Intercepts

The JTRS Phoenix? The Wi-Fi Navy? BRAC brouhaha. DIMHRS skepticism.

The JTRS Phoenix?

Dennis Bauman, program executive officer for all things space and C4I at the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Center and the Pentagon's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Joint Program Office, confirmed most of our suspicions about JTRS in his remarks earlier this month at the West 2006 conference sponsored by AFCEA International and the Naval Institute.

Bauman said in his speech that JTRS' scope has expanded to such an extent since its conception a decade ago that it is no longer "achievable within the national budget."

He added that the Defense Department is scaling back JTRS requirements to make the overall cost of the program — now more than $20 billion, including buying thousands of radios — affordable.

After his speech, Bauman told the Interceptors the focus of Increment One, a new, slimmed-down JTRS, is development of battlefield radios with mesh-like capabilities. Translation: Each radio in a system serves as a radio and as a network node providing "mobile ad hoc network capability at the tactical edge."

Bauman divulged that this approach to affordability has a price tag that will require an increase in the current JTRS research and development budget, which is $2 billion.

He declined to provide more details on the funding of the new, improved JTRS, so we are eagerly awaiting release of the congressionally mandated JTRS report at the end of this month.

The Wi-Fi Navy?

The services have not widely embraced commercial Wi-Fi technology because of security concerns.

But a recent successful test of 802.11 pier-side systems at the Mayport Naval Station, Fla., indicates that the Navy should deploy more wireless systems faster, said Dave Wennergren, chief information officer at the Department of the Navy, at West 2006.

Marine Col. Robert Baker, technical director of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, said the program is working to equip units with wireless systems based on next-generation 802.11i technology. Baker said Wi-Fi-based extensions of NMCI make sense and save money in small offices, such as recruiting stations.

Baker added that broadband cell phone service from Verizon available on the NMCI contract provides him with high-speed connections anywhere commercial Verizon service is available. However, he said he tries to eschew broadband surfing while commuting on the Interstate 95 corridor near Washington, D.C.

Baker jokingly said time spent commuting on I-95 is better devoted to reading e-mail on Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices. But we think he is right on and shudder at the number of tasks D.C.-area drivers conduct while behind the wheel.

BRAC brouhaha

The Interceptors are picking up mixed signals on the 3-month-old rumor from a trusted official in Army information technology that the service's warfighting IT leaders and workers at Fort Monmouth, N.J., are plotting to move their jobs to Fort Dix, N.J., instead of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

When we asked Anthony Principi, Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission chairman, about the buzz after he spoke at the IT Association of America event on BRAC last week, he did not rule it out.

"There could possibly be some changes," Principi said. However, any changes would have to be certified by DOD, not BRAC, he added.

Principi acknowledged that there are issues at Fort Monmouth and Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., which will close under the 2005 BRAC process.

But he stopped short of saying those decisions would be overturned.

Industry and congressional employees, who heard us stirring things up, quickly dismissed the rumor. They said the Army's warfighting IT positions at Fort Monmouth are definitely moving to Aberdeen.

As we said before, Army warfighting IT leaders and workers should start acquiring a taste for Maryland crab cakes instead of New Jersey veal parmesan.

DIMHRS skepticism

Industry officials have no faith that the Defense Integrated Human Resources System (DIMHRS) will work.

Paul Brinkley, the head of the Defense Business Transformation Agency, the new organization dedicated to modernizing DOD business processes and systems, asked Jan. 4 during a luncheon briefing of the Washington, D.C., chapter of AFCEA how many of them had heard of DIMHRS. They all raised their hands.

Brinkley then asked how many of them think the department's comprehensive human resources system will succeed. Not one arm lifted.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com or ftiboni@fcw.com.

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