The U.S. Navy has made great strides in the communications field in the past two years, but the work is far from over. When the position of deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks (N-6) on the staff of the chief of naval operations was reinstated in 2006, the vice admiral who moved into the spot recognized naval needs and implemented measures to move the sea service forward both through technology and policy. Now, as he prepares to retire and pass the reins to a successor in June, he can see many of his plans coming to fruition and make recommendations for the path ahead.
Since Vice Adm. Mark J. Edwards, USN, took over the role as the N-6, the Navy has changed in several ways, from becoming more network-centric to finding new and better ways to partner with coalition and other friendly naval forces (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2006, page 23). One of the biggest adjustments, according to the admiral, is awareness at the senior leadership level of the critical nature of computer networks and the significance of networks to commanding and controlling operations. He explains that while the Navy has long understood the importance of afloat communications networks, it has come to a new realization of the critical nature of its computer networks, such as the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), and how important the intranet and overseas networks are to warfighting. Without those networks, the Navy’s ability to manage troops in the field would be significantly impaired. “Quite frankly, what [these networks] have morphed into is a warfighting command and control system,” Adm. Edwards explains.