The Weather at DoDIIS 2016: Partly Cloudy with a Chance for Digitization

This edition of Mazz-Int is an abbreviated version of my seven page summary of the DoDIIS 2016 Conference.  If you would like the full summary send me an email at with “Request DoDIIS 2016 Summary” in the subject line.

DoDIIS Worldwide Conference 2016 convened in Atlanta, Georgia from 31July to 03 August at the Georgia World Congress Center.  The theme for DoDIIS 2016 was “Mission Integration at the Speed of Operations.” The conference drew 200 exhibitors (230 in 2015) and 2300 attendees (1600 in 2015).  Less than 400 participants were government “blue badgers” of which only 90 where from DIA.  The entire agenda for DoDIIS 2016 was UNCLASSIFIED.

DNI James Clapper, DIA Director Lt Gen Stewart and USDI Marcel Lettre were all restrained in their comments and collectively seemed to be intent on making “no news” at DoDIIS. In a phrase they were “aggressively politically correct.” They made no projections regarding even near term events involving the Intelligence Community.

The three Combatant Commander, Gen McDew (TransCom), Admiral Harris (PACOM), and Admiral Haney (StratCom) all spoke about the importance of information to executing their mission responsibilities, but only Admiral Harris spoke directly to the utility of DoDIIS.  Admiral Harris was speaking for all his fellow Combatant Command Commanders (CoComs) when he said intelligence needs to be pared down to what I need to know about a subject/issue, in a time frame that allows for action to be taken, in a format that is easy to consume, and is shareable.

The IC CIO Panel, which I moderated, was upbeat both about where IT is in the IC and where it is heading.  Particularly in the breakout sessions, however, I detected a subtle sense of moderating expectations for ICITE, where no metrics, schedule, or cost issues were discussed.


  1. “We are in age of expeditionary intelligence! Places not bases.” Sean Roche CIA Associate Deputy Director for Digital Innovation
  2. “Stop forging a new path with an old map.” Janice Glover-Jones DIA CIO
  3. “The IT Enterprise is under near continual attack.” Colonel Bruce Lyman CIO Air Force ISR
  4. “The world still calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” US Transportation Command Commander Air Force General Darren McDew
  5. “DoDIIS is the backbone for Combatant Command decision making.” US Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry Harris



  1. NSA will be primarily a user of its own GOV Cloud for mission, which it is funding predominantly without Intelligence Community (IC) augmentation. This is because most NSA’s mission workloads are not supported by Commercial Cloud Services C2S and run 24 x 7 so there is no cost advantage associated with elasticity.
  2. DTE II is several months behind schedule due to testing; rollout schedule for FY 17 not firm yet but DIA and NGA will be refreshed with DTE II in FY 17
  3. Migration plans to ICITE (like technical roadmaps) are the responsibilities of the individual service providers and their contractors. There is no consolidated ICITE migration plan
  4. IC CIO’s all agree that there is no realistic alternative to ICITE

IC CIO Panel

  1. Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) will reach 100% capacity in 2017; 1600 developers are now using C2S
  2. ICITE has moved out of being in the acquisition phase and is now focused on driving adoption by showing mission value.  The IC is too far into the ICITE journey to turn back
  3. IT as a Service/Performance based contracting is not something the IC is comfortable with because the Statement of Work (SOW) must convey in detail what the government is expecting in terms of performance/outcomes and how to value that performance.
  4. Cultural challenges to ICITE adoption and digital transformation
    1. Developing trust in other agencies through reciprocity to compensate for the loss of control
    2. Comfort with the status quo
    3. Decoupling control and complexity from effectiveness
    4. Understanding risk and opportunity costs

Digital Transformation appears to be the new IT focus area of the DoDIIS Community if not the entire IC’s, but if I heard a definition or description I don’t remember it.  I know there wasn’t any discussion at DoDIIS 2016 about a strategy or a plan for how to accomplish a digital transformation within the IC.  At this point it is a vision statement to guide planning and decisions

Based on it being declared IOC in advance of a new administration and a new DNI, ICITE is at an inflection point where it has to show value or it will suffer the fate of IC-MAP, Trailblazer, and GeoScout.  Showing how C2S, GovCloud, DTE, and the Apps Mall can work together to answer IC mission questions quickly and effectively is what will bring users to ICITE as was the case with JDISS, JWICS, and Intelink.  The DIA leadership and the IC CIO’s at DoDIIS 2016 all understand this.

Based on the comments of all three Combatant Commanders who spoke at DoDIIS, shareable intelligence for allied and coalition warfighting partners is an underserved area.  Write for release, automated foreign disclosure processes and cross domain security solutions to address the CoCom’s demand for shareable intelligence needs to be an agenda item for DoDIIS 2017.

