DISA Executive Deputy Director Anthony Montemarano retires Dec. 11
by Suzan Holl
DISA Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
Defense Information Systems Agency Executive Deputy Director Anthony Montemarano’s virtual retirement ceremony will be Friday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. EST. The event will be broadcast via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service and Commercial Virtual Remote Live.
During his tenure, Montemarano played a major role in the evolution of every telecommunications service that DISA offers. From 2003 to 2005, he served as the program director for the Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion, where he successfully led the acquisition, engineering, implementation and overall program management of the single largest expansion in the Department of Defense global communications structure. He served as program executive officer for Information Assurance and NetOps Programs from 2006 to 2007; agency Component Acquisition Executive from 2008 through 2011; and director for Strategic Planning and Information from 2011 to 2014, where he guided the development of the agency’s vision, planning and policy. He was selected as executive deputy director in January 2015.
Montemarano is a retired naval aviator with 21 years of service that included numerous operational deployments supporting anti-submarine warfare and utility helicopter operations aboard destroyers and fast frigates. He culminated his aviation career as the Navy’s senior standardization pilot for the H-2 type aircraft.
Although Montemarano has been involved in numerous projects during his tenure at DISA, the one constant has been his passion for mentoring. His leadership philosophy is simple: Inspire as a leader and a manager by walking the walk.
“I am what I am and have endeavored to counsel DISA personnel constantly,” said Montemarano. “Everyone within the agency knows who I am and what I stand for. There are no airs or pretentions.”
As executive deputy director, Montemarano conducted several hundred formal and informal 30-minute counseling sessions each year for his 10 mentees in addition to an abundance of other general schedule and executive-level employees.
“I would like to be remembered as a leader who focused on the mission while simultaneously caring for his employees,” he said.
A senior champion for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allies Employee Resource Group, Montemarano says he has fostered an understanding that he is supportive of all as long as they are focused on the warfighter.
During her heart-felt remarks, Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network, recanted stories about Montemarano's dedication to DISA's mission and personnel, describing the long-term effect of his impact as "exponential." Norton likened his influence to "throwing a pebble into a calm lake, and when you throw that, those ripples start to move across that lake and touch everything in the lake and all of the shoreline ... and all of those ripples that he has touched, all of those people, will go on to do great things because of the leadership that he's provided." Speaking directly to Montemarano, Norton assured him, "Your impact will continue for decades after you're gone in the people that you have touched and mentored ... we are all better off because you came to work at DISA."
Montemarano’s colleagues appreciate his approachability.
“The one thing I will tell you about Tony is that beyond his steely exterior, he is one of the kindest individuals you will ever meet,” said William Brazis, DISA general counsel and Montemarano’s colleague for six years. “I'd even go as far as to tell him at times that he is kind to a fault.”
His calendar is a statement about the kind of person he is, always making time for people, said Brazis.
“Tony believes in people,” he said. “He is willing to bend over backwards to help anyone in the DISA workforce. For someone who is in the number two position in the agency, and enormously busy, Tony generously makes time to mentor and give back and support anyone — that is something that I greatly admire.”
Brazis points out Montemarano’s legacy will be the fact that he had a major hand in reshaping DISA’s leadership team and the agency’s culture.
“The strong spirit of trust and cohesiveness growing within agency leadership is a great reflection of Tony's dedication to retooling the leadership team and his commitment to recruiting and finding great and diverse leaders who are dedicated to the agency, the mission and the people here. I am so honored to have been his colleague and consider him a friend indeed,” he said.
That sentiment is also reflected by Montemarano’s former executive assistant, Vicki Rutland-Hales.
“I will absolutely miss Mr. Montemarano’s care and concern for DISA employees and our mission, and his willingness to assist each and every employee as best he could,” she said. “But most of all I’ll miss the hidden jokester side of his personality that the rest of the workforce didn’t get to see that often.”
David Bennett, Operations Center director at DISA who has worked with Montemarano since 2006, says their daily morning sync sessions will be one of the things he will miss most.
“The morning sync sessions provided an opportunity to talk candidly about whatever is going on within the agency and how we would work it,” he said.
Leading a team to successfully meet a seemingly overwhelming challenge is what Montemarano will miss most about working for the agency.
“It is amazing how resourceful and innovative our folks can be when challenged with ‘the undoable,’” Montemarano said. “DISA has achieved numerous unprecedented and unexpected accomplishments that I was some way a part of, and that makes me proud. All of which have been in support of the warfighter.”
As he enters this next chapter in his life, Montemarano is looking forward to slowing down and having time to enjoy the things that mean the most to him.
“The workload in recent years has been daunting. I have been unable to take the time to thoroughly understand the technology, the dynamics or the environment. I have felt like my engagement has been a mile wide and inch deep,” he said. “With more time to deal with the challenges, I believe I will derive a much greater sense of success and satisfaction.”
Looking back on all he has achieved throughout his career with DISA, working on the implementations of the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network and the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion, or GIG-BE, are two efforts he found to be extraordinarily rewarding.
“In late 1994, I was notified that we needed a network to support the Global Command and Control System-Joint, and within four months we had the initial infrastructure of the SIPRNet on the ground. From that point forward, we gradually expanded the infrastructure to where it is today,” said Montemarano.
Regarding his work on the GIG-BE, Montemarano said the department decided to put in connectivity with “unlimited bandwidth” post 9/11 to support the critical interaction between the command, control and intelligence communities. “Once funding was received, we took two years to deploy the GIG-BE’s fiber optic and IP infrastructure to 85 locations globally.”
But he says there is one thing that will always be at the top of his list.
“I am most proud of the fact that in my heart I know that I have made a difference for the warfighter and those who serve him or her.”
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Posted December 14, 2020