Go, GIG-BE, go

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz wants leaders in the services and defense agencies to start treating the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program as a warfighting system instead of a business system.

Wolfowitz issued a terse memo in August on the topic, telling one and all, "We must fight the 'Net.'"

What does this mean? Linton Wells II, the acting Defense Department chief information officer, said too many DOD folks consider GIG-BE an administrative system instead of a weapon system. We can understand their confusion, because GIG-BE serves only U.S. bases and commands and a much smaller number of those than originally planned because of high costs and a constrained budget.

New NSA GIG-BE gear?

We've heard that the GIG-BE system blazes along so fast that it has outpaced the capacity of existing National Security Agency encryption gear. So the folks at Fort Meade, Md., have started working on new encryption hardware.

GIG-BE has a throughput of 10 gigabits/sec, capable of supporting multiple feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles operating in Afghanistan and Iraq. But existing NSA encryption hardware works at only 100 megabits/sec, which might explain why some officials view GIG-BE as an administrative system.

During the next three years, NSA officials plan to field new GIG-BE encryption boxes capable of operating at first at 1 gigabit/sec and then 10 gigabits/sec.

The GIG-BE fiber chase

Defense Information Systems Agency officials still have problems corralling all the Dense Wave Division Multiplexing components they need to support GIG-BE, according to reports picked up by our listening stations around the Beltway. DISA officials have tapped Ciena Corp. to help deliver some devices needed to support DWDM technology, and agency officials continue to tap other carriers for capacity.

DISA officials also face escalating operations and maintenance costs for the network, running as high as $50 million a year, which might explain why DOD officials are faced with an incredibly shrinking network, from hundreds of planned endpoints to close to 100.

This has created a "fiber divide" among commands, with many two- and three-star officers battling for GIG-BE connections, we hear.

Telecom hands across the sea

DOD officials do not share technical information about communications programs in development as much as they did five years ago, according to Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Gregory Hammond, an official in the United Kingdom's Defense Procurement Agency, speaking at last week's Milcom conference in Monterey, Calif.

But Hammond said U.S. and U.K. military officials could sign an agreement as early as January to return information exchanges to "the way it used to be," Hammond said. He described the transatlantic deal as an "overarching" technical memorandum of understanding. Has anyone ever signed an "underarching" agreement?

'Push 2 for subpoenas'

We had our suspicions confirmed that every other person in the Washington, D.C., area is a lawyer when we called the Reston, Va., headquarters of Nextel Communications Inc. last week.

Nextel, it appears, has automated litigation. We were greeted by one of those annoying voice mail systems, with a number of push-button prompts. Listening to the robo-voice drone through instructions, we could hardly believe our ears when we were told to "push two for subpoenas and court orders." Seriously!

Where's the memo?

Officials at DOD and the General Services Administration are making an effort to fix even the perception of procurement problems with their "Get It Right" campaign. Yet a DOD procurement rule, focusing on the proper use of non-DOD contracts, has been stuck in the corridors of the Pentagon for months. The memo, which officials describe as common sense, has been held up in the DOD comptroller's office, insiders say. The latest target date for the memo's release is Jan. 1.

Semper fidelis

Nov. 10 marks the 229th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, the 86th anniversary of the end of World War I. This is a week to solemnly remember those who gave their all for their country.

On a personal level, Brewin salutes Lt. Col. Cornelius Ram, the best commander any 2531 radio operator could have, who left us for the big Evening Parade on Jan. 10, 1971, in Vietnam, and 1st Lt. Lewis Puller Jr., a Marine brother, friend and fellow from the Puzzle Palace Group, who died May 11, 1994.

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