- By George I. Seffers
- Apr 30, 2001
Following a major digitization demonstration in the Mojave Desert in
early April, the Army admits some minor failures amid overwhelming successes.
But one industry source remains skeptical. Following the first major digital
division experiment in 1997, the Army touted similar successes, but internal
documents written that year detailed more serious concerns. Bill Bond, at
that time a brigadier general in charge of the Army digitization office,
wrote to then-Brig. Gen. Steven Boutelle, program executive officer for
command, control and communications systems, saying that a panel of so-called
Gray Beards reviewing the Tactical Internet "expressed grave concerns that
the redesigned Tactical Internet will implement features that will make
it an essentially closed system, unable to interface to other networks without
special "black boxes.' "
Some Gray Beards also complained of the dismal security efforts. "To field
a system this vulnerable seems, to me, tantamount to criminal negligence,"
wrote one after complaining that the service did not openly discuss security
issues. Four years later, the Army still isn't discussing the Tactical Internet's
Question is: If the Army keeps repeating its mistakes, does it still
qualify as training?
Those Private Moments
Privacy advocates and conspiracy theorists, rejoice. Signals from the
Defense Department's inspector general indicate that officials are investigating
technology and privacy issues, such as DOD's purchase of data on school
kids' Web-surfing habits. The Pentagon's Defense Manpower Data Center awarded
a nine-month, nearly $15,000 contract in January to Roper Starch Worldwide,
a New York marketing firm partnered with N2H2 Inc., whose Internet- filtering
software is installed on school computers across the country. N2H2 markets
its software to schools, parents and employers who want to filter Internet
content of a dubious nature and protect user privacy. But the Pentagon uses
the aggregated data to see how often kids surf military sites. The information
is reportedly helpful in targeting potential recruits, but when the deal
was disclosed earlier this year, privacy advocates cried foul.
Now, if the IG would just do something about that CIA plot to track
the Interceptor's neural networks.
To learn how well the Navy Marine Corps Intranet will work, you need
only consult Carnegie Mellon University, where employees in the 1980s used
so-called time share networks, according to one Naval Air Systems Command
employee. The systems "were not efficient as network platforms for conducting
everyday business" and were "labeled as being fatally flawed and are now
obsolete," the employee states.
"Anyone, including the Navy, the Marine Corps and even [lead vendor
Electronic Data Systems Corp.] who has questions about the future success
of NMCI should contact the computer department at Carnegie Mellon University,"
the employee continued. "Anyone who was working there during the early 1980s
will be able to provide 100 percent accurate information about how a "time
share' network like NMCI will work "in the real world.'"
As described on Page 46, Phil Loranger, director of the Pentagon's Biometrics
Management Office, has said DOD is considering tagging biometric technologies
as personal information protected under the Freedom of Information Act.
Unfortunately, details are not yet available because a few basic questions
submitted to his office were turned over to the legal department and might
get answered in the next millennium. At this rate, the new biometrics policy
will be as cutting-edge as sundials.
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