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(Enlarge) Lovie Henson, an information specialist in the Network Enterprise Center; Terry Isbell, head of the NEC (center); and NEC security manager Mike Drebitko stand before a crowd of co-workers and guests who attended a cake-cutting ceremony Oct. 1 when the Directorate of Information Management transitioned into the NEC.

Last week, Fort Meade's Directorate of Information Management transformed into the Network Enterprise Center.

To mark the change, more than a dozen people gathered Oct. 1 at DOIM, located off Route 175, to say goodbye to the old name with a cake cutting for the new one.

Two of DOIM's longest-serving employees, who together have more than 60 years of experience working in the office, sliced the cake. For Lovie Henson, an information specialist who cut the cake alongside security manager Mike Drebitko, the name change was one of many she has seen since she started working at Fort Meade in 1972.

"We've had so many name changes over here, I'm used to them," Henson said. "When I first started here, it was Management Information Systems Office."

The new name comes as Fort Meade's DOIM shifts from being a garrison office to a tenant unit as it now falls under the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command, or NETCOM, based out of Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

At installations across the Army, similar changes were scheduled for Oct. 1. The move is part of a DoD push to place greater emphasis on the military being able to defend not only its tactical-information network but the system that garrisons use, said Gary Gillette, command operations officer for the 93rd Signal Brigade of Fort Eustis, Va., which oversees Fort Meade's NEC.

"It used to be that we looked at protecting our [continental United States] network differently than our tactical network," he said. "Not anymore."

For the moment though, the change largely extends to putting up a new sign outside the NEC office. Fort Meade employees, who relied on DOIM for managing and troubleshooting problems with the Internet and phone service, will continue to be able to call the same help-line numbers to access assistance.

"The customer shouldn't see anything different today or tomorrow," said Terry Isbell, head of Fort Meade's NEC office. "As far as they know, we just have a new name."

In the long term, DOIM's changeover could affect the office's operations. NEC should be able to leverage the resources of NETCOM for virus patches and streamline network operations from one installation to another.

"We're moving away from fiefdoms," Gillette said.

The change could lead to Soldiers being able to leave one post for another, log onto a computer and find their desktop and files exactly as they left them, Isbell said.

"It will be one seamless network," he said.

NEC could also lead to consolidation in the way the agency aids garrisons, as a network service issue from an installation could potentially be routed to an Army-wide call center to be first prioritized and then addressed.

The change in Fort Meade's information management office left Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas with few worries.

"Right now, I don't harbor serious concerns over this new arrangement," he said. "It doesn't matter so much who you're working under, so long as you remember who you're working for: the same people I do, and that is all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard personnel and civilians serving on Fort Meade"

Send comments or questions to amccombs@patuxent.com.

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