DOD Webmasters learn new lessons

Several Defense Department Web sites dedicated to collecting and publishing lessons learned from operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were scrubbed late last month.

The Web sites for the Center for Army Lessons Learned, based in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and the Air Force Knowledge Management/Lessons Learned Site, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, were both blank beginning Oct. 27. Similarly, the Joint Center for Lessons Learned site, hosted by Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., was unavailable.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ken McClellan, a spokesman for DOD, said he did not know of any specific directive to remove those sites from public view, but added that the department reviews its tens of thousands sites to ensure sensitive information isn't widely available.

"Historically, these [lessons learned] sites were classified," McClellan said. "It is possible someone decided to remove these databases from the rest of the world, but I don't think it was a directive" from DOD.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Sharpe, a Joint Forces Command spokesman, knew of no directive from agency officials ordering its site to be taken off-line.

"The fact that the site was taken off-line is not unusual because we conduct reviews periodically," said Janet Wray, a spokesperson for Fort Leavenworth. "We scrubbed the site to make sure there was no information there that potentially could be used by our enemies."

Wray said the site was taken down at the request of senior Army leadership.

Steven Aftergood, senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., said it appears DOD officials are simply removing sites that contain potentially embarrassing information, and not necessarily those that are a security threat.

"It calls into question the good faith of the department," he said. "It might feel good to do it, but it's just bad policy. If you can't talk about lessons learned, the chance that you're going to learn drops precipitously."

The Navy's Lessons Learned site, hosted by Navy Warfare Development Command in Newport, R.I., has remained online and uninterrupted. The actual lessons learned reports are only available on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, according to a Navy spokesman. n


Lessons off-line

The following lessons learned sites were off-line the last week in October.

* Army: Center for Army Lessons Learned

* Air Force: Knowledge Management/Lessons Learned

* Joint Forces Command: Joint Center for Lessons Learned

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