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News | Dec. 7, 2021

DoDIIS Day Two: Defense leaders talk strategic threats and key partnerships

By DIA Public Affairs

The second day of the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference kicked off in Phoenix this morning with a focus on the technological innovations required to modernize communications across the Intelligence Community.

For 20 years, the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference has served as the largest Intelligence Community IT conference. This one-stop immersive event allows guests to hear from Government leaders, foreign partners, academia and industry, and discuss technical solutions to support the warfighter and the Nation.

Throughout the day, speakers addressed strategic threats from their various perspectives across the DoD.

Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of the 16th Air Force Cyber Command, opened the morning session explaining the role of his airmen in operating and defending the Air Force networks, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, the Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network, and the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network.

Offering the role of U.S. Cyber Command in election defense as an example, Haugh explained that there are new vulnerabilities that the United States could not have predicted 20 years ago. Accordingly, the Nation needs a modernized approach to cybersecurity problems.

Haugh implored industry leaders to focus on things that will bring the most value to pacing threats, leverage common commercial standards, and assist DoD in getting data off legacy platforms while keeping cybersecurity at the forefront of all capabilities.

Brig. Gen. Tina Boyd, director of J6 at U.S. Central Command, followed Haugh’s remarks and outlined the challenges CENTCOM faces. Her remarks focused on the necessity for innovation to avoid being outpaced in a strategic competition environment.

Boyd explained that, to compete with China in light of their expanding cyber presence and domain, stove-piped networks will not allow the United States to meet today’s challenges.

Boyd, who previously worked for Coca-Cola as director of innovation, stressed the need to innovate and foster a new culture within DoD.

“With innovation, you understand that the risk is going to be those little failures,” said Boyd. “And those little failures will help you avoid that catastrophic failure.”

Following Boyd’s remarks, Michael Waschull, acting Intelligence Community chief information officer and deputy IC CIO, drew on historical examples of strategic surprise as he described the Intelligence Community's plan for evolving technologies and multi-cloud implementation — key innovations for the future of intelligence and the DoD.

Waschull began by acknowledging the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a strategic surprise that severely crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Despite the terrible outcome of that day, Waschull explained that the attack could have been far worse. Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet in 1941, said the Japanese made three mistakes: They attacked on a Sunday morning when most crewmen were on leave; they left the drydocks intact, allowing for the quick repair of damaged ships; and they did not destroy the Pacific Fleet’s fuel supply.

Wrapping up the brief history lesson, Waschull implored the audience to carefully assess threats to the Nation and be aggressive in combating them.

“We simply can’t count on hope and good luck to save us from strategic surprise, specifically in the cyber domain in which we operate,” said Waschull.

Waschull added that safeguarding critical infrastructure and overcoming the legal impediments to sharing intelligence will provide a combat advantage. In addition, the United States must promote cooperation and collaboration in order to maintain its edge on the competition, keeping in mind that evolving technologies necessitate the need to collect information at an unprecedented speed.

“We need the strongest possible national unity and purpose to protect our Nation's secrets and keep pace with our adversaries,” concluded Waschull.

The Day Two plenary session concluded with two panels: an IC CIO panel and a former DIA CIO panel. The IC CIO panel drew a discussion from panelists on the importance of recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce, IT modernization, increasing reliance on open-source intelligence, and the implementation of cloud capabilities.

According to DIA CIO Douglas Cossa, the IC is leading the way among Federal agencies in providing reasonable accommodations to make the workplace more accessible. In addition to utilizing new technology enabling the deaf and hard of hearing to work more effectively, the Agency continues to work with industry partners to improve IT accessibility for teleworkers.

At the former DIA CIO panel, three former DIA CIOs convened to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities they faced during their tenures, an unprecedented pandemic-driven workforce posture, developing a culture of innovation, and improving customer support.

“I believe that your real job is not the tactical day to day,” said former DIA CIO Jack Gumtow. “It’s really about the future vision and ensuring that we can continue to operate and meet mission demands that are placed on us.”

Tune in to DIA’s Facebook on Wednesday to hear the final day of plenary sessions, and follow DIA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all news related to defense intelligence and the 2021 DoDIIS Worldwide Conference.