Interview: Brig. Gen. Robert M. Shea

Recruiting IT officers is job 1

Brig. Gen. Robert M. Shea

Brig. Gen. Robert M. Shea, the Marine Corps' assistant chief of staff for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, is also intelligence director and chief information officer. A 28-year veteran, he is one of the first communications military occupation specialists to become a general officer.

Who's In Charge

Brig. Gen. Robert M. Shea

Assistant Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence ; Chief Information Officer

Brig. Gen. James M. Feigley

Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command

Debra M. Filippi

Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for C4I; Deputy CIO

Col. Jeffrey Hemler

Director, C4I Systems Integration Branch

Col. Kenny A. Inman

Director, Plans Branch

Col. Kevin McHale

Director, Resources Branch; Director, Year 2000 Program Office

Col. Michael Albano

Director, Marine Corps Tactical Software Support Activity


(in millions, calendar 1997)

General Dynamics Corp./GTE Government Systems Corp. . . . . . $76.0

Lockheed Martin
Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . .$74.0

Litton PRC . . . . . . . . .$19.0

Dell Computer Corp. .$14.0

Logicon Inc./Northrop Grumman Corp. . . . . $13.0

Inacom Government Systems . . . . . . . . . . . $8.0

Smartonix Inc. . . . . . . $8.0

GE Capital IT
Solutions . . . . . . . . . . .$2.4

McBride and Associates Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.3

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . $219.7

Sources for this GCN Snapshot include the Marine Corps

In July 1998, he took his current position and received his star after serving as director of command, control and communications systems of the Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

The Massachusetts native received a master's degree in management from Central Michigan University. He also attended the Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.

Shea recently spoke with GCN about the need to recruit and retain an information technology staff, and about the Corps' systems infrastructure and security plans.

Besides having to monitor the transition of the Marine Corps' 80,000 users from Banyan Worldwide Vines 8.5 and StreetTalk 8.5 to Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 and Exchange 5.5 , the service's Network Operations Center last year began deploying Microsoft Systems Management Server and the TimeStep Secure VPN Solution from TimeStep Corp. of Kanata, Ontario. Capt. Carl M. Wright, the center's chief information security officer, said the center also will bolster systems security by adding boundary firewalls and interdiction tools for the Corps' ashore and fleet networks. Center staff members will begin deploying the new security tools next month.

SHEA: My biggest priority after year 2000 is personnel, human resources, recruiting and retention.

You can be the first to know that in January, for the 55th straight month, the Marine Corps made its recruiting goals. Recruiting and retention are big challenges.

The commandant, Gen. James L. Jones, has a 10-point plan to improve recruitment of new Marines into specific military occupation specialties (MOSes).

Eighty-five percent of recruits currently are guaranteed [a particular] MOS when they enter the Marine Corps, with 15 percent having open contracts.

The commandant wants more open contracts, and he wants higher scores on tests to determine MOS placement.

We've maxed out the selective re-enlistment bonus program for all zones, and we have found that money is still a big issue. We sent senior enlisted Marines up and down the East and West coasts to interview fellow enlisted Marines to find out what prevents them from re-enlisting.

Love of Corps and love of country goes only so far. When they came back, they looked at a jobs Web site and found that the average skill set of a corporal or sergeant can get a starting salary of $75,000 to $90,000 [in the private sector]. It really comes down to money, and we can't compete with that.

As long as the economy is booming, we're going to have difficulty with recruiting and retention. We've become a great training ground for industry, such as when we train our personnel to administer Microsoft Exchange 5.5 and NT 4.0, and some of them leave.

Our No. 1 issue is personnel. Each service has its own challenge in recruiting Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen, and this effort [to improve recruiting and retention] is really in its infancy.

Infrastructure is our second biggest issue, and Navy-Marine Corps Intranet is an integral part of it. We like the capability; it offers a lot of potential. Just like with everything else, potential has its own costs.

The third big issue, which is part of NMCI, is information assurance and security.

Our Computer Network Defense and Network Operations Center are co-located and operate very well together. We're going to continue to operate the Marine Corps Enterprise Network until NMCI comes online.

Major programs
Navy-Marine Corps Intranet'The Navy will outsource the ownership and management of most of its PCs, servers, communications infrastructure and related assets through this mandatory program. Marine Corps units will be able to order and receive all data services through NMCI by the end of next year, and the intranet will reach full operational capability by the end of 2002. Navy officials plan to award NMCI to a single vendor in June. Program estimates range from $2 billion to $10 billion.

Common Computing Resources'The service recently centralized the procurement and logistics support of PCs and servers through the Marine Corps Systems Command. It plans to spend $104 million this year, then up to half that amount during each of the next five years.

Defense Message System'The Corps has spent almost $14 million and plans to spend about $10.5 million more during the next two years to replace the service's portion of the Defense Department's 26-year-old AUTODIN secure digital communications system. The Joint Chiefs of Staff set a deadline of Sept. 30 to switch from AUTODIN for garrison forces to DMS exclusively for unclassified and classified messaging.

Network Infrastructure'This program standardizes, upgrades and replaces key information transfer building wiring, equipment and software at each Corps base and station to ensure connectivity for operating forces and support for Defense-sponsored and Corps-specific applications. The Corps has spent nearly $59 million on the program and plans to spend $85 million during the next two years.

Base Telecommunications Infrastructure'The service is upgrading the data, video and voice capabilities at all its bases and stations. Besides buying updated telephone equipment, the service is laying fiber-optic cable underground to connect all key buildings at bases. The service spent more than $106 million on this program in the past two years and plans to spend $59 million during the next two years.


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