You, too, can play the Warner Theatre
We were mighty curious about why the Defense Information Systems Agency chose the historic Warner Theatre in downtown Washington, D.C., for its industry day last month, and DISA’s director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, provided a quick answer: It’s cheaper than hotels, which have high room rates and high beverage prices.

Croom loved the experience, saying he had “always wanted to play the Warner,” while Air Force Brig. Gen. David Warner, DISA’s director for the Net-Enabled Command Capability, used his opening remarks at the industry day to “welcome everyone to my house.”

Abizaid vs. the Internet
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of Central Command (Centcom), said at a congressional hearing last month that Internet virtual safe havens used by al Qaeda “are at least as dangerous to our security as the enemy’s physical sanctuaries.”

Abizaid, who has overall command of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in little-noticed testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, that parts of Europe have become hubs of “extremist Islamic thought, largely because of the Internet and lax government policies.”

He added that Internet servers based in the United States enable terrorists to show decapitations of U.S. citizens to Web viewers worldwide.

Centcom does not advocate shutting down the Internet, Abizaid said, but Congress needs to realize “that failing to contest these virtual safe havens entails significant risk to our nation’s security and the security of our troops in the field.”

Abizaid told the House panel that the government needs to accept and deal with issues raised by terrorists’ use of the Internet, including deciding whether to allow al Qaeda to use U.S.-based servers as tools — a question that pits free speech against national security.

Anyone who has thoughtful insights on this balancing act, please let us know via the e-mail address on this page.

Where did all the widget money go?
It’s been three years since the start of the Iraq war and five since the start of operations in Afghanistan, but Abizaid told Congress he still has problems with systems interoperability and bandwidth demands that stress Centcom networks daily.

Abizaid said the Defense Department needs to build a joint C4 architecture from the ground up because Centcom has spent “significant time, energy and money patching together the different systems from the separate services…an inefficient way to leverage what should be a significant comparative advantage over the enemy.”

The lack of common network standards for information assurance requires using proprietary systems that introduce vulnerabilities into Centcom networks, Abizaid said. As a result, “hackers and malicious code activity pose a constant threat to our networks.”

Where, oh where, did all the billions spent by DOD on network and computers gadgets and gizmos in the past five years go if the guy who is running wars has such a struggle? What are Beltway-based program managers and their contractor legions doing to solve Abizaid’s problems today?

From green eyeshades to mining
Acting DOD Inspector General Thomas Gimble told an audience at a conference on fraud in Heidelberg, Germany, last month that his office has successfully used sophisticated data-mining tools to detect waste, fraud and abuse, including identifying government employees who were in collusion with vendors supporting the Army’s Washington Headquarters Service.

That investigation led to the recovery of $1.7 million, jail time for some of the perpetrators and debarment of the contractor.

Gimble said that the IG data-mining directorate, led by Army Col. Bill Kelley, has been so successful that the directorate has been moved into the IG Policy and Oversight Office where “its considerable talents and assets could be used to address an even wider range of issues.”

He added that the IG has started to deploy to Qatar in the Centcom Area of Responsibility with an office led by a retired brigadier general and staffed by seven auditors — proving that auditing is not a dull profession at all.

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