Hylton leads IT transformation

Top Army comm official tackles network services challenge

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After more than 30 years in the Army, Maj. Gen. James Hylton said he knows how to follow orders. So when service leaders issued General Order No. 5 in 2002, he carried it out with the thoroughness for which he is known.

The order calls for one organization to deliver information technology services and operate and defend the Army's networks. That same organization is to provide warfighting communications capabilities.

The former Army Signal Command, which Hylton led when the order came, became the basis for a larger organization that now oversees the Army's servicewide IT capabilities.

That organization is called the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command (Netcom/9th ASC), which is located at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Hylton was selected to be its first commanding general.

Hylton recognized that the former command could not perform all the responsibilities stated in the order. "One of the shortfalls in the previous Army Signal Command mission environment was the absence of a staff focused on enterprise-level activities and capabilities," Hylton said. Those shortfalls ran the gamut from policy-making to engineering and installation expertise.

So Hylton began a detailed mission analysis. He convened other leaders to assess all requirements for carrying out the order.

"We essentially took General Order 5 as a given baseline," Hylton said. "We dissected it, we put it out to our primary staff and did a mission analysis of shortfalls or gaps."

What emerged from that analysis is the creation of two major units under Netcom/9th ASC. One is the Army Network Operations and Security Center, which operates and defends networks. The other is the Enterprise Systems Technology Activity (ESTA), which administers servicewide IT policy, procurement and technology installation.

Hylton said that only by conducting a thorough mission analysis can military and civilian IT officials fully understand and manage a servicewide organization. "There is no way to be successful if you don't get capabilities properly aligned with the mission that you're directed to do," he said.

Now, three years after creating the servicewide IT command, the Army is better managing its networks, Hylton said.

Netcom, for example, has installed Microsoft Active Directory servicewide. As a result, the Army knows what it has: more than 800,000 PCs and 27,000 servers. "Active Directory has been organized, planned and executed through ESTA," Hylton said.

The new organization consolidated the Army's network operations centers and installed new technologies that provide increased servicewide and militarywide IT security. "This is an ongoing battle," Hylton said. "We've done good work, but more work needs to be done."

Soldiers from every major organization in the Netcom/9th ASC have participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hylton said. Signal units have been deployed to create a backbone for voice, video and data communications for U.S. commanders and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael Gentry, former senior technical director and chief engineer at Netcom, said Hylton is the right person for the job. "Gen. Hylton possesses a comprehensive conceptual framework for development of enterprise solutions, combined with a caring management style," Gentry said.

Hylton will retire Sept. 28 after 33 years of service. The Army will hold a retirement ceremony for him and a change-of-command ceremony for his replacement, Brig. Gen. Carroll Pollett.

Hylton said he feels good about the IT organization and the service he leaves behind. He said he does not know what the future holds. Perhaps he will take a job in the IT industry, or maybe he and his wife will just enjoy retirement.

Hylton said one truth will endure as he begins post-Army life: "I will always be a soldier."

The James Hylton file

Age: 55.

Position: Army Maj. Gen. James Hylton has been commanding general of the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., since 2002.

Career highlights: Hylton served 33 years in the Army after completing the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in 1972. He held 11 command and staff positions, including director of programs and architecture in the former Office of the Secretary of the Army's Office of the Director of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications and Computers.

Hylton also commanded five organizations at the company, battalion and brigade levels, which included stints with the 44th Signal Battalion of the 7th Signal Brigade in Mannheim, Germany. That battalion deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Hylton has received six military honors, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Education: Hylton earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Marshall University and a master's degree in public administration from Golden Gate University.

He completed signal officer basic and advanced courses, a radio systems officer course, an Army command and general staff college course, and courses at the National War College.

Hobbies: He enjoys outdoor activities and playing golf.

Family: He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 33 years. They have a son, daughter and grandson.

Last book read: "American Soldier" by retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks.

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