Marines to stick with NMCI

Despite language in the House version of the Defense authorization bill that would let the Marines opt out of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the service has no plans to retreat from the program.

"We're on board. We're totally supportive. We've always been on board," said Brig. Gen. Robert Shea, Marine Corps director of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence. "The challenge is that we have to go back and address the concerns that the House has, and we intend to do that."

Before leaving for the August recess, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the fiscal 2002 Defense authorization bill with language that would allow the Marine Corps to pull out of NMCI.

Asked if the Marines had requested such action, Shea replied, "Absolutely not."

The Marine Corps is scheduled to begin using NMCI in fiscal 2002 and, anticipating the transition, hasn't upgraded its information networks for two years. A statement by the committee cited "lengthy program delays and significant questions about the Navy's funding and budgetary strategy for NMCI."

But pulling the Marines out of NMCI would take more than congressional action. Rick Rosenburg, NMCI program executive for lead contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp., said such a move would require a change in the contract. Because NMCI is designed to be a unified network between the naval services, "someone would need to be the integrator between the two environments," he said.

NMCI officials—from the Marine Corps, Navy and EDS—know some see the contract as behind schedule. So EDS and the Navy used the Aug. 6 inauguration of the NMCI network operations center in San Diego to illustrate the progress made in the 10 months since the contract was awarded.

"We are accomplishing what was thought was impossible," Rosenburg said.

Vice Adm. Rich.ard Mayo, director of space, information warfare, command and control, agreed: "We are well on course to achieving a naval intranet. It's truly incredible what has been accomplished."

San Diego's NMCI operations center is housed in a nondescript building on an island across the bay. It is a concrete example of what Navy officials hope will be the future—a hub for the service's computer infrastructure, staffed by contractors working alongside Navy personnel.

"This gives us a full system," said Capt. Chris Christopher, Navy Department deputy program executive officer for information technology. "All that really remains is to start hooking up desktops," which is scheduled to happen by early next month.

The center is the second of six facilities that will be a hub for integrating more than 360,000 desktops and disparate systems covered under NMCI.

The San Diego center will provide mission-critical services for the Navy's operations in the Southwest and will include network management and monitoring, help-desk support, user administration and information assurance.

EDS opened the first network operations center at Naval Base Norfolk, Va., in July. The San Diego center, at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command at North Island Naval Air Station, will control 78,000 desktops and can back up other regional centers in an emergency.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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