IA on the agenda

The Interceptors' throng of double agents tells us much is going on in military computer security these muggy summer days.

We're told vendors are meeting this week at Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., to sell their ideas on a multimillion-dollar Security Information Manager (SIM) system. Apparently the military does not operate a comprehensive system that tracks network intrusions.

There is a disagreement over the amount of money the Defense Department wants to spend on the SIM system. Vendors think it should cost $20 million to $30 million. The military wants to keep it at $10 million or less.

Maybe officials want to avoid breaking through the $10 million threshold to keep the programs flying under the radar? We noticed, of course, that the Defense Information Systems Agency's anti-spyware deal, awarded earlier this month, totaled $6.9 million.

JNN makeover

The implementation of the Army's Joint Network Node (JNN) was pretty ugly, said Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the service's chief information officer, speaking last month at Army IT Day, sponsored by the Northern Virginia chapter of AFCEA International.

This was the second time Boutelle made such a declarative statement about the Army's new, albeit temporary, battlefield communications system. So the Interceptors pressed him about it after the speech.

"We did not train [troops on JNN] as well as we should," Boutelle said.

The Army's signal soldiers now operating JNN in Iraq received 90 days of training. They should have gotten 120 days, he said.

JNN relies on IP, satellites and commercial products to provide more mobile communications and greater access to logistics and intelligence data.

"Moving to the IP world is very, very complex," Boutelle said, adding that everyone is now relatively happy with how the system is working.

Army officials surveyed soldiers on JNN training and performance through Army Knowledge Online (AKO). They must have gotten a lot of feedback.

Ruthless individuals

Boutelle and the media seem to often use the word "ruthless" to describe Army information technology officials' attempts to improve interoperability. We tally three times in recent weeks.

n "We will be ruthless in this," Boutelle said, describing Army IT officials' handling of the service's interoperability issues during his Army IT Day speech.

n "You have to be ruthless in this business," he said, further explaining it at a press conference after his Army IT Day speech.

n A headline in the IT trade press last week — yes, the Interceptors read the competition — reads, "Army plans requires 'ruthless configuration management.'"

Never at a loss for self-promotion, the Interceptors want to point out that we coined the phrase "brilliant and ruthless" in a story earlier last month to describe Army IT officials' conduct in fixing the service's computer security and interoperability issues.

Maybe we can start receiving royalties when it is used.

An Army friend

Boutelle also had kind words to say about Air Force Lt. Gen. Charlie Croom, the military's new chief systems official and cyberwarrior.

"He is a friend to the Army," Boutelle said in his Army IT Day speech. "He is more green than most of us."

Stuck with AKO V3

An avid user of AKO has some advice for Lockheed Martin when it takes over operation of the Web portal in October: Go back to AKO Version 2.

"The enhancements of AKO Version 3 have not exactly been welcomed by many in the Army," one user said. "I have read through AKO message boards to confirm I am not the only one who thinks they broke it."

Significant technology updates to AKO will not occur at least until fiscal 2007, said Lee Hall, director of enterprise solutions at Lockheed Martin's Integrated Systems and Solutions business unit. That unit led an industry team to victory on the AKO Enterprise Services contract earlier this month.

The first part of the contract, Block A, requires the Lockheed Martin-led team to oversee operation of AKO's home page, help desk and program measures. The second part, Block B, involves the portal's architecture and the technologies that power it, Hall said during a phone call last week.

Bad date, bad info

The Interceptors took some heat over the acronym for the director of the National Security Agency in last week's column.

The correct acronym is DIRNSA. But we're told it is often pronounced DIR-sna.

One Interceptor had a blind date a couple of years ago with an Army Reserve attorney who worked at the agency, and that's what she called him.

"I think I'd laugh out loud if someone actually [referred to him as] DIR-sna in my presence," said an intercept from someone who worked in and around NSA for more than 20 years.

The acronym must have been as bad as that date.

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected] or [email protected]


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