Web links forces with families, services

The Navy today launched a program that uses the World Wide Web to make it possible for Navy and Marine personnel deployed away from home to talk with family or to take advantage of counseling, training and other Defense Department human resources services.The new Navy-developed LIFElines Web site (www.lifelines4qol.org) will serve not only Navy and Marine personnel and their families wherever they are in the world but also forces in the Mideast and Bosnia as well as reservists at home.

The Navy built the site as part of a $3.4 million Quality of Life program that Charles Cragin, assistant secretary of Defense for reserve affairs, described as "a national model [that will] lead the way in human resources support services."

Richard Danzig, secretary of the Navy, said the breadth of online services available through the LIFElines "mall" provides interactive family support, counseling and training to Navy personnel and families no matter where they are in the world.

The Navy's mission demands such a service, Danzig said, because no organization in the world "is as widespread as we are." Danzig also praised LIFElines for providing needed "nonhierarchical communications" in a top-down command chain.

LIFElines, which began operations today, eventually will allow service members and their families to do everything from consult a chaplain online, to finding medical help, to checking pay records. The mall provides career development information, a guide to personal finance management, help for service personnel with the relocations they must go through during a career and a family service center director.

Dr. Randy Eltringham, LIFElines executive director, described the online component of the program as "not just another Web page" but a project that will apply the best in advanced telecommunications technologies to delivering quality services to Navy, Marine and Coast Guard families.

David Gagliano, manager of Internet Development for TRW Inc., which developed the LIFElines Web component, described the technology to support the Web site as "sophisticated as any commercial Web site."

The LIFElines Web site runs on dual Sun Microsystems Inc. 3500 servers, each packed with four 300 MHz processors, and 50 G of hard disk memory. Gagliano said the LIFElines Web site can handle 200 channels of streaming video at a time and was scaled to support 5 million users a day.

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