Transformation a la al Qaeda

It's not often that a senior military officer will point to America's enemies and refer to them as models of transformation, but that's exactly what Marine Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson Jr., commander of Marine forces in the Pacific, did.

"Our enemies have transformed," Gregson declared, speaking earlier this month at AFCEA Hawaii's TechNet Asia-Pacific conference. "They've broken the distance barrier across the Pacific and around the world. They've also broken organizational and operational barriers. Information technology has...enabled an old man in a cave in Afghanistan to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

He said IT, the conduit through which terrorists were able to communicate and coordinate, could be the U.S. armed forces' salvation.

"We need new operational procedures, new operational strategies and new operational capabilities," he said. "We're facing a 21st century threat with essentially the same security structure that we developed after World War II."

JTF-GNO's new boss

The new Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations will get a new boss — and likely a 500-day plan.

That's because Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, will soon take over the military's computer defense and attack organization, too.

JTF-GNO had been previously called the Joint Task Force-Computer Network Operations.

The three-star general, credited with making DISA a more service-oriented agency, uses 500-day plans to focus leadership and employees.

"He has 500-day plans whenever he takes over organizations," said an industry official who worked at DISA.

Raduege's dual hat as DISA director and JTF-GNO commander explains the agency's and Strategic Command's new partnership due for announcement this month. It should also quash rumors that he will become Stratcom deputy commander.

Digital divide, DOD style

Although much of the private-sector digital divide has gone away with the lowering cost of technology, the military is finding it has its own divide.

The forward-deployed units, those that tend to be fast, light and small, are still lacking technology that could save lives and expedite missions.

Marine Brig. Gen. John Thomas, the corps' chief information officer, said the problem isn't that technology isn't available, it's that the money to supply it isn't.

Increased bandwidth faces difficulty finding its way to the lower echelons because "we tend to run out of money at the regiment and battalion level," he said, speaking at the TechNet Asia-Pacific conference earlier this month in Hawaii.

Even when the networks were in place, the number of people trained to support and maintain them was woefully inadequate.

"We had the most advanced network ever in the Marine Corps, but only one, two or three people who knew how it all came together," he said.

A kinder, gentler Comanche?

Pentagon officials adopt industry buzzwords to describe their modernization efforts: Leaders chose "transformation" to depict the military's revolution, and Army Materiel Command officials at Fort Belvoir, Va., use "lean manufacturing and thinking" to describe their supply-side distribution logistics system.

But when Army officials sought a word to portray Comanche, their future reconnaissance and attack helicopter, they likely remembered the warm, fuzzy words of the late Mr. Rogers. Top service leaders have asked Training and Doctrine Command located at Fort Monroe, Va., to report back on why the stealthy-looking helicopter is "special."

"Which aspects of the Comanche make it really special?" said an Army memo. "Determine what could really make this aircraft 'special' and focus on those aspects."

The 20-year-old Comanche program — special? Sounds a little too touchy-feely to us.

'Tis the season

In the holiday spirit, some telecommunications companies are providing technology to troops serving abroad to ensure they can speak to their families over the holidays.

SkyFrames Inc., a provider of satellite broadband Internet services, and Motorola Inc.'s Canopy Wireless Broadband Group have teamed to provide the good cheer.

"In less than 14 days, over $200,000 in equipment pledges and service donations have been received to help our troops," said Edward Bukstel, vice president of SkyFrames. "We're trying to deliver equipment and services on an expedited basis to units throughout Iraq by Thanksgiving."

The tech-savvy troops' requirements include 45 voice-over IP lines, wireless connectivity to 60 laptops and satellite communications capability for units based in forward locations.

That's a holiday drive the Interceptor can get behind.

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