Intercepts

The Alabama tap dance

Frank Weber must have taken dance lessons from Gregory Hines before he headed to the Montgomery Information Technology Summit in Alabama last month, because Weber tap-danced around questions from Air Force IT workers about their jobs moving from Biscuitville to Beantown.

Weber, director of the Air Force's new Operations Support Systems Wing in Boston, said he supports the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's decision to move a bunch of jobs, the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group and the Engineering and Integration Systems Squadron from Montgomery to Boston.

Weber thinks it makes sense to move some of the work currently done in those two organizations now under his wing somewhere north.

When asked by an Air Force techie what work that is, Weber ducked the question. "I realize I'm doing a lot of tap-dancing," he said.

Alabama slammer

The Montgomery economy took another hit with the cancellation of the Air Force IT Conference this summer. The mega event has brought $8 million to the city in past years.

Rob Thomas, deputy director of the new Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer, attributed the cancellation to budgetary constraints, the war on terrorism and the costs associated with sending about 2,000 service employees to the conference.

We applaud the Air Force for tightening its spending so the Army can buy more radios, and we can hardly wait for Emory Folmar to mount a campaign for mayor of Boston. (If you don't get this, you're a boot.)

FAA JTRS

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program has more tentacles than an octopus, snarling myriad programs and systems in its grasp.

According to the House Armed Services Committee's report on the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization bill, the latest JTRS victim is a project to connect pilots flying combat air patrols in U.S. skies with the North American Aerospace Defense Command through JTRS radios at Federal Aviation Administration sites nationwide.

But because JTRS exists mainly on PowerPoint slides and will not be installed at FAA sites until at least 2020 — long after all JTRS program managers have retired — the committee wants the Air Force to go ahead and buy Link 16 Pocket J radios for patrol planes without waiting for a JTRS blessing.

We plan to be off the JTRS beat by 2020 so we think this is a grand idea.

Aloha, Mercy

We would like to hail the sailors and medical volunteers on USNS Mercy, which steamed into Pearl Harbor on Memorial Day on her way home to San Diego from a deployment to the tsunami-battered countries of the Indian Ocean.

On her last humanitarian assistance stop in Papua, New Guinea, May 17-20, the Mercy and her crew performed more than 27,000 medical procedures, including 27 surgeries.

Lt. Cmdr. Erik Threet, Mercy's CIO, used the shipboard Composite Health Care System to support the volunteer docs and medics, with the system becoming the common language for medical volunteers from some 50 hospitals.

Krieg is in

The Senate has confirmed Ken Krieg as undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Formerly DOD's director for program analysis and evaluation, Krieg was confirmed to DOD's top acquisition post last month. He replaces Michael Wynne.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com or ftiboni@fcw.com.

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