Intelligence

In first policy speech, DIA director prioritizes ICITE

computer network

In his first major policy speech since becoming Defense Intelligence Agency director in January, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart pledged to drive an ambitious intelligence community IT project forward.

The first Marine to lead DIA said he was so keen on reaping the benefits of the IC Information Technology Enterprise that he has tasked DIA Director of Analysis Cathy Johnston with operationalizing the project. “We are absolutely 100 percent committed to ICITE,” Stewart said at a July 30 dinner hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance in Arlington, Va.  

ICITE, a cloud-driven quest for a single IT architecture for the IC, is at a pivotal point. Earlier this month, DIA announced awards for a contract with the Enhanced Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise, a vehicle worth up to $6 billion. The contract is meant to make IT acquisition for intelligence agencies more efficient, and to help with the transition to ICITE. Meanwhile, the common desktop environment, a key part of ICITE, is at a crucial juncture after intelligence agencies recently awarded BAE Systems the second phase of that project. 

Yet while ICITE tools are being deployed, there are cultural challenges to their adoption. Stewart’s predecessor, David Shedd, told FCW in March that the project faces “cultural resistance” from intelligence officials clinging to the IT status quo. Stewart alluded to that sort of challenge in his colloquial remarks to an audience of contractors and current and former intelligence officials. “I walk into DIA and we have more antiquated equipment than I’m used to in the Marine Corps,” Stewart said to laughter.

“When I walk into the facility and we got equipment that’s 10 years old, and I walk out of the building and I get my smart phone and my iPad, and I got an app for every damn thing,” he added.

The head of the Pentagon’s spy agency was clear that much more work is needed to figure out how the ICITE architecture will be used. “If we design this architecture and just continue to do business as usual, it will be an absolute waste of money. It’s like designing the autobahn with the horse and buggy.”

Stewart, who was previously commander of the Marine Corps’ cyber command (MARFOR Cyber), shed light on his approach to cybersecurity while appealing to industry for help with challenges related to big data and modeling and simulation. “When I took over at MARFOR Cyber, I made the assumption that our networks were penetrated,” he said. “I’ve taken that same assumption going into DIA.”

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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