DISA has a new director to oversee $11 billion in technology programs

The Defense Information Systems Agency held a change of command ceremony Feb. 1 at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, to welcome the agency’s new commander, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton.

Norton accepted the directorship of DISA Feb. 1 and will also lead Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Networks, U.S. Cyber Command’s global operational defense arm.

DISA oversees nearly $11 billion in defense technology programs and serves as the Defense Department’s de facto IT agency.

Outgoing Director Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, who served as the director since July 2015 and is retiring from active duty with more than 38 years of service Feb. 2, reflected on DISA’s mission for the Department of Defense and the nation.

“When you really get to see the breadth of what DISA does for the nation — not just in DoD, but across the nation — it’s awe-inspiring,” he said in a DISA release.

DISA has undergone a variety of reorganizations and internal changes under his tenure.

“I think [from when I first served at DISA to now] we have a much sharper focus on the customer,” he said. “The agency wasn’t designed back then to support customers as well as it is now.”

Three projects Lynn highlighted during his tenure include development of the DISA civilian workforce, evolution of DoD’s mobility capabilities, and the creation of JFHQ-DoDIN.

JFHQ-DoDIN reached full operational capability this month after being stood up three years ago.

“The members of Joint Force Headquarters–DoDIN are the war fighters using the cybersecurity apparatus DISA has built to actually maneuver and change the way we’re responding to the threat,” Lynn said.

“We’re changing the landscape of how we do business and making sure we can protect ourselves better. If the bad guys come into our terrain, now we know who’s supposed to be fighting them off.”

During an appearance before an AFCEA DC chapter-hosted lunch Jan. 11, Lynn referenced the “terabyte of death” and outlined the sophistication of cyber threats.

“When I first took over as director, we’d get a 1-gig to 2-gig attack at the internet access point, and we thought, ‘Ooh, that’s a big deal.’ And we did all the things we were supposed to do. Fast forward a couple years, now we get 600-gig attacks on the internet access points. Unique, different ways of attacking that we haven’t thought of before,” he said.

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