Defense Information Systems Agency

Defense Information Systems Agency
Defense Information Systems Agency
Agency overview
Formed May 12, 1960
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency executive Lieutenant General Carroll F. Pollett, USA, Director
Parent agency Department of Defense

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is a United States Department of Defense agency that provides information technology (IT) and communications support to the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, the military Services, and the Combatant Commands.

As part of the Base Realignment and Closure, DISA is planning to move from Arlington, Virginia to Fort Meade, Maryland by September 2011.[1][2]

In September 1992, several Defense Management Report Decisions (DMRD) expanded DISA's role. DMRD 918 created the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII), now known as the Global Information Grid. At the same the Defense Information Systems Network was created to consolidate 122 DoD networks.[3]



DISA, a Combat Support Agency, engineers and provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations.

Command and control

DISA's Command and Control acronyms include the Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC), Global Combat Support System (GCSS), Combatant Command/Joint Task Force (CC/JTF), Global Command and Control System- Joint (GCCS-J), and Multinational Information Sharing (MNIS).

Computing/application hosting

DISA delivers hosting and information processing services from 13 computing centers.

Contracting and procurement

DISA purchases telecommunications and information technology products and services for the military. In a recent[which?] fiscal year, DISA administered 84,083 contracts — valued at approximately 6.8 billion US dollars.

Global information grid engineering

DISA plans, designs, constructs, and analyzes the effectiveness of the U.S. military's cyberspace. The Global Information Grid ("the GIG") is a term used for some projects. DISA establishes the technological standards that make the GIG secure and reliable.

Information assurance

To promote safe information sharing, DISA makes data ubiquitously accessible while restricting access, promotes the safe sharing of information, prevents attacks by having network protections in place and detects, diagnoses, and reacts to attacks. At the unit level, Information Assurance Security Officers facilitate this process.

Multinational information sharing

DISA's Multinational Information Sharing (MNIS) Program ensures that coalition forces can work together and communicate effectively. DISA establishes the standards for information formatting and encryption, and facilitate the sharing of that information in a single joint environment.

Net-centric enterprise services

Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) connects people and systems that have information (data and services) with those who need information.

Satellite communications services

Within the DoD, DISA leads satellite communications (SATCOM) services. DISA is involved in:

  • Commercial SATCOM: DISA is the sole authorized provider of commercial SATCOM services to the DoD.
  • DoD Teleport System: DISA provides voice, video, and data reachback capabilities.
  • Joint Internet Protocol Modem (JIPM): DISA is developing Teleports for secure transmission of Internet Protocol over satellite communication systems.
  • Presidential Communication Modernization (PCM): DISA provides voice, video, and data communications capabilities for the president and his staff.
  • Global Electromagnetic Spectrum Information System (GEMSIS): DISA is ensures spectrum access for warfighters.


DISA's Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) is the center of excellence for electromagnetic spectrum analysis and the development of integrated spectrum plans and long-term strategies to address current and future needs for DoD spectrum access. DSO provides direct operational support to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Combatant Commanders, Secretaries of Military Departments, and Directors of Defense Agencies.


Information technology systems and equipment must communicate not only within a specific branch of the military, but with other services, agencies, and coalition partners. DISA's Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) tests and provides joint certification for the [net-centric] systems employed by US armed forces.[citation needed]

Voice, video, and data services

DISA serves as the single senior manager for all Defense Information System Network (DISN) activities. It translates customers' wide area network (DoD calls these "long-haul") requirements into effective voice, video, and data network solutions; leverages proven and emerging technologies to ensure joint interoperability, assured security, and best value; evaluates technical operation and user mission effectiveness; and resolves technical support issues for DoD's long-haul networks.


Defense Communications Agency (1960–1991)

The Defense Communications Agency (DCA) was established May 12, 1960 by then-Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates. Its mission was to manage the Defense Communications System (DCS), a consolidation of the independent long-haul communications functions of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

In the 1960s, DCA moved to Arlington, Virginia, and took on several major organizations. The Air Force Office of Commercial Communications Management (now the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization), the White House Signal Agency (now the White House Communications Agency), and the DoD Damage Assessment Center (now the Joint Staff Support Center) all became a part of DCA. DCA also established six regional communications control centers and two area centers for operational control of the DCS.

