GCCS misses July deadline

The Defense Information Systems Agency missed its end-of-July deadline for replacing the antiquated World Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) with the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), but a top agency official expects to have the program back on track by the end of August.

Rear Adm. John Gauss, director of DISA's Joint Interoperability Engineering Organization, said the agency "uncovered a few latent defects but no catastrophic systems failures" in testing the secret version of GCCS last month, adding, "That's why you test - to find problems." Fielding and installing the top-secret version of GCCS is slated for next year, Gauss said.

Gauss said the only problem with the secret version of GCCS that could affect military operations has to do with two methods of querying the GCCS database, with each method "providing different answers."

Users can query the database using either resource determination analysis or an ad hoc query, with the different answers popping up from the same database because of the way each handles data and blank fields within the database. DISA is developing a fix in its lab and expects to have that done by Aug. 12, Gauss said.

The Pentagon's Joint Staff and Commanders in Chief (CINCs) of component commands need to be able to use GCCS to plan and execute operations, such as Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, so Gauss said the chiefs made the decision "to keep WWMCCS in case the bubble broke again."

High Confidence in New System

Gauss said some of the CINCs, despite the small problems experienced in the GCCS test, believed it safe to shut down WWMCCS, a system built around aging Honeywell mainframes that cost about $84 million a year to maintain. Last month Lt. Gen. Larry Boese, commander of the Alaskan Command, turned off WWMCCS in his command, deciding to rely exclusively on GCCS.

DISA has installed the GCCS package, which consists of hardware - primarily Sun Microsystems Inc. workstations - software based on commercial products and military applications at 383 military commands worldwide, Gauss said. He emphasized that GCCS is already in an operational mode, with WWMCCS serving as a backup. "WWMCCS is dormant," Gauss said.

GCCS provides users with far more than the crisis planning capability of WWMCCS, Gauss said. "GCCS does collaborative planning, and WWMCCS does not. WWMCCS needs elaborate comms, and GCCS doesn't.... WWMCCS does not work in a tactical environment, and GCCS does."

GCCS is loaded with applications that allow users to tap into the World Wide Web to create elaborate map displays and overlays that can identify all the forces - friendly, neutral and hostile - within an area of concern. It allows users to easily tap into intelligence or logistics data and operates in a "heterogeneous, open computing environment," Gauss added.

While WWMCCS was a tool available only to top commanders, Gauss envisions GCCS spreading far down the command chain to the battalion or even company level. The Navy plans to install GCCS on every ship, whereas only major command ships and flagships had WWMCCS capabilities.

DISA has not yet determined the total software costs for GCCS, but Gauss pegged the hardware costs for equipment at the 383 military commands - some of which run four Sun workstations - at $25 million. These commercial off-the-shelf workstations will replace 26 Honeywell mainframes used to support WWMCCS worldwide.

While working to get the glitches out of the secret version of GCCS, DISA is also pushing the fielding of the top-secret version, which Gauss expects to have installed within the next few months. Due to the limited number of applications running on the top-secret version, Gauss intends to install it on Pentium 133 MHz PCs and pegs the costs of that version at $4 million.

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