Pentagon Acquisition CISO Previews Upcoming Trusted Capital Program

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is serious about its partnership with the satellite industry, investing in the industry, and attracting the best in commercial satellite technology, Katie Arrington, chief information security officer for Acquisition and Sustainment, said Tuesday during a keynote of Via Satellite’s MilSatCom Digital Week.

Katherine Arrington at MilSatCom Digital Week. Photo: Via Satellite

Katherine Arrington at MilSatCom Digital Week. Photo: Via Satellite

Katherine Arrington at MilSatCom Digital Week. Photo: Via Satellite

Arrington teased a major announcement in the coming weeks from the DoD which will have direct relevance to the satellite industry. Arrington is directly responsible for the Trusted Capital Marketplace, an investment ecosystem in development that will offer trusted capital providers the opportunity to invest in DoD focus areas at key growth inflection points. Funding from capital providers at these development stages helps prevent these companies from susceptibility to strategic funding from adversaries. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directed the DoD to support the defense industrial base (DIB) and adopt processes to limit adversaries’ access to American technology.

Arrington has been working on the program for the past four to five months and said it will go live soon. She believes it could be a game changer in terms of how the commercial satellite industry could work with the U.S. government. It could encourage better software updates on satellites, cybersecurity on satellites, and the adoption of Satellite as a Service (Saas).

“We need to maintain technical superiority. The Trusted Capital program will really change the game, as we open things up for new technology. We want to get the best of breed technology. We want to put those companies in front of Trusted Capital providers that are interested in investing in innovation. We need to be able to foster and develop defense capability,” she said.

Arrington pointed to the definition of insanity of doing the same processes over and over, expecting a different outcome, implying that now is the time for the DoD to change and to stop a cycle has not been as efficient as it should have been. To that end, the Trusted Capital program is a digital program, where things can be done a progressive, real-time environment.

Arrington said she is speaking to NATO partners about the program and emphasized that the program will leverage international partnerships with allied nations.

“COVID hit and China invested hundreds of billions of dollars into our supply chains. We need to do our due diligence [and] look at our allied partners,” she said. “We need to critically think who we are investing with. What risk is acceptable? We don’t want to give our R&D to our adversaries.”

Arrington admitted that the DoD still has a lot more to learn about the satellite industry. But, with international adversaries going after national supply chains, she said that satellite communications are top priority, and with COVID forcing governments into unparalleled levels of spending, smarter and more efficient investments in satellite communications are a must.