Top Navy chief calls IT key to operations

SAN DIEGO—Advanced communications networks have become essential to the Navy's "operational primacy,'' according to the Navy's top officer, who today called for development and deployment of a Navywide intranet to link half a million users around the world by 2001.

Chief of naval operations Adm. Jay Johnson, speaking here at the West '99 conference sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Naval Institute, said the commander of the USS Lincoln carrier battle group, which recently returned from operations in the Persian Gulf, told him that the capabilities provided by earlier versions of an advanced network to serve fleet units "changed fundamentally what he did." The commander said the time to receive and process large files such as air tasking orders, which control operations of aircraft in a battle zone, was "no longer a problem."

Johnson said the Navy's Information Technology for the 21st Century network, which will place commercial networks aboard ships, "cannot be just limited to ships." He continued, "Operational primacy requires robust linkage between ships and to all supporting elements ashore" via the Navywide intranet. "We cannot afford not to do this."

Rear Adm. John Gauss, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command headquartered here and charged with development of the Navywide intranet, said the intranet eventually would serve 180,000 users in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, 123,000 users in the supporting Navy systems commands and about 200,000 civilian and military users in smaller commands around the world.

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