Marines hope IT can keep pace with personnel

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The Marine Corps wants its digital footprint to catch up to its physical one.

The Corps has recently deployed personnel to crises springing up around the world, but is still working on how best to equip those Marines with the information they own at garrison, according to Col. Pete Dillon, the strategic planning chief in the service’s Command, Control, Communications and Computers branch.

The Corps has recently sent personnel to Iraq to train local troops to fight the Islamic State, and to Nepal to deliver humanitarian aid. Being able to respond to multiple crises simultaneously is “the new normal,” Dillon said at a May 29 luncheon hosted by AFCEA’s Washington, D.C., chapter.

One example of how the service is trying to improve its IT mobility is by investing in what is known as a rapid response kit. The kit “allows small groups of Marines to get on the ground, use some reach-back technology, either through commercial Internet, satellite terminal or some other means of transmission, to access a remote server,” Dillon explained.

Dillon said the service’s goal is to give commanders a breadth of IT options for responding to crises, from deploying a greater range of mobile devices to taking advantage of remote desktops.

War of words

Before the panel discussion began, Marine Corps Chief Information Officer Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally made a point of categorically rejecting how a top cyber official had characterized the Corps’ enterprise network a day earlier.

The official, Col. Gregory Breazile, director of the C2/Cyber and Electronic Warfare Integration Division, said that the Marine Corps network was a “mess” shortly after transitioning from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, and predicted it would take “many years, unfortunately, to clean it up because it’s not a standardized network.”

Nally, who will retire in July, was not pleased with Breazile’s comments, calling them “completely off-base.”

“The network is not a mess,” he said. “And I’ll tell you for a fact -- five years being in the job, I have never had a commander call me and complain about the network.”

The brigadier general also objected to Breazile’s suggestion that the Corps’ organizational structure was not aligned well for cyberspace operations. As the CIO, Nally said, he works closely with a top intelligence official in the service.

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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