Rumors of DISA's demise dismissed

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Rumors have been swirling for months around the Pentagon and in the private sector about a possible massive reorganization of the Defense Information Systems Agency, but a top DISA official said the rumors are untrue and that the agency is being given even more funding and responsibility.

The war on terrorism and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vision for transformation — focused on joint operations and enhanced command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities — has caused some DOD and industry officials to question whether DISA is the right agency to handle numerous tasks, including some of its core and "best-fit" (noncore) missions.

DISA's five core missions are communications, command and control, defensive information operations, combat support computing, and joint interoperability support activities. One example of a best-fit mission is supporting White House and presidential communications systems, said Robert Hutten, director for strategic plans, programming and policy at DISA.

DISA officials briefed DOD and service-level senior leaders on the agency's core and best-fit missions last year, and there were no proposals at that time to move functions to another agency, and there have not been any since then at that level, Hutten said.

"There are always studies and people that propose things, but there is no active action right now that I know of that would cause that to happen," he said.

One persistent rumor dogging DISA is that it will lose its authority over joint command and control programs to Joint Forces Command (JFcom). Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr., director of command, control, communications and computer systems for the Joint Staff, has repeatedly called for JFcom to be put in charge of joint C2 programs, and late last year he said a decision was forthcoming to make that happen.

Hutten said he had no doubt that JFcom's role in the joint C2 arena would be enhanced, but mostly at the tactical, or battle management, level as opposed to the strategic or operational level. He said that JFcom's role would be more "oversight and requirements gathering and generation," but that the acquisition programs would remain with the individual services and agencies that have them today.


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