Marines struggle with 'rocky' NMCI

Marine Corps NMCI Web site

NEW ORLEANS — So far, much of the progress on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet has been unacceptable, says the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command .

Marine Lt. Gen. Edward Hanlon Jr., speaking here at the annual NMCI Industry Symposium, said the work is hard, but that believes that lead contractor EDS was not prepared to implement the many promises proposed in the contract.

"So far, we have cut over 9,000 seats out of a total 89,000 and Marine headquarters in Quantico has gotten only 1,350 out of 6,000," he said. "This will take far too long if we maintain that rate."

From the start, EDS has failed to meet its original goal of transitioning 30 seats per day at Quantico to NMCI. After a five-week pause in rollovers, EDS began the transitions at a brisker pace, but still short of the 30-seat target, Hanlon said.

"Whatever the cause, [the implementation] has been rocky and problematic," he said. "We understand the [Navy and Marine Corps command's] intent, but it is imperative to tell them when it isn't working exactly as expected."

He said NMCI's implementation in the Marines has not gotten enough resources. The cost of adopting the system is outpacing the corps' ability to stabilize, Hanlon added.

"Affording NMCI will be a big hurdle to overcome," he said.

Hanlon said his experience with NMCI has been less than exemplary, and that the network that is used to directly support combatant commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan must be held to a higher standard.

"I use my NMCI seat every day to talk to combat leaders in Iraq, and there have been far too many occasions where my seat has failed," he said.

Hanlon added that he fully supports implementing the $8.8 billion Navy and Marine-wide network and has "no doubt that NMCI is the right way to go."

But, he added, officials need to develop a mechanism for the system by which new technology can be rapidly inserted, and a new system needs to be creates to ensure the commands and services can afford what they're forced to adopt.

"The Marine Corps is deeply committed to NMCI," he said. "We are not there yet, but we have crossed the Rubicon."

EDS spokesman Kevin Clarke said Hanlon said what many others have previously expressed, and added that EDS and the NMCI team recognize the problems. Clarke said his main impression from Hanlon's speech was the Marine Corps' fervent support of the network.

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