DIA CIO Douglas Cossa, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Dr. Stacey Dixon, and DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier discuss IT advances at DoDIIS 2023.

Dec 12 2023

DoDIIS 2023: Tech Partnerships Take Priority for Intelligence Community

Industry partners can assist with additional perspective on modernization needs.

Top intelligence officials stressed the importance of partnerships — whether the collaboration be with other agencies, allies, academia or industry — in talks Monday at the 2023 Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference in Portland, Ore.
“We’re talking about leveraging emerging technologies,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, commander of Air Force Cyber. “Unless it’s an offensive capability — offensive cyber would be the example for us — it’s unlikely we’re the innovators. I don’t have the budget that industry has. I want to be an early adopter.”
Intelligence and military agencies can also take lessons from industry, according to Stacey Dixon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. 
“We know that there are individuals out there who want to be part of our community who are all over the world. Industry does a great job of thinking about that,” she said. 
“We also all have supply chain issues we need to think about — how do you protect that? And they spend a lot of time protecting and securing their own intellectual property, and we can learn from that.”
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Changing Environments Call for New Intelligence Solutions

The theme of the 20th DoDIIS is, as Kennedy alluded to, “Chaos to Clarity: Leveraging Emerging Technologies,” and many speakers noted the changing world environment as a reason to seek out partnerships and continue to modernize their current technology.
Defense Intelligence Agency CIO Douglas Cossa pointed out modernization that occurred in the mid 2010s, when federal agencies were subject to sequestration, a mandatory reduction in their budgets. “During that time, IT was the bill-payer to preserve a lot of mission capabilities that we had,” he said. 
With the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), DIA developed a desktop environment known as DTE that today still has 70,000 users. It’s built of shared services delivered via a private cloud. “This aids in the integration of how we share intelligence,” Cossa said.
Sometimes the environmental issues are literal. The home base of U.S. Strategic Command found that out a few years ago. “Offutt Air Force Base got hit with a 500-year flood, wiping out large portions of the base,” Kennedy said. “We’re thinking through where our facilities are based so we don’t have a single point of failure.”
Ensuring the resiliency of the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) — a new contract capability that lets the DOD buy cloud services directly from commercial cloud providers — will be key to those efforts, he added.
DISCOVER: A project by the Treasury Department will inform cloud modernization in the IC.

‘Dangerous’ Times Call for Increased Agency Cooperation

“We are really, really in a dangerous environment now,” said DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, listing the conflicts in Ukraine, between Israel and Hamas and ongoing threats from China. “We’ve had to retool how we do business.”
That, he said, “is underpinned by technology. Everything that we’re doing in the network space with JWCC is key to creating foundational military intelligence. We’re pushing around data in ways we haven’t been able to before.”
Many of the leaders in the defense and intelligence communities and among key foreign allies have known each other for years, Berrier said, and those relationships can help speed along information — as long as the technology is there to support it.
“We may be doing sensitive intelligence on one network, but it has to be able to get down to another network for us and to other networks for the coalition,” Berrier said.
“The ability to flip that switch and make that happen — the technology is there, the will is there. We just have to get that all in the same space so that we can do it more effectively in the next crisis.”

To learn more about DoDIIS 2023, visit our conference page. You can also follow us on X (formerly Twitter) at @FedTechMagazine to see behind-the-scenes moments.

Elizabeth Neus

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