JITC vs. reality

The Interceptor spent about an hour last week listening to officials from a vendor espouse the holiness of the certification process at the Defense Information Systems Agency's Joint Interoperability Test Center (JITC)in Fort Huachuca, Ariz. I listened for them to mention any kind of gizmo connected in any manner to the global Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).

The officials pointed out that those JITC certifications are mandated by both federal law and Defense Department instructions, and all the services must comply with the certifications when buying DISN widgets.

The bottom line of the officials' pitch was that some vendors spend millions of dollars on certification, and then some service officials buy noncertified gear from vendors that did not pay a tithe to JITC.

I ran into retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, director of DOD's Force Transformation Office, at a Nortel Networks Ltd. lunch in the Capitol's Mike Mansfield Room earlier this month and asked him if Marine and Army combat units in Iraq should buy the gear that meets their requirements at the far end of the spear — or if they should wait until it gets sprinkled by JITC. Cebrowski said it was silly to impose JITC requirements on combat units.

TOTs up for award soon

DISA officials plan to award the Transoceanic Optical Transport-Atlantic (TOT-A) contract Sept. 29, according to our Courthouse Road listening post. Agency officials plan to award a similar contract for Transoceanic Optical Transport-Pacific (TOT-P) fiber early next month.

They intend the procurements to provide the global legs for the domestic Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program. Vendors estimate the value of TOT-A to be $10 million or more, while TOT-P could hit $100 million.

The usual suspects are vying for the awards, including Broadwing Communications LLC, Global Crossing, L-3 Communications, MCI, Sprint and that "Q" company.

Ed Bursk, vice president of Global Crossing's government division, said he believes the company has an edge on TOT-A because of its extensive network of cross-Atlantic Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing fiber.

I'm angling for the boss to get us some of that DWDM connectivity.

Hail, hail the net-centric gang

Executives from a bunch of companies plan to announce the formation of the Network Centric Industries Consortium at a press conference at the National Press Club Sept. 28.

The group is made up of a score of companies, including BAE Systems, Boeing Co., CACI International Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., IBM Corp., Innerwall, Lockheed Martin Corp., Microsoft Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Electronics Systems Sector, Oracle Corp., Science Applications International Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

If one person from each of the companies speaks at the press conference, they and the invited scribes will need breaks for both lunch and dinner.

Get ready for national Cyber Security Awareness Month

Homeland Security Department officials have declared October National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and I'm going to do our part by changing my password from "password" to "Redskins," and I urge everyone else to make a password change as part of this national effort. I plan to offer similar security tips throughout October as our contribution to cybersecurity awareness.

Caught in the JTRS web

Because the Army's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program controls all DOD radio frequency devices, a new land mine called Spider got caught in the web of a JTRS mandate against deploying new radio frequency-based systems until a JTRS-approved device was available. But earlier this year, officials provided U.S. Forces Korea with a waiver to acquire and deploy more than 200,000 Spider mines.

Produced under a joint contract by Alliant Techsystems Inc. and Textron Inc., Spiders come equipped with a Global Positioning System receiver and a radio frequency remote-control unit, allowing a distant operator to fire grenade rounds from the Spider if one of six tripwires indicating the presence of an enemy — or a large animal, based on my experience in Vietnam — are pulled.

FTS 2000 ads in N.M.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I listen to a Washington, D.C., classical radio station, WGMS, here at Intercepts West headquarters in Las Vegas, N.M., and I was thrilled to hear Jim Payne, senior vice president and general manager for government services at Qwest Communications International Inc., touting the Federal Technology Service's telecommunications services offered by that company as I prepared to send this column via a DSL line provided by the "Q" company.

Ain't technology wonderful?

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