AF panel: Industry, DISA partnerships essential to deflect cyber threats


If industry is willing to pitch new IT system ideas, the Air Force is here to listen.

“It’s clear to me that we’re going to have to do a little bit of a better job in the Air Force of building the kind of capabilities from some of the [industry companies]we have here today,” said Lt. Gen Charles Davis, military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, during a Feb. 11 luncheon hosted by the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association Washington, D.C. Chapter.

The panel — moderated by Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, chief, Information Dominance for the Air Force — included Davis, Brig. Gen. Kimberly Crider, mobilization assistant to the chief of Information Dominance, and Essye Miller, director, Headquarters Air Force Information Management, Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force.

The panel discussed how the Air Force is looking to work more closely with industry partners and the Defense Information Systems Agency, the combat-support agency that provides information technology and communications support to military services, to be primary service providers for Defense Department infrastructure in order keep cyber threats as low as possible.

Aside from capabilities the Air Force has in place — including the movement into the Joint Information Environment network — the Air Force is still looking to bring more services forward and enhance programs already in place.

“It makes sense to align with organizations like DISA… or industry partners to provide [certain]service(s) because it gives an opportunity to not only change processes and manage expectations and appetite, but to give it to the professionals who could do it a lot better than we can internally,” Miller said.

Miller gave an example of migrating thousands of emails to the newly formed Air Force Network or AFNet, which began in 2013, in which DISA plays a prominent role.

Simultaneously, the Air Force must be on the same page as the other services to meet DoD’s IT needs with better security and efficiency, also known as the JIE initiative.

“The Air Force is moving into JIE,” Basla said. “But our challenges are this: finding the right…on ramps to these different capabilities because we been have in the process of modernizing and consolidating within each of the services, but now as we move to [joint information], we have to find that the right place where we will leverage the work we have done and [move]that into the joint capability that we see,” he said.

For other programs awaiting testing or approval, Davis said that “industry can really help out here [by]being honest and direct and open with the government.”

“You [industry professionals]need to tell us [the Air Force]when the architecture is not going to survive, when the processes have not been thought out…when our network is not going to be robust enough…to look at some of these things before they become a system,” Davis said.

The AFCEA D.C. chapter will next host the 2014 Cybersecurity Summit on March 4 at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C.


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  1. Harry Raduege, Lt. Gen., USAF (Ret) on

    I couldn’t agree more with the premise that Air Force, DISA, and industry partnerships are essential for mission success. The AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter sponsored a Cybersecurity Symposium last week setting a new registration record of 2,000 attendees. The Industry Panel — made up of 5 experts — provided outstanding insights while the Air Force and DISA were well represented with keynote presentations provided by Brig. Gen. Kim Crider and MG Al Lynn, respectively.

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