June 5, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

This just might have to fall into the “eww” category. The U.S. Army has baked up a scheme to add pizza to its Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) menu. And in keeping with military tradition of making just about any project, program or technology part of an alphabet soup, has assigned it the acronym SSP—shelf stable pizza. We can’t make this up.

SSP—with a shelf life of three years, by the way—has “traditionally been challenging to develop but remains a consistently requested item by the warfighter,” reads a portion of a fact sheet from the U.S. Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has a combat feeding directorate.

May 6, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

As the Army launched this week its new Soldier for Life website for retired soldiers, it eliminated access for retirees and their families to a .mil email account on the Army Web portal Army Knowledge Online, better known as AKO. Retirees can access information about health, retirement, employment and educational benefits from, and have until December 31 to have their .mil emails forwarded from their AKO accounts to an account set up on a commercial site, officials said in a news release.


In this month’s Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. notes how everyone is going mobile and virtual. He traces how DISA approached the challenges of telework beginning in 2000 in an effort to improve productivity, ease the time and money burden of travel, reduce traffic congestion and boost morale. He notes:


DISA officials are working on a new program to replace the Global Command and Control System. The Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC) will provide web-based command and control throughout the Defense Department. In addition to the talent and initiative required to develop the NECC, a smooth transition process between the two systems must be ensured.


Tech-savvy younger workers from Generation Y are accustomed to easy, speedy access to information. In the not-too-distant future, late Boomers and even Generation X workers will have to adapt to the ways that work force culture is changing as a result of this incoming generation's influence. Organizations are faced with the challenge to remain relevant, but must do so in a way that makes change a positive asset.


On the one hand, the internet and global networks help us on many levels. Technology enhances our ability to perform missions, do business with one another, even interact on a personal level. Yet cyber crime and cyber terrorism are a growing threat, and have been for years. Former deputy secretary of defense John Hamre said in 1997, “We're facing the possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor.” But it’s only in the past few years that the government has put someone in charge of securing defense information networks. As cybersecurity increases to emerge as a critical mission area, new opportunities and challenges will arise for those working in this field.


December 2007

Global economies are inextricably linked to the sea. While the U.S. Navy serves to ensure the uninterrupted flow of global shipping, it is in danger of not being able to do so.  Any perceived weakness would certainly embolden an adversary. Looming sea battles are the least likely scenario. Terrorism and piracy have significantly increased the impact that transnational threats have on maritime commerce. The disruption of just-in-time logistic chain will have widespread implications for the global economy.

December 2007

Outsourcing of intelligence activities raises questions of both financial costs and accountability. It is an intricate activity for which the line of inherently governmental functions is rapidly disappearing and for which there has been little or no congressional oversight.


November 1, 2007

The Web is full of these social networks: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Friendster are just a few of the more popular sites, each possessing different perspectives and intent. They are no different from nations that occupy a place within the United Nations--

only they do not make war--just yet.

October 1, 2007

The U.S. Defense Department is investing billions of dollars in new military satellite communications systems. Unfortunately, reliance on these expensive and delayed programs has hampered the networked capabilities of operating units. Not only does a projected bandwidth shortage threaten the connectivity of U.S. forces around the globe, but the existing bandwidth shortage also is having repercussions on the morale of troops in theater who want to communicate with home. Given the considerable cost of military satellite communications systems and the consistently delayed deployments, why isn’t the Defense Department taking advantage of an existing infrastructure to fill the gap today?

September 5, 2007

When AFRICOM is established as an "interagency" command, and a U.S. State Department official acts as its deputy, what will the U.S. Commerce Department contribute? How will non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participate since they have the greatest insight into widespread troubles?

Will NGOs have a say in crafting intervention strategies? Can these combined, organizationally diverse voices divert future disaster? The Defense Department is an institution keenly, if not uniquely, capable of recognizing strategic interests, but can it alone provide regional stability by fostering economic development?

August 1, 2007

Is the architecture of the U.S. government’s information technology network hopelessly insecure and inefficient. Is it true that no amount of federal largesse invested in the current web-based structure will ever take us where we need to be? With improvements in bandwidth as well as growing broadband options, should new architectures be developed? Should the government take the lead and identify requirements for a new network architecture?


July 1, 2007

No element of national security—military or civil—is immune from disruption of its information networks. Yet, steps to improve information assurance are hampered by ignorance and apathy on the part of owners and users of the network nodes and terminals. Technology that connects anybody also connects everybody.

The system is going to fail or be disrupted at some point, so what is plan B? How well will the sanctioned rules and tools governing the military in sea, air, land and space domains apply to the global electromagnetic spectrum—this nebulous, artificial place in which humans interact over networks without regard to physical geography?


July 1, 2007

Designing a simple platform that meets a specific operational need is difficult enough. But when the scope of operations or the complexity of the system design exceeds current management and engineering skills, conflicts will emerge between the performance capability of the total system and the ability of individual components to satisfy operational demands regardless of how good those components perform. Is there a lack of skilled engineering competence within the Defense Department?

June 13, 2007

The cyberbattlefield is peppered with few digital mines and booby traps. Many of the conclusions drawn from a lack of understanding perpetuate the problems and lead to myths like: Intelligence collectors should be cyberwarriors; the battle domain is characterized by the Internet; cyberwars can be fought from one location; the effects of cyberweapons are difficult to control; and increased security effectively defends the domain. Is this right? Is this wrong? Are there more?

June 1, 2007

The Defense Department has had a great deal to be proud of: superior technology in the hands of unmatched leadership and training. No military has possessed a more transformed force. So why are we in such trouble today?

Why is there such a constant stream of criticism of the department and its leadership? Did the political gains of the last election drive the negative backlash? Is the threat environment too challenging and the enemy an even match for our forces? Perhaps the Defense Department has not transformed enough?


June 5, 2007

The U.S. Defense Department is working to embed insects with microchips to create fleets of biological sensors controlled by human operators several miles distant. Will this technology fly?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The ability of an adversary to launch satellites, make nuclear weapons and develop technology that can defeat our financially glutinous system is no longer rocket science. The pace of change in today’s competitive environment leaves little room for error, and it demands a continual process of reinvention of both the organization and the organization’s products.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We are on the threshold of command and control chaos because too few investments have been provided to the “art and science” of information system engineering. Large numbers of shiny things on the battlefield, while a distinct advantage, burden dismounted forces unless they are horizontally networked from the start. The war’s asymmetry is not the threat as much as is our inability to keep pace with current operations. Information-livened capabilities demand rapid system integration for emerging operational markets. Is the military heading for a systems engineering failure? Can our equipment keep pace with the changing face of the enemy? Is information needed for protecting the troops as important as mine-resistant vehicles?

Friday, March 3, 2007

The Defense Department has little understanding of the systems engineering methods needed in the information age. One system failure after another plagues that organization. Despite the absurdities, the Defense Department continues to defend the cost structure of these platforms and the companies that produce them without penalty. It would seem that oversight, leadership, engineering and production have merged—with disastrous results. Two of our biggest defense companies posted record profits last year, yet no one seems to be outraged. If we protected our troops as well as we do these programs, the loss of so many fine men and women in combat certainly would decline.Is the U.S.