Mike Kushin, executive vice president and general manager of Information Warfare – High Consequence Missions for Parsons, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz to discuss his move to the company and the establishment of its Information Warfare sector in the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview.
In addition, Kushin also shared his thoughts with ExecutiveBiz on the transition from Blackhorse to Parsons, recent contract award wins, including a $618 million cyber and intelligence task order, the impact electronic warfare and information operations are having on our defense priorities and how Parsons is addressing the most significant national security challenges.
“One of the great things about being part of Parsons is that we put skin in the game. I’m talking about internal research and development and other strategic investments that allow us to prototype and build capabilities ahead of formal government acquisitions, allowing us to shift timelines to the left from award to capability deployment. At Parsons, we take pride in our ability to deliver capability at the speed of mission.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Mike Kushin below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on taking the lead of Parsons’ new IW Sector! What can you tell us about the transition from Blackhorse, your goals for the new division and your expectations for its growth for the rest of 2021 and 2022?
Mike Kushin: “I’m very thrilled to be part of the Parsons organization, as are all of us here at Blackhorse. When we started the process of finding a partner, we knew it was important to find a company we could grow with and who could take advantage of what Blackhorse was doing on a smaller scale.
After a year of working with Parsons, we got to know them and saw the possibility of the convergence of electronic warfare and cybersecurity, particularly in cyber network operations and then in information operations.
We also saw Parsons as a company with a common culture of innovation and a deep passion for supporting our customers’ most pressing national security missions. It became a no-brainer that everything Parsons did on a big scale and everything Blackhorse did on a smaller scale could come together and ignite our joint growth.
As we move forward, the decision was made to create the information warfare sector, and I’m proud to be the executive vice president and general manager of it. The new sector combines aspects of heritage Parsons, which operates in the electronic warfare and cybersecurity areas, and the acquired Blackhorse organization.
We now have a bigger organization within Parsons and can bring those capabilities together and really fight in a higher weight class to create growth opportunities – not only on the tail end of 2021 but also for the future.
If you look at where the Department of Defense is focusing, there’s already the pivot to [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command AOR] and a greater focus on near-peer threats. The national and tactical decision-makers can obtain information advantage using different sources of data from multi-domain operations.
Considering our investments and joint collaboration, we’re positioned to take information warfare to the next level.”
ExecutiveBiz: How will recent contract wins such as the $618 Million Cyber & Intelligence Task Order and others such as the DCH2 and CDI2E develop Parsons’ capabilities and products for military and intelligence customers and help establish the new IW sector as well?
Mike Kushin: “If you think about multi-domain operations, you’re gathering and fusing information across all domains: sea, ground, air, space and cyber. These domains are coming together not only to provide individual areas of growth but to promote convergence of multi-domain operations that allow us to deliver information advantages to national and tactical decision-makers.
We develop diverse solutions on behalf of the government and also provide personnel in traditional staffing augmentation to existing missions. You mentioned the $618 million contract vehicle that we were recently awarded on top of a previous vehicle called [Combatant Commands Cyber Mission Support] that was a similar size.
Those two vehicles give us the capacity to offer and sell these capabilities, providing an easy button for customers to be able to work with Parsons because the question that often gets asked by different government and defense customers is, ‘You guys are great, now how do I get to you?’.
We believe there are unique things about Parsons and the IW sector. Through the growth of Parsons via acquisitions, including Blackhorse, we have been able to maintain and sustain the agility that gives us the ability to do quick reaction capabilities for our customers, the ability to quickly get on contracts I mentioned earlier, to be able to support near term operational missions and to be agile in the sense that there’s not a whole lot of bureaucracy hampering operational decisions.
I can tell you that we lean into the solutions that our customers need. We’re mission-oriented and that was something that again went back to the Parsons-Blackhorse marriage. Parsons has the same commitment to mission, and meeting business objectives comes because of that focus.
Lastly, we are focused on near-peer and future threats and the future needs of our government customers. We have been innovative and creative about what the future fight looks like and because of that we’re not burdened by legacy programs or legacy technologies that may not fit for the future fight.
The now-aging technologies were great when they were needed but now, we need next-generation disruptive capabilities, and that’s what we’re focused on in the Information Warfare sector at Parsons.”
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ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the impact electronic warfare and information operations are having on our nation’s defense priorities, including everything from space tech to 5G capabilities?
Mike Kushin: “EW crosses multiple areas. For example, space superiority used to be a birthright of every American as we basically dominated space since its inception, but that’s no longer the case. The ability to bring capabilities into the space domain is critical now.
Beyond space, electronic warfare looks different, particularly when you think about the INDOPACOM AOR, which covers large amounts of territory, both sea and land, so you need to have solutions that are able to conduct the same standard of techniques that you do in electronic warfare or in cyber operations but from greater standoff distances.
We develop technology solutions that are applicable across multiple domains, therefore leading to cost-effective solutions for our customers and the ability to get capability into the fight quickly.
Lastly, we’ve seen the types of disinformation campaigns that are used against the United States, across social media and other means. The ability to understand what’s going on in the information domain or the information environment is necessary, same with the ability to counter those types of threats not only from traditional EW type of operations but also from cyber and information operations.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen strategic objectives move towards multi-domain operations, future threats, and the use of all domains to fight the future fight and protect against future threats.”
ExecutiveBiz: In the process of producing actionable intelligence for military customers, how will Parsons’ capabilities in artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G and other forms of emerging technology provide federal solutions for the greater national security challenges we’re facing as a nation today and in the near future?
Mike Kushin: “One of the great things about being part of Parsons is that we put skin in the game. I’m talking about internal research and development and other strategic investments that allow us to prototype and build capabilities ahead of formal government acquisitions, allowing us to shift timelines to the left from award to capability deployment. At Parsons, we take pride in our ability to deliver capability at the speed of our mission.
We have some specialty programs in 5G within Parsons and we’ve also put a lot of investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s a common phrase that people mentioned these days, but we view those as being mission enablers three years ago. It was like ‘Oh, AI/ML; you do it, here’s money.’
These days, those technical capabilities and techniques are embedded into the various mission areas that we do so we view it as core to the solutions we deliver. Back to 5G and beyond, we are investing in and working with current customers to ensure DoD has the tools necessary to leverage 5G and to operate in non-permissive environments.
In closing, at Parsons, we’re confident that by integrating capabilities into a single sector we better support customer needs for today and tomorrow’s fight and look forward to expanding our partnerships with our customers and industry partners.”