Air Force and Army seek to develop service intranets on their own

The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, better known as the NMCI, is approved for an additional 100,000 seats

Jun 1st, 2002

By J.R. Wilson

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, better known as the NMCI, is approved for an additional 100,000 seats, yet the officials of the U.S. Air Force are nearing a decision on an intranet of their own, and Army leaders have begun considering a similar strategy for their future.

Details of the Air Force and Army initiatives are being held close to the vest. Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, the Army's chief information officer, is evaluating several approaches to realigning and consolidating the Army's information technology service delivery infostructure and organization, says David Borland, vice director of the Army's Chief Information Office/G-6.

"We have almost constant contact with our sister services as well as other governmental agencies and private sector organizations to get their experience and apply their lessons-learned to our strategic plan," Borland says.

Air Force officials, at the direction of the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act, are expected to complete a study this summer on whether they should pursue such a system.

The Navy has a $6.9 billion, eight-year NMCI contract with Electronic Data Systems Corp. in Plano, Texas, while the National Security Agency has a 10-year Project Groundbreaker contract with Computer Sciences Corp. of Falls Church, Va., which is estimated at between $2 billion and $5 billion.

EDS officials announced 3 May they had completed the NMCI contractor test & evaluation (CT&E) phase mandated before Department of Defense officials would authorize the additional work.

With the new announcement, EDS officials have orders for 160,000 seats, nearly half the program's planned 360,000, moving the two services closer to NMCI's goal of providing secure, universal access to integrated voice, video, and data communications, as well as pier-side connectivity to Navy vessels in port.

Each computer seat includes round-the-clock help-desk support, support infrastructure, enhanced security, information assurance, hardware and software, network monitoring, and training. Those seats will go in at 300 Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the United States, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"As a result of the lessons we have all learned during the initial testing period of NMCI, we are now ready to proceed with NMCI rollout," says Rear Admiral Charles Munns, who took over in February as NMCI director. "We have set a rigorous schedule to follow, but we are confident that we will meet the challenges head on, as they arise. Once we have 85 percent of it in place, we will test it under stressful conditions to understand its behavior and learn from that."

NMCI will eliminate a wide range of networks at Navy and Marine Corps installations. The conversion is finished at the Naval Air Facility in Washington, and will continue at Lemoore Naval Air Station, Calif., and Naval Air Systems Command headquarters at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The additional seats will extend NMCI to the Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet Headquarters, Norfolk, Va.; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Information Technology Center, New Orleans Readiness Command South, La.; Space, Naval Warfare Systems Command Headquarters, San Diego; Naval Surface Warfare Command, Port Hueneme, Calif., and Fallon Naval Air Station, Nev.

"This transformation from many disparate networks to a single enterprise intranet will not only ensure that the Department of the Navy information technologies are brought into the 21st Century, but will also provide us the necessary path to the future of enterprise-wide business efficiency and warfighting effectiveness," Munns says.

"While we are facing the technical challenges of this endeavor, it is the cultural changes that will require all Navy personnel to be both flexible and adaptable," he says. "Thousands of books have been written on the subject of change management. Through NMCI, the Navy is living change management, not just reading about it."

EDS, which now has more than 4,000 seats in operation, is paid on a per-seat basis, with 85 percent of each seat's value paid as it becomes operational and the balance paid on full system completion. The EDS-led Information Strike Force team includes WorldCom, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Cisco, WAM!NET, Microsoft, Dell, Dolch, Robbins-Gioia, and Dataline.

The CSC-led Eagle Alliance working on the NSA intranet includes General Dynamics, Keane Federal Systems, Omen Inc., ACS Defense, BTG, CACI, TRW, Windmere, Fiber Plus, Verizon, and Superior Communications.

More in Communications