Center is Navy's systems lifeline
- By Dawn S. Onley
- May 21, 2002
Capt. Nancy Lambert Deitch, SPAWAR overseer
Capt. Nancy Lambert Deitch loves her job as the commanding officer of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C. She became the center's first female commanding officer in 2000.
Deitch's job is to make sure sailors and soldiers have and use better information than their enemies. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's systems centers'it has others in Chantilly, Va., Norfolk, Va., New Orleans and San Diego'handle technology projects from conception through implementation and upgrades.
Deitch spent much of her professional career in leadership roles for military directorates that oversee pay and personnel systems.
After serving as the project officer of joint theater-level simulation for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deitch took over the Personnel Support Activity'Europe in 1995. She supervised 10 subordinate detachments that provide military pay, personnel and transportation support to service members, civilian employees, contractors and their families stationed in Europe.
GCN staff writer Dawn S. Onley interviewed Deitch by telephone.GCN: How is the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C., helping transform the Navy into a network-centric force?
DEITCH: We kind of act as the executive arm for our customers, helping them install and support the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems of today's Navy.
A lot of the work we do here is shipboard and shore installation work. We do the majority of the installation work that falls under the Information Technology for the 21st Century project, which will give ships at sea access to Navy systems on shore. We're doing cradle-to-grave support.
The IT-21 concept started as a fleet initiative to take advantage of the rapidly growing availability of high-speed information networks emerging in the commercial sector. SPAWAR has been fielding systems in support of this initiative since 1998.GCN: How is SPAWAR faring on the IT security front since Sept. 11? What lessons did you learn?
DEITCH: Even before 9-11, we had a core strength in IT and physical security. What we've seen since September is an expansion of our existing customer base. We have done an awful lot of physical security and command center work for people.
We're working with a lot of folks at the state and local level. We're trying to figure out how we can assist folks and do technology transfers.
I think the lesson I have learned, and it's not a new lesson, is the need for interoperability. The need for this type of information sharing doesn't stop in the Defense Department.GCN: What is the systems center's primary mission?
DEITCH: Its mission is to enable knowledge superiority for the warfighter through the development, acquisition and lifecycle support of effective, capable and integrated C4ISR, IT and space systems.
We're an acquisition command, and we like to be there at the inception of a project and see it through to the end. We handle the design, development, fielding, testing, installation'the entire lifecycle of a program'and the programmatic upgrade if that's possible.
We do information security and information assurance and air traffic control work for the Navy and Marine Corps. We do modeling and simulation. As a transformation agent for the Navy, we strive to deliver systems as an integrated end-to-end operational capability for the fleet. The systems centers focus on developing, testing and repairing fielded systems, and training users.GCN: What is the center's time frame for making the transition to the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet?
DEITCH: We are considered part of Increment 1.5. What that means is that lead contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. is in the process of installing a server farm.
We are the first command in Charleston scheduled to go over to NMCI. They're doing a physical inventory of our systems. We are in the process of submitting copies of the legacy applications through the certification process.
We have made tremendous strides in reducing the number of apps that we have in the center.
We started with well over 3,000 apps, and we have taken a mighty whack at that. We're down to about 700. That's still too big a number. That's massive progress, but it's still not enough.
Change is challenging for everyone. We're negotiating with EDS for the system on which we'll test our legacy apps to see if they'll run in the NMCI environment. That will be a fairly long process.
Our date to switch to NMCI was May 1. We did not make the transition, and we haven't established the new date yet. We're watching the testing process. We've learned an awful lot just watching the other folks go through it.GCN: Will the center be involved with the Navy's Task Force Web initiative, a portal to connect ships to NMCI?
DEITCH: We already are. We are working with the SPAWAR Systems Center in San Diego.
The centers have completed some developmental work and testing so far. The effort has been very successful.GCN: Defense officials have said DOD needs more acquisition management staff. Does Charleston?
DEITCH: The job descriptions of most of the workers here do not fall under the traditional program management codes. So the situation doesn't necessarily impact us too much.
Our work force numbers go up and down to match the workload that we have. In addition, we have fairly successful recruiting efforts throughout the schools in South Carolina.GCN: What are the main C4ISR products, services and systems you provide? What do they do?
DEITCH: SPAWAR Systems Center' Charleston builds networks at sea and ashore.
These include Navy and joint command and control systems, such as the Global Command and Control System'Maritime and Theater Battle Management Core Systems. SPAWAR also oversees communications, cryptologic and navigation systems.
In fiscal 2001, we completed more than 800 shipboard installations totaling over $150 million.
We also completed integration and testing of the radio room for the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan after five years of construction work.
SPAWAR Systems Center-Charleston supports air traffic control and air navigation aids, and landing systems equipment for Navy and Marine Corps air traffic ashore. In February, we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new air traffic control building complete with a tower. It's a $7 million project.
Charleston has been has been working with the San Diego center on the Joint Tactical Radio System Technology Laboratory. We are responsible for the development and implementation of JTRS. We'll plan how the system will be tested and configured.
We also have set up a system called the Naval Tool for Interoperability and Risk Assessment, which was developed based on our efforts to prepare for the year 2000 date change and has been upgraded quite a bit in the last few months. It has been certified to work in the Task Force Web environment.
NTIRA will give users access to the knowledge of other service members to help them generate requirements, manage acquisitions and plan the use of their resources.GCN: Are you using smart cards at the systems center yet?
DEITCH: Smart cards are mandated by DOD, and since we are in the initial stages of their use, they are primarily used for identification in Charleston.
The SPAWAR Systems Center in Norfolk, Va., is doing more developmental work with smart-card technology.