Author Archive

Gregory Slabodkin

DOD tests online workspace| GCN

Mitre Corp. has developed a suite of integrated collaboration tools that could change the way Defense Department staffs work together. Mitre's Collaborative Virtual Workspace (CVW) is a multiuser object-oriented computing environment in which people interact with documents and one another in a shared virtual space. CVW has audio, video, chat and whiteboard features.

Coast Guard warns Y2K may jeopardize flow of oil to U.S.

The United States' oil supply could be in jeopardy if the international maritime transportation industry does not get a handle on year 2000 problems, the Coast Guard's chief information officer has warned. More than 7,700 foreign ships carrying cargo such as crude oil make about 80,000 visits to U.S. ports annually. More than 50 percent of the oil consumed in this country comes from foreign sources through U.S. ports.

E-commerce office will blend Defense's online catalogs to create a singlee-mall

The Defense Department's Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office is moving forward with plans to integrate all the department's electronic catalogs and create a single DOD-wide electronic mall. In the 1999 Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed JECPO to have the integrated system running by June. The Web system will connect disparate electronic catalog systems such as the Defense Logistics Agency's EMall and the Navy Electronic Commerce Online.

DOD still buys switches that are not ready for 2000, IG says

"It sure would be nice if the things that we bought were Y2K-compliant," said Army Col. Janet Hicks, who is also commander of the 516th Signal Brigade at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. "That sounds kind of insane to say that because we're already into fiscal 1999," Hicks said at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet Asia-Pacific '98 conference. "But we had a switch that was fielded since I arrived 17 months ago that is not

IT-21 supplies smooth sailing

SAN DIEGO—High-speed asynchronous transfer mode LANs, secure e-mail and Web capabilities aboard ships—all made possible through the Navy's 2-year-old Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative—are dramatically improving Naval operations, service brass said recently. "Despite the usual growing pains, the payoffs of IT-21 were immediately apparent in the areas of morale and operational capabilities," said Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of Naval operations.

Clinton budget proposes $10 billion for Defense IT operations

The president's fiscal 2000 budget has a $267.2 billion slice for the Defense Department, including approximately $10 billion for information technology. The budget is only a slight increase over this year's. The budget proposal earmarked $2.8 billion for the Army's Force XXI battlefield digitization program—a $200 million increase over this year's budget. Force XXI is designed to network tanks, trucks, humvees, helicopters and soldiers in the field through the service's

Agency outsources imaging and mapping duties via $600 million omnibus project

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency plans to do away with much of its in-house mapping and imagery work, handing it over to vendors through new task order contracts. NIMA recently awarded contracts to 15 vendors under its $600 million Omnibus Geospatial Information and Imagery Intelligence Solicitation program. The vendors will get access to national reconnaissance information to create the maps for customers throughout government.

Translation app lets DOD, South Korea talk shop

HONOLULU—Handheld PCs running a translation application are helping U.S. and South Korean forces deployed in Korea bridge a language gap. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory developed the software that lets users speak either English or Korean into a microphone-equipped PC, which then produces a translation. The translation app is put to good use, Defense Department officials said late last year at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet Asia-Pacific '98 conference.

Marines plan barrage of tests to check systems for 2000 readiness

"The close fight that we're dealing with right now is the year 2000," said the commander of Marine Forces-Pacific at the recent Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet Asia-Pacific '98 conference. The Marine Corps' Pacific units have more than 26,000 PCs, ranging from 286s to Pentium II machines, said Fulford, who commands more than 80,000 Marines and sailors at 12 installations in the region.

NSA officer: Defense systems are at risk from internal threat

Defense Department personnel pose a greater potential threat to DOD's information systems than hackers on the outside, a senior National Security Agency official said recently. "For many years, we pursued a strategy of isolating our sensitive information systems from outsiders by using strongly encrypted and isolated communications networks," said Michael Jacobs, NSA's deputy director of information systems security.

GPS overhaul will add signals for civilian use

The Clinton administration last month launched a six-year, $400 million initiative to modernize the Defense Department's Global Positioning System. The upgrade would add two new civilian signals to future GPS satellites to improve services provided to millions of non-DOD users worldwide. GPS is a constellation of 24 satellites developed, launched and maintained by the Air Force. The system gives users positioning, timing and navigation signals free of charge and helps guide airplanes, trains, ships, cars, tractors and

Cybervillains come under fire

The Defense Department plans to batten down the hatches on its networks with a new staff at the Defense Information Systems Agency. Defense Secretary William Cohen last month approved the creation of the Joint Task Force on Computer Network Defense to coordinate responses to cyberattacks on DOD systems. The task force will work out of DISA's Global Operations Security Center in Arlington, Va. Air Force Maj. Gen. John Campbell, DISA's vice director, will command a 24-person staff

IG: DOD agency's report of 2000 readiness incomplete

Only 25 percent of the Defense Special Weapons Agency's mission-critical systems were tested, the IG said in a new report, Management of the Defense Special Weapons Agency Year 2000 Program. IG auditors found that the weapons agency did not complete independent testing of three mission-critical systems before classifying them as ready.

Marines post buying guide

SAN DIEGO—The Marine Corps has created a buyer's guide and posted it on the Web to make sure that Marines buy and use a common suite of hardware and software products. The buyer's guide, established in August by the Marine Corps Systems Command, lists specific servers, PCs and notebooks that local commanders and contracting offices are authorized to buy. The guide, posted on the Web at, also identifies standard

Despite setbacks, DOD vows to fix all date code

The Defense Department will be able to protect the United States and its allies next year despite the threat of date code errors crippling DOD systems, deputy Defense secretary John Hamre said this month. DOD will have all of its 2,304 mission-critical systems year 2000-ready by Dec. 31, Hamre said at a Pentagon press briefing. As of Jan. 1, 81 percent of the department's mission-critical systems had been fixed, he said.

Army plan to accelerate vital systems buys falters

An Army program designed to hasten the purchase of 11 high-priority systems for the service's digital battlefield initiative has fallen short of its objectives, according to a recent General Accounting Office report. The Army began the Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program in 1996 to speed up the fielding of new technologies needed by soldiers. By making funds available faster than would be the case through the standard budget process, WRAP was

Navy's '99 resolution: trim fat from systems support

SAN DIEGO—Faced with shrinking budgets servicewide, the Navy has launched a pilot at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to explore the use of regional information technology services. SPAWAR is taking the lead for the Navy in developing an enterprisewide approach to the service's fractured IT infrastructure. The command's pilot is a proof-of-concept project to demonstrate that the Navy can save money by changing the way it does business.

Navy CIO: '99 budget is hampering IT efforts

SAN DIEGO— A congressional directive in the fiscal 1999 Defense appropriations bill is wreaking havoc with Navy efforts to modernize and sustain its systems, the service's chief information officer said. House and Senate lawmakers ordered the Defense Department to spend no information technology funds on developing or modernizing systems that are not year 2000-ready.

DOD puts commanders in charge of Web sites

The Defense Department last month released a new Web site policy designed to safeguard sensitive information posted on the Internet by making commanders responsible for the content of their organizations' sites. Commanders, not webmasters, will have final authority on establishing and maintaining unclassified DOD Web sites with tight security controls and information that matches their organizational missions, Defense officials said.

Red Cross opens military communications center

The humanitarian service organization transmits more than 1.4 million messages every year to DOD personnel and their relatives. The new center will change the way the Red Cross administers its Armed Forces Emergency Services, officials said. "This center will provide one-stop, emergency communications services to all military installations, from Maine to Florida, and to overseas, fleet-based and operationally deployed destinations, utilizing the latest available computer and telecommunications technologies," Red Cross