Cohen to address Microsoft employees

SEATTLE—As part of an ongoing effort to build a grass-roots understanding of the military, Defense Secretary William Cohen today will address an audience of Microsoft Corp. employees, stressing the mutual benefits that stem from DOD's relationship with the company and with the information technology industry at large.

Shortly after meeting with Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer Bill Gates, Cohen will make the trek over to Microsoft's auditorium. Cohen said he aims "to build a more grass-roots awareness" of the broader benefits the military brings to the technology industry, particularly in IT training.

For example, Cohen points out, many people go into the military out of high school and come out trained in systems administration and other key skills. Cohen also said he will attempt to show company employees how the nation's economic prosperity, from which Microsoft has benefited, has been bolstered by a strong military.

Cohen is using this trip as part of his effort to dispel the inaccurate perceptions of Washington that abound in the IT industry, he said. Despite the Justice Department's charges that Microsoft engages in unfair business practices, Cohen said Microsoft is a company that does not share in the negative views of Washington.

"[Microsoft is] very helpful in a number of areas," said Cohen, including training of DOD personnel, security and the department's critical infrastructure program. Microsoft is "a lot more aware" of DOD's requirements than other companies, Cohen said.

According to a senior official accompanying Cohen on his trip to Redmond, Wash., Cohen is trying to show people who know very little about the military exactly what the return on investment is in a strong DOD.

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