Inside DOD


Amber Corrin

Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin


What would the CIO do in Gates' new DOD?

Guest entry by Michael Hardy, managing editor/daily report.

The August 9 announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates of his detailed plan to reduce the Defense Department budget by $100 billion over the next five years raised more questions than it answered. One of the key questions: What is the proper role of a chief information officer in the leaner, more consolidated information technology infrastructure that Gates envisions?

Gates proposes closing the office of the assistant secretary of defense for network intelligence and integration -- the official who serves as the CIO. Where would the CIO's new home be, organizationally?

Robert Hale, DOD comptroller, said that DOD's IT capabilities and networks are really just one more weapon system. He suggested, at an August 9 news conference, a re-organization that would center on networks.

"If you could move the operational activities under operational control and take the oversight into administrative and policy issues and put them in another organization, that would align us in such a way that what has become the reality in that our networks are really weapons," he said. "We treat them as weapons systems, they go all the way from the tactical edge -- the Aegis or the warfighter in the foxhole -- back to the headquarters."

If the network is a weapon, that implies the leader of the IT organization is really the head of a weapons program, not just a technology strategist.

What is your take on this? What is the proper role for the CIO of the Defense Department? Is it fundamentally different than that of a CIO in any other agency?

Posted on Aug 10, 2010 at 12:14 PM13 comments


Afghanistan documents leak stirs debate, apathy in public opinion on war

The sheer size and the act itself seems to be more shocking than the actual content of Wikileak.org’s release of 92,000 classified reports from U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Although the leak unveils some disturbing accusations – the most damning of which suggest Pakistan’s intelligence agency may be aiding the Taliban insurgency – judging by the thousands of comments that accompany the articles online, it doesn’t seem to be much of a surprise to readers.

The documents that news outlets are characterizing as a snapshot from ground operations in Afghanistan so far appear to have stirred the pot of public conversation more than anything else. Stories covering the release show thousands of comments from readers responding to the news, most of which express little surprise, a dose of sorrow and a lot of bitterness toward the almost nine-year war.

The New York Times, one of three and the only American news outlet to receive access to the documents before the public release, is keeping a running tab of the blogosphere’s reaction to the leak, gauging responses from a vast array of sources including military blogs, Afghan and Pakistani media, and its own readers.

The Defense Department and White House have responded predictably, condemning the release of the documents as a threat to national security. However, the official response, while critical, has not denied any of the accusations culled from the documents. Washington isn’t rushing to defend against any implied wrongdoing, instead suggesting that much of the released information is old news and working to minimize the significance of the leak.

"I don’t know that what is being said or what is being reported isn’t something that hasn’t been discussed fairly publicly, again, by named U.S. officials and in many news stories,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on July 26. “I mean, the New York Times had a story on this topic in March of 2009 written by the same authors.”

In other words, the White House and DOD are seeking to control the spin.

Emerging from the discussion of war policy are mounting comparisons between the Wikileaks release and that of the then top-secret 1971 Pentagon Papers detailing the Vietnam War. As that debate gains momentum in news articles and their discussion threads, the Washington Post takes a critical look at the two leaks.

No doubt the leak has ignited public discourse about a war that has dragged on so long it has perhaps desensitized citizens to a point of nationwide apathy. But another certainty is that only time will tell what the fallout will be in the wake of an information leak that has effectively ripped the band-aid from the wound of two prolonged wars.

Posted on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments


Forward march: Army e-mail overhaul still a go

The Army’s ambitious plans for an enterprise-wide e-mail system hit a snag in May when the department rescinded a request for proposals (RFP) for the project, but it is still moving forward, according to one senior Defense Department official.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army's chief information officer who has spearheaded the project, said his office wants the Defense Information Systems Agency to house the system.

“We’re working with DISA to host our e-mail,” Sorenson said today at a breakfast briefing held by the Association of the U.S. Army outside Washington. “The proposal is in, we’ve negotiated the pricing terms and we may start up as early as next quarter.”

The Army said in a March 5 draft RFP it planned to consolidate the various e-mail accounts for nearly 250,000 users over a two-year period to eventually create a managed, enterprisewide e-mail, calendar and messaging system that could eventually serve all the Defense Department.

Sorenson indicated that the RFP created some confusion over the various requirements; the complexity of the project was among the chief reasons the RFP was canceled to begin with. However, he left open the possibility of expanding the project in the future.

“We may look at managed services down the road,” he said.

 

Posted on Jul 13, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments