Top Navy officials say security will not be compromised in new network

Senior Navy officials said this week that network security in the Navy Marine Corps Intranet will not be weakened to increase the speed of the program's rollout.

One of the primary benefits of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet project is a dramatic improvement in network security, Navy officials said.

That additional security, however, is also hampering the seamless development of the $8 billion network, according to Navy Secretary Gordon England, who spoke at the 2004 NMCI Industry Symposium in New Orleans.

"A lack of security was probably the most deficient aspect of our legacy networks," England said. A system that does not contain classified information could be fielded without as many delays, but the Navy does not have that option. Many Navy personnel, he said, "do not like the compromises that we make for security, but security is paramount."

During a speech to the symposium, England praised the NMCI effort and said it offers a variety of capabilities, including better tracking of IT expenses and more effective communications and management. The network, which is being developed by prime contractor EDS, is currently the largest intranet in the world with hundreds of thousands of Navy and Marine Corps personnel connected.

NMCI has suffered from substantial delays since its inception in October 2000 and some military leaders at the New Orleans conference have criticized the network for poor connectivity and slow delivery. Other service officials say NMCI customer satisfaction overall is high, and some problems are to be expected with the development and fielding of a massive information technology system.

Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns, who is leading the NMCI effort, said military and industry officials should now focus on stepping up the development of the system. They must "maintain that security, but increase the speed," Munns said.

England also directed a statement to Navy and Marine Corps personnel who are disgruntled with what they see as stringent security and slow rollout of the new network.

"We're not going to change the system. Our users have to get used to this," he said. England appealed to service members to embrace NMCI. "People forget where we were before NMCI.... We cannot go back to where we were five years ago."

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