Good Show, Old Chap!

The British military recently handed over control of its entire information technology budget to the IT adviser on the Ministry of Defence's Joint Staff. Why should you care? Because Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, the head of IT on the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, seems to think it's a bloody good idea.

Speaking at a Federal Sources Inc. breakfast, Kellogg said he was recently called in for a little chat with his boss, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, about whether the law regarding control of the military IT budget needs to be changed. Myers extended the invitation after the publication of a news story by a certain reporter who shall remain anonymous. The story reported that the two men have differing views on the matter. Kellogg said he told his boss that, according to various sections of federal law, reponsibility for ensuring that military systems are capable of sharing data falls to either the Joint Chiefs, the Pentagon chief information officer, the individual services or any of a variety of other organizations.

"My point to him is that unless we fix theissue of who's in charge, we're spending a lot of money on stovepipe systems we can't bring together," Kellogg said.

The 411 on the B-2

Northrop Grumman Corp. calls its multibillion-dollar B-2 stealth bomber "the most survivable aircraft ever built." But Peter Lloyd, the head of projects at Roke Manor Research Ltd. in the United Kingdom, told reporters that the bomber, which is nearly invisible to most radar systems, can be easily detected with an invention that uses existing mobile phone masts.

Using a laptop computer and a Global Positioning System receiver, ground troops reportedly can calculate the aircraft's position to within 10 meters. "We use just the normal phone calls that are flying about in the ether," Lloyd has been quoted as saying. "The front of the stealth plane cannot be detected by conventional radar, but its bottom surface reflects very well."

There have also been reports that the bomber can't be left out in the rain, and the Interceptor has picked up signals indicating that the Air Force is scrambling to list other possible threats to the plane. They include Alaskan mosquitoes, butterflies during mating season and soft summer breezes.

Second-Guessing Degaussing

Before the Pentagon donates an old, nonclassified computer to a school or other organization, it makes sure information has been erased from the hard drive. But a new policy, signed by acting Pentagon CIO Linton Wells II, might go a bit too far.

The change gives the military the option of either overwriting data on the hard drive or degaussing — that's demagnetizing to the rest of us — the drive. The problem is, degaussed drives don't work. One Air Force source wrote that he expects the degaussing option to be eliminated because "the beneficiary of a PC with a demagnetizeddrive will be no better off than had the drive been missing completely."

According to the policy, degaussing is to be considered when the unclassified information is sensitive enough that you wouldn't want it falling into the wrong hands. After all, with school kids you never know where those hands have been.

Blue-Light Special

Subsidiaries of Liquidation. com Inc., an Internet seller of surplus goods, has won a contract to sell excess Defense Department equipment, including electronic gear, aircraft parts, medical equipment, textiles, clothing and machinery, all of which was valued at $23 billion when it was originally purchased. The value has diminished somewhat over time.

How much do you suppose a degaussed hard drive is going for?

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