Navy Ships Stuck at 28K

Some Navy ships, regardless of whether they are deployed off the coasts of the U.S., or in the Middle East where bandwidth constraints are expected, are operating with a total connectivity of 28 kilobits/sec, which was state-of-the-art in U.S. homes several years ago.

Monica Shephard, director of command, control, communications, computers and combat systems for the Atlantic Fleet, said bandwidth is constrained by a number of factors, including geographic location, weather and the operational tempo of the Navy, where certain in-theater applications can gobble up much of the available bandwidth.

Shephard said the Navy always wants more bandwidth, but that she sees "nothing on the horizon to guarantee [unlimited] bandwidth to maritime end users."

"So we will continue to treat it as a high-impact, low-availability commodity," Shephard said last week during her keynote speech at the Knowledge Management conference held in Washington, D.C., by E-Gov, which is part of FCW Media Group. "The good news is that we know how to do that."

Army Braces for Outsourcing

Army commanders hoping to escape the third wave of public/private job competitions, announced last October by Army Secretary Thomas White, shouldn't get their hopes up, according to one Army official.

More than 200,000 positions, including more than 55,000 tech-related jobs, have been classified as "noncore competencies" and so are subject to outsourcing, according to the Army. Army Maj. Gen. Larry Lust, assistant chief of staff for installation management, said he expects "very few exemptions" granted as that phase ends this week.

Of the positions to be "competitively sourced" under his purview, only about 40 will be exempted, Lust said earlier this month at a workforce conference in Tysons Corner, Va., sponsored by Women in Defense.

The third wave also includes OMB's Circular A-76, which outlines how the public and private sectors should compete to perform commercial-like government functions. A revised circular is expected out within a month.

"A-76 is a forcing mechanism," Lust said. "As soon as the new A-76 is out, I'm starting because the sooner you start, the sooner you get the savings."

Safety in Numbers

Much has been made of the number of friendly fire deaths in the ongoing conflict in Iraq, but, thanks at least in part to technology, the danger is actually much less than it was during the last Gulf War, an Army official said last week.

Technology known as Blue Force Tracking, which enables warfighters to determine who is friend and who is foe, is just now coming into its own, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, allied forces have been able to field Blue Force Tracking technology to track down units at the company level and higher.

Of course, some well-publicized incidents of friendly fire — including at least two incidents of allied aircraft being shot down by Patriot missile batteries — still continue to occur, albeit with less frequency, Kellogg said.

Reality Check Needed

Situational awareness — knowing where friendly and enemy forces are and in what strength — could provide the single largest advantage to U.S. and allied forces in future combat, according to Kellogg.

Although allied situational awareness on the battlefield was incomparable to any other conflict in history, the Iraqis' awareness showed just how devastated their own command and control structure was, he said.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi information minister, repeatedly told the international press that American forces were not in Baghdad, even as they knocked on his front door.

"He was not necessarily telling a lie," Kellogg said. "He honestly may not have known. But when he said there were no forces at Baghdad Airport, the Third Infantry Division was setting up camp in the terminal."

Kellogg said the allies have seen numerous examples of the Iraqis sending messages to units that were "no longer there," said Kellogg, implying they were either destroyed, captured or dispersed.

A Note of Thanks

After returning from a two-week visit to Kuwait, the Interceptor would like to acknowledge some folks who assisted him during his journey: Army Lt. Col. Enrique Ramos, Capt. Gregory Majewski and Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Stevens; Air Force Staff Sgt. Martie Capoteman; Patrick Swan in the Army chief information officer's office; Stephen Larsen in the Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems; Melissa Payton at Panasonic; and the DISA public affairs staff. n

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