Army’s $10 billion holistic widget buy
The Army Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) proved last week that statements of work (SOW) don’t need to be dull laundry lists of contract line item numbers and clauses.

The contracting shop turned the SOW for its $10 billion Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-2 Hardware procurement into a veritable silk purse of requirements.

PEO-EIS told potential ITES-2H bidders that it is essential that the gear they supply under the contract — PCs, servers and any other networking gear you can think of — must integrate and enhance the Army’s net-centric operations and holistically support Army customers.

If the PEO-EIS SOW writers keep this up, they may have to move to Santa Fe, the New Mexico capital of all things holistic, but only if they wear a turban while shopping at the Cerrillos Road “Whole Paycheck.”

Way-out waveform
The Defense Department streamlined its $32 billion Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program last week so that it can hopefully deliver radio gear to the troops before I go to old-Marine radio operator Valhalla, but I have a hunch that the National Security Agency has erected another speed bump in JTRS’ path from development to deployment.

NSA wants all JTRS gadgets and gizmos designed to meet challenging Type I and Type II information security requirements, which the company is doing in hardware and software on its backpack and manpack gear, Chris Brady, a vice president at General Dynamics C4 Systems, told us.

But, Brady added, the Spawar Joint Program Executive Office plans to issue a request for proposals for a Soldier Radio Waveform designed to incorporate all NSA Type I and Type II infosec requirements. Because the JTRS program has spent the better part of a decade trying to develop less complex waveforms, one can only wonder how long it will take to develop the infosec waveform.

The raft of JTRS schedule delays, program restructurings and cost increases reflect a fundamental problem, said Philip Coyle, a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information. Coyle, who served as director for test and evaluation at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001, said the problems reflect that JTRS is not joint, not tactical, not a radio and not a system.

Here comes the deploying dentist!
The Air Force has a training program for its dental specialists in expeditionary field dentistry at Lackland Air Force Base. Col. Donald Sedberry, commander of the 59th Dental Squadron, said those specialists “support the heart of the Air Force medical readiness mission.”

Dental specialists train in tents at Lackland for deployment to similar facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. But despite such field conditions, Air Force combat dentists can tap into a bunch of high-tech tools, including digital X-rays and digitized dental records.

Now, if they could only create a painless root canal.

A whole mess of cost increases
The JTRS restructuring memo surfaced this month at about the same time that DOD issued its quarterly Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs), which revealed that the cost of JTRS waveform development jumped 35.2 percent, or $465.1 million, from September to December 2005.

JTRS waveform development costs $1.8 billion, or a sum that back in the good old days could have provided an AN/PRC-25 to every grunt in the Army and Marines, with more than enough left for a good beer blast.

Program costs in the same period for the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical jumped $1.3 billion, according to the SARs, primarily because of a delay in the program development schedule, which accounted for $726.3 million of the increase.

The good news is that program costs for the Army’s Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system increased $644.9 million in the last quarter of 2005. This is good news because the bulk of this increase went to equipping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with FBCB2 units — a total of 16,278 gizmos deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility.

But do they know what a bumper is?
Marines from the Marine Corps Security Force Training Co., Coast Guard Base Northwest Annex, Chesapeake, Va., were in Jamaica last week helping train security employees for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, which sounds like a sweet assignment to me.

Jamaica Defense Force reservists, U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines played the roles of rioters, journalists and terrorists during the training.

But there has been no word if the Marines, commanded by Capt. John Roach, learned any arcane cricket terms or rules, including the definition of “bumper,” which as any resident of cricket-mad countries knows is a rather unsportsmanlike pitch that hits a batter’s head, known in baseball as a beanball.

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