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Defense Official Testifies About DOD Information Technology, Cybersecurity Efforts

June 30, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

President Joe Biden's interim National Security Strategic Guidance and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's priorities drive key areas on the Defense Department's cloud, software network modernization, cybersecurity work, workforce, command-and-control communications and data, DOD's acting chief information officer said.

John Sherman told the House Armed Services Committee's panel on cyber, innovative technologies and information systems that cloud computing is a critical step for the enterprise. "We've made cloud computing a fundamental component of our global [information technology] infrastructure and modernization strategy," he said yesterday. "With battlefield success increasingly reliant on digital capabilities, cloud computing satisfies the warfighters' requirements for rapid access to data, innovative capabilities, and assured support."

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The DOD remains committed in its drive toward a multi-vendor, multi-cloud ecosystem with its fiscal year 2022 cloud investments, which represent more than 50 different commercial vendors, including commercial cloud service providers and system integrators, he added.

And the DOD's ability to leverage that technology has matured over the last several years, and it's driving hard to accelerate the momentum even more in that space, Sherman said.

"Software capabilities and networks are also critical to our success," he said. "[We] will release a software modernization strategy later this summer that builds on already developed guidance. We are dedicated to delivering resilient software capability at the speed of relevance. The FY [20]22 budget includes investments to enable software modernization with cloud services as the foundation to fully integrate the technology process and people needed to deliver next-generation capabilities."

Marines in a cyber operations room.
Cyber Ops
Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command in the cyber operations room at Lasswell Hall aboard Fort Meade, Md., Feb. 5, 2020. Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command Marines conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command and operate, secure and defend the Marine Corps enterprise network.
Photo By: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jacob Osborne
VIRIN: 200205-M-VG714-0150C

In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis changed the way the DOD works, Sherman said. "The department deployed a commercial-based collaboration capability to enable the rapid transition to remote work. While cloud access and remote work introduces a significant burden to the DOD networks, we continue to deploy secure and agile solutions. All of these efforts must address cybersecurity from the start. The secretary previously discussed the department's investments in cybersecurity and cyberspace operations that will maintain the momentum of our digital modernization strategy," he noted.

The fiscal 2022 DOD cybersecurity budget maintains the enhanced funding levels established in fiscal 2020 and 2021 for key-enterprise cybersecurity capabilities that will enable the DOD to advance its focus on zero trust and risk management and drive its newly advanced investments to enhance resilience and cyber defenses, the acting CIO said.

Midshipmen at a cyber operations lunch.
Midshipmen Luncheon
Midshipmen from the Naval Academy participate in a luncheon with Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, senior enlisted leader of U.S. Cyber Command at Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command at Fort Meade, Md., Aug. 14, 2020. Marine Corps Forces Cyber Command participates in the National Security Agency’s Service Academy Internship Program. Applicants are primarily juniors and seniors at the Naval Academy who are majoring in computer science and cyber operations.
Photo By: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jacob Osborne
VIRIN: 200701-M-VG714-710C

"We take our responsibilities in this area very seriously, given the threat landscape we face," Sherman said. "While all divisions on our CIO team support warfighting, it is command, control and communications that might be most closely linked to the warfighter in the ground, sea, air and space domains. The critical capabilities in this portfolio, positioning navigation and timing, electromagnetic spectrum enterprise, and 5G are key priorities for the enterprise — especially as we face threats from our near-peer competitors."

The DOD often says that data is the ammunition of the future, he said, adding, "The department has prioritized ensuring the timely, secure and resilient access to data needed for military advantage in all-domain operations. While data management is not directly tied to specific program elements in the fiscal 2022 budget request, we are identifying, assessing and tracking our data-related investments as part of the budget certification process that I lead."