Marines adopt IT blueprint

Marines adopt IT blueprint

Lt. Col. Paul Ziegenfuss, one of the plan's developers, says research kept pointing to the same three modernization drivers.

As Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones put it recently, speed on today's battlefield is driven by the military's communications connectivity.

For the Corps, that connectivity is pushing a plan for command, control, communications and computers'the first blueprint of its type to show where the service is and where it needs to go.

Last summer, Lt. Col. Paul Ziegenfuss, one of four principal writers of the plan, began researching where information technology was taking the Marines. He said he found three areas that kept coming up as priorities driving modernization. They are recruiting and retaining a capable force of IT and C4 specialists, fielding interoperable and secure systems, and protecting the Corps' computer networks against attack.

A living thing

The research resulted in the blueprint, said Ziegenfuss, who works in the Strategic Planning Division of the Corps' C4 Department. It is being mailed to about 1,800 officers and also being posted on the C4 Web site, at

'It's simply an assessment of the capabilities that the C4 community must attempt' to move ahead, Ziegenfuss said. 'It's a living document that will be updated annually.'

The Marine Corps also has a board that meets twice a year to keep Brig. Gen. Robert Shea, director of C4, apprised of the needs of operating forces.

The plan looks at ways for the Marines to develop an information architecture to guide C4 planning, as well as a backbone infrastructure to move information. The service is looking at extending use of the Defense Department's Secret IP Router Network to battalions, squadrons and selected companies; fielding a standard deployable videoconferencing capability; and developing IT capabilities to create and manage a common operational picture'an overall display of battlefield forces, both friend and foe.

The plan also aims to use commercial products whenever possible, develop an enterprise IT architecture and move to Web applications.

'Properly developed and employed, information technology can heighten our situational awareness, improve our decision-making capability and optimize the effects of our weapons systems,' Shea noted in the introduction accompanying the mission plan.

But at first, IT must be honed at home, starting with an increased effort to recruit and retain the brightest IT workers, Shea said.

The campaign includes some new initiatives:

  • The United Operations Center would interconnect command echelons and integrate systems the service uses to automate battle management.

  • The Common Aviation Command and Control System would integrate messaging, database, network, security and display services to support automated aviation planning, situational awareness, decision aid and tactical air operations.

  • The Theater Battle Management Core System would help officers plan and control air operations and missile defense.
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