Head of US 'SWAT Team of Nerds' Steps Down After Mysterious IP Address Decision

The Pentagon - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2021
The head of the Defence Digital Service (dubbed "SWAT Team of Nerds" by its own members) has succeeded in expanding the scope of his department's operations beyond simply solving IT problems for the Pentagon. However, this required him to cut through a tangle of red tape put in place by the department's bureaucracy.

The chief of the Pentagon's Defence Digital Service (DDS), Brett Goldstein, said in an interview with Politico that he will be stepping down in July 2021 after two years in the post.

Goldstein's term expires this year, but it is not unheard-of for the DDS chief's contract to be extended. However, for reasons unknown, Goldstein's contract has not been prolonged despite his achievements in the post. His replacement has also not been announced so far, but his deputy, Katie Olson, who focused on counter-drone operations and assembling the Department of Defence's collection of pathology specimens, will serve as acting chief.

Goldstein's Achievements in Post

Under Goldstein, the DDS more than doubled its "SWAT team of nerds" – an unofficial name for the unit – and took on a number of new roles, including helping the military in the fight against COVID-19. What started as the unit to solve the Pentagon's IT problems, expanded to become a laboratory for inventing new ways to defend the military in cyberspace and from digital attacks on the battlefield, as well as protect American coronavirus research from hackers and theft.

The DDS is also developing an IFF app for the Army that will allow soldiers to differentiate between allies and enemies in the heat of battle.

However, Goldstein wasn't afraid to confront Pentagon bureaucracy head-on several times to get things done. As Politico explains, he had to cut through loads of red tape to ensure emails from the Department of Defence to third parties could not be snooped. In addition, some military brass believed the DDS' existence, in general, was "overkill" considering that every US military branch already had cyber warfare units.

The Pentagon building is seen in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. October 9, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.04.2021
Pentagon Awards Little-Known Firm With 6% of Global IP Address in Order to Catch 'Vulnerabilities'

One of the most recent DDS' operations under Goldstein raised eyebrows once it became public in April 2021: it transpired that on the last day of President Donald Trump's administration, the DDS activated millions of previously dormant IP addresses reserved for the Pentagon's use. The unit handed over for management nearly 6 percent of all available addresses under the IPv4 protocol to previously unknown company Global Resource Systems (GBS) thus making it the single biggest custodian of internet IP addresses in the world.

The DDS said the operation was carried out to "evaluate and prevent unauthorised use of Department of Defence IP address space" without delving into details. Yet, it did not explain why 20 January was specifically chosen as the launch date, sparking conspiracy theories trying to link the move to Trump's departure from the White House.

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