DMS gaps force DOD to keep Autodin

A Defense Department official last week confirmed that a large portion of the aging Autodin messaging system will remain in operation as late as 2004 to handle high-priority communications for civilian and military organizations responsible for nuclear weapons and top-secret intelligence information.

Speaking at the Navy's Connecting Technology Spring '98 conference in Norfolk, Va., Navy Capt. James Day, program director for the Defense Message System, said one of the major challenges that the Defense Information Systems Agency faces in achieving Autodin closure is coming up with a "long-term solution...for special requirements [such as emergency action messages]."

DMS, which is scheduled to replace Autodin by December of next year, does not provide for "ruthless pre-emption," which is the ability to freeze all outgoing message traffic so that more important "flash" messages can be transmitted during times of crisis, Day told attendees.

As the DMS architecture now stands, high-priority messages will be competing for bandwidth with all other electronic transactions taking place on military installations, including World Wide Web browsing.

As a result, critical messages may sit idle for several minutes before finally being transmitted to their destinations, Day said.

Casting yet another shadow over the future of DMS is the fact that the intelligence community has yet to communicate to the DISA program office a plan for integrating its top-secret architecture requirements, according to Day. One-half of all the message traffic passing through Autodin originates within the intelligence community, Day said.

Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency officials could not be reached for comment.George Jakabcin, a DMS spokesman for Lockheed Martin Corp., said, "We're certainly optimistic that some of the issues will be resolved in time, and we stand by the fact that the DMS components are interoperable."

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