DISA’s new strategy focuses on simplifying, securing access to key systems

DISA photo by Kevin Headtke

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s new five-year strategy prioritizes the “large-scale adoption of a common IT environment” across DOD.

A five-year strategy released by the Defense Information Systems Agency on Wednesday calls for transforming the Pentagon’s information network to better meet global challenges, including by prioritizing efforts to enhance communication across disparate military environments and adopting a secure cloud environment. 

The strategy is designed to align the agency with the tenets of the Department of Defense’s 2022 National Defense Strategy, which included a focus on maintaining DOD’s global information advantage and securing its joint warfighting systems. 

“We must capitalize on opportunities to simplify the IT environment, experiment with emerging technologies and test our solutions in the environments in which the joint and coalition forces operate,” the new DISA strategy said. “We seek to partner with industry and academia to shape IT innovation towards solving our information system challenges.”

DISA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner said the agency “must continue to deliver while being challenged by great powers,” including when it comes to keeping pace with China. 

Skinner said the strategy prioritized “a few DOD-wide, enterprise-level solutions DISA must develop,” which are framed as integral to the Pentagon’s broader effort to address the challenges and concerns outlined in the National Defense Strategy. He identified four key efforts to meet these demands, including the need “to simplify the network with large-scale adoption of a common IT environment.” 

DOD has been working to create an interoperable information-sharing network — known as the combined joint all-domain command and control, or CJADC2 — that can be accessed from air, land, sea and cyberspace. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced in February that DOD components had developed “the minimum viable capability” for CJADC2.

The strategy noted that DISA, in collaboration with other military partners, “is uniquely postured to provide the mission partner environment the DOD needs to execute CJADC2 in a coalition environment.”

The agency’s plan also included a focus on developing a DOD-wide enterprise cloud environment that can provide users with secure and easy access. The strategy said DISA is hoping to achieve this goal by 2030, with the agency envisioning the creation of “a resilient, globally accessible hybrid cloud environment rooted in DevSecOps principles [that] supports emerging ‘as code’ and ‘as a service’ capabilities.”

DISA’s plan also prioritizes securing and optimizing its networks, including through the adoption of zero trust principles that the strategy said will bolster “the resiliency and readiness posture” of its key systems. 

The strategy also focused on the need to further operationalize data moving forward, which it said would provide DOD with “positional advantage” on the modern battlefield. The plan called for DISA to proactively collect, store and interpret data that can be used “to generate information and knowledge that enables warfighters to make relevant and timely decisions.”