Clemins leaves IT advances in his wake

Clemins leaves IT advances in his wake

Adm. Archie Clemins, the Pacific Fleet commander, says he is ready to 'make the break' with the military.'

Navy's Pacific Fleet commander, who put IT-21 on course, will retire next month after 33 years

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

As Adm. Archie R. Clemins prepares to sail into retirement next month after 33 years of service, he leaves behind a high-tech legacy in the form of the Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative.

'We would have liked to do it faster,' said Clemins, the Pacific Fleet commander, of the deployment of IT-21 services to users.

The initiative to bring asynchronous transfer mode communications to the Navy's desktop PCs has changed course a bit since Clemins launched it three years ago.

The Navy planned to use IT-21 as its modernization program for the service's afloat infrastructure, but it has scuttled it in favor of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program for ashore operations, said Rear Adm. John A. Gauss, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.

Nonetheless, Clemins, a four-star admiral, spoke with enthusiasm about the January IT-21 deployment aboard the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier.

The Stennis will begin a six-month deployment, the first with contractors from PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. of New York on board.

'We will have a captive audience for six months,' he said.

Next month, Vice Adm. Thomas B. Fargo will take over for Clemins as Fleet commander. Fargo is the deputy chief of naval operations for plans, policy and operations. He was No. 1 on Clemins' list of possible successors, the outgoing commander said.

Both admirals have submarine backgrounds, and Clemins spoke highly of his successor's warfighting experience, as well as his work in the Atlantic, Central and Pacific fleets, and his knowledge of joint warfighting.

But Gauss said Clemins is no slouch either. When asked about Clemins' impact on the Navy, Gauss said, 'Have you got about two days for me to talk?'

At a time of tight budgets and declining infrastructure, Clemins helped shift the Navy's focus from systems working independently to end-to-end capabilities through systems working together, Gauss said. Through IT-21, the Navy is deploying ATM LANs and wideband satellite terminals so the service can conduct network-centric warfare using commercial products.

Clemins last year called for a worldwide intranet to link the military services to manage command and control, and business practices. That plan laid the groundwork for the Defense Department's Global Information Grid and the Navy intranet initiative.

Can't see it

Clemins acknowledged, however, that he did not envision an NMCI-like contract through which the department could buy the intranet as a service from a vendor. He said he expected that the service instead would build and own everything.

Gauss denied that there has been a shift in Navy power from the fleets to the chief information officer and the chief of naval operations.

'I wouldn't call it a shift of power but an evolutionary process' for which the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 created the framework, he said.

The importance that Clemins placed on budget planning for the future and aggressive deployment plans has paid off for SPAWAR and will pay off with the Integrated Warfare Architecture Requirements, Gauss said.

'A year ago, we were still struggling with fiscal 1999 budget plans for IT-21,' he said. 'We're now planning for fiscal 2001.'

Clemins plans to move to Boise, Idaho, with his wife of 32 years, Marilyn. During the first weeks after his retirement, the Cleminses plan to take a winter survival course sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo.

'I'd like to run something' after retirement, provided 'it's a learning organization and deals with products,' he said.

He wants to 'make the break' with the military. 'I can always come back,' Clemins said.

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