Don't Believe Everything You See

On Sunday, March 23, citizens of Baghdad claimed to have downed an Apache helicopter and were searching for the pilots along the banks of the Tigris River. On live television, Iraqi citizens and soldiers were seen firing automatic weapons into the water and then setting fire to reeds along the riverbank, believing the surviving pilots could be using the tall grass to hide.

It turns out that the "pilot" of that aircraft was perfectly safe, controlling a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from an undisclosed rear echelon location surrounded by allied forces.

"If there had been a pilot of that aircraft, he would have been about this big," said Air Force Col. Gary Connor, holding his hands about 18 inches apart. Connor is director of the reconnaissance program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

"We took an old Predator, stripped it down to the bare minimum and sent it over Baghdad just to see if their air defenses would work," Connor said, adding that the test proved that UAVs save lives.

Kellogg Retiring

Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr., director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced he will be leaving the military this summer but said he will be staying in the defense information technology business.

"I'll be changing career patterns," not retiring, Kellogg told the Interceptor earlier this month at AFCEA International's TechNet conference in Washington, D.C. "I want to stay in this business, probably in the private sector. What I love about it is you're always on your game and it changes so fast. You have to be flexible, have mental agility... and it's fun."

During his tenure on the Joint Staff, Kellogg has been an outspoken information technology advocate, and he has long crusaded for Joint Forces Command to be given complete control of joint command and control operations, including funding authority.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr., director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, said Kellogg was a "key player" in the Defense Department's ongoing transformation efforts, especially in advocating that any new systems be "born joint."

But Raduege said he agreed with the Pentagon's decision to keep joint command and control funding with the individual services.

Army's New Venture: Capital

Following the CIA's lead, the Army has launched a venture capital initiative aimed at obtaining lighter, more efficient power sources for soldier- carried systems.

The goal of the initiative is to jump-start promising portable power and energy technologies, lightening soldiers' loads as they operate worldwide in extreme environments and challenging conditions. The initiative will focus its investment activities on innovative technology companies, including those that normally may not do business with the Army.

"Power and energy technologies are an opportune area for Army investment, particularly because the Army's interests parallel those fueling the commercial market," A. Michael Andrews II, the service's chief scientist and deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, said in a statement. "Finding new energy sources for soldiers is akin to a search for better power solutions for handheld computers, personal digital assistants and cell phones. Lighter and smaller is better."

The effort will be managed by a nonprofit corporation, which will be modeled on the CIA's venture capital initiative, In-Q-Tel Inc. The Army selected OnPoint Technologies Inc. of Maitland, Fla., to manage its initiative.

Helmet Fires — and Peewee Soccer?

"Information operations has been oversold and undervalued up to now, and it's time to reverse that," said Navy Adm. James Ellis Jr., commander of U.S. Strategic Command, adding that he'd prefer it if IO stood for "integrated operations."

Ellis said a number of initiatives are under way at Stratcom to make DOD's information operations and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities as efficient as possible, including reallocating ISR assets as they return from wartime deployments in order to best protect the nation.

"We must get beyond the 'peewee soccer' approach to ISR," Ellis said, comparing the games where kids flock after the ball to DOD putting all of its sensors in one region of the world when a problem occurs. He said that bunching the sensors this way leaves two-thirds of the world vulnerable and invites conflict.

DOD must also be wary of information overload, which can cause "helmet fires" when pilots get too much data to process, Ellis joked.

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