A year late

The Defense Department will hold its annual computer war game this week. The best military and think tank minds are gathering at the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa., to continue last year's simulated exercise against a mountainous, oil-and-gas-rich Middle Eastern country and an archipelagic nation in the Pacific Rim.

Unified Quest 2004 will include a scenario in which U.S. forces quickly switch from warfighting to peacekeeping operations while confronting insurgents, an exercise that has never been done in previous games.

Real-world experience, it would seem, should help this year.

IT proposals

Air Force officials want to hire a lead systems integrator to manage the increasing number of hardware, software and systems in Air and Space Operations Centers, where commanders plan and execute bombing, cargo, fighter, reconnaissance and refueling missions. Army leaders also want an integrator to operate the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) Web portal.

The service administers the portal for 1.6 million users via several contracts. Officials want to consolidate AKO's information technology services with one vendor, said Vernon Bettencourt, the new deputy chief information officer in the Army's Office of the CIO.

Army leaders plan to issue the solicitation June 15. Vendors must submit proposals by Aug. 1, and a winner will be chosen later this year.

Gen. George Casey, Army vice chief of staff — the service's second-highest officer — told office employees to devise a plan to make better use of the Web portal, such as providing more employee services. The Army already updated it once, creating a classified version of AKO with 66,000 users, Bettencourt said.

Logistical honors

Last month, officials from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and the military software publication "CrossTalk" recognized the Defense Medical Logistics Standards Support program as a quality software initiative.

They honored the performance, customer and technology value, and user satisfaction of the program, which automates new medical logistics business practices and provides equipment, facility and materiel management.

Another Air Force council

Last summer, Air Force officials instituted the IT Commodity Council to improve hardware and software acquisition and maintenance. Apparently it has been so successful that it has become something of a model. The service formed another council this spring to improve combat and mission support.

The new Services Management Council facilitates talks about improving the Air Force's acquisition and management of services to enhance policy and training. The council held its first meeting April 16.

Nets a failure in Iraq?

Network-centric warfare does not help U.S. troops in guerilla-style combat, according to officials at the Army War College.

"Net-centric warfare does not work in counterinsurgency," according to a document of key points from the college's 15th Annual Strategy Conference held last month in Carlisle Barracks. "Today the focus of all four services is on land. The enemy can use our networked awareness to make us deceive ourselves. Many low-tech opponents present no key nodes to attack."

More BFT?

Gen. Larry Ellis, commanding general of Army Forces Command, wrote in a March 30 memo to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker that he recommends accelerating production of the Stryker infantry carrier vehicle because "the up-armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle is not providing the solution the Army hoped to achieved."

That means more Blue Force Tracking communications systems. Stay tuned.

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