Navy forces afloat rely heavily on Information Systems Technician Sailors to maintain shipboard access and connectivity to IT-21. In fact, the Navy is "building a cadre of IT Sailors at sea who are very familiar with IT-21 operations, and who are becoming extremely literate in the management of tough technical issues with regard to IT connectivity," said Commander Naval Network and Space Operations Command (NNSOC), Rear Adm. John P. Cryer, in a briefing March 31, 2004.
These IT management skills are not going to waste when Sailors complete their sea duty tour. According to Cryer, many of those Sailors are returning to shore as part of the IT Military Detachment (MILDET) program to work alongside contractor personnel in the NMCI Network Operations Centers (NOCs) to gain more hands-on experience and enhance their technical skills prior to returning to the fleet.
"It was determined a long time ago that it would be very valuable as we stood up NMCI to provide an opportunity for these folks to go from sea duty to shore duty to work closely with the contractors to develop skills, which would be useful for the Navy at sea," said Cryer.
The training program has been "an unqualified success" according to Cryer, who explained that the benefits surrounding the program are threefold. "For the Navy at large we are reaping the benefit of these technical skills; the Sailors themselves are benefiting from the opportunity to receive this type of education; and clearly the industry is benefiting by the strong workforce that is partnering with them as we go through the process of getting NMCI up and operational."
Lt. Antonio Scurlock, NMCI enterprise training officer for NNSOC, provided details during the same briefing regarding the type of training Sailors are receiving. "MILDET Sailors are afforded the opportunity through an internship-like program to achieve Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA certifications."
The sixty-month program, according to Scurlock, requires Sailors to spend "36 months rotating through various positions within the NMCI detachments (including the areas of help desk, systems, network, information assurance and base operations support) and 24 months at sea. The program is geared to place Sailors on afloat platforms in information technology critical billets, in order to keep those afloat units connected to the Global Information Grid [GIG]."
Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the program is that it "develops a military member who is fully capable of administering, maintaining, analyzing and securing enterprise-wide networks, while ensuring a more responsive, highly-trained Navy system administrator is available to the fleet," explained Scurlock.
The first Marines are expected to report for duty to the Marine Corps Training Detachments within the NMCI NOCs in July 2004.
Eric Mazzacone formerly worked for the NMCI Director Office of Public Affairs. He now supports the National Guard. Article and NMCI statistics reprinted by the permission of the director of the NMCI Office of Public Affairs.