Intercepts

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,"

Money said.

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.

Intercept something? Send it to antenna@fcw.com.

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