Naval Academy Woes

The recent departure of U.S. Naval Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Richard Naughton has been largely attributed to charges that he accosted a Marine guard, but a lapse in information technology security at the academy also played a role, officials say.

Since his June 5 departure, there have been stories that midshipmen have engaged — sometimes heavily — in illegal online file swapping. With record labels and movie studios cracking down on unauthorized sharing, practices popular among other college students have been forbidden at the academy.

The academy's IT-related problems could have been avoided if the Navy Marine Corps Intranet had been in place there, Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, staff director of NMCI, told the Interceptor.

"The academy is not yet on NMCI, as we have to figure out how to work with the dot-edu world," he said.

"Simply put, you can't put Napster, or whatever the latest iteration is, on an NMCI machine," he said.

One Bad Apple ...

If one bad apple spoils the barrel, then NMCI could be the one apple that spoils the Navy's IT barrel.

The House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal 2004 Defense authorization bill recommends cutting Defense Department IT dollars by nearly $2 billion. It cited lack of oversight and DOD's inability to justify the high request as the reasoning behind the recommendation.

Swept up in that cut is NMCI, which stands to lose $160 million in funding if the House recommendation goes through unchanged, said Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns, NMCI director.

"The lack of adequate management and judgment, as well as numerous redundancies, [are] what led to that recommendation," he said. "But NMCI fixes both management and redundancy issues. We got caught up in the general sweep with everybody else."

Munns said the cut would force the Navy to delay the shift to NMCI for about 35,000 users, a 10 percent reduction. "We would either have to cancel some that we've started or delay those that were planned to go forward," he said. "Business cases show that NMCI is less expensive than legacy, so to keep paying more for legacy would make no sense."

DMS Delay

The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff have delayed the Defense Message System's complete replacement of the Automatic Digital Network (Autodin) until the end of the year.

The decision, made earlier this month, was based on the need for more testing on a hybrid solution that combines DMS technology with other messaging systems to transmit emergency action and nuclear command and control (C2) messages.

Defense chief information officer John Stenbit and officials from the Defense Information Systems Agency told the Interceptor earlier this year that DMS was on schedule to replace Autodin by Sept. 30. "The Sept. 30, 2003, goal for closure of [DMS] transition hubs in support of [general service] messaging is on schedule," a DISA spokesperson wrote in a June 17 e-mail message.

But the hubs will be maintained in "hot" standby status, used only for disseminating time-critical emergency action messages (EAMs)and nuclear messages, until the department is satisfied that the nuclear C2 communications hybrid solution has completed concurrent operations and is declared "the system of record," the spokesperson said. "Concurrent operations for EAM hybrid messaging extends through Dec. 31."

E-Locate Program

After spending five days with his arm trapped beneath an 800-pound boulder, Aron Ralston severed the limb with a blunt pocketknife to survive. The impending release of personal locator beacons should ensure that history will not repeat itself.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Air Force officials announced that the beacons, which act as digitally encoded distress devices for those lost in the wilderness or other remote places, will be offered to the public for nationwide use starting July 1.

The beacon works by emitting a digital distress signal on the 406 MHz frequency, which is received by the worldwide satellite search and rescue system. The system then determines the beacon's owner and location and relays the information to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va., which notifies local rescue operations that the distress signal was activated.

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