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Regan Edens Cyber-AB Summit 7 CMMC DTC-Global.us
To say that 2020 and 2021 were challenging for many is an understatement..
The CMMC-AB Board of Directors had its first meeting as a volunteer board in January on the same day the country was locked down for the travel. I had a sense things would not be normal for us when one of the Board Members had to excuse himself from our virtual meeting to attend his son’s last rights as a result of a tragic accident. A horrified hush came over the meeting.
Thinking of my girls, I got emotional as I quietly sat there struggling with processing what he said. After an awkward and sad silence, we continued the meeting. An hour or so later, he returned to all our heartbroken amazement and that was Day 1. Over 5,000 volunteer hours and18 months later, my time on the Board comes to a close on July 30th.
It’s truly an honor to help lead the CMMC mission by working with a coalition of the willing to establish the accreditation body. The CMMC-AB was chartered by DoD to be responsible for certifying and managing what will be the largest compliance regime ever created in the modern world. We moved forward boldly and somewhat naively with absolutely no external or DoD funding, during a pandemic, and managed to survive the first two years. (Reread that last sentence again) Anyone who has every bootstrapped a startup, is somewhat familiar with this path. I have that T-shirt too. Far beyond the expected commitment of 20-30 hours per month, the 80-100 hours per week endured until I submitted my resignation. A fast paced 30 days went quickly this month during the transition of my responsibilities as the Chairman of the Standards Committee and Vice Chairman of the Training Committee. I am grateful, but I am looking forward to a return to normalcy.
CMMC Comes with A Heavy Toll – Disinformation
There is no doubt creating the CMMC-AB from a clean sheet of paper created an easy target for criticism. Someday the entire story may be told, but suffice to say that establishing the largest compliance regime in the history of mankind with little to no formal DoD policy to guide the effort and no source of external funding…makes me look back in amazement. This immense honor came with a heavy toll for all. No one could have ever imagined the commitment, the pressure, the complaints, and certainly the attacks on us all while serving on an all-volunteer Board. Constructive criticism makes the strong, stronger. No doubt there were several dozen active voices with a highly skeptical eye on the effort. From the “wise one” Bob Metzgar, whom I consider to be one of the CMMC mission’s founding fathers and (personally) a tremendous source of wisdom all along the way, to many other well-intended people who made their concerns and voices heard. However, a small highly antagonistic group evolved, whom I believe time will demonstrate even to them this is “the right thing to do” despite a rocky start under the toughest of circumstances. In my efforts to engage those skeptics, I give them great credit for being willing to discuss their doubts, fears, and disagreements behinds the scenes. My uncle always taught me to pursue the root truth or concern that fueled people’s passion, the exact same way it fueled mine, and to engage them, listen, and try to build the coalition of the willing we needed to do “the impossible”. It didn’t always work, but with most of them, I think it made a difference.
However, there were a very toxic few who seemed more focused on targeting the people and our reputations without much concern for the importance of the mission or the facts. For some to gain acclaim and notoriety by tearing down volunteers who were made defenseless and silenced under a Non-Disclosure Agreement is shameful. One person put it this way, “A few social media enabled opportunists, bored during the pandemic, and adorned by false virtue rather than contributing, spent their time fanning the flames of chaos and by doing so hurt a lot of good people.” Very sad, but true.
“Most of the original Board members have walked away exhausted and wounded from trying to meet the extraordinary demands created by being caught between the Department’s unrealistic expectations and the existential angst those expectations created throughout the Defense industry. I promise you, we did our best, because the CMMC mission is the most important thing we will do TOGETHER in our lifetime.”
As we move forward, be careful to discern between honest critics, mean-spirited people, and foreign efforts to disrupt CMMC. I spent a lifetime working with the Department of Defense, and any allegations of wrong-doing are taken very seriously. They are under investigation and time will demonstrate the accusations to be baseless and without merit. Remember, DoD estimates that $600B per year is stolen in the form of system technical data from our US defense supply chain. Our enemies will not roll over and go quietly into the night. They are using our own defense technical data with the intent to dominate and destroy us. They will target this effort to deny our ability to protect Controlled Unclassified Information using all the exact same influence and disinformation tools, we would use against them. I am a long-time veteran within the Intelligence Community. It’s happening now, and will most certainly continue, and perhaps become even more toxic as we move forward closer to our goal. Please see my 2020 article, Shaping the CMMC Framework for a better understanding of these tactics and strategies.
