Missed call

Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, Northern Command's chief, said during a Pentagon press briefing Sept. 6 that the Defense Department was using Military Satellite Communications (Milsatcom) systems to backhaul signals from Gulf Coast cell phone towers cut off from their commercial, landline connections.

But that was a good idea that never happened amid the confusion surrounding Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. A Northcom spokesman said the command explored the idea with several cellular carriers but dropped it when Northcom officials "identified software issues within commercial switching centers that could not tolerate the network latency resulting from satellite delay.''

Maybe a lesson learned in planning for the next disaster — and there will be one — is to figure out how to fix those software issues so Milsatcom could link cell towers and back-end switching systems.

Stop-work orders galore

The Army is getting good at handing out stop-work orders. The service issued one in January to Boeing for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Cluster 1 program. It issued another last week to Lockheed Martin for the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS).

The Army gave Lockheed Martin 60 days to "develop plans to resolve ongoing issues with the ACS program." Eddie Bair, the service's top systems and sensors chief, said in a statement that "current contract performance is not supporting critical program milestones, and the Lockheed Martin design does not fully support key performance requirements."

In other words, the company is not getting the job done. The program is now behind two years, and it will cost a lot more. Apparently, the company needs a bigger aircraft to carry all the Army and Navy's airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems that the company will integrate using advanced networking communications.

"We will be working with our customer to address the current issues and to determine the most achievable and affordable path forward for the program," said Keith Mordoff, a Lockheed Martin spokesman.

The Army pushed hard to be the lead service for JTRS Cluster 1 and to lead ACS. After the Army's screw-ups and delays with the Future Combat System, we don't think DOD will be putting the Army in charge of any more joint programs.

TEIS selects

One of the Interceptors favorite flaks — hint: his No. 5 greatest rock 'n' roll album is the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty" — told us the list is out for companies that should submit proposals for the Army's Total Engineering and Integration Services contract.

We hear that STG made the final cut. But we haven't had any luck getting the rest of the list like we did for the Army's Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-2 Services contract.

So we're seeking help by putting our tin cup out next to the famed Salmon Run here at FCW HQ.

Stryker system issues ironed out

The Army has apparently ironed out the digitization issues with the Stryker. Remember the service's lessons learned report blasting the new infantry carrier vehicle's radio and cameras that the Interceptors snagged earlier this year?

Col. Robert Brown, commander of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division of the Multinational Force Northwest, boasted about Stryker's digital systems during a Pentagon press conference last week.

Brown cited a mission in Mosul, Iraq, during which 120 soldiers backed by several Strykers used the vehicles' speed and digitization to capture 15 of 20 members of a terrorist cell one night. In another instance, he said, a battalion of Stryker soldiers in Iraq drove from Fallujah to Mosul, about 350 to 400 kilometers, and joined a fight there the same day.

"So I could go on forever about what the Stryker has done, but [one of] the important things about the Stryker is ... the digital connectivity and the speed, mobility and survivability," Brown said.

He even divulged that service members take offense when someone disparages the vehicle. "I'll tell you, nothing makes our soldiers madder than criticism of the Stryker," Brown said. "That report, I think, was absolutely ridiculous."

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