Joint Forces signs on for NMCI

U.S. Joint Forces Command's Web site

Joint Forces Command will sign on to the Navy's enterprise network by fiscal 2005, according to the command's senior information technology official.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Walter Jones, director of command, control, communications and computer systems, said that Joint Forces Command is looking to adopt a central enterprise network approach and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet will provide that capability. He spoke at a Computer Marketing Associates executive forum in McLean, Va.

Officials at Joint Forces Command are developing their own enterprise network in an effort to consolidate the networks and applications at the different command locations. That effort is expected to be completed in less than a year.

The Pacific Command (PACOM) will be the first unified (multi-service) command to transition to NMCI. PACOM is currently in the assumption of responsibility (AOR) phase, meaning EDS has assumed control of its network in anticipation of the cut over.

The total number of seats that will be transitioned is not significant — about 8,000 — but it marks the first major command outside the Navy and Marine Corps that is putting its weight behind the $8.8 billion project.

"We need to rationalize our applications," Jones said. "Why should we pay for software that's sitting on a desktop and nobody uses it? We will first migrate to the JFCOM enterprise network and then to NMCI."

The Joint Forces Command has a headquarters staff of about 500 active-duty military personnel representing each of the four services and approximately 300 civilian and contract employees.

Jones said the command has a "mess" of legacy and duplicative applications.

"We need to hold people accountable, and under our enterprise network, we will do so," he said. "We have a set period of time to collapse the existing legacy networks of about 12 months, and that started two months ago."

Jones said NMCI is currently the best bet under the Defense Department umbrella for consolidation and centralization. He said even his service, the Air Force, still gives regional commanders the ability to buy and run their own software and networks, an approach he called "not smart."

"I believe in the need for an enterprise approach, because it saves time and money and provides for interoperability," he said. "We are already working with the NMCI director's office to ensure our applications on the enterprise network will conform with their standards and will continue that process over the next few years."

Jones added that, if the Joint Forces Command is ready before fiscal 2005, the transition to NMCI can take place earlier.

He said he did not know if the command's transition to the NMCI network will necessarily prompt the Army and Air Force to follow suit. That decision will be left to the Air Force's chief information officer, John Gilligan, and incoming Army CIO Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle.

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