Here comes Quadrennial-vision; Conference calls into the wild blue yonder; Medics are men, NFL players are boys; Remember: They speak English outside the Beltway

Here comes Quadrennial-vision

The Defense Department’s Quadrennial Review (QDR) has tunnel vision when it comes to the systems Pentagon officials believe will support a truly global Global Information Grid that gives highly mobile warfighters broadband connectivity anytime, anywhere.

The trouble with Quadrennial-vision is it views the way-over-budget and long-delayed Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) as a key component of plans to extend GIG down to the smallest tactical unit in the field.

The suggestion makes one’s mind reel, because rafts of reports from different overseers have all panned JTRS as not ready for prime time, let alone ready to do all it must to support net-centric operations. JTRS is far from being the kind of system that the QDR promises in its introductions.

All those highly mobile forces are also supposed to rely on transformational satellites for their broadband needs, even though the requested fiscal 2007 budget was slashed from $1.1 billion to $633 million. The review states that the program has been restructured to “spiral develop” its capabilities, the same approach top Pentagon managers tried last year with JTRS. Most programmatic spirals seem to go downhill.

Conference calls into the wild blue yonder

Avaya wanted the Interceptors to know that last week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force were using the company’s IP telephony technology to link the weapons systems officer of an F-15E fighter to a multiparty conference call with a three-star general at the Pentagon and two parties at the Navy’s China Lake Integrated Battlespace Arena in California.

Like all conference calls, the ground-to-air conference was not short. It lasted some 20 minutes with “excellent sound quality,” Avaya told us. No word from the fighter crew, who probably wondered about this dubious advance in technology.

Now that Avaya and DARPA have shown that no workplace is safe from intrusive phone calls, we imagine the logical extension of this breakthrough will occur in a few years when a house dad will use an Avaya Softphone to call a fighter jock mom to say, “Honey, don’t forget to pick up some milk on your way home.”

Medics are men, NFL players are boys

Our new favorite straight-talking three-star general is Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, which returned from Iraq in January. He lavished praise on medics, the true heroes of the battlefield. Vines spoke at the Military Health System conference last month.

Vines also said he planned to watch the Super Bowl, but he put the sports event in the proper context by contrasting it with the job medics perform in Iraq. The Super Bowl teams, he said, “are men playing a boys’ game.”

Remember: They speak English outside the Beltway

AFCEA International and the speakers at the AFCEA West 2006 conference need to clean up their road show. After listening to DOD’s deputy chief information officer, Linton Wells, take an audience of more 1,000 people deep into widget, gadget and gizmo programs, we asked the Marine Corps colonel sitting next to us if he had understood the speech.

“Not all,” he said. Neither did his sergeants, all of whom have technical military occupational specialties.

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