Drills test NMCI system

The Navy and a contractor hold drills to measure the capability of workers to maintain the continuity of operations of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet

The Navy’s Network Warfare Command and EDS staged drills in April to measure the capability of EDS contractors and Navy personnel to maintain the continuity of operations of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The exercise was held April 23 to 24 at the NMCI Global Operations Center (GNOC) in Norfolk, Va., and at NavNetWarcom at nearby Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. It was part of an ongoing set of drills conducted by Netwarcom and EDS to ensure that command and control of the entire NMCI could be preserved and transferred offsite in case of a casualty or disaster.

“The parameters for success were to be able to transfer command and control [of the network] from one site to another and to still be able to maintain control of the network during that process, and for the customers to know what the status was and how to reach out to us,” said Kevin Sturlaugson, the GNOC’s continuity-of-operations plan manager and exercise lead.

“This was to test our command and control for [EDS’ Enterprise Network Operations Support Center for NMCI] and the GNOC watchstanders ability to fail over their monitoring and control of the network. It appears to have gone pretty flawlessly.”

In the post-exercise review, he said, “Really the only thing of any importance that came out was that we noticed there were some configuration changes that needed to be done for a couple of the things that we use software- and hardware-wise, that no matter what location we end up going to will have to be changed, because of the way each base is configured. So just have to have someone with admin rights to be available to change those configurations. We were able to mitigate those things pretty effectively; it took just a couple of hours.”

“It was to prove continuity of operations,” said Greg Burke, EDS’ director of NOC services for NMCI. “We have a target of [doing this] four times a year – we try to do it twice a quarter. It’s to ensure that if anything were to really happen with the location in Norfolk or anywhere else that we’d be able to retain our command and control over the network with Netwarcom, at any location, moving from there.”

Each shift manned the GNOC in Norfolk conducted an evacuation to a trailer on the base at Little Creek, where they were able to re-constitute the GNOC’s capabilities for managing the network.

“The scenario was a fire in the building, requiring us to evacuate the space that we were in. Upon notification, the duty section packed their gear up and moved to Netwarcom,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Pedro Ramos, GNOC’s leading chief petty officer. Then the team took a pack-up kit that had the gear needed to establish a temporary GNOC and relocated to a trailer at Little Creek. “This all took place in an hour and a half from start to finish,” Ramos said.

In May 2007, the Norfolk GNOC was taken off-line for a day and a half by a catastrophic power failure. The outage made the GNOC team take another look at its COOP plans, Sturlaugson said. And with hurricane season looming on the horizon, the risks to the continuity of NMCI’s Norfolk operations are genuine. “We’ve set up a continual routine of exercises, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t done it real world,” Burke said. “This is more of a muscle memory exercise.”

“What I want to make sure with the next one,” Burke said. “is really focus on not telling anybody we’re doing this except the leadership team, and executing it. ‘Train the way you’re going to fight’ is the mantra for the military, so that’s kind of what I want to do in the next steps here is come into the leadership team and say, ‘Hey, let’s do a COOP right now,’ and see how it goes from there.”

Burke said he’s hoping to take that step before summer arrives.

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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