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Navy, Marines Get Wired Via Worldwide Computer System

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2000 – Sailors and Marines ashore and at sea will be able to exchange information instantaneously and securely thanks to a new integrated computer system that will be implemented worldwide during the next few years.

Senior DoD officials at an Oct. 6 Pentagon press conference said the $6 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet represents the largest Defense Department information technology contract ever. In the late afternoon that day, department officials announced Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano, Texas, would be the primary contractor.

“The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet will revolutionize the way we look at the process of sharing information," Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy de Leon announced in a press release. "It gets the government out of the business of owning and operating information technology systems, and instead transfers that function to a fee-for-service contract with private industry. The potential for increased efficiency, standardization interoperability and better business practices is tremendous.”

The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet should be mostly implemented by June 2003, officials said. The consolidation of currently separate systems will save the Navy about $2 billion over the life of the initial five-year contract, they estimated.

“This is big. … We’ll save money, improve security and the system will be more reliable, too,” said Navy Secretary Richard Danzig. Leveraging the private sector to establish the intranet “frees up” military personnel, allows the two services to keep abreast of information technology advances and creates new efficiencies, he said.

“We’ll change the culture of our organization by establishing one central information system,” said Danzig, who added that sailors and Marines will also be able to order parts and maintain personnel records with “a click of a mouse.”

“This makes the organization more unified. … The two services will be intricately linked and better able to perform their worldwide missions,” he said.

Officials added that several sub-contractors would also be involved on the project.

“Thirty-five percent of the project will be sub-contracted to small businesses,” Danzig said, noting that up to 1,000 military personnel could be transferred to other jobs.

The intranet project will consolidate 200 separate Navy and Marine Corps computer systems involving 350,000 desktop machines, Danzig said. Ships at sea would connect using military and civilian communications satellite networks, he added.

Army and Air Force computer systems “will take steps to maintain interoperability” with the new Navy-Marine Corps system, he remarked.

Conversion of the Navy’s aviation command to the new intranet is scheduled by January 2001, Danzig said. The command will test the system for three months. If validated, the system will be installed at the sea command from April to late May. All NMCI systems are designed to meet DoD security requirements, according to officials.

Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, noted the intranet will break down barriers of communication and provide improved capability in the fleet, which would positively affect readiness, manning and retention.

“It’ll change the way we do business, … and lead us to the personnel and logistics management systems we need in the 21st century,” he added.

Gen. Jim Jones, Marine Corps’ commandant, said he appreciates the intranet’s cutting-edge technology and the system’s ability to provide better communications between sailors and Marines.

“It is also a tool to bring the Navy and Marine Corps closer together,” he said

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