Intercepts

Passing the Torch

Dan Verton, Interceptor extraordinaire and die-hard former Marine, has

decided to storm the beaches of another reporting beat. Dan inherited the

Interceptor column from its creator and quickly made it his own. Following

in Dan's wake, I encourage you to keep the intercepts coming fast and furious

at antenna@fcw.com.

Democrat and Republican

With the Air Force having just held two major trade shows virtually

back-to-back, the Interceptor's circuits are nearly on overload with Air

Force information.

At the Sept. 11-13 Aerospace Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.,

for example, representatives for both presidential candidates laid out their

visions for the U.S. military. Vice President Al Gore's national security

adviser, Leon Fuerth, never mentioned information technology and its vital

role in national defense, choosing instead to focus his remarks in defense

of the administration's policy on force deployments. Fuerth did draw applause,

however, for his quick-witted, deadpan response to one would-be questioner,

who chose instead to make a speech from the floor decrying partisanship

and announcing that the only things that matter are the American flag and

the fact that we are all Americans. "That is the vice president's view,"

Fuerth said.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush's representative, Steph-en Hadley, did mention

the "tremendous opportunity presented by the technology revolution," but

his speech could almost have been lifted from the pages of the various joint

and service visions published in recent years. If elected, according to

Hadley, Bush would order the secretary of Defense to conduct an immediate

and comprehensive review to see how the Pentagon can best balance the modernization

of existing systems while also researching and developing revolutionary

systems.

Note to the Bush camp: The next Quadrennial Defense Review, which already

does that, has been unofficially under way for about a year.

Can We Talk?

And the race for president isn't the only hot competition taking place.

The Interceptor outpost in the southern United States has picked up signals

indicating that the Air Force Information Warfare Center in Texas and the

Air Force Fusion Center in Alabama are vying for some of the same network

security functions. The Fusion Center, a high-tech facility built to deal

with the Year 2000 problem, needs a new mission. Although the official Air

Force stance is that the two facilities complement one another, one service

infowarrior recently said the two organizations rarely speak to each other.

"We're basically two organizations that perform the same functions," the

person said. And at the cost of how many millions of dollars?

And speaking of competition between Air Force organizations, Col. Neal

Fox, recently appointed director of the Air Force Standard Systems Group's

Commercial Information Technology- Product Area Directorate (CIT-PAD) said

recently that he would work to eliminate competition between his organization

and ACCWAY, the Air Combat Command's acquisition division. Fox pointed out

that roughly 90 percent of the products supplied by ACCWAY first come through

CIT-PAD anyway. Sounds like there's cooperation aplenty already.

Seeing Stars

What happens when you paint the floor of an Air Force building with

red and white stripes and a block of blue? You get nasty e-mail messages

complaining that Air Force personnel are trampling the American flag. Not

so, say officials at Standard Systems Group, who consulted various experts

on flag history and protocol. Without the stars painted in the blue field,

the colors are nothing more than "a striking design."

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