Waving White Flags

Lt. Gen. John Woodward Jr., Air Force director of communications and information, didn't know the trouble he was starting with his crack about the cost of services provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency. It's unclear whether Woodward, speaking during the Air Force Information Technology Conference in Montgomery, Ala., knew that Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, DISA director, was in the audience. Not the type to let rumor, innuendo or misinformation stand, Raduege used his dinner reception speech that night to bombard Woodward and others with a long list of DISA facts, figures and accomplishments.

For example, the cost of DISA's Defense Switching Network services has dropped 74 percent in the last four years. Calls from the United States to Japan are nearly 24 cents less than commercial rates, and it's nearly 6 cents cheaper to call home from Italy. Within the United States, calls have dropped from 4.6 cents a minute 18 months ago to 2.6 cents a minute today, and the price is still dropping. Raduege kept up his bombardment so long that audience members began good-naturedly waving napkins in the air. Jumper Jubilee

At the same conference, John Gilligan, Air Force deputy chief information officer, said that the service's Global Strike Task Force (GSTF) concept is gaining acceptance. Gen. John Jumper, confirmed to be the next Air Force chief of staff, came up with the task force concept that relies on IT to reduce the number of personnel and amount of equipment deployed to the world's hot spots.

"I have noted that any skepticism in the ranks of the Air Force that might have existed a few months ago about the GSTF seems to have disappeared," Gilligan joked. "Curiously, the enthusiasm for GSTF seems to have parallel to Gen. Jumper's nomination and confirmation to be the next chief of staff." Keeping Secrets

The government watchdog group OMB Watch is trying to stir up grass-roots resistance to the 2002 Intelligence Authorization Act. The act, which of course is classified, is said to contain language making the leaking of classified material a criminal act. One complaint from critics is that the intelligence agencies classify everything.

Patrice McDermott, an OMB Watch representative, recently sent out a memo urging voters to contact their representatives concerning the bill, similar to the one President Clinton vetoed last year.

In the Aug. 29 message, McDermott wrote that she had hoped that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, would publicly call off Wednesday's hearing on the act, and that the committee's chairman, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), would not include the leaks criminalization provision in his chairman's markup of the act. "To date, neither of these has occurred," she wrote.

Beret Delay

The Army just can't get a break. Although 750,000 new, black Army berets have been delivered, soldiers at more than 17 active-duty installations may not get the new headgear until next year.

The original plan called for soldiers to receive the berets by June 14, the Army's birthday. Officials scrapped those plans when critics protested the service's plans to contract with non-U.S. companies.

Further delaying delivery, according to an Army press release, one of two suppliers Bancroft Caps, in Cabot, Ark. had to temporarily halt production. Seems the company was caught using materials from South Africa and Pakistan without an exemption to the Berry Amendment, which gives preference to American-based companies for U.S. government defense procurements.

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