Doing Business With The Marine Corps
General Info on the Marine Corps.<@VM>The CIO File: Brig. Gen. John Thomas
- By Evamarie C. Socha
- Aug 29, 2003
#2 Navy Annex
Washington, DC 20380-1775
Gen. Michael HageeActive duty:
Approximately 178,000 What it does:
The Marine Corps is the nation's premiere expeditionary military force. In U.S. military operations, the Marines are usually the first to go in and secure the ground, making way for the other U.S. military forces. It is the only military branch that is organized for operations by land, water and air. Major components:
The Marine Corps functions as a branch of the Navy. However, it is a complete operating unit within itself. There are 26 agencies under Marine Corps headquarters, such as the installations and logistics department, manpower and reserve affairs, and plans, policies and operations. Number crunching: Defense Department budget2004 request:
$379.9 billion2003 budget:
$364.6 billionThe Web:
The Marine Corps Web site (www.usmc.mil) serves its audience well.
Anything and everything Marine is there, including history, pay charts, news, family assistance, etc.
I am impressed by the feature and top news stories on this site, reported by Marines that are out there in the action.
Brig. Gen. John Thomas
Director for command, control, communications and computers (C4), and chief information officerTook the job:
Winston-Salem, N.C. Home now:
Woodbridge, Va. Family:
Married almost 27 years. Two sons, one a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University and the other a high school junior. Hobbies:
Golf, computing Currently reading
"How Digital Is Your Business: Creating the Company of the Future," by Adrian Slywotzky and David MorrisonAlma mater:
Bachelor of science in education from Appalachian State University, masters in business administration from Prairie View A&M University, masters of science in national security strategic studies from the College of Naval WarfareWT: Since the Marines are on the front line in Iraq, has that called for anything different from the technology arm of the service?
Thomas: I wouldn't say the technology is unique. In some cases we're seeing some innovative approaches to solving our IT requirements over there. What we've seen in Iraqi Freedom is a heavy reliance on the network. If you took a look at the war before [Operation Desert Storm], you could say historically we've fought wars using analog, single-channel radios. We call this the SIPRNET [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] war, in which they're using the secure network to conduct their daily business, which is a big shift from what we've seen in the past. So the network has probably elevated itself to the top of the list in importance for this war. WT: Aside from the war, are the needs of the Marine Corps different or unique from what might be considered typical IT needs?
Thomas: Absolutely not. If we're talking about military forces, each of the services and the joint force have similar IT requirements. What is unique about the Marine Corps is how we organize, equip and train our forces. We organize into combined combat-arms teams. We have the air, the ground, the logistics all built into an integrated package. That's referred to as Marine Air-Ground Task Force. I think how we do that is unique. But in terms of the IT services and equipment we demand to support those forces, that is not unique. WT: Do you do a lot of off-the-shelf types of business?
Thomas: Absolutely. We are fielding more and more commercial items every day. In fact, if you take a look at Iraqi Freedom as an example, when all is said and done, people will say that this was a commercial off-the-shelf war, if you will. It ran the gamut from the lowest unit level on up to our major headquarters. One thing we're looking at now is to see if we can do it even smarter. As you employ these commercial products, one thing that is always a challenge is that the technology turns over about every 18 months. In some cases, we're looking at leasing commercial products that are embedded in our tactical systems as a way to provide that refresh. WT: Are you looking forward to the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet being up and running?
Thomas: Absolutely. The challenge has been coming up with an enterprise solution. At least in the last several years, the Marine Corps has had an enterprise network. When the Navy and the Marines Corps embarked on NMCI, we were looking to bring them together in an integrated fashion. The sooner we implement NMCI, we can shed those legacy networks and move to a common, integrated, seamless network. That's not to say there are not some challenges out there. But we in the Marine Corps are working smartly with [Electronic Data Systems Corp. on the] integrated network. We are working with the director of NMCI as well as the Navy staff to lay out our requirements and our expectations.
For more with Marine CIO Brig. Gen. John Thomas, go to www.washingtontechnology.com
and type 114 in the Quickfind box.