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CHIPS Articles: Interview with Rear Adm. David G. Simpson

Interview with Rear Adm. David G. Simpson
Director Navy Networks OPNAV N6
By CHIPS Magazine - January-March 2009
Rear Adm. Simpson was named the interim Assistant Chief of Naval Operations Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) and Director of the NGEN System Program Office. The SPO is a new ACNO position created by the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps on Oct. 15 to ensure that NGEN is developed with strong central governance from an office serving as the single focal point for policy, resources and requirements, acquisition, and technical authority and operations.

ACNO NGEN will work directly with the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO), OPNAV N6, Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC C4), Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), PEO C4I, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), Naval Network Warfare Command (NNWC) and Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Command (MCNOSC) to field and sustain a reliable and secure network that is responsive to Navy and Marine Corps warfighter needs, as well as the needs of the overall DON workforce.

Rear Adm. John W. Goodwin has been named ACNO NGEN and will arrive in January to fill the two-star director billet. ACNO NGEN will be responsible for delivery of Navy and Marine Corps enterprise network capabilities.

Rear Adm. Simpson will continue to support NGEN, leading the Navy's NGEN resources and requirements efforts from his position as Director of Navy Networks on the OPNAV N6 Staff.

NGEN will replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) and many of today's legacy terrestrial networks for which NMCI was not well suited. Since its inception, NMCI has produced a very capable enterprise network that has provided both the Navy and Marine Corps a solid enterprise foundation from which to build NGEN.

NMCI transformed Naval network services starting with the initial NMCI contract award in October 2000 and has improved customer satisfaction each year. With nearly 700,000 active users and a wide range of information technology services available, NMCI is the largest corporate intranet of its kind. NMCI has greatly improved the ability of the Navy and Marine Corps to centrally manage information technology service, control IT spending — and provide strong security.

Rear Adm. Simpson has been working on the requirements for NGEN with Navy and Marine Corps stakeholders within the DON since his assignment to OPNAV N6 in the spring of 2008. The acquisition approach is notional at this stage because an Analysis of Alternatives, directed by the Secretary of Defense, is currently in progress.

Respecting the competition sensitive nature of some of the finer details, CHIPS asked the admiral to discuss some of the high level plans for NGEN.

Q: According to the NGEN program office, the NGEN acquisition approach will be based on a notional segmentation concept that breaks existing network functions into groups and separate services so that some may be run by the Navy and others may be outsourced. Will the Navy be the integrator for the segmented services?

A: IT services under NGEN will be managed using the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3, Service Delivery Model. This industry-developed, open standard framework is being used to define each of the processes and interfaces associated with the delivery of NGEN services. Responsibility for a given process and/or interface will be defined in concert with the Service Design Specification.

ITIL v3 is organized into Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations and Continuous Improvement processes. Both the Navy and Marine Corps will have process owners for each of the high level NGEN processes. NGEN Service Operations leads will be the Naval Network Warfare Command for Navy and the Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Command for the Marines. These organizations will have command and control responsibilities for the end-to-end provision of network service working closely with the supporting military, government and contract team.

The program manager for NGEN is working closely with DON stakeholders and industry to define integration requirements as part of the ITIL Services Management framework.

During the requirements generation phase, the NGEN team spoke with CIOs from several large corporations that successfully balanced in-source/outsource segmentation to understand the value in that service delivery model. There is a good body of knowledge for industry best practices that we want to emulate.

We are currently working through the process of determining if there is a smart grouping that would suggest a number of segments or a single segment covering all those functions. We are looking at that trade space to see what will work best for the department and its IT partners.

Q: The Department of the Navy has determined that it must exert greater oversight and direct control of the design and operations of NGEN. Why?

A: To meet the command and control needs of our personnel, the DON must have operational and design control of our networks. This refers to the assignment of priorities, direction and policies within an accountable framework with well-defined standards, policies and enforcement mechanisms.

Naval IT networks must have exceptionally high levels of agility and flexibility in order to keep pace with evolving mission challenges and an ever-increasing cyber threat. A strong central governance is required to ensure that decisions impacting a wide range of DON stakeholders can be made quickly, in response to changes in the network environment.

Networks represent a significant investment for the department, one that requires a daily balance between provision of service and affordability. Navy and Marine Corps command and control of NGEN will provide the strong governance necessary within a supported/supporting commander structure led by Navy and Marine Corps NETOPS forces, aligned operationally underneath U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO), and Navy and Marine Corps service components.

Q: Some in the DON would say that the "network is a weapon." What will NGEN deliver to operational commanders?

A: First and foremost, the network must deliver robust, reliable communications between commanders and supporting forces. NGEN will do this as a military capability with a government workforce ready to defeat potential adversaries who would seek to deny or exploit Navy and Marine Corps network services.

