Intercepts

TRADOC Tanked? The Fort Eustis, Va.-based Training and Doctrine Command, headed by Gen. John Abrams, could end up a big loser in terms of funding and personnel in the sweeping "transformation'' of the Army announced by Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki last week. A knowledgeable Army Pentagon source said that Shinseki intends to gut Tradoc - which runs the doctrinal aspects of the Army's Force XXI digitization effort - of its troops to meet his goal of fully manning the Army's combat divisions. The reduction in Tradoc's military personnel makes sense, the source said, because of the way the command is set up. "Tradoc has essentially assigned paratroopers to Army schoolhouses for training," the source said.

Conspicuously Absent. That's an apt description of the "no show'' by Abrams or any of his top staffers at a series of press briefings at last week's Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. An Army E-ring source said it was a deliberate move on the part of Tradoc, which he said "hasn't decided whether or not to go along with the new plan.... Are they in a different Army?'' After the potential impact of Shinseki's new "vision'' on Tradoc became clear, the command's public affairs staffers tried to shoehorn themselves - to no avail - into a tight, multicamera crew series of press briefings.

Great Portal. The Army will finish beta testing a new portal to its information-packed Army Knowledge Online intranet, according to Maj. Charles Wells, who developed the system.The portal and the AKO intranet have links to all kinds of nifty information that used to reside on the public Internet but gradually disappeared because of security concerns. Army users who want to gain access to this new portal need to register at www.us.army.mil and must have a ".mil" address to qualify for entry into the system, which is protected with commercial 128-bit encryption.The Interceptor would love such access, but not to the extent that would require me to visit a recruiter.

Iridium Works. That's the view of Capt. Dwayne Dickens of the Army's Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab in Colorado Springs, Colo. Dickens helped devise a briefcase-size command and control system around the "talk anywhere'' Iridium satellite handset. Dickens said the new joint expeditionary digital information system (JEDI), which includes a personal digital assitanant and a Global Positioning System receiver, can easily interface with the Global Command and Control System, displaying GCCS-like tracks on the PDA.The Army, Dickens said, is the first user of the data transmission capabilities of Iridium and has no problem with the relatively slow data rate (2.4 kilobits/sec), because JEDI sends pre-formatted messages only 250 bits in size. The Army space warriors have built 11 JEDIs and expect to deploy them with Special Forces teams who assist the Coast Guard's counter-drug operations in the Caribbean.

The Special OPS CD. The Army Special Operations Command, which includes the Special Forces, Rangers and aviation units, celebrates 10 years in December. Lt. Col. Tom Rheinlader, the Special OPS image therapist, has produced an interactive CD for the press. I'll use mine as a Christmas stocking-stuffer for Sarge, the Intercept cat, who, despite his advanced age, still likes to chase things.

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