- By George I. Seffers
- Sep 25, 2000
New-and-improved Interceptor antennae recently installed atop the Capitol
dome are picking up faint signals that certain lawmakers interested in Pen-tagon
information technology issues may not be as happy with Deputy Defense Secretary
Rudy DeLeon as they were with John Hamre.
DeLeon a while back took over as the new second-in-command when Hamre left
to head up the Center for Strategic and International Studies. DeLeon is
no slouch in the IT arena, but he's not quite filling Hamre's shoes, according
to one lawmaker. The lawmaker says he knew John Hamre and was a friend.
"Rudy is a good guy. He understands what's going on, but he's no John Hamre,"
Note to DeLeon: Add to your vocabulary some worn-out, sensationalistic
terms such as "cyberwar," "weapons of mass disruption" and last, but never
least, "electronic Pearl Harbor." Lawmakers eat that stuff up.
The Air Force's much-ballyhooed Web portal, which so far has been dubbed
My.Air Force, could be in trouble before it ever gets off the ground because
of the proliferation of non-open-source middleware.
Trying to Web-enable myriad applications requires a solid middleware
plan based on open standards. But the Air Force and many other government
organizations are "having a large, epic struggle" keeping up with e-commerce
while trying to justify the "incredible sums of taxpayer money spent on
non-open software [that's] nonstandards-based," according to one Interceptor
"In other words, Air Force senior leadership has the right strategic
vision. Most of their troops and contractors, on the other hand, are not
very open-system, e-commerce-middleware savvy," the informant said, adding
that it will be challenging for the service to realize the benefits of
current Web software before it becomes obsolete.
Let's see, whose software is spread throughout government com-puters
and is not open source? Who could the culprit be?
N/MCI Hot Seats
Seat management might become the next hot issue for the lucrative $16
billion Navy/ Marine Corps Intranet program. According to one good source,
the price of seats at Naval Air Systems Command — the first site for N/MCI
implementation following the contract award — will double to $5,000, and
the servicewide-level cost is expected to be negligibly higher. The price
is creating heartache with some because it means purchasing only half the
computer systems they now have.
The cost revelation might partially explain why the N/MCI transition
team recently asked all Navair organizations to inventory every computing
device throughout the command. The purpose of the inventory is to ensure
that all users retain the same computing capabilities under N/MCI that they
currently require. But some have questioned the timing of the inventory
because it sheds doubt on the accuracy of the Navy's business-case analysis.
Chances are that when Air Force officials begin briefing senior military
leadership and reporters on the lessons learned from the Joint Expeditionary
Force Experiment (JEFX 2000), they'll include all the good stuff and leave
out the fires, floods and tropical storms.
JEFX 2000 took place Aug. 28 to Sept. 15 from three main sites: Hurlburt
Field, Fla.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Those sites were linked to various sites nationwide and to airborne and
ground-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems considered
critical to employing expeditionary aerospace power.
The exercise was plagued by a series of mishaps, including a menacing
tropical storm, floods in the men's room and a fire in the Combined Air
Operations Center. The fire flared up in a power distribution box and tripped
electrical surge protectors throughout the operations center, causing minor
damage and halting the experiment for about 24 hours while computer systems
were put back online. What's on tap next year — frogs and locusts?
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