- By George I. Seffers
- Nov 05, 2000
Just when you think you have the military's interoperability problems
solved, you leave the Pentagon, go out into the field and find out things
are still a mess. So says Art Money, the Pentagon's chief information officer,
who spoke at the Military Communications conference in Los Angeles about
the need to see what's going on outside the Pentagon in the real world,
where many of the military's information systems still cannot share data.
Paul Brubaker, the Pentagon's deputy CIO, echoed the sentiment, proclaiming
profoundly, "You can't shoot moose in the lodge."
IT in the Middle East
The Interceptor's remote listening post in the Middle East is picking
up strong signals that the United States is negotiating with various governments
to plant a more permanent information technology infrastructure, especially
fiber-optic cable, for U.S. forces in the region.
American forces there are heavily dependent on satellite communications,
and with Iraq's Saddam Hussein expected any day now to engage in some of
his annual mid- autumn shenanigans, U.S. officials are concerned about "surge"
capabilities should things get hot and digits begin to fly. The problem,
according to Army Brig. Gen. Dennis Moran, director of command and control
for Central Command, is that friendly nations in the region are wary of
any hint of a permanent American presence, which they feel would signal
intentions to forcibly occupy their territory. If oil prices keep being
jacked up, they might be right.
The highly anticipated and much talked about revolution in business
affairs — the adoption of commercial business practices enabled in large
part by commercial technologies — is already upon us. It's called PowerPoint,
according to Frank Fernandez, director of the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA). Microsoft Corp.'s PowerPoint helps make military
presentations that are packed with dense briefing slides slightly less annoying
than they otherwise would be.
DARPA is the incubator for the world's coolest military technologies.
But Fernandez recently joked that it is PowerPoint, not all those cool technologies,
that is bringing the world together. No matter where he travels, Fernandez
said he finds people using PowerPoint to get their points across, proving
that interoperability really does exist.
Someone please consider sharing this grand technology with the U.S.
Marine Corps, one of the few still proudly using overhead slides.
Microsoft's Piece of the NMCI Pie
Although the numbers have not yet been fully crunched, it looks as if
the Navy Marine Corps Intranet will be the "single largest deployment of
Microsoft's platform in the world — between 360,000 and 450,000 desktops,"
according to an informed source. "Windows 2000 Professional, [Windows 2000]
Server, Exchange 2000, Office 2000, BizTalk Server and Windows terminal
services are the core components thus far." That's more than a few crumbs
off the NMCI pie.
Push-ups and an apology
After being beaten severely about the head and shoulders, the Interceptor
owes 20 push-ups and an apology to Gen. John Coburn, who heads the Army
Materiel Command, for misidentifying him as the commander of the Training
and Doctrine Command in last week's column.
But considering how long the Interceptor has been out of the Army and
on official couch-potato status, it would be inadvisable to hold your breath
waiting for those push-ups to be completed.
After all, the Army prefers good leaders to remain alive.
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