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Pentagon announces nomination of new DISA director

Update: This story has been updated with the correct name of the nominee to lead the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center after the Defense Department sent out an inaccurate nomination announcement.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency is getting a new director, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that President Donald Trump nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert J. Skinner to be director of Defense Information Systems Agency and commander of Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DoDIN). Skinner is replacing Vice Admiral Nancy A. Norton.

JFHQ-DoDIN, created in 2016, is a subordinate element to U.S. Cyber Command in charge of daily global defense of DoD networks.

Previously, as a one-star, Skinner served as the deputy of JFHQ-DoDIN during the early days of its inception. Skinner has previously told C4ISRNET he couldn’t be more proud of the work accomplished by the organization in the last several years.

“They have made huge strides,” he said in a 2018 interview, adding “they have skyrocketed … They’re truly doing command and control in the Department of Defense Information Networks, which is really making us more effective and more capable from a defensive side.”

Leading the Air Forces Cyber previously, Skinner received accolades from colleagues, especially concerning work Air Force teams performed in defense of the 2018 mid-term elections.

“He also led and was critical in the 2018 mid-term elections. Setting us on a path for the 2020 elections – a mission that I will contend will be enduring for the rest of time. It is not one that will end in 2020,” Vice Adm. Ross Myers, then Deputy Commander of Cyber Command, said of Skinner at the activation ceremony for 16th Air Force, the first information warfare numbered Air Force, in October 2019. Myers has been selected to lead 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command.

DISA did not immediately respond to a request about what is next for Norton. DISA is tasked with managing the Defense Department’s information technology needs and has a budget of about $9.4 billion, according to its website.

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will also receive a new director. After the department announced the incorrect nominee, JAIC spokesperson Arlo Abrahamson confirmed that Marine Corps Maj, Gen. Michael Groen will take the helm after the JAIC’s first director, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan retired in May. News of Groen’s nomination was first reported by Aviation Week.

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