That’s what I think; what do you think?

A Vortex Caused by the Confluence of Terrorism, Domestic Violence, and International Volatility

For those who don’t remember it we seem to be living through a not so well produced reprisal of the long hot summer of 1968.  Back then we were four years into the Vietnam War which was going badly; the Soviet Union was ascertaining the Brezhnev Doctrine in Czechoslovakia; in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination the Black Panthers were calling for violence against whites; and protest demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention turned violent.  Fast forwarding to the present, Mark Twain appears to have been right:  history doesn’t repeat itself but it does seem to rhyme.

I am not sure if the period from 7 to 17 July 2016 is historic or just frightening, but the events of these 10 days have been traumatizing and confusing in a way I have not sensed in America since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.  With the police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge on 7 and 17 July, respectively and the horrific carnage in Nice on  July 14th caused by single terrorist driving a 21 ton commercial truck at high speed down a crowded promenade, the American people (still with San Bernardino, Orlando, Brussels, and Paris in their recent memory) don’t know if their safety is more threatened by ISIS terrorists, self-radicalized lone-wolf Islamists, Americans with a domestic agenda, or police officers with a hair trigger anxiety.  We are in a vortex caused by the confluence of terrorism, domestic violence, and international volatility.

This domestic unease is only made more acute by an international environment that that is growing increasingly unpredictable and worrisome.  In this same 7 to 17 July time frame China raised the potential for confrontation when it rejected a Hague 12 July ruling that its claims to maritime sovereignty in the South China Sea are without merit; the British referendum to leave the European Union (Britex) resulted on 13 July in the relatively unknown Theresa May replacing David Cameron as Prime Minister; and on 14/15 July a failed  coup in Turkey will allow ( at least in the short run) President Erdogan to make his regime both more autocratic and Islamist. Already China is warning that any effort to challenge its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea will be forcibly resisted. It remains to be seen what the impact of United Kingdom’s departure means but it doesn’t strengthen either the European Union or NATO as Russia begins again to assert itself in Europe.  Erdogan’s post-coup purges of secularists from the government and armed forces raises questions about how dependable Turkey will be going forward in the fight against ISIS and in managing the flow of refugees coming to Europe.  Regardless, I am relatively certain that the immediate ramping up of attacks on American citizens and the police officers protecting them while the national political conventions are going on will turn America’s attention inward.

In a sound bite, everyone who has not “checked out” for the summer senses imminent danger but doesn’t know where the threat is coming from or how the government can protect them, so nobody feels safe.  Some say this is just the new normal and we have to get use to any large gathering being a potential shooting gallery.  The alternative is to use massive data collection (OK, surveillance) available to us in combination with high performance computing and machine learning to deter, detect, and disrupt those planning mass murder to advance some cause.

Certainly the terrorist violence the world has experienced in 2016 coupled with the targeted shootings of American police officers this July has both the law enforcement and intelligence communities redoubling their efforts to protect the Republican and Democratic National Conventions from life threatening violence.  Nice reminds all those attending or responsible for the safety and security of the conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia that individuals using fire arms and explosives is only one of many ways death, injury, or chaos can be visited on these high visibility events.  Anthrax, drones, and cyber come immediately to mind as low cost/high impact yet to be used ways of striking citizens or cops to cause fear and disruption if not death and destruction.

The rising level of ISIS related terrorist attacks, of course, is neither new nor surprising. Earlier this year, ISIS spokesperson Mohammad al-Adnani, said, “While, we’re being reduced on the physical battlefield, the caliphate is physically shrinking. So, you should take the battle. Don’t come to Iraq and Syria, take the battle to wherever you are and attack infidels wherever you are.” CIA Director John Brennan in his 16 June testimony to the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence (SSCI) warned:

The group’s [ISIS’] foreign branches and global networks can help preserve its capacity for terrorism regardless of events in Iraq and Syria. In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.

It mystified me that none of the senators nor any media pundits observed in the moment (or since) that if this is true (as events are proving it to be) then our strategy of fighting ISIS “over there” is actually making them more dangerous “back here!” Perversely, our ongoing military efforts to “degrade, disrupt, and defeat ISIS with military operations in Iraq and Syria are not achieving their strategic intent of reducing terrorism in CONUS to the nuisance level.

Adding to the danger of the ISIS terrorist threat is the lone wolf targeting of police officers as vigilante responses to black males being shot while being taken into police custody.  I am sure it has already occurred to ISIS and its sympathizers in the U.S., that if they too begin to take action against cops they could enflame violence between white and black radicals as we move towards our national elections in November.