In the 1970s, DCA subsumed the Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network and the Military Satellite Communications Systems Office. It also became responsible for engineering and operating the Worldwide Military Command and Control System. In the 1980s, DCA absorbed the Joint Tactical Command, Control, and Communications Agency, improving its ability to manage and enhance the interoperability of command, control, and communications systems. The Joint Interoperability Test Command was formed within DCA to provide interoperability compliance testing and certification.

The directors of the Defense Communications Agency were:

  • 1960–1962 Rear Admiral William D. Irvin, United States Navy
  • 1962–1964 LTG Alfred D. Starbird, United States Army
  • 1964–1967
  • 1967–1971 Lt. Gen. Richard P. Klocko, United States Air Force
  • 1971–1974 Lt. Gen. Gordon T. Gould, Jr., United States Air Force
  • 1974–1978 Lt. Gen. Lee M. Paschall, United States Air Force
  • 1978–1980 Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., United States Navy
  • 1980–1983 LTG William J. Hilsman, United States Army
  • 1983–1985 Lt. Gen. Winston D. Powers, United States Air Force
  • 1985–1987
  • 1987–1991 LTG John T. Myers, United States Army

Defense Information Systems Agency (since 1991)

On June 25, 1991, DCA was renamed DISA to reflect its role in providing total information systems management for the DoD. DISA implemented several Defense Management Report Decisions (DMRD), most notably DMRD 918, which created the Defense Information Infrastructure, now known as the Global Information Grid (GIG). DISA consolidated several (148) information processing centers, then operated by the Service Components and Defense Agencies, into 16 Defense megacenters and, within a few years, consolidated them further into five mainframe-processing centers known as Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECC) operated by DISA. The Joint Spectrum Center and the Defense Technical Information Center also became part of DISA. Employment peaks at more than 12,000 military and civilian members.[3]

With the onset of the Global War on Terror and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, DISA has been at the heart of providing the telecommunications and information systems that enable 21st century joint warfighting. The build up for Iraqi Freedom is the largest implementation of telecommunications and information technology in the history of warfare.

DISA, today, is in the forefront of the development of net-centric enterprise services, which will enable information sharing by connecting people and systems that have information with those who need information; development of net-enabled command capabilities, which will revolutionize command and control supporting joint warfighting; providing network services; and providing computing services that support more than 8 million users of more than 1,400 applications, using more than 1.7 petabytes of storage. DISA’s Computing Services is the number-one provider of Defense personnel, payroll, logistics, accounting, and medical records processing.[3]

DISA has been awarded five Joint Meritorious Unit Awards (similar to the Oscar Awards in which someone has to win) and continues to offer DoD information systems support, taking data services to the forward-deployed warfighter.

DISA's mission, responsibilities, functions, relationships, and authorities, under the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration/DoD Chief Information Officer (ASD (NII)/DoD CIO) are outlined in DoDD 5105.19, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), 25 July 2006.[4]

The directors of the Defense Information Systems Agency have been:

  • 2000-2005 Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege, Jr., United States Air Force
  • 2005-2008 Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., United States Air Force
  • 2008-present LTG Carroll F. Pollett, United States Army



The SIPRNET (Secret [formerly Secure] Internet Protocol Router Network) is a system of interconnected computer networks used by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit classified information (up to and including information classified SECRET) by packet switching over the TCP/IP protocols in a "completely secure" environment. It also provides services such as hypertext documents and electronic mail. In other words, the SIPRNET is the DoD’s classified version of the civilian Internet together with its counterpart, the Top Secret and SCI Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, JWICS.[3]


