Intelligence masochist wanted

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence needs a chief information officer, Steve Selwyn of the CIA's CIO office told us earlier this month. We don't know any sane people who would want to take on such a painful task, but there's probably someone out there ready for the challenge.

Maybe Steve Cooper, the Homeland Security Department's recently departed CIO, would find the job of integrating networks and systems from 15 intelligence agencies a breeze compared with doing the same task for 22 agencies at DHS. On the other hand, maybe he is happy at the American Red Cross. The Government Accountability Office has no authority over the Red Cross.

Signaling in the rain

The House Armed Services Committee boosted fiscal 2006 funding by $4 million to $26 million for a National Security Agency tactical signal intelligence technology program dubbed Project Raincoat.

According to the committee's report on the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization bill, the project uses a behavioral science approach and cues sensors to pre-identified signals activity based on operator experience, increasing search efficiency.

We love it when Congress lets us know about stuff the folks at Fort Meade, Md., would prefer to keep undercover.

A GIG-BE by any other name

That's our take on the Defense Information Systems Agency's approach to getting past security walls around the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (shh!) nodes, which makes it difficult to issue a request for proposals for circuits that would connect those endpoints to outlying bases.

Tony Montemarano, DISA's GIG-BE boss, said a new network, dubbed the DISN Core, will include the GIG-BE fiber backbone, its nodes and any new circuits. And DISN Core will be unclassified.

We like this bit of fancy footwork and think John Stenbit, the former DOD CIO who hatched the whole GIG-BE security scheme — to frustrate pesky reporters, we think — should be invited to DISN Core's christening.

Boutelle phones from home with VOIP

Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army's CIO, oversees the acquisition and deployment of billions of dollars' worth of exotic and unique military communications systems. But at home, he uses Vonage voice-over-IP (VOIP) phone service. Earlier this month at the TechNet International conference sponsored by AFCEA International, he told an audience that Vonage is the best thing going.

Boutelle also said he is enamored with WiMax technology and wonders how it fits with the Army's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) strategy. So do we.

Boutelle believes the Defense Department needs to explore commercial technologies — such as WiMax, Wi-Fi and VOIP — because they work and are affordable. The $32 billion JTRS budget could probably equip everyone in DOD with a WiMax network, running Vonage VOIP, of course.

The right stuff

We've been privileged to go to the Friday night dinners for Iraq war amputees at Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in the Capital Hilton, organized by Ed Meagher, deputy CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a couple of his Vietnam War veteran pals — Jim Mayer, a peer counselor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Hal Koster, the Washington, D.C., restaurant's co-owner.

Eat one dinner there and you will realize that these Iraq vets — upbeat as they adjust to life as amputees — deserve all the help they can get. That's why we're glad to see that the House Armed Services Committee has pumped an additional $10 million into the advanced amputee research and development account in the 2006 DOD Authorization bill, creating a proposed total of $84.7 million.

Those funds, the committee's report states, will help the vets "receive the kind of care that allows them to lead lives unconstrained by their amputation." Amen to that.

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