Intercepts

NAVSAT SETBACK. Stratos Mobile Networks prevailed in its legal protest against the award of an $112 million contract to Communications Satellite Corp. for 64 kilobits/sec satellite service to Navy ships worldwide, a key component of the Navy's Information Technology for the 21st Century project. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims called the language of the Navy's solicitation "ambiguous" and directed the service to rewrite the price-evaluation criteria of the solicitation and to complete a second round of price evaluations by the end of next January.

Under the ruling, Comsat will continue to provide service to the fleet until at least Jan. 1, 2001.

That decision is pending further legal maneuvering, with Comsat's legal chief, Warren Zeger, vowing an appeal. This sure does bring back memories of the old, pre-acquisition reform days, when practically every Defense Department contract's underlying technology was outmoded by the time the lawyers finished.

THE BIG E-LEAK. Thanks to e-mail, the draft of an extremely frank after-action PowerPoint brief prepared for Adm. James Ellis, commander of the U.S. forces in NATO's Operation Allied Force, proliferated wildly in mailboxes inside and outside the Washington, D.C., Beltway. Navy Capt. Steve Honda - who serves as Ellis' spokesman at U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, in London - likened the unauthorized but widespread distribution of the brief (thoroughly mined in the pages of FCW over the past two issues) to "an electronic chain letter."

The slides, whose content Honda did not disavow, except to note that they were "drafts prepared by the staff," developed an electronic life of their own, with folks in both the ".mil" and ".com" domains forwarding them ad infinitum.

Professor Dan Kuehl, at the National Defense University, said, "I probably received ten different e-mails with those slides."

CANDID COMMENTS. The Ellis briefing - called "A View From The Top" and probably not intended for a broad e-mail audience - offered candid insights into problems with the successful but flawed Serbian campaign. On a page entitled "Short War Syndrome," the brief said, "We called this one absolutely wrong," and this bad call resulted in the "lack of coherent campaign planning [and]...lack of adequate component staffing."

The Ellis-commanded Joint Task Force Noble Anvil U.S. component of Operation Allied Force lacked organizational cohesion, according to the brief, because it "was not formed around a pre-designated [and trained] theater staff." The brief urged development of a "JTF-in-a-box," complete with staff, facilities, equipment and an "information management plan and C4I facility needed for staff, components...and alliance members."

NT MERCED, PART 2. The folks at Microsoft Federal want me (and you) to know they have successfully booted and run the Windows operating system on engineering prototypes of Intel Corp.'s next-generation 64-bit architecture, disputing claims from one of my Air Force engineer moles about serious problems with the shift to the high-performance chip. Jim Allchin, senior veep of the MS Platforms Group, said the combination of Merced and Windows will provide "enterprise customers with key capabilities they need for scalable, high-performance business computing solutions."

Does all this mean that the dreaded Windows "blue screen of death" error messages will pop up even faster in a 64-bit environment?

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