By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Rear Admiral Daniel J. MacDonnell wears two hats. As a Navy Reservist frequently on active duty, he is commander of the Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command as well as the reserve deputy commander, Navy Information Dominance Forces, based at Fort Worth, Texas.
In civilian life he works as the corporate information security officer for Boston Scientific Corporation, in Marlborough. The admiral specializes in customer facing and technical support.
MacDonnell was commissioned an ensign in January 1987, after completing Aviation Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. In 1990, he was re-designated as a special duty officer, cryptology (now information warfare).
“I grew up in Massachusetts, seeing the Navy and being inspired by other people who had served and such displays as the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor,” MacDonnell said. “I joined the Navy through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, but found flying wasn’t for me.”
He had a college degree in electrical engineering and subsequently changed his designator – his Navy specialty code – from aviation to cryptology (the Information Dominance Corps wouldn’t be created for several more decades). After an early tour with the Naval Air Systems Command branch at Naval Air Station in South Weymouth, Mass. he became a cryptologist with the Naval Reserve Security Group out of Providence, R.I.
Being both a corporate officer and a Navy Reservist frequently on active duty, MacDonnell found himself over the years in the best of both worlds. During a one-year mobilization he was assigned to NATO’s International Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan, which he says was perhaps his favorite period of active duty.
“It was tough being away from my family and from home for a year, but all in all, that was probably my most satisfying period of duty,” he said.
Over the years his Reserve command tours have included: commanding officer, Navy Reserve U.S. 10th Fleet; commanding officer, Navy Reserve (NR) NIOC Georgia; commanding officer, NR NIOC MD and commanding officer, Naval Security Group Reserve, both in Fort Devens, Mass. During this time he also earned a master’s degree in management from Salve Regina University and received numerous other degrees and commendations.
MacDonnell assumed command of Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command in November 2014, which seeks to merge intelligence with command, control, communications, and computers.
“The Information Dominance Corps seeks to provide national security in many ways and works in five areas,” said MacDonnell. Those areas are: intelligence, information warfare, meteorological considerations, information professional management, and space warfare defense.
As the recent “hacking” of Sony Corp. shows, cyber-security is increasingly critical, he said.
“It’s only going to get hotter,” he explained. “The Information Dominance Command is one way the Navy seeks to protect both the Navy and the country as a whole.”
MacDonnell lives in southeast Massachusetts with his wife and three children. He noted that being away from them is one of the toughest parts of his two-hat career.