- By George I. Seffers
- Oct 29, 2000
NMCI: Made You Look
First, here's the obligatory NMCI item that drives up column readership
and makes the Interceptor look irreplaceable to the boss.
Although the Navy maintains the right to name a backup contractor for
the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, potentially worth $6.9 billion, it does
not intend to do so any time soon, according to service officials, and some
industry sources are under the impression that the matter is effectively
dead in the water.
If Electronic Data Systems Corp. fails to live up to its promises, the
Navy could toss the prime contractor overboard and bring on one of the NMCI
competitors to take its place. That, however, would offer EDS rivals more
incentive than usual to snipe at every turn, and besides, calling in a less
experienced backup captain might only wreck the ship.
Show Me the Money
Although annual reports to Congress show that the Pentagon is spending
$12 billion to $15 billion a year on information technology, the real figure
is probably closer to one-third of the military budget, according to Art
Money, the Defense Department's chief information officer. Speaking at the
Military Communications conference in Los Angeles, Money said the lack of
an effective accounting system means the Pentagon might be grossly underestimating
its IT budget.
"I haven't got a clue how much we spend on [command, control, communications,
computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance]. I would guess
it's in the area of $75 billion to $100 billion — roughly a quarter to
a third of the budget — but if you asked me to prove it, there's no way
in hell I can," Money said. Those annual reports don't reflect money spent
on avionics and other embedded IT in today's weapon systems, including high-dollar
items such as jet fighters. "That's one of the things that needs to be fixed,"
Incoming Frying Pan
Gen. John Coburn, commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine
Command, isn't known for his brilliant public performances. In fact, his
own staff members joke that his normally uninspired speeches and dense briefing
charts often have them bouncing their foreheads off the table. But that
may change. At the Association of the United States Army's recent annual
convention, Coburn was the star of the Army Materiel Command's witty and
professionally produced presentation, which involved a combination of song,
comedy, live performance and video.
At one point, Coburn tasted one of the service's new packaged meals,
declared it not all that great, and scored it a six on a scale of one to
nine — until told it actually was his wife's cooking, at which point he
immediately turned the six upside down.
Coburn's inspired performance led one onlooker to ask if he might go
into showbiz once his Army career is over, to which the good general quipped
that he thought he was getting paid extra for the performance or he wouldn't
have done it.
Keep joking about your wife's cooking, general, and it's danger pay
you'll be getting.
Stars and Stripes Forever
Whether it's active-duty or retired military officials e-mailing news
stories to each other, messages posted on bulletin boards or grievers meeting
in chat rooms, the Internet in some small way is helping the nation heal
following the attack on the USS Cole.
One proud official from the Navy pointed out that the Stars and Stripes
still fly over the Cole and that no act, regardless how brutal or cowardly,
will bring it down. Message to those in military uniform: peace.
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