The Air Force wasted no time milking its new status in space programs for all it's worth. Defense Secretary Donald Rums-feld announced May 7 that the Air Force will be the executive agent for space programs. About 23 hours, 47 minutes and 13 seconds later, one Air Force general pressed the need for new space toys, which, oh by the way, would probably require a budget increase.

Maj. Gen. Brian Arnold's list of gee-whiz playthings includes space-based radars and lasers and a couple of space planes that could be used for such things as intelligence gathering, targeting and rapidly deploying military satellites. "These are just some of the things we're looking forward to pushing, developing and procuring under the guidance of the new administration," Arnold said. Note to Rumsfeld: Throw in a Buzz Lightyear action figure, and we'll call you Mr. Claus.

PKI's Hefty Appetite

Navy Capt. Dave Meadows, an information security whiz on the joint staff, says he has a problem with public-key infrastructure technology: It eats up bandwidth like rug-rats scarf M&Ms. That's enough in peacetime, but during wartime the demand for bandwidth will explode, and having too little could hamper warfighting. Given the choice between using PKI and an alternative that would allow bandwidth to fluctuate with demand, Meadows said, "I would give up [PKI] in a heartbeat."

The Pentagon, however, is committed to implementing PKI as part of its network protection. So committed, in fact, that when Meadows shared his concerns with colleagues, "they burned a cross outside my hotel room," he joked to a crowd at the Secure E-Business Summit in Arlington, Va., May 7 to 9. Good point, captain, but please come up with a better image.

GIG 101

Ever notice how eyes glaze over and heads dip into the soup when military officials start defining the Global Information Grid? Pentagon documents found on the Internet label GIG as "an integrated, interoperable worldwide network of information technology products and management services that processes and moves information." Still too abstract? Picture this: 1,500 base stations managed by the services and agencies, 10,000 local-area networks, nine regional commanders in chief and all their components, 120,000 commercial telecommunications circuits, 32 federated networks and systems in more than 100 countries, deployed forces, including those on 31 missions around the world as of May 7, and more than 300 ships.

In the words of Army Col. Larry Huffman, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Network Operations Center, "This, ladies and gentlemen, is a very, very complex environment that we must manage." Thanks, colonel. When all else fails, dumb it down.

Techno Bard

The Interceptor's space-based listening device, Great Big Ear, picked up mysterious signals emanating from the reception at the Secure E-Business Summit. Once the drinks flowed and the spirit moved him, one attendee explained to a small crowd that the works of William Shakespeare remain relevant even today. Shakespeare's plays, the gentleman explained, are all about IT. To understand the need for reliable telecommunications, for example, read "Romeo and Juliet." Need a lesson on information security? Try "Hamlet." Methinks the gentleman doth read too much.

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