Intercepts

ASD/C3I MAIL CLERKS? Art Money, the long-term senior civilian official acting as ASD/C3I, pleaded with Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) to think twice before he issues any more Year 2000 report cards to the Pentagon. Money told Horn, who has spearheaded House probes into the Year 2000 bug, that the highly publicized report cards generate so much mail that he's required to assign staffers to write responses because they "answer every letter." Horn, who as a congressman knows how much constituents complain about lack of response to their letters, told Money that if he's figured out how to answer every letter his office receives, he'd be a welcome addition to the Hill.

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REPORT LAG. That's how Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre explained the disparity in the number of reported DOD mission-critical systems that have gone through a Year 2000 fix and validation between the last two reporting periods. In a December press briefing, Hamre said the Pentagon had fixed 81 percent of its mission-critical systems. But in its February report to OMB, DOD said only 72 percent were compliant, causing some confusion on the Hill. Hamre dismissed this disparity as a matter of "arcane reporting stuff" in which the reports to OMB lag reality. This assumes, I guess, that what goes on in the Pentagon on any given day has any resemblance to reality.

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SHELL-SHOCKED? Hamre has been beaten up by GAO overseer Jack Brock so often about the Year 2000 bug that the faintest bit of praise has started to sound like a compliment. Though Brock, while testifying before Horn's committee, sharply criticized the Pentagon for being "well behind schedule" on its Year 2000 efforts, he also said DOD has made "considerable progress" in stamping out the bug during the past three months.

Hamre told FCW that from his perspective, this was pretty good - "[for DOD] standards."

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STOCK PLUNGER SAILORS. Although e-mail World Wide Web sites rank as the most popular destination for sailors at the Internet Cafe in Bahrain, stock market sites have started to gain in popularity. Qais Almaskati, the Bahraini who runs the cafe under contract for Navy Central Command headquarters' morale, welfare and recreation division, told the Interceptor during his recent Mideast tour that in the last three months "I have seen a lot of interest in investment Web sites, such as E*Trade and Schwab."

Maybe the Navy should change its slogan to "Join the Navy, See the World and Build a Portfolio."

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MUST-SEE TV. And maybe the Army should alter its recruiting pitch to promise would-be soldiers limitless channel surfing no matter where they are posted. The Interceptor recently visited a three-man detachment from the Army's 385th Signal Company that does tough duty on a Godforsaken ridge line somewhere in the Kuwait desert. The trio man a vital communications relay during a three-month uninterrupted stint.

But according to Spec. 4 David Barrentine, the team - which lives in a command-and-control bunker occupied by an Iraqi anti-aircraft unit during the Persian Gulf War - does not have to forgo all the niceties of civilization. Barrentine said they have a commercial satellite dish capable of picking up more than 15 TV channels. Luckily, they do not get C-SPAN, sparing them the tedium of Year 2000 hearings.

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