Spawar commander to retire by summer

The flag officer who has helped lead the Navy through its shipboard systems modernization program plans to retire by the summer of 2001.

Rear Adm. John Gauss, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, said he has not submitted his retirement letter yet but has spoken with senior service officials about retiring by the summer after more than three years at Spawar.

Rear Adm. Kenneth Slaght, the vice commander for Spawar who has worked in the command for 10 years, is Gauss' most likely replacement. Gauss has told Spawar officials that he wants Slaght to replace him.

Gauss was in New Orleans Thursday for a change-in-command ceremony for what was formerly called the Naval Reserve Information Systems Office — it's now the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Information Technology Center.

Gauss has 8,000 people under his command and oversees the Navy's portion of the Defense Message System and the Global Command and Control System-Maritime program, among other initiatives.

Gauss pushed Navy officials to aggressively deploy the service's Information Technology for the 21st Century program (IT-21). This took shape as the shipboard systems modernization program that gave the fleet Asynchronous Transfer Mode networks and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT 4.0 as a desktop and server standard.

If it weren't for the aggressive schedule of the 1997 program, only 8 percent of the Navy's 300 ships would have IT-21 equipment, said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Geisen, who pointed out that 78 percent of the ships now have IT-21 gear.

Gauss had pushed to make what became the Navy Marine Corps Intranet a Spawar-run program rather than an outsourced procurement. Now, Gauss' command provides much of NMCI's engineering and project management support.

If pushed to make a post-Navy career decision, Gauss said he would trade on the stock market each morning and golf in the afternoon. "That is really what I would do," he said during an interview. However, he said that if he could take over a start-up company with a small capitalization that had exclusively commercial customers, he would consider the opportunity.

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