The current comingling of domestic violence with ISIS inspired terrorism by US citizens (San Bernardino and Orlando) tells me that the systemic seam that exists between domestic and foreign intelligence in the US Intelligence Community (IC) makes it harder than it should be to thwart either terrorism or domestic violence.  This is because seams in national security are where bad things go to happen.

Finally, the question – or is it an opportunity? – raised by this current month of discontent is this: Are the American people willing to debate as part of the Presidential electoral process  the pros and cons of more government surveillance in exchange for increasing the chances that intelligence agencies and  law enforcement can afford them more protection and security?  Surely San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas, and Baton Rouge tell us it is irresponsible in terms of public safety to limit intelligence and law enforcement to surveillance of foreign nationals as it becomes seemingly impossible  to discern who is a domestic criminal from an ISIS terrorist.  Without doubt their motives are different, but criminals and terrorists (whether foreign or domestic) are using the same tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to threaten our national peace and tranquility in order to advance their causes.

However, if the bar for “probable cause” is to be lowered to enable more effective surveillance and investigation against those persons foreign or domestic who mean to do us arm, then the government standards for transparency also need to be raised accordingly.  This transparency must inform the American people who is subject to what forms of surveillance for what purposes and how personal information will be protected from inappropriate access.  To prevent abuse, oversight of any  broader surveillance powers granted to the Intelligence Community for homeland security will need to be rigorous, independent and subject to public review.

That’s what I think; what do you think?


Four days after the Orlando Massacre, CIA Director John Brennan’s testified on June 16th before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that despite continued success against the Islamic State (IS) on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the global reach of ISIS to conduct terror attacks has not been attrited.  While I found this alarming and disheartening, it seemed to be of only passing concern to the members of SSCI who did not question the CIA Director’s assessment nor drill down on it. (

Judging by the public’s [lack of] reaction, I suspect the senators (as with most Americans) have already made this calculus for themselves based on the toll in human carnage from San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels, and now Orlando. Since the primary purpose of engaging IS/ISIS militarily on their home turf is to keep the United States safe, it is difficult for me to see the CIA’s Director’s assessment as anything but an oblique admission to the American people that our current strategy of rolling back the territory ISIS has seized is not resulting in making our homeland safer.

Since World War 1 the foundation of U.S. military strategy has been to engage those who would do us harm “over there” vice in the continental United States (CONUS).  Despite the 9/11 attack being generated from within CONUS our immediate reaction was to respond with overwhelming force against the failing state of Afghanistan that was providing sanctuary to Osma Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.  This worked in the short run, but our inability to politically stabilize Afghanistan coupled with the ungovernable nature of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the post-Saddam Balkanization of Iraq, and civil war in Syria have all resulted in 15 years of fighting “over there” while Islamic motivated terrorism remains a continuing threat to Americans in CONUS.

While not responding directly to the CIA Director’s SSCI testimony, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said, “Last week’s tragic shooting in Orlando underscores the urgency…It reminds us that [the Islamic State] not only tyrannizes the populations where it arose in Iraq and Syria, but it also wants to spread its evil ideology, and to plot or inspire attacks on Americans, including here at home.”  According to the SecDef, “The counter-[IS military] campaign is an example of what we can do when working with local and global partners…But Orlando is a reminder that all nations must do more to defeat [IS]. The sooner we deliver it a lasting defeat, the safer we’ll make our homelands and our people.”  (

We all know insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result, so if military action in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan is not reducing the threat of terrorism in CONUS it would seem reasonable for national security policy makers to take a fresh look at containing vice defeating ISIS. If “the barbarians” are at the gate how much sense does it make to fight them in their “caliphate” when they are already here?  The larger question, of course, is can we actually deter or end ISIS’ ability to bring terrorism to CONUS through military action alone?  Two very different administrations have told us making America safe from Islamic terrorism is a “whole of government” endeavor, and yet most of our resources and heavy lifting continue to be military in nature.  Moreover,  if the CONUS terrorist threat is elevating and will remain with us for the foreseeable future, it also seems prudent to shed our national post-Snowden bias for protecting civil liberties of American citizens at the expense of insuring their security.

Director Brennan’s warning that ISIS will turn increasingly to terrorism as Secretary Carter moves to accelerate the military defeat of IS should be provoking a national debate regarding our military strategy as well as how much surveillance by intelligence and law enforcement we are willing to accept to be reasonably safe from terrorism.  Instead, we are having a partisan debate about gun control, which is only peripherally related to reducing terrorist attacks against Americans while continuing to do what we have been doing since 2001 to make America safe from terrorism

That’s what I think; what do you think?