Intercepts

DISN price hike/desertion? That was the buzz at last week's AFCEA TechNet show, where service and industry officials predicted the agency will need to impose stiff rate increases in fiscal 1999 for users throughout DOD on the agency's premier DISN network. These rate increases stem from accounting gimmickry caught by the House National Security Committee, which said DISA subsidized DISN to the tune of about $285 million from direct appropriations in 1998.

The committee directed DISA to return slightly more than $221 million to the services in 1999 in anticipation of planned rate hikes now that the accounting loophole has been plugged. I picked up medium-strength signals that large DISN customers have started to sniff out the possibility of cutting their own deals with long-haul carriers at better rates than they will get on the new and unimproved 1999 DISN, which could cause real heartburn for DISA director Lt. Gen. David Kelley and the rest of the gang at Courthouse Road.

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The sovereign nation of DISA. Kelley can take some comfort in the fact that soon DISA will have something usually reserved for sovereign states: its own country code in the worldwide telephone numbering scheme. This results from the agency's desire to have calls made by DOD users on the Iridium mobile satellite system routed through the DISA-owned Iridium gateway in Hawaii.

John Rasmussen, Iridium's government marketing manager, said the only way DISA could ensure calls were routed only to that gateway— and not the 14 other commercial Iridium gateways— was to assign DISA its own country code. Iridium has not yet assigned the DISA country code, but when it does, I'll report it here for those always eager to call a new country.

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Cybersoldiers. The Army has decided to slim down the number of soldiers in its divisions to 15,000, and based on fielding plans for Force XXI digitization gear outlined last week by Brig. Gen. Steven Boutelle, program executive officer for command, control and communications at the Army's Communications-Electronics Command, it sounds like each and every one will be toting quite a hefty cyberload. Boutelle said over the next 18 months the Fort Hood, Texas-based 4th Infantry Division will receive some 8,000 digitization end items— one-third of them satellite systems.

Even without this gear, the prototype digitized force can deliver so much information— the type of unit or aircraft as well as location— that it overwhelms the display screens of the Global Command and Control System, with commanders in a recent exercise asking the Army to slow down the update rate.

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