Change is coming to the intelligence community

mark-wisinger_65x85ic_013117By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Before President Trump entered office, there was widespread speculation on how he would change the intelligence community. Incoming administrations typically lean on intel agencies to get up to speed on security issues, yet this election cycle featured President Trump’s open criticism of the three letter agencies.

It’s safe to assume there will be a few changes in this space. Much of the tension and debate is beyond the scope of this blog, but I’ll break down two significant changes I’m predicting will shake things up for IT procurement.

CYBERCOM will split from NSA 

CYBERCOM has been attached to the National Security Agency from its inception, with CYBERCOM personnel intermingled among NSA personnel in many cases. CYBERCOM also utilizes NSA tools and the two share top-level leadership.

I’m expecting a severance of the tight interlinking between the two agencies. In the waning days of the Obama administration, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter closely scrutinized NSA and CYBERCOM, and even recommended the removal of its commander, Navy Adm. Mike Rogers. It may have been politically motivated given Rogers’ unauthorized meetings with the incoming administration, but Carter’s stated reasoning was dissatisfaction with CYBERCOM’s maturity and the recent alleged NSA breach. Rogers may soon shift to another role in light of the meetings with the Trump administration.

There’s been talk for a few years now about transitioning CYBERCOM to an independent and full-fledged combatant command. In light of recent events and the incoming administration’s determination to change the status quo, I’m expecting CYBERCOM to finally split off from the NSA. Much of the opportunity at CYBERCOM is for offensive cyber tools, but if CYBERCOM can no longer rely on NSA, I expect we’ll see some procurement funding across the board to help CYBERCOM make the transition.

A shift at Langley

The focal point of President Trump’s sparring has been the Central Intelligence Agency. While most of it is in reference to Russian interference with the election, there’s also been talk of restructuring the CIA to cut down on its headquarters staff and increase presence and resources outside of the United States.

So what does this mean for industry? It could potentially affect the acquisition and program management organizations within the agency. That sort of restructuring would also mean increased reliance on technology to maintain capability despite reduced manpower at the headquarters level. It would also increase reliance on networking and networking security, which are challenging areas for many intelligence agencies, especially given some of the environments and conditions.

In the early days of his presidency, Trump has wasted no time enacting his policies, despite passionate reactions from both sides of the aisle. I expect that he will follow through in this case as well.

Need guidance on navigating the new administration and its policies? Reach out to immixGroup’s Market Intelligence organization.

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