Bush has videoconference link on Air Force One

The Defense Information Systems Agency last month installed a secure videoconferencing link on Air Force One that lets President Bush communicate with administration officials and military brass as he travels.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr., director of DISA, said the videoconferencing system is quick, at 512 Kbps, and has a high-resolution picture and high-fidelity sound.

"This offers top-secret security," Raduege said. He spoke today at TechNet International 2003, a conference in Washington sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

The goal is to make the systems on Air Force One comparable to those in the Oval Office, Raduege said.

Upgrading the systems available aboard the president's chief aircraft has increased exponentially since the war on terrorism began because Bush has traveled much more than he did before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Raduege said.

DISA also set up videoconferencing links for Defense Department units to communicate with NASA and other agencies on the Saturday in February when the Columbia space shuttle crashed.

"The U.S. Northern Command required VTC at 23 different sites," Raduege said. Although it was a tough feat to achieve under tight time constraints, DISA pulled it off, he said.

The command needed to communicate with NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies. Command chiefs gave DISA a list of people who needed videoconferencing service.

"This underlies the critical nature of where we're going in the future," Raduege said.

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