Intercepts

The award of a $400 million contract that would provide wide-area network services for Defense Department scientists and researchers around the country would hardly seem fodder for a made-for-TV movie. But when one of the vendors bidding for the award is Global Crossing Ltd., the story has the makings of a daytime drama.

Global Crossing, the once high-flying fiber-optic company that has since come crashing down to Earth, has forced DOD's Defense Information Systems Agency to delay the award yet again.

The award for the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) was originally expected Jan. 28 but was delayed when Global Crossing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

DISA was then going to award DREN this month, but has notified vendors that it is holding off until at least April.

Global Crossing is one of the four main bidders on the DREN contract. And the company even won the DREN contract last year before DISA unawarded the contract following protests from all of the other vendors.

DISA's decision has become even more interesting because a battle has erupted over who will own Global Crossing. Initially, the company was expected to be sold to a Chinese multinational firm, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. DOD officials were uncomfortable with the company's strong ties to the Chinese government.

Stay tuned.

Seeking Soldier Stories

Soldiers worldwide are now invited to submit stories, commentaries and other articles to the Army News Service under a new program called "Soldiers Forum."

The best articles will be posted on the ArmyLINK News Web page at the end of each week, and they will also be sent to Army newspaper editors at installations and commands around the world for use on their commentary pages.

The purpose of the program is to "give soldiers a voice on ArmyLINK," said Lt. Col. Stephen Campbell, chief of command information for the Army.

The articles should be more than just "complaint columns," Campbell said. People who bring up problems should suggest solutions as well, he said.

On the other hand, Campbell said the letters "can't just be peaches and cream either."

First-person accounts of combat in Afghanistan or duty in the Philippines are examples of articles that would be considered for publication, Campbell said. But those are the exceptions, rather than the norm. He said the column is looking for reflections and recommendations regarding everyday Army life.

Observations about Family Team Building programs, the Noncommissioned Officer Education System or Common Task Training are just a few examples of relevant topics.

More controversial topics affecting soldiers and their families might also be discussed, such as drug abuse and domestic violence.

Somebody's Watching

Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, noted that as soldiers were fighting what has been one of the toughest battles in Afghanistan, military leaders are able to watch some events.

"We don't have the ability to see the entire battlefield all of the time," he said. But DOD cameras can focus on a portion of the battlefield in real time.

Some of that is because of increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are able to home in on parts of the battlefield.

"The answer to how much of that I observe, just on some days a good deal, on other days very little, and I'll take reports and information from others and then review tapes," Franks said.

NEXT STORY: Future Combat team selected

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