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Marine Corps pushes for early Windows 10 upgrade

By Emily Greene, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command | April 6, 2016


Marine Corps Systems Command is ramping up to deploy the Windows 10 operating system to the Corps by January 2017, in lock-step with a memo issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work.

The Feb. 26 memo directs the DOD to complete a rapid deployment and transition to WIN 10. Work said doing so will improve the DOD’s cybersecurity posture, and streamline the information technology operating environment.

“Implementing Windows 10 service-wide has been on our radar for some time,” said Michael Cirillo, cyber lead for Marine Corps Systems Command. “The compressed timeline just speeds up the process for full implementation, making us more secure sooner.

One challenge from an operational standpoint, is adjusting the schedules of weapon, C2 and other programs of record in order to meet the DOD mandate. Another challenge is the increase in systems that will need to be completely replaced in addition to those already scheduled this fiscal year.

“With the accelerated timeline we’re expecting to upgrade more than 50,000 devices in FY16,” said Jeff Lee, product manager for Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure Services. “This compresses almost three years of tech refresh into only six months.”

Because both hardware and software evolve over time, MCSC must determine which systems must be replaced, and which can be upgraded with a software update that is “pushed” to the end user or system. 

Another consideration for deploying WIN 10 to the operational force are the different standards needed for tactical systems that are not regularly connected to the network, versus end-user computers that are part of the garrison network.

In order to identify and address the varying needs and requirements of the Marine Corps, MCSC conducted a 30-day pilot this spring, in four regions concurrently—East, Reserves, National Capital Region and Headquarters Marine Corps—to test the MCSC-developed WIN 10 image.

“We targeted 500 clients (125 for each region),” said Jeff Wiley, assistant product manager for engineering, MCNIS.  “We deployed one Marine Corps Client Microsoft engineer and one MCSC engineer to each site, and they worked with the pilot groups to identify their varying needs and how to best address them.” 

The pilot’s results will be used to finalize the WIN 10 software image for accreditation, as well as develop checklists that will facilitate replacement via accelerated tech refresh or upgrading existing WIN 10-capable computers.