Every attempt at network intrusion, whether it is successful or not, provides a network attacker useful information. In order to stay ahead of the threat, DON networks must learn from each attempted intrusion or attack and improve our defense.

NGEN will include a robust security operations segment that will work within Navy and Marine Corps computer network defense organizations, coordinating closely with JTF-GNO and [STRATCOM's] Joint Functional Component Command Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) to proactively address cyber threats.

Q: How will NGEN address the needs of the fleet? Will NGEN support deployed Marines and Navy individual augmentees?

A: NGEN will be the foundation for the Naval Networking Environment. It will introduce a consistent set of operational standards and services to provide warfighter and business IT capabilities across the fleet and Marine force.

NGEN will continue to provide embarkable IT assets for use afloat as well as tailored solutions for an increasingly mobile DON workforce. Over time this will include OCONUS networks as well as shared services between the afloat and shore environments.

Currently, individual augmentees will continue to be supported by the network service provider of their assigned unit. NGEN will, however, ensure that commonly adopted standards for services and data are implemented across the DON to ensure interoperability with the rest of DoD, with other agencies, and with our coalition partners.

Future NGEN increments will seek to deliver capabilities required to realize the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Global Information Grid 2.0 vision for global joint warfighter access to network services on any part of the GIG.

Q: With the Department of the Navy's plan to retain control and oversight of NGEN within the Navy and Marine Corps, are there plans under development to determine what skill sets and types of civilian and military billets are needed to operate and maintain the new network?

A: A fully trained and qualified government workforce is an essential part of the DON's NGEN implementation. The billets and positions are resourced in the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) and the demand signal captured in the respective service Total Force Manpower Management System.

ACNO NGEN is working closely with N1, HQMC C4 and DON civilian human resources specialists to define the required skill sets and generate recruitment, hiring and training plans to deliver a capable NGEN government workforce on time.

Q: Given that NMCI is owned and operated by the current contractor, how will the DON ensure that EDS does not have an unfair competitive advantage?

A: The DON is working to ensure a level playing field. NGEN will utilize an open standard (ITIL) for the Service Delivery Model that should be widely recognizable to IT service providers. NGEN will continue to seek feedback from industry on the Service Design Specification and subsequent implementation plans.

NGEN will continue to provide as much information as is allowed to educate potential vendors on DON requirements for NGEN while respecting the acquisition sensitive nature of the program.

Q: What should the current nearly 700,000 users of the NMCI understand about moving to NGEN? Is there anything that NMCI users can do to prepare for the transition?

A: Current NMCI users should understand that continuity of existing service is the No.1 priority for NGEN. There will not be a flip of a switch on Oct. 1, 2010, with a 'hard' cutover. Instead, NGEN will employ a conservative transition plan to assume operation of the current NMCI environment, develop the DON NETOPS workforce, and introduce NGEN ITIL structured services operated by a military, civilian, contractor team.

Planning for the transition is underway. Early transition activities are being defined to ensure continuity of service throughout the process. Users should continue to participate in required network security training and work with their claimant's techical representative and assistant CTR to understand changes in network governance as we get closer to the transition period.

Q: Will the department be able to take advantage of the DoD-wide Enterprise Software Initiative and federal SmartBUY licensing agreements to acquire software and services for NGEN?

A: Yes. Use of ESI, where it makes sense, is an NGEN goal. Specific utilization will be determined by the acquisition strategy.

Q: The SPO will also be working to consolidate legacy networks. What types of networks are remaining and will their functions be part of NGEN?

A: Through operation Cyber Asset Reduction and Security (CARS), the Navy has made significant progress in the last two years in lowering the number of Navy legacy networks from over 1,000 to fewer than 500. The NNWC-led CARS team has set a goal to reduce an additional 200 networks in 2009, and eliminate the rest of the legacy environment in 2010.

More significantly, CARS has led Navy's efforts to improve the security environment for both enterprise and 'excepted' Navy networks. Recent response to DOD-wide security threats proved the value of this program as Navy was able to rapidly develop an effective response through CARS implementation.

Both Navy and the Marine Corps benefited from their strong commitment to enterprise-wide networks with service-wide implementation of directed information assurance achievable in a minimum amount of time.

The Naval Networking Environment will continue to include a number of excepted networks requiring some degree of isolated access or unique technical capabilities, but we will ensure that they are as vigilantly protected and efficiently operated as our enterprise network. Similarly, the DON will continue to work to reduce legacy applications, databases and data centers.

This is an exciting time for naval networks with both NGEN, the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN), and the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES), delivering improved security and warfighting capabilities across the DON operational spectrum.

The department will build upon the Naval Networking Environment to meet the increasing cyber threat, empower Millennial Sailors and Marines, and produce a consistent collaborative information environment across the fleet and Marine force.

Go to Navy News Service at and click on the Navy Leadership link to view Rear Adm. Simpson's biography.

Rear Adm. David G. Simpson
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