Not so fast, Uncle Sam
- By Dan Verton
- May 19, 2000
EN ROUTE, Brussels — If there is one lesson I learned at Combined Endeavor
2000, it is that America's military allies are not the high-tech neophytes
that many in the United States think they are.
Take, for example, Macedonia, where I will visit next week when I arrive
in Skopje, the nation's capital city and the home of U.S. Task Force Falcon.
Macedonians' pride shines through in many ways. They are not eager to have
their country known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
"Not FYROM!" said Capt. 1st Dzoko Krstev, Macedonia's deputy J-6 for planning
and communications, as I started to scribble his title in my notebook. "Macedonia.
It's so simple. Just Macedonia," he said.
Macedonian Army officers also are wary about the type of "used" equipment
pledged to them by other nations, including the United States. "A lot of
countries want to give us their old equipment," Dzoko said. "But we don't
want their legacy equipment that does not conform to standards."
Dzoko also has watched as some have tried to push U.S.-developed technology
on the Macedonians with sweeter-than-sweet deals, like $10 in matching funds
for every dollar spent on U.S. technology. Unfortunately, the companies
that offered them these great deals included equipment that was not up to
international standards, he said.
And when it comes to international standards, it turns out to be the United
States that needs to play catch-up.
Sources informed me that the United States has balked at buying equipment
in the near-term that would conform to Euro-ISDN standards and instead has
opted to wait for the fielding of the Army's Warrior Information Network-Tactical
(WIN-T). Unfortunately, I've also picked up strong signals that WIN-T isn't
coming any time soon.
Without Euro-ISDN, the U.S. military can't talk to its allies. So for now,
members of the Pentagon's Joint Communications Support Element is left scratching
their heads in Baumholder, Germany, site of Command Endeavor 2000.
"If we had Euro-ISDN it would be no problem," said one hard-charging sergeant.