Intercepts

JSIMS: Fixing the Fix

The Joint Simulation System's (JSIMS) Updated Version 1.0 is not updated enough.

JSIMS links Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps training simulators nationwide. For the first time, the software will provide intraservice and interservice training for staffs assigned to U.S. combatant commanders and joint task force commanders.

The fixed software delivered the week of June 29 to Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., is not ready for training, a command official said. The JSIMS program office in Orlando, Fla., made improvements to the system and provided impeccable customer service in installing Updated Version 1.0 in the command's Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va., but it still has flaws, the official said.

The Defense Department issued a program decision memorandum in December terminating JSIMS' $147 million funding for fiscal 2004 because of concerns about software reliability, speed and security. The mandate canceled the seven-year, $800 million program Sept. 30, which was almost two years behind schedule.

Joint Forces Command training may be left in a lurch thanks to the snag and a lack of DOD guidance, which after eight months still has not assembled a group to study aids or alternatives for the software. But help may be on the way.

Some DOD officials want to use the JSIMS Updated Version 1.0 with CAE USA's Synthetic Tactical Real-time Interactive Virtual Environment technology. STRIVE lets software developers design complex, interoperable modeling and simulation systems more easily.

Microsoft Preps News

Microsoft Corp. plans a big announcement this week at the annual Air Force Information Technology Conference, a company official said.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer will discuss new initiatives with the service at the Montgomery, Ala., conference, titled "Transforming the Air Force for Network-Centric Warfare." But company officials were not forthcoming with details.

Could the major news be another enterprise software consolidation contract? The Army signed a deal June 23 with Softmart Government Services Inc. of Downingtown, Pa., which consolidates purchasing and licensing of Microsoft products.

Marines Aim for the Final Frontier

The Marine Corps is looking for a few, good...astronauts.

The Marines want to fly their Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion manned vehicle in space by 2025, said Brig. Gen. Richard Zilmer, director of the strategy and plans division in Marine headquarters at the Pentagon.

The SUSTAIN aircraft would let Marines respond to crises around the world more quickly.

The corps will need to deploy globally at a moment's notice "without the need to violate any uncooperative or physically, nonpermissive airspace en route," Zilmer testified to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee July 30.

The Marines' space vehicle will provide a revolutionary, psychologically effective capability for the traditionally sea-, air- and land-based corps, he told senators.

"The SUSTAIN need frames a capability to transport a strategic capability to any other point on the globe within two hours of an execution decision," Zilmer said.

Army Hears Comsat Lobby

The Army evidently listened to the U.S. commercial satellite industry's yearlong lobbying for DOD to buy transponder time more efficiently.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer is finalizing a new acquisition program to buy commercial satellite time for the next six to eight years, said Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, Army CIO.

"The Army is looking right now at what we did and how we did things in southwest Asia and how we should take a piece of that and lay it across the bigger Army to act as an interim capability until we get the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and Future Combat System," Boutelle said.

The service bought a lot of commercial satellite time on an ad hoc basis for its command centers during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Boutelle said. The new program should satisfy service communication and U.S. satellite industry capacity needs until DOD gets the Wideband Gapfiller and Transformational Communications systems in place, he added.

Commercial satellites provided 80 percent of the U.S. and coalition forces' communications in Iraq, said an industry official. U.S. companies scrambled in the fall of 2002 to find transponders for service and coalition systems, the official said.

"We had one to three days to get answers. DOD was asking for 10 transponders at a time," the industry official said.

The General Accounting Office will release a report soon issuing guidelines for future DOD commercial satellite communications purchases, the industry official said.

"They're posturing," Boutelle said of the U.S. commercial satellite industry.

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