NIPRNET (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network) (formerly called the Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network) is used to exchange unclassified but sensitive information between "internal" users as well as providing military personnel access to the Internet, although certain social networking websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and some Google Apps remained restricted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). This restriction on the use of NIPRNET for social networking services (SNS) was lifted in February 2010, in a DoD Directive-Type Memorandum that outlined the Department's new stance on SNS "the NIPERNET shall be configured to provide access to all Internet-based capabilities (including SNS) across all DoD Components" [1]. NIPRNET is composed of Internet protocol routers owned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was created by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to supersede the earlier MILNET.[3]


The Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) program created a “bandwidth-available” environment to improve national security intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, information assurance, as well as command and control. Through GIG-BE, DISA leveraged DOD’s existing end-to-end information transport capabilities, significantly expanding capacity and reliability to select Joint Staff-approved locations worldwide. GIG-BE achieved full operational capacity on December 20 , 2005.[5]


The Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE), became operational in October 2008 under the joint guidance of DISA's Computing Services and Chief Technology Office. A user-self service provisioning portal allows DoD users to provision LAMP or Windows servers within its secured computing environment within 24 hours. This is a private cloud, and one of the first forays into cloud computing by the United States federal government.

In April 2009, DISA made operational an open source/government source software lifecycle development cycle patterned after the open source community's is a DISA-led activity designed to improve the ability of the U.S. Department of Defense to rapidly deliver dependable software, services and systems in support of net-centric operations and warfare. will:

  • Enable cross-program sharing of software, system components, and services
  • Promote early and continuous collaboration among all stakeholders (e.g., developers, material providers, testers, operators, and users) throughout the development life-cycle
  • Rapidly deliver effective and efficient development and test capabilities for DoD technology development efforts
  • Help protect the operational environment from potentially harmful systems and services
  • Encourage modularity so that large programs to be developed, fielded, and operated as a set of independent components that can evolve and mature at their own rates
  • Eliminate duplicative testing and improve dependability by adopting common test and evaluation criteria supported by standard testing tools and methods

The family of services today consists of three offerings - SoftwareForge, ProjectForge and Community. SoftwareForge is a free service available on both the NIPRNet and SIPRNet. ProjectForge is a fee for service capability currently available for unclassified use. Community is a collaborative content and knowledge management site for users to connect and share information using social collaboration tools such as group blogs, discussions, wiki, documents and polls. While the project teams on SoftwareForge and ProjectForge are focused on their individual project or projects, the Community site provides teams/individuals working to solve similar problems and/or discuss similar challenges that transcend a single project or set of projects a means to self organize around these challenges to develop common solutions.

The Community site provides a 'social' collaboration layer to augment and integrate with the current capabilities in Group associations with a project or a set of projects provides a more holistic view of software development activity and allows project teams and individuals to better connect, collaborate, share information and expand the discussions within a wider audience. Community also provides a forum for teams, and individuals who are not necessarily working on the development of software but who have knowledge and experience to contribute and share with a wider community. Community allows for the formation of groups built around communities of interest, organizations, mission areas, or specific technologies as well as groups created around topics of interest to the Information Technology Acquisition Community such as Section 804 Compliance, general CAC/PKI information, Software Development Best Practices to include Agile, and contract strategies for the use of and Agile.

Software as a service

In July 2009, the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base confirmed that DISA will host the Air Force instantiation of the RightNow Technologies' Commercial off-the-shelf personnel customer service and self-service applications at its Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECC). RightNow will maintain the software applications in a similar fashion to its privately hosted Software as a service(SaaS) offerings.

See also


  1. ^ DISA BRAC Information Portal,
  2. ^ DISA Press Releases, Disa Rirector, Lieutenant Governor Tour New Building Site March 23, 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e DISN Data Services Course, Module 1 - DISN Data Networks Overview, 01SEP09
  4. ^ "DoDD 5105.19 Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)". 
  5. ^ GIG-BE Info


  • July 27, 2009., DISA 'private cloud' serves as personnel system: Air Force Personnel Center to shift applications to software-as-a-service model.
  • July 29, 2009., among top 10 dot-gov sites

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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