GIG-BE Complaints

The Defense Information Systems Agency may not award the highly anticipated Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) contracts until early October. But DISA now is informing some firms that they are no longer even under consideration, and officials at those companies are not happy about it.

John Stenbit, assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration and the Defense Department's chief information officer, said some companies are telling their congressional representatives, and DOD is hearing it from them.

"We're doing these selections with the GIG-BE program, and some companies have already heard that they've lost," Stenbit said. "Now all of a sudden we have a new burst of data from [Capitol] Hill. Now that's more normal."

JTRS Jitters?

The corporate line is that the first Joint Tactical Radio System Cluster 1 vehicular radio will be combat-ready in August 2004. But industry and Army officials working on the key DOD program say it is more likely that the delivery date is December 2004 or later.

Boeing Co., which declined comment, beat out Raytheon Co. in June 2001 to develop a radio that operates across the spectrum, from 2M to 2G. The wide-band networking waveform development contract is worth almost $2 billion.

The military owns 750,000 radios of 25 kinds. DOD officials want to replace them with 180,000 JTRS radios, which department officials say are computers with a "radio front end" that will allow the services to update the systems easily.

NSA Classifieds

The National Security Agency is searching for a senior acquisition executive — again.

NSA placed an ad in the Washington Post's Aug. 24 issue and posted an announcement on its Web site. The agency wants to fill the position as soon as possible, a spokesperson said.

The senior acquisition executive job has experienced high turnover since it was established in 2000. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Harry Gatanas first held the position, followed by Navy civilian Paul Schneider.

Both retired or resigned, the NSA spokesperson said. Could the multibillion-dollar Project Groundbreaker and Project Trailblazer signals intelligence modernization programs be acquisition headaches?

Going Home Again

Former Navy Secretary Gordon England left DOD's top Navy civilian job to become a deputy secretary in the Homeland Security Department in January. Last week, President Bush nominated him to return to the position he had vacated.

The Navy secretary position has been vacant since England stepped down. Bush had nominated Colin McMillan, a wealthy oil magnate and chairman of Bush's 2000 presidential campaign in New Mexico, to fill the role, but McMillan committed suicide July 25.

Hansford Johnson has been the service's acting secretary through it all, but he had never been nominated to fill the vacancy full time.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has butted heads with many of the military's brass in recent months, said he welcomes the president's nomination of England.

"He did a fine job as the secretary of the Navy prior to moving to the Department of Homeland Security, and I look forward to working with him again," Rumsfeld said.

Who says you can't go home again?

FBCB2 Cramps Stryker Troops

Protection and weight were problems for the Army's new Stryker armored personnel carrier. Fitting soldiers inside is the problem for Stryker's sister vehicle, the Mobile Gun System (MGS).

Initial installations of the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system in the Stryker MGS caused tight fits for its commander and gunner, Army program documents state. The FBCB2 is a 10-inch, touch screen terminal that uses radio and satellites to send and receive artillery, e-mail, intelligence and weather data on the battlefield.

The protruding FBCB2 display makes it "very difficult to reach" gun controls and operate the computer system, service documents say. They show a 5-foot-4-inch major and a 5-foot-8-inch three-star general cramped in the gunner and vehicle commander positions.

The Army and the Stryker MGS' manufacturer, General Dynamics Land Systems, are working together on these issues, a company official said.

The service and General Dynamics have two more years to get MGS right. The Army will use a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle equipped with an anti-tank missile system in lieu of Stryker MGS when the first Stryker Force deploys to Iraq next month.

The Army also is developing a cage to put on Stryker to give the vehicle and its 11-person crew protection against rocket- propelled grenades, an industry official said. Stryker is the service's new eight-wheeled, 19-ton vehicle designed to give troops more speed and communications in combat. n

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