyber and cyber intelligence in that space. And we're working now to try and understand what that really means for the Agency. We know that our Open Source Intelligence Center probably isn't staffed to the capacity that it should be to be able to get after this. And we think that there's room for discussion about what the future of cyber intelligence really is in partnership with Cyber Command, NSA and others across the community to really define where it is we need to go.

FREDERICK: Okay, so I think we’re almost down to the final questions here. And you know, a question for you is really about your technology base. You know, DIA plays a really important role in the Intelligence Community in terms of providing technology capabilities, and providing databases and infrastructure. And so, how are you adapting the DIA's technological capabilities to better support the cyber mission?

BERRIER: Yeah, there are two areas that I'd like to discuss on this one, Dave. The first one starts with JWICS, which is our top-secret warfighting intelligence network. You know, when it first started over 30 years ago, it was meant to just push very, very sensitive information across one network for intelligence purposes. We all know that it's expanded across to be more of an intelligence and command control kind of network right now. And so that's a required investment. We have not kept pace with where we should have to be able to secure that network. Thankfully, I think it's probably the most secure network in DoD at this point, but we are going to invest significant dollars over the next five years to continue to modernize JWICS to ensure that it's as hard as it can be; that it's taking advantage of access to cloud data; and that we, along with our IC partners, are in the right place at the right time to deliver the information that we do as quickly as we can. So that's the JWICS quick story there. It's really kind of the underlying technological piece for DIA that allows us to do what we do across all the combatant commands in DoD.

BERRIER: The other aspect is MARS, which is the Machine-assisted Rapid-repository System. MARS replaces a foundational military intelligence system called MIDB, the Military Intelligence Integrated Database, that was really started in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And it was how we sort of tracked military forces around the world at DIA Headquarters and also through combatant commands. The interesting thing about that it's an effective database, but it's dated. It sort of looks like Excel and Access and records are not updated as often as they should be. And so, the MARS program really infuses that with AI and ML, and makes it a much richer program for analysts. We started to work through our development and fielding of that program, and we think by about 2024, MARS will completely replace MIDB. And they are really five modules that are important in MARS. The first one is sort of our infrastructure database, which really characterizes infrastructure and installations around the world. The second module, which was really updated during the Russia-Ukraine crisis, deals with border battle. So, understanding what those military forces look like, what kinds of equipment they have, where that equipment at is, and then the ability to track them globally as they deploy. Those are the two modules we have now. We're working investment strategies and development on the last three model modules. The next one will be intelligence mission data, which is sort of that group of information that tells us what systems are required to have to operate the world and what makes them tick. And then, we'll deal with a space module and then, probably germane to this conversation, is the cyber module. And so, understanding what those cyber facilities are worldwide, who operates within those facilities, and how they operate will definitely be a MARS component. And I think we'll build toward our understanding and knowledge of cyber operations worldwide.

FREDERICK: Well, I just kind of highlighted it at Cyber Command. We're really looking forward to partnering with you on it. We're looking really hard at where we can apply AI/ML to our whole range of missions and, you know, our J2, as you mentioned, is DIA officers, a fantastic team. It's producing just incredible intelligence on cyberthreats every day. 

BERRIER: He's also been very demanding with DIA Headquarters activity capability.

FREDERICK: Insatiable demand!

BERRIER: Yeah, Mooches, if he's watching — he's not shy. I'll say that.

FREDERICK: Yeah, we're pushing hard and because we have a global mission and a lot of threats to track.

BERRIER: And what does it get? It does get to a great conversation about what is cyber intelligence support, and what does it look like and what does it mean? DIA has a very, very close relationship with the service intelligence centers. We also have the Missile and Space Intelligence Center. And so, those organizations are solely focused on a characteristic of capability that our adversaries have. I think it's really important to understand and define where it is we want to go. And I think right now, in partnership with Cyber Command, we're looking at that right now and deciding what the way ahead is going to be and how expensive that will be and what it looks like.

FREDERICK: Yeah, and we know we're tough customer. I mean, if you look at our mission range, and the fact that just like DIA we support all the other geographic commands as well. Yeah, we got a lot on our plate, and we're going to be a tough customer, but I know we'll get there. I did want to follow up with one final question. Unless you have any other comments.

BERRIER: I was just going to say, when you think about intelligence support to cyber operations, there's a defensive component, there's an offensive component, and there's a lot there to peel back. And so, we look forward to working with CYBERCOM on all that.

FREDERICK: Yeah, absolutely. And back to the changes over our career, you know, when we started in intelligence support, cyber defense just wasn't a mission. Now, it's something that we do every day support in defense of the DoD information.

BERRIER: In many cases, it's the first question that commanders ask: How much risk am I assuming and what is the status of the network?

FREDERICK: We hear that a lot. So, let me let me ask in closing, are there any other areas in DIA that you're looking to change, or anything else from a strategy point of view you want to highlight for the audience?

BERRIER: Yeah, thanks. I did shameless plug for our intelligence strategy. We published it last year. It really has four lines of effort. The first one is Intelligence Advantage. That's really seeing first, knowing first and providing information to the Department of Defense to act first. So important in strategic competition. The other one is Culture of Innovation. That's where we can get help from all of you on the programs that I discussed, and where we need to go and how we can innovate with technology. The third one, maybe the most important, is Allies and Partnerships. And so, over the course of this latest conflict with Russia and Ukraine, our allies and partners have been key. And we need to foster that and we need to nurture those relationships to the best of our ability. So that when we need help, that help is there and we can call. And then the last one is the Adaptive Workforce. And that is really about recruiting the right talent at the right time, and then giving them the tools that they need to be successful within the DIA construct and model. If you think about what are the specific tools, training and expertise that a cyber intelligence analyst needs, we're working through that right now. We want to be able to deliver that and grow these folks inside the organization. So at some point, whether they transfer to CYBERCOM, NSA or other combatant commands, that they bring that expertise and knowledge that they got at DIA main to the rest of the workforce.

FREDERICK: Well, sir, you really hit some discussion points. It's been highlighted multiple times at this conference today and, you know, 1) partnerships and allies, and then secondly, the workforce and how we build out the cyber workforce of the future. So, thanks a lot, general. Just a pleasure to see you again. And thank you so much for this fireside chat today and for getting time to the conference.

BERRIER: David, great to see you and I look forward to the work we're going to do together on intelligent support to cyber. 

FREDERICK: Alright, I'll finish with the HOOAH.