The New Copernican Universe is Network Centric
Following the dynamic leadership and innovative mind of VADM Jerry O. Tuttle, USN (Ret), a decade ago but well before the current INTERNET explosion, the U.S. Navy began migrating toward a network-centric universe. Moving the focus to network information exchange services directed at the "warriors", the Copernicus vision and initiative was definitely ahead of its time, as was much of the Tuttle legacy to the Navy.
This led to a joint "C4I for the Warrior" initiative, a "Global Command and Control System," exploitation of commercial satellite services by ships at sea and powerful global multimedia information transport systems. The Navy led most of these important initiatives and is now is continuing its progress beyond ideas and concepts to a dramatic restructuring of the Naval Telecommunications System (NTS). The NTS in place during most of our adult life and supported our naval forces in responding to the Korean, Vietnam, Arabian Gulf and many other global emergencies. But now, under the leadership of another pioneer, VADM Archie Clemens, CINCPACFLT, and the courageous naval engineering and acquisition genius of RADM John Gauss, COMNAVSPAWAR, the Navy is installing a new global naval information infrastructure that is up to the expectations of the Joint Staff's Joint Vision 2010.
To expedite such a courageous leading-edge project, an integrated process team for information technology infrastructure has worked feverishly and diligently all Summer to successfully build templates to be interconnected to form the Global U.S. Naval Information Infrastructure for the 21st Century. Expedited planning is proceeding to cut through bureaucratic impediments and leap past economic hurdles to begin installing this infrastructure and the dynamic information management services it enables this millennium, not the next.
Though it's to be protected from the many threats associated with the INTERNET, the new "Navy Web" will be based almost completely on proven INTERNET-based technologies. If ever an example was set for how the government can exploit commercial solutions and apply commercial technology, this is it! Note how the Navy's Information Technology (IT) Standards Guidance (see it at www.doncio.navy.mil) is heavily INTERNET (network-centric) based. With its own set of regionally organized "internet service providers" integrated with regional IT service centers and satellite service managers, the Navy is building it's on global "maritime internet" which seamlessly links operating forces with their supporting establishment.
This new revolutionary capability will enable the agility necessary for Naval Expeditionary Forces to respond to threats to our national security when and wherever they occur. Perhaps equally important, they'll do this with fewer forces and overall resources. Some of us in the IT arena can be thankful to the Navy for demonstrating that information infrastructure and services truly can be leveraged to enable an organization to do more with less, as envisioned by the Clinton Administration's National Performance Review Report.
However, even with the wisdom and courage of the Naval Officers leading this initiative, this success story would not have been possible without the insight, determination and leadership of the Hon Jerry M. Hultin, Under-Secretary of the Navy. On assuming his position last Fall, he announced to a large group of gathered Navy and Marine Corps dignitaries, his intention to change the Navy and prepare it for the next century, as Theodore Roosevelt had a hundred years ago. He's certainly succeeded in enabling the Navy acquisition system to respond to the opportunities created by the wizardry of the Gauss and Clemins team!!
Not only the other Military Departments and Defense Department as a whole but also the federal government (as an enterprise) ought to pay particular attention to what's happening in the Navy. They're writing the book that should be followed to apply the technology solutions to match the vision of its operators with adaptive acquisition policies, procedures and skills. Some, in other agencies and departments of the government have thrown up their hands in despair, but the Navy is showing us all what can be done when leaders think out of the box and commit themselves overcoming bureaucratic inertia.