FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md –
Air Force Brig. Gen. Heather W. Blackwell officially assumed duties as the Deputy Commander of Joint Force Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN) on Friday, August 18. This appointment reinforces the ongoing effort to actively protect DoD’s critical technological infrastructure, weapon systems, network-enabled capabilities, and information from cyber threats.
A 1997 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with diverse operational assignments, Brig. Gen. Blackwell brings a wealth of expertise to the dynamic and demanding JFHQ-DODIN mission area of network, security, and defensive operations. Her previous assignments have prepared her to tackle these global challenges head-on. Prior leadership roles have focused on technical operations, strategy, policy, and advocacy to increase operational effectiveness in DoD’s cyberspace arena.
According to Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, the commander of JFHQ-DODIN and director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, Brig. Gen. Blackwell’s experience and exceptional interpersonal skills make her a transformative force to help shape the future of the command.
“Brig. Gen. Blackwell is the right person with the right skills for the JFHQ-DODIN deputy commander role. It’s a challenging job, and her understanding of the complex cyber landscape, coupled with her operational experience, strategic thinking, and culture-focused mindset is exactly what we need to further drive initiatives that strengthen our DODIN cyber readiness and posture,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Blackwell has served in a variety of assignments including Commander of the 81st Training Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; Commander of the 690th Cyberspace Operations Group at JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; Commander 87th Communications Squadron at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; the Director of Legislative Affairs for U.S. Cyber Command, a National Security Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, an Assistant Executive Officer for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and as an Air Force Legislative Fellow for Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) where she was responsible for the military and foreign relations portfolios.
As JFHQ-DODIN’s deputy commander, she plays a pivotal role as part of the command group leading DoD’s unified force approach to network operations, security, and defense across the Department of Defense Information Network. This global command and control responsibility drives unified action to improve DODIN agility and resiliency to preserve mission assurance and increase DoD’s competitive advantage. Its mission relies on taking proactive, threat-informed steps to reduce risk across the DODIN, and leading response to attacks against the DODIN to assure network operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
One of the defining features of Brig. Gen. Blackwell’s approach is her commitment to the workforce, and collaboration and information sharing with partners. In an era where cyber threats transcend geographic and time-centric boundaries, cooperation is crucial. Her inclusive leadership style is expected to foster stronger ties with partners, facilitating the exchange of intelligence, best practices, and joint exercises. In addition, her background in cyber operations and integration will play a key role in advancing cyber-related capabilities through processes and artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
“It is an honor to be on the JFHQ-DODIN Team. This mission is critical to enabling the Joint Force to defend our nation. I am also excited about the academic and international partnerships JFHQ-DODIN stresses as a key priority. Bottom line, great people performing an amazing mission…what an awesome place to be,” she said.
The rapid pace of technological change and the continuous evolving nature of the DODIN demands constant adaptation. Through Brig. Gen. Blackwell’s leadership, experience, and guidance as the Deputy Commander of JFHQ-DODIN, the command will be better postured to work with the DODIN area of operations commanders and directors to continually improve overall readiness of the DODIN terrain and forces.
Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense information Network is the U.S. Cyber Command component that leads DoD’s unified force approach to network operations, security, and defense across the Department of Defense Information Network, commonly known as the DODIN. This global command and control responsibility underpinning all DoD missions works to ensure mission assurance and bolster DoD’s competitive advantage. The Command’s mission covers a broad range of activities on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command including proactive, threat-informed steps to reduce cyber risk across the DODIN, and leading response to attacks against the DODIN to ensure network operations remain agile and resilient. The JFHQ-DODIN commander, Lt. Gen Robert Skinner, is dual-hatted as the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).