DOD calls for reinforcements

DOD calls for reinforcements

'Uncle Sam wants you,' demanded the old war poster. The Pentagon had a new take on the saying last month, when it made a plea for help from the IT industry in the war on terrorism.

In a unique broad agency announcement (BAA) Oct. 23, Defense Department officials asked for dozens of concepts and technologies to combat terrorism, defeat difficult targets, conduct protracted operations in remote areas and develop countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction.

Industry has responded to the call, said Michael W. Wynne, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology. In the first three days after the request, the department's BAA Web site, at www.bids.tswg.gov, received more than 166,000 hits, Wynne said. That led to about 5,300 registrations and roughly 50 submissions.

'The level of response received on this particular BAA is unprecedented,' Wynne said. 'While DOD has a large talent pool and ongoing projects in many of the topic areas, we realize that there may be untapped sources with new ideas applicable to the current war against terrorism.'

The level of response affirms that many people who are not Defense industry contractors want to help the war effort, he said.

In the announcement, DOD asked for new products and applications'for example, a technology that would predict terrorist behavior. Such a system might use an integrated database and data mining tools to help identify patterns and trends of terrorist groups.

Among the other technologies the Pentagon envisions are a portable polygraph machine that could be used to interview passengers and a screening system with integrated sensors that could alert officials if someone were carrying chemical or radiological weapons.

There is no price cap on the items.

The announcement came from Pete Aldridge, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and head of the Technical Support Working Group, which conducts rapid prototyping for the National Interagency Research and Development Program.

Both agencies are seeking 38 concepts that can be fielded within 12 to 18 months. Initial responses are due by Dec. 23. DOD expects thousands of submissions, Wynne said.

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