DOD recovers tech systems

One of the two communications systems feeding the Pentagon was knocked out as a result of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, the Defense Department chief information officer said.

The crash destroyed one of two major communications lines, but the communications feed was restored within days, John Stenbit said Sept. 14. "The good news is that it had two."

Because of on.going recovery efforts, DOD officials were still assessing the damage. "I'm sure there was data loss," Stenbit said. "There are places over there that don't exist any more."

Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy CIO for infrastructure, systems and technology, said the service is still assessing the damage "as we get into the spaces [that were] destroyed."

One early lesson learned is the need for redundancy, according to Stenbit. Officials have been reminded of many information technology truisms — such as having more than one fiber-optic cable and not routing them all through the same place. "All those kinds of lessons we learn every time but then don't do because it costs a bit are back on the table," he said.

Some operations very close to the explosion were able to maintain their systems, in some cases because of the flexibilities that technology provides.

A portion of the Navy's public affairs operations was located in an inner ring of the section of the Pentagon that was hit. Although the Navy's public affairs phones were down, officials there were able to move their operations to a nearby government building and were able to access e-mail and maintain some operations within hours, said Lt. Pat McNally, a Navy public affairs officer.

The Army's Defense Property Accountability System stayed online throughout the incident although its team is located just one section away from the crash site.

The system was able to maintain operations because the data is stored on servers at the Defense Information Systems Agency's office in Dayton, Ohio, said Ira Gebler, a contractor for Price.waterhouseCoopers, which is working with the Army.

But Gebler, who was at the Pentagon at the time of the attack, was forced to evacuate.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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