MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- On an unassuming street at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune the construction of a new Marine Corps East Coast information technology powerhouse is near completion.
Behind fences strong enough to stop a charging tractor trailer and locked, common access card and biometrics secured doors and gates lies a complex containing the Marine Air Ground Task Force Information Technology Support Center, known as MITSC. MITSC’s buildings and rooms house the technological future of Marine Corps Installations East.
The MITSC includes a data center, help desk, servers and network branches along with a Marine Corps Network Operations Security Center detachment. The complex will also contain Base Telecommunications, the Cyber Security Division, the Applications Enhancement Division and the Maintenance Support Division. Service members, civilians and contractors alike work in the facilities.
“It’s the culmination of a dream and strategy that began as a good idea 10 years ago,” said Tony Gillespie, the assistant chief of staff for Marine Corps Installations East G-6. The G-6 plans, directs and coordinates the training, staffing and equipment of Marines and reinforces tactical communication capabilities throughout the region. “Our primary mission is to support the operational forces with garrison IT and communications services.”
What started off as sketches and notes on a dry erase board went live in 2008, said Gillespie. Construction began in 2009 and the facility’s divisions have trickled in for months. By April the move is expected to be complete.
“When the Marine Corps decided to regionalize (IT services), we took over for the East Coast,” said Gillespie.
Regionalization also brought opportunity for consolidation.
“The economies gained in consolidation save money, resources and manpower,” said Gillespie. “It also places backup, management and recovery at the hands of subject matter experts vice the end user who may not have the training or skills to be able to backup and recover critical data when there is a catastrophic failure.”
The facility has an abundance of security and safeguards in place.
“If there’s a lightning storm and the power goes out, there is a primary and alternate power grid, battery systems and air conditioning,” said Gillespie.
The variety of work done at the facility extends beyond fixing computer crashes and fielding the 12,000-monthly calls to the help desk. For instance, the Maintenance Support Division handles all emergency vehicles aboard the base. Everyday vehicles enter the facility and leave with sirens, lights, radios and decals denoting them as fire trucks, police cars and ambulances.
“Putting (the complex aboard MCB Camp Lejeune) made sense because II Marine Expeditionary Force, who is a customer for 90 percent of our services, is here,” said Gillespie.
It’s one aspect of a larger plan to bring down costs and simplify IT in the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps is transitioning from the contractor-run Navy Marine Corps Intranet to Marine Corps Enterprise Network(MCEN), a government owned and operated system set to save money.
“NMCI’s service level for a ticket was up to four days,” said Gillespie. “Our service level right now is one to four hours. The concept of the next generation network allows Information System Coordinators (ISC) to be the first to troubleshoot. It means you won’t have to call a 1-800 phone number, localizing help. It allows commanders to provide care at the lowest level.”
The Marine Corps is also moving towards cloud computing, which means more capabilities and big changes.
“Before every base had its own data center with a server farm,” said Gillespie. “There was a Secretary of the Navy requirement to consolidate data centers. With cloud computing there is no need to have a data center. We can consolidate and provide service from here at a brand new top-of-the-line facility. There is none like it anywhere else in the Marine Corps.”
Marines have much to anticipate. Gillespie is looking forward to technology that will allow Marines to use their own devices, among other technologies set to benefit the day-to-day life of Marines.
“(Through new technologies) we hope to allow access at some point your email from your Android or Apple device or tablet,” said Gillespie. “I am also looking forward to the expansion of thin client services and the upgrade to SharePoint 2010 which will provide the region and Marine Corps with a collaborative work flow and document flow process, eliminating a significant portion of print requirements. It will include the ability to digitally sign documents and move them electronically without having to print and ‘wet sign’ them.”
The complex is a small part of the big changes coming to the Marine Corps technological future. Gillespie said the most important aspect of these changes is the support available to Marines.
“The hardest thing is to let people know what we can do,” said Gillespie. “If you need more share drive space, you just have to ask. Before we had to consider prices and other aspects, but now you are supported by the Marine Corps, so don’t hesitate to call for help.”
For more information call the MAGTF IT Support Center at 451-1019.