DISA five-year plan treats cyber as warring domain

cyber attack button

The Defense Information Systems Agency has released a five-year strategy that calls on Defense Department personnel to treat cyberspace like a war-fighting domain by enabling maneuvering on DOD networks.  

“We will execute synchronized [DOD information network] command, operations and cyber defense missions to ensure freedom of maneuver for the war-fighter and mission partners,” the document states.

“We’re waking up to realizing that there is a lot more that needs to be protected, there [are] a lot of better ways that we need to protect” DOD assets, said DISA Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins. The department intends to “employ our principles of war – whether it is maneuver, speed [or] surprise” – in cyberspace, added Hawkins, who spoke June 16 at an AFCEA conference in Baltimore.

The plan outlines general goals for the agency, including cutting costs by getting rid of “duplication in production and operations,” and delivering IT services through commercial and DISA-managed cloud services. The document is short on specifics for carrying out the goals. Those details may come via a separate “strategic roadmap” that DISA is planning to release in October.

The plan also includes a list of six technological areas that are “the most critical for DISA to understand, acquire and evolve over the next five years.” Those six areas are:

  • Networking technologies that will help consolidate various network enclaves into a “single, integrated transport network.”
  • Computing and storage technologies that offer flexibility and interoperability.
  • Unified capability technologies that will improve productivity and information sharing.
  • Mobile-device and mobile-application technologies that will help transition to an environment where DOD employees can work from anywhere.
  • Cyber technologies that will help the department withstand major attacks.
  • Network operations technologies that will “ensure the continuity of cyber domain operations in the face of disruption and attack.”

DISA officials said on June 16 that Army Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, the agency’s vice director, will replace Hawkins as director sometime this summer. Hawkins announced in January that he would retire.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a former FCW staff writer.


  • Federal 100 Awards
    Federal 100 logo

    Nominations for the 2021 Fed 100 are now being accepted

    The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31.

  • Government Innovation Awards
    Government Innovation Awards -

    Congratulations to the 2020 Rising Stars

    These early-career leaders already are having an outsized impact on government IT.

Stay Connected