Terrorist Porn Connection?

The cryptology that terrorists are using to protect their data and communications is as good as, if not better than, Defense Department solutions, said Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr., director of command, control, communications and computers (C4) for the Joint Staff.

Kellogg also said terrorists have the capability to use steganography to pass along instructions and other information. Steganography involves hiding encrypted messages within other text or image files and placing the files in unlikely document locations.

"They are hiding stuff in pictures and embedding them in places we can't get porn sites," Kellogg said earlier this month at the Homeland and Global Security Summit in Washington, D.C.

He told the Interceptor that no DOD employees are accessing porn sites looking for hidden terrorist messages. But he added that other government agencies and organizations are able to do that and DOD would use and act on any "legally vetted information" that is uncovered.

C4ISR Vital to Success

Leaders of three joint, global commands explained how vital command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems are to DOD's success and called on lawmakers to ensure that those programs continue to receive funding.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, the leaders of the Pacific, Southern and United Nations commands outlined how critical the continued development of C4ISR systems is in the global war on terrorism and future conflicts.

Army Gen. James Hill, commander of the Southern Command, which is responsible for 32 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean, said his current infrastructure "lacks the flexibility to execute the assigned mission due to over-reliance on inadequate commercial communications systems, limited communications bandwidth, and fragmented operations and maintenance support."

The Southern Command is partnering with the Defense Information Systems Agency and the State Department's Diplomatic Telecommunications Service Program Office to explore commercial alternatives, including fiber-optic communication links, for improving C4 effectiveness, he said.

Army Gen. Leon LaPorte, commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea and the United Nations Command, said his commands' common operational picture "is built on an aging communications infrastructure that is increasingly expensive to maintain" and requires:

* Improved secure digital networks.

* Collaborative planning tools.

* Enhanced interoperability.

"Many folks envision large volumes of information as pages and pages of text messages, which can overwhelm users and result in 'information overload,' " said Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Command commander. "Instead, we are talking about maximum use of multimedia such as video, shared applications through collaboration software and high-resolution imagery. Through these types of tools, our operators can digest more information, and we can collectively move toward a more knowledge-based environment."

From Hollywood to Biotech

First, the Army teamed with Hollywood to better train soldiers using virtual reality. Then, it was a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on nano-technology. Now, the service will soon award contracts worth up to $37 million to three universities to establish an Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies.

The pending five-year awards will be made later this year to one lead university and two supporting institutions that will work with industry in two main areas: electronics, sensors and computative capabilities; and modeling and simulations, said A. Michael Andrews II, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, during last month's Association of the U.S. Army winter symposium.

Biotechnologies can be used for myriad applications, including camouflage, battlefield wound healing, protective clothing and sleeping bags, innovative drug delivery systems, and DNA diagnostic and detection technologies for rapid assessment of a suspected biological attack.

The technology may also help lighten the 21st-century soldier's burden, said Gen. Paul Kern, commander of the Army Materiel Command.

And Finally

During a March 19 hearing focused on DOD outsourcing before the Senate Armed Services Committee's Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, lawmakers were peppering representatives from DOD, the General Accounting Office and the Office of Management and Budget with questions about the proposed changes to OMB Circular A-76 and other workforce concerns.

But in the middle of questioning from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), her microphone suddenly went dead.

"Did we outsource this or no?" she joked.

"No. Strictly a government contract," was the reply.

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