Article published on the Atlantic Treaty Association Website http://bit.ly/2rWqGZC
Kevin J Scheid took the helm of the NATO’s tech and cyber arms, the NATO communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency), on 1 July, becoming the first senior US official to head the organization. He outlines some of his priorities as takes up his post at a time of fundamental change in NATO’s tech landscape
Q. HOW ARE YOU SETTLING IN AS THE NEW GENERAL MANGER OF THE NCI AGENCY?
A. At the end of September, I completed a 90-day assessment and will now be developing, together with our Supervisory Board, a three-year strategy, aiming to have it approved at the Board’s November meeting. I am optimistic and impressed with the talent in the Agency. Obviously, there are challenges we need to address; the Agency is the result of a merger of five distinct NATO bodies in 2012 and is emerging from a major period of transformation.
In the development of the strategy, I am collaborating closely with the Agency Supervisory Board, the NATO leadership and the military commands to ensure their concerns and ambitions for the Agency are fully understood and reflected.
At the core of the NCI Agency is not technology or big programmes. At its core are its people – a tremendous collection of talented men and women, personnel who work together daily in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Norfolk, VA, and locations across Europe to solve problems, deliver services and work with industry to deliver the capabilities that allow NATO to preserve peace and project stability worldwide. This is the greatest reward of the General Manager – to work with such a capable, diverse, international team who have dedicated themselves to no less a goal than world peace. I am excited about the work ahead.
Q. WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE AGENCY?
A. Improved service and programme delivery will be my key focus, enabled by strengthening the Agency’s human talent capital. This should be seen in a wider strategic context.
The scope of the Agency’s responsibility is large – missile defense, air command and control, cyber security, the modernisation of the NATO IT infrastructure and critical services that the Agency provides to the political leadership and military command structure; we need to ensure that we are on time, scope and budget.
Seventy per cent of our work is executed through contracts with the Industries of our Member Nations and I am looking forward to continuing to expand our partnership with Industry; in particular, to continue to seek ways of getting capabilities deployed faster, in pace with technological change.
Today, some economists are speaking about a “golden decade” ahead of us in Europe; and the economies of North America are well into a significant period of growth and expansion. Nations are investing more in defence and expanding their capabilities in information technology, cyber security, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. These are the Agency’s core capabilities and I believe we will see growing demand for the Agency’s capability development skills and thought leadership across Europe.
Q. WHY IS CYBERSECURITY A KEY NATO CAPABILITY?
A. One aspect is the nature of modern capabilities – be they ground vehicles, or fighter planes (take the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, for instance) – they are inherently networked. So cyber defence is becoming a key aspect of all capability development.
There is also the fundamental nature of the Alliance – we bring together the forces of the Nations into a cohesive, multinational force. Command and control – via networks– is at the heart of that and needs to be defended. If a bank gets hacked, they lose lots of money; with us, lives are at risk. Timely access to data and information is also a critical resource, as it enables the North Atlantic Council’s decision-making.
My final point would be that we live in a digital world, and our economies are digital – this is why, at NATO’s 2016 Warsaw Summit, our Heads of State and Government stressed that “cyber attacks present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack.” It is a challenging mission but we have a world-class team that fits the battle every day, 24/7.
Kevin J Scheid has served the Federal Government for over 30 years in progressively senior positions at the White House, Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense.
In November 2016, he was selected by the Member Nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to serve as General Manage, NATO Communications and Information Agency, effective 1 July 2017.