Brig Gen. Allen steers information technology acquisition,
training to ensure Marine networks remain robust and secure
Brig Gen. George J. Allen is the director for Command, Control,
Communications and Computers (C4), and chief information officer
for the U.S. Marine Corps. As such, he oversees all of the service’s
information technology (IT) procurements and investments.
At the job for just over two years, Allen has had to steer the Corps’
acquisitions during a time of incredibly rapid technological change.
The amount of data that is transmitted over the modern battlefield is
staggering and necessitates huge amounts of bandwidth as well as
robust and secure networks.
Prior to his current assignment, Allen was the commanding officer,
Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He also was commanding officer, 8th Communication Battalion, Marine Forces Atlantic, and Detachment Bravo
Company commander, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
His No. 1 priority is to make sure Marines are trained to use the best,
most modern communication devices available. While technology
gives U.S. forces an edge on the battlefield, it also presents a tempting target to hackers, whether they be teenagers seeking a thrill or
terrorists snooping for sensitive information. During the past year,
there has been an 80 percent increase in suspicious activity relating
to Marine Corps networks, Allen said.
In an interview with Associate Editor Matt Hilburn, Allen discussed the challenges of an increasingly information-hungry force as well as what the future may hold as technology continues to advance. Excerpts follow.
What is your top priority for the coming year?
ALLEN: I want to ensure that we train our Marines properly in networks and tactical communications, particularly when it comes to new equipment and the increasingly
rapid transition of IT. We want to try to keep our training
less equipment-specific, and make Marines more network
savvy as we continue the rapid change in IT.
What does more “network centric” and less
“product centric” training mean?
ALLEN: Today’s warfighter relies on data that is secure,
reliable and timely. To provide this, the battlefield has
become so data intensive it is imperative that we have a
breadth and depth of talent that understands data —
how to move it, how to route it, how to secure it.
While entry-level training still covers the installation,
operation and maintenance of specific equipment, such as
a radio, telephone switch or server, the convergence of
these fields requires our most junior Marines to understand basic data concepts, such as Internet Protocol (IP)
and routing. So, our training has begun to make a fundamental shift from equipment centric to network centric.
We are looking at our officer and enlisted training
continuums to ensure that Marines at every grade