Intercepts

Harvey to Army?

Francis Harvey could soon get an executive post in the Defense Department, but it might not be the DOD chief information officer post for which he has been nominated. According to media reports and department insiders, Harvey may be nominated for secretary of the Army.

A Pentagon official said staff in the CIO office heard rumors during the past two weeks that Harvey could take over for Thomas White instead of for John Stenbit. The New York Times reported last week that Harvey, a former executive at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and the Carlyle Group LLC, could become the Army's top official to provide strong leadership during the investigation of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

But will Harvey's name make it to a vote on the Senate floor? Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) put a hold on his and nine other DOD nominations to pressure the department to release documents related to the Air Force/Boeing Co. aircraft tanker deal.

Harvey could run into another wall: Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, favors Les Brownlee, acting secretary of the Army. Brownlee worked in Warner's office as a staff official.

GPS and Coke

Fearing eavesdropping, the military will temporarily ban the soft drink Coke from some of its bases because of a new promotion that puts Global Positioning System wireless phones in 120 cans, according to a media report.

Coca-Cola Co. officials want people who find one of the cans to call and register for prizes including $1 million. Company search teams will use the GPS locations to find winners and give them their rewards, according to a July 2 Associated Press story.

Discount Microsoft prices

All Army personnel can purchase some Microsoft Corp. products at discount prices, thanks to the new Employee Purchase Program.

They can buy up to three copies of products on Microsoft's list at a reduced rate. For more information on the program, go to https://ascp.monmouth.army.mil.

Map errors

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) produced maps of Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan with incorrect places, according to a DOD media report.

Some names did not appear on the maps and others were in the wrong locations. NGA officials found errors in the agency's Geographic Names Data Base, according to a June 30 Armed Forces Press Service report.

NGA officials found the errors last month and started correcting them. The agency did not receive any complaints about the maps from warfighters, the story states.

Gaming to learn

Army officials developed a video game last year to help recruit technology-savvy youths. At the time, it was seen as part of an innovative marketing campaign that combined recruiting and entertainment. Now, the troops who were recruited to the service by a video game can learn through the same medium.

The University of Southern California and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have joined to develop a role-playing video game to help some troops learn about Arabic language and culture.

The Tactical Language Project will teach warfighters the basics of the Arabic language. Then they are placed in a situation where they must use a headset to communicate with computer-generated villagers. The system, according to the university's Web site, combines artificial intelligence and speech-recognition software to assist the student warfighters.

Funding for the program comes from DARPA and the Office of Naval Research. Early versions of the system were tested last fall at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

The virtual missions center on civil affairs, not combat.

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