Marine Corps CIO focuses on collapsing networks

Brigadier General Kevin J. Nally, Deputy Chief Information Officer (Marine Corps)

Brigadier General Kevin J. Nally says consolidation of the Marine Corps' unclassified networks could take years.

The Marine Corps’ ongoing consolidation of its five major unclassified networks will save the service money while bolstering its network security, according to Chief Information Officer Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally.

The logic behind collapsing the networks, which is one of the pillars of the Corps’ evolving approach to cybersecurity, is that “there are less cyberattack vectors that the bad guys can get into,” Nally told attendees of the Marine Corps IT Day, hosted by AFCEA’s Quantico-Potomac chapter on April 28.

The consolidation could take years and depends on budgeting that has been anything but certain. And the project will retain another key security feature aside from consolidation: “redundancy,” or having multiple means of network connectivity should one fail. “Even though we’re reducing five networks into one … that [one] unclassified network is still going to have multiple paths in and out of it,” Nally told FCW after his remarks.

One of the next steps for the broad plan that governs the consolidation effort is to fold another legacy network into the Marine Corps Enterprise Network, added Nally, who is also the service’s director of command, control, communications and computers.

Nally’s stature as CIO may have grown with the installment in October of Gen. Joseph Dunford as Marine Corps commandant. Several weeks after Dunford’s appointment, according to Nally, the two met to map out how the service might make better use of its CIO. Dunford wanted to give the CIO “more visibility, more horizontal input across the staff on all things IT and how it’s related to the Marine Corps Enterprise Network,” Nally said.

Since then, and with the backing of Lt. Gen. Glenn Walters, the deputy commandant for programs and resources, Nally said he has gained a better understanding of and influence on IT spending across the service. That visibility could give Nally leverage when he meets with Marine Corps and Defense Department leadership.

In a meeting with DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen, Nally said he told the Pentagon’s IT boss that the Marine Corps’ enterprise security stacks are more advanced than a version being implemented across the DOD. “Ours are cheaper and exceed the capability and capacity” of versions 1.0 and 1.5 of the Joint Regional Security Stacks, Nally told FCW. The Marine Corps CIO is waiting for the next version of JRSS to see if it makes sense to implement, he added.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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