Foreign surrogates will self-identify when they “attack to discredit key leaders”, seem to “fixate” on people, and are less interested in the CMMC mission as they target the people and organizations who lead and support the mission. Ad hominem attacks will develop a pattern that seems intended to discredit and harm people and their professional reputations. They may delve into petty name calling, allegations without any proof, rumor presented under the false pretexts as “fact”, and often use the same key words over and over again like “conflict of interest” to reinforce Search Engine Optimization results. These tactics and strategies are used by foreign influence campaigns through real and “astro-turf” surrogates using tradecraft in an effort to discredit, destroy, or undermine anyone or any organization “standing out front”. Often times these foreign surrogate attacks will come from multiple persons with similar “angry voices” who don’t appear to be connected, but often repeat the exact same messages and attacks across multiple social media platforms. They will most certainly ignore any legitimate efforts to “correct the record” as they seek to undermine the CMMC-AB and DoD leaders. They may pounce on any positive news with toxic allegations or heatedly fan the flames of fear and angst about the standards and publications without really demonstrating any credible knowledge about the process. The “headline” of toxic allegations will be far more important than any pseudo-facts. Rand Corp has a series of studies on foreign surrogates and social media influence campaigns. Aside from the political nonsense, these tools fail when people are committed to strongly held beliefs. Nothing is more important to our country than the success of the CMMC mission and our national security interest.
In contrast, those they attack will either hide (and I don’t blame them) or demonstrate they are EVEN MORE relentlessly committed to the CMMC mission. The juxtaposition between those that become more toxic and those that become MORE committed in itself should help the CMMC ecosystem separate fact from fiction and help self-identify foreign surrogates. It’s imperative we use good discernment, before judgement. A rare quality in today’s world of social media, internet trolling, and active disinformation activities. My hope is that honest critics will see my mistakes and those made by other Board members across the course of the last two years in the proper context of one of the most difficult things one might ask 14 volunteers to attempt. I spent a lifetime choosing the “hardest of the hard” missions no one else would do, and this last two years has been as hard as it gets. We all need to contribute to the success of CMMC with all our might and we need accountability while doing so, because failing at this mission is not an option.
CYBER-AB SUMMIT 7 Regan Edens CMMC Interim Rule CUIsupply.com DTCglobal.us
CYBER-AB SUMMIT 7 Regan Edens CMMC Interim Rule CUIsupply.com DTCglobal.us
Every Veteran knows three truths-
1) Hard missions are accomplished by great Teams, and you ALWAYS take care of your Team.
2) Your role on the Team will ALWAYS come to an end.
3) And the Mission ALWAYS continues.
I formed the Industry Standards Working Group to help with an extraordinarily difficult tasks comprised of volunteers selected by industry to provide feedback on a working draft of the CMMC Assessment Guide. I wanted to ensure volunteers in any capacity were recognized by the AB for their efforts. We documented the group members volunteer time and submitted them to the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too. The PVSA has continued under each administration, honoring the volunteers who are using their time and talents to solve some of the toughest challenges facing our nation. Led by the AmeriCorps, this program allows Certifying Organizations to recognize their most exceptional volunteers.
Most people volunteer their time and expect little or no recognition, this group was no different. Those jaded critics that chose to ‘hiss and boo’ from the bleachers rather than stepping into the arena might wax and wane that any recognition of the sacrifices related to their volunteer service might be self-serving. Yet the harder I engaged those unrelenting critics over the last two years and gave them their opportunity to contribute, the more unhinged their criticism became. Perhaps they might say, “for 25cents you could buy their award at a junk shop”, but people of such low character would probably say the same thing about my Bronze Star, nor any other award they themselves neither earned or received as well.
There are untold sacrifices I am not privy to retell, and to me in my deep gratitude these unsung heroes over the last 18 months within my Standards Industry Working Group, should be recognized for their tireless contribution, drive for excellence, and passion for the CMMC mission.
17,432 Volunteer Hours working TOGETHER in service to others, through a pandemic, sleepless nights, and enduring the bumps and bruises one might expect, and might not expect within the CMMC arena as Teddy Roosevelt described:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
17,432 Volunteer Hours is a stunning contribution and I am grateful for each and every one of them. For within our Standards Industry Work Group, iron sharpens iron, because we believe the CMMC mission is to protect our defense technical data is our paramount national security interest and our worthy cause.
For within our Standards Industry Work Group, iron sharpens iron, because we believe the CMMC mission is to protect our defense technical data is our paramount national security interest and our worthy cause.
As President Kennedy might say, “We choose to embark on CMMC and do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to succeed, because our enemies are eager for us to fail, and our failure is not an option.”
Therefor we have proceed TOGETHER as the mission continues, to do the hard things we are unwilling to postpone in order to secure America’s Defense Supply Chain. Believe it.
And that still mission continues…
[Legal- All information and images within DTC Global’s published articles and website are protected under Copyright 2020-2022 and all rights are specifically retained by DTC Global regarding use, reuse, and public display. Under no circumstances, except without EXPLICIT written permission are these rights waived for any reason. All other rights are explicitly prohibited. Requests for use should be sent to LesTerrell@dtcglobal.us]