R. Fink | Of Rummy and reality

The Packet Rat'commentary

THE RAT IS always happy to see a former fed do well. So when he heard that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was going to be in Washington for the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement's Network Centric Warfare 2008 conference at the Ronald Reagan Building, he figured he'd drop by ' because network-centric warfare pretty much describes his daily life.

'We're engaging the enemy daily in cyberwarfare,' the whiskered one told his boss by way of asking permission to attend the conference.

'We're implementing netcentric solutions. We're deploying service-oriented architecture in support of our strategy. And besides, with all this cross-agency collaboration, architectural integration and '' 'Enough!' his boss cried, overwhelmed with the barrage of buzzwords.

'Go! Go!' After sitting through the Tuesday morning sessions on the day Rummy was scheduled to speak, the wirebiter caught sight of a card dropped just outside the speakers' room. It was an invitation to a private luncheon and Q&A session, and the Rat snatched it, figuring lunch would be well within his spending allowance.

Sneaking into the back of the room, the Rat found some space between a pair of defense contractors as Rumsfeld, the architect of the network- enabled fighting force, prepared to answer questions. But the podium's microphone stand had other ideas ' it fell over when he tried to speak.

'This thing looks like it's falling asleep,' Rumsfeld said.

Just then, a blue-jacketed two-star whizzed past the Rat and shortly after returned to the podium carrying strips of duct tape. The major general used the tape to secure the stand to the side of the podium at an angle that allowed Rumsfeld to continue with his dialogue.

'Do you always have duct tape with you?' Rumsfeld asked. 'Have you been listening to Tom Ridge or something?' The Rat looked for a snare drum to give the former secretary a rim shot. 'Poor Tom,' the Rat muttered, recalling the former Homeland Security Department secretary.

'True prophets are never recognized in their own time.' He reflected on his own agency's daily efforts at cyberdefense, SOA and cross-agency collaboration, and the frequent differences between the best-laid plans and reality, and he concluded, 'Duct tape is the answer to everything.'


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