Crystal City, Va. -- The Navy and Marine Corps Intranet Information Bureau held its first press conference May 10 in what is to become a regularly scheduled event.
The conference, and those scheduled to follow, are intended to shed light on the progress of the NMCI in an effort to keep Marines Sailors and Department of Defense civilians informed of the project?s current status.
The NMCI is going to be a computer network that will, in short, allow Marines and Sailors to make better, faster decisions.
?It (NMCI) will affect more than 360,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel and thousands more of our civilian employees,? said Navy Capt. John Roach, public affairs officer, NMCI Information Bureau.
NMCI has advantages of standardizing the entire Navy and Marine Corps information network. Repeatedly stressed during the brief were the additional security benefits the Department of the Navy will have once the NMCI is implemented.
According to Joseph Cipriano, Navy program executive officer for information technology, nearly every Navy installation or Marine Corps base currently has its own connection to the internet. This allows for many different points of access into the information infrastructure, which in turn, allows for a greater possibility of and outside attack on the system.
Under NMCI, all connections to the public internet will be routed through various Network Operations Centers that Navy and Marine installations will be connected to.
?The only way to access the public internet will be through the NOC,? Cipriano said. ?That alone would be enough to increase security because if someone is trying to attack the network, we?ll all be aware of it and be able to deal with it.?
Cipriano also explained that access to the new computer terminals will be restricted with the advent of Common Access Cards that will be inserted into the terminal for logon authorization. Common Access Cards are currently being tested at various installations Marine Corps-wide. The cards are approximately the same size as a normal credit card, but have a computer chip built in that contains a person?s complete personal file and all their access authority.
?As with any cultural change, this will be hard,? said Cipriano. Efforts are underway to ensure there is a smooth transition from the current information systems, which aren?t completely streamlined across the DoN, into the streamlined NMCI.
?As far as I can tell, we?re (Marine Corps) the only ones (in DoD) who have close to an enterprise-like network,? said Lt. Col. Mark Dalla Betta, NMCI project officer for the Marine Corps. This experience with an enterprise style network will aid in making the transition to the NMCI smoother for the Corps.
Although the Marine Corps? network keeps nearly every Marine connected worldwide and has worked relatively well so far, there are limitations that the NMCI will overcome.
?NMCI is a very robust system,? said Dalla Betta. ?Electronic Data Systems, the primary NMCI contractor, is bound by contract to provide a certain level of service.
?They (EDS) will have to provide a level of bandwith to the desktop systems that the Marine Corps could not provide,? Dalla Betta said. ?We simply don?t have the money, the people or the resources to build bandwith on demand.?
In addition, NMCI will drastically decrease the number of redundant applications the DoN uses to operate.
?Modern businesses use about 80 different applications to operate daily,? Cipriano explained. ?The (Department of the) Navy has over 7000.?
The goal is to reduce the number of legacy applications, meaning the old applications that will be carried over to the NMCI. ?Half of the programs you?ll be able to shoot because there may be three others that do the same thing,? Cipriano explained.
Selected areas of the Pentagon will begin seeing the impact of NMCI when it is slowly integrated within the next six months, Cipriano said.
The Marine Corps isn?t scheduled to begin converting to the system until sometime next year, with the entire project being scheduled for completion by 2005. The total cost will be possibly 6.9 billion dollars spread out over the next five years.