Kudos to Tiffany Pender and Jeff Stanek for their efforts with Zero Trust.

The following article outlines Tiffany, ACC’s Enterprise Program Manager and Jeff, ACC’s ISSM, heavy lift for the Zero Trust Task Force.

“ACC continues progress toward Zero Trust solutions with DISA partnership”

Published Feb. 18, 2022

By 1st Lt. Teri Bunce

Air Combat Command Public Affairs


Air Combat Command has further developed its relationship with the Defense Information Systems Agency to combine efforts and knowledge to source Zero Trust Architecture solutions.

As command with lead cyber responsibilities for the Department of the Air Force, ACC is spearheading two pathfinder programs that will work alongside the Thunderdome Zero Trust prototype program, recently funded by the agency. This partnership effort to learn best practices and ensure interoperability amongst solutions and could ultimately drive the initial ZT architecture acquisition and production for both DISA and the Air Force.

ACC already developed and piloted a Zero Trust Architecture capability, Cloud Native Access Point at Cape Canaveral, Florida. From there, the Zero Trust Task Force furthered development and is ready to execute two CNAP base-wide pathfinders at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Beale Air Force Base, California.

“The department of the Air Force has been a critical player in the Department of Defense’s Zero Trust transformation,” said Steve Haselhorst, ACC’s Chief Technology Officer. “Interoperability between the DoD is essential. With this in mind, Air Force and DISA are partnering to evaluate Zero Trust solutions together under the Thunderdome umbrella.”

This initial step will lead to a service-wide rollout of new security architecture FY23-25, transforming the way the AF protects its most valued digital resource: data. This new architecture will streamline several information technology processes, increase overall usability and accessibility and allow airmen to operate anywhere, anytime.

In January 2021, DISA awarded a $6.8 million contract to Booz Allen Hamilton for execution of a Thunderdome Prototype, a zero trust security solution. During this six-month effort, the agency will operationally test how to implement DISA’s Zero Trust Reference Architecture by taking advantage of commercial technologies such as Secure Access Service Edge and Software Defined-Wide Area Networks. Thunderdome will also incorporate greater cybersecurity centered on data protection and integrate with existing endpoint and identity initiatives aligned to zero trust.

“Thunderdome reflects a substantial shift to a next generation cybersecurity and network architecture for DOD,” said Chris Barnhurst, DISA deputy director. “Rooted in identity and enhanced security controls, Thunderdome fundamentally changes our classic network-centric defense-in-depth security model to one centered on the protection of data and will ultimately provide the department with a more secure operating environment through the adoption of zero trust principles.”

As part of this modernization, Thunderdome will enable the streamlining of DOD’s endpoint security solution set, enhance our security posture as we continue to invest in cloud technologies and implement new security capabilities.

Service members regardless of service and location need the flexibility to access resources no matter their native environment. The Air Force continues to work closely with sister services through the DoD CIO Zero Trust Program Office to accelerate efforts to connect and protect the warfighter in cyberspace. We are taking bold and decisive action to ensure that the information technology supports our current and future warfighters and that our weapons systems are protected anytime, anywhere.

“All services will need to remain in lock step,” said Haselhorst. “The ability to operate IT in a joint environment is quintessential to maintaining our tactical warfighting edge. It is imperative all services reach ZT at the same time ensuring interoperability between enclaves.”

Thunderdome will greatly help to defend and guard systems against sophisticated adversaries and modernize cybersecurity infrastructure.

“Now more than ever, Zero Trust is critical for protecting data and securing our military resources,” said Haselhorst “There is palpable frustration with our current legacy infrastructure. Zero Trust and the pathfinders in partnership with DISA, will eliminate the underlying causation of “slow” and “redundant” systems. It will force a cultural and technical revolution within the Air Force, leading to much more productive Airmen and strengthen our security posture, halting our adversaries’ ability breach our most treasured resources.”



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