Military services launch projects to beef up data sharing and security

The Navy will kick off a procurement this year for a worldwide network, the new Air Force Cyber Command will take over operation of Air Force networks, and the Army is seeking to find the right cost model for its stateside data processing centers. Top officials detailed these plans on Thursday in McLean, Va., at the annual Federal Networks Conference, sponsored by Telestrategies and Suss Consulting.

In the fall, the Navy will release a request for proposals for its Next Generation Enterprise Network to serve users at bases in the United States and overseas with an award planned in February 2009, said Rear Adm. (Select) David Simpson, director of the fleet and allied requirements division for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communications Networks.

NGEN will replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, which serves Navy users in the United States and Marine users on bases worldwide. It also will replace the Outside the Continental United States Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-NET) for users overseas. NGEN will serve as the building block for a new naval network environment, Simpson said, and incorporate the Information Technology for the 21st Century Network (IT-21) for users at sea.

Simpson declined to put a price tag on NGEN, but told conference attendees that the Navy spends $1.5 billion a year to operate the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. EDS manages the intranet under a $10 billion contract to support 500,000 users. That contract will expire in 2010.

Security is the paramount task for the new enterprise network, Simpson said, with ease of transition from NMCI and ONE-NET a close second. Unlike the intranet, which operates under a managed service contract, the Navy needs command and control of network resources, he said. NGEN must be survivable, adaptable and focused on warfighter requirements, he added.

At the Air Force, the new Air Force Cyber Command will operate all networks and host data at major area processing centers at strategic U.S. locations, Col. Steve Hennessy, director of enterprise capabilities at the Air Force Communications Agency, said at the conference. He said installations no longer can run their own data centers because 9,000 Air Force communicators will be cut by the end of fiscal 2009.

States including Colorado, Louisiana, Virginia and New Mexico are lobbying to be the home of the new Cyber Command headquarters, but the Air Force does not plan to make any basing decision until late this year. The command is provisionally located at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

At the Army, two area processing centers have been established to host applications and e-mail in the United States, primarily to beef up information security. The centers are located at Defense Information Systems Agency facilities in Columbus, Ohio, and Oklahoma City, but the Army anticipates the need to build more.

Gary Winkler, the Army's program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems, said at the conference that he released a request for information from industry to develop the best cost and structure model for the centers. The Network Enterprise Technology Command had developed a cost model that was unaffordable, Winkler said in an interview, which is why he has sought industry help.

Winkler declined to discuss dollar figures, but he did say the Army needed a better and less costly approach than the one developed by NETCOM. This could include hosting Army applications at commercial data centers or seeking a better deal from DISA, he said.

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