Intercepts

The Croom era

Although the official retirement date for Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege is Sept. 1, insiders bet the Defense Information Systems Agency director will probably leave early this summer. Raduege's departure paves the way for Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Croom to take over the agency as soon as he pins on his third star, which will likely occur in July.

We can hardly wait to find out if Croom, the Air Force's current command and control guru, has a 500-day plan for DISA like his predecessor did, and the Interceptors are standing by to provide all the details.

GAO zings JTRS

Government Accountability Office officials, in a March report, called "Assessments of Selected Major Weapons Programs," say none of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) critical technologies are mature, adding that "meeting the performance objectives of the wideband networking waveform is also a challenge."

We wonder how many reports, studies, program reviews, etc., need to be done before someone puts JTRS out of its misery. Maybe the death knell will toll this month after military officials test the system and discover what works and what doesn't.

Just think what Guglielmo Marconi could have done with $25 billion when he was developing radio communications.

IED Manhattan Project

Referencing the World War II program in which scientists and military officials developed the atom bomb, Rear Adm. Jay Cohen, chief of naval research, said Navy officials have started their own version of the Manhattan Project to counter improvised explosive devices, the booby traps that continue to cause casualties in Iraq.

Testifying last month before the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, Cohen said the project's first step is to detect the explosives from afar. The next step is to defuse them from a distance.

We should add that Congress needs to increase funding for this and other explosives-detection programs. Maybe legislators could cut back on the $250 million in funding for the palace planned to house the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, and his minions.

FCS teapot

Francis Harvey, the Army's secretary, reduced the heat on the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program last week when he changed its contracting vehicle from the unconventional Other Transaction Authority to one based on the standard Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said last month that he didn't like the idea that the Army and Boeing, which helps the service manage the massive program, chose a contracting vehicle for FCS that was created in 1989 for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials to use with nontraditional defense contractors.

In a carefully worded statement, Harvey said this month that "the Other Transaction Authority was appropriate for the earlier phases of FCS, but with the implementation of the Army Modular Force Initiative and last summer's programmatic restructuring of the FCS program, we need a contractual arrangement that best ensures FCS is properly positioned in the modular force and that its technologies are spiraled in as soon as possible," Harvey said in a carefully worded statement this month.

McCain said he prefers traditional procurement contracts for the multibillion-dollar FCS program because taxpayers need the protections built into those contracts.

Wynne BMMP do-si-do

Michael Wynne, the Pentagon's acting top acquisition official, holds the reins of the Business Management Modernization Program (BMMP), but probably not for long.

DOD officials issued a memo March 28 moving responsibility for the program from Tina Jonas, the Pentagon's comptroller, to Wynne. The reorganization emphasizes the management of the program as an initiative to support warfighters instead of one to achieve clean audits.

BMMP sure needs some kind of management because we hear the number of business systems in the department ballooned from 2,274 to 4,150 in the past year.

Krieg to replace Wynne

Wynne may only oversee BMMP for a fortnight, however. Bush administration officials said last week that the president will nominate Ken Krieg, the Pentagon's director for program analysis and evaluation, to take Wynne's job.

McCain won this battle, too. He put a hold on the nominations of Wynne and other officials last year because of the military's unwillingness to turn over documents regarding the multibillion-dollar deal gone wrong between the Air Force and Boeing to lease and buy tanker aircraft.

Post-Stryker hype

R. Jeffrey Smith of The Washington Post wrote an article last month about the myriad problems with the Stryker armored vehicle based on what he called a classified study from the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

Our copy of the same study was not classified but stamped "For Official Use Only"(FOUO). Evidently, the Post gets leaked extra-special classified studies, while we mere mortals must deal with the FOUO versions.

But hey, if you hype an FOUO study as classified, you get better play and make the front page. Legally, it seems neither term carries much meaning, but they sure sound good.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com or ftiboni@fcw.com.

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