Saturday, April 08, 2006

Death of a Community - Navy/Marine Corps IT...

Re(1): 'The Global Warriors', The Fourth Rail, Bill Roggio
Re(2): 'DELETE FROM TbPerps WHERE ...', The Belmont Club, Wretchard T.C.

Bill Roggio, blogger of The Fourth Rail, attended the ‘Joint Urban Warrior '06 Conference’ in the midst of the Beast (Washington D.C.).

Conversely, I got the dubious honor of attending the ‘Information Technology Community of Interest’ seminar – again within the Beast.

Mr. Roggio got to witness the DOD and State Department 'adapt and overcome' the problems inherent in winning the Global War on Terror:

The Joint Urban Warrior '06 Conference was an opportunity to hear a frank discussion on the current and future challenges in fighting against the more complex battles of the 21st Century. Insurgency, asymmetrical warfare, 4th Generation Warfare, guerrilla war - no matter what your preference is for terminology for the low intensity conflicts encountered in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere throughout the globe, the fact is these conflicts are unique challenges to democratic nations.

On the other hand, I witnessed the last nails driving into the coffin of the Navy/Marine Corps information technology infrastructure. The discussion was not really ‘frank’ – it was livened up with such beltway terms as ‘SESers’ – that is, those mavens of government service that are the rough equivalents of generals, all of whom seem to reside within thirty miles of the Beltway. Here are some of more salient thoughts on the conference:

  1. The NMCI contract was extended to 2010.
  2. There is a huge emphasis on Information Assurance
  3. Navy leadership does not know what Information Assurance is
  4. Congress mandated that ‘non-military’ tasks should be contracted out
  5. SESers and Human Resource are still hiring data management personnel
  6. There appears to be no concept that a Data Network requires data management
  7. SESers think that the Information Technology field includes Excel Spreadsheet mavens

How Odd… Why hire personnel with extensive data management and presentation skills when NMCI precludes the installation of client software and/or the implementation of server based applications?

  • Personal computer based applications are dramatically hindered by the stultifying ‘NMCI Certification’ process which treats a ‘bug fix’ as if it were a major release of an application. All applications must undergo a ‘rigorous’ test over a period of 4 – 6 months; costing about $10,000. Guess what, most applications will already be in the beginning of an upgrade cycle by the time NMCI gets done with its rigorous certification. I have gone through the process; and it is a joke. The ‘rigorous’ certification is: 1. Can it be installed, 2. Does it seem to communicate with the outside world, and 3. Can NMCI create a self-installing ‘push’ to automatically install the application on the client machines. Only extremely poor applications could possibly fail these ‘rigorous’ tests – and the scary thing is that many contractor developed applications did!
  • Similarly, server based applications cannot be developed without a server or two. NMCI does not inherently support server based development platforms (a database server, a web server, and maybe a source code management server). However, those services can be purchased for the low, low cost of $80,000 per server per year (I have never successfully got NMCI to bid for such serviced, but I have spoken to those that have). Uuuumm, after an installation cost of about $400,000!!! What a deal!!. Let me jump on board right now!!!. Whoops, better wait a millennia or so – the whole network support structure was defunded to pay for NMCI L. And, you still need a production server (or server farm) to implement the application…

So, the DOD is running around developing skill sets and knowledge requirements for data management types while moving smartly forward destroying the tools required by those very same personnel. Imagine a corporation hiring information technology personnel that have no tools (or permissions) to perform their job.

Maybe we can all convert to ‘Information Assurance’ specialists. Our job then would be to scan the local branch of the NMCI network to ensure that automated patches are applied. And if they were not – beg and plead with someone in the NMCI oligarchy to apply those patches. That way, the Navy/Marine Corps can get comfortable in their circa 1950’s information management environment while ensuring the encryption of emails regarding NCAA tournament pools!!! The future of information management is seen best by studying the Korean War, not reviewing lessons learned in the burms surrounding Falujah:

U.S. troops maintain databases of who they are fighting, the better to pick targets for raids or surveillance. ...


For the insurgents, the real enemy, the brain that pulls the trigger, is an abstract structure called a database.

Oh, where oh where, will that skill set come from now. I do not think I have to remind the reader that the above link dates from September 2004. We have leaned forward in failure since then.

This mistake will require years to recover from – and the leadership still doesn’t recognize the error in their ways.

Did you hear that gun go off???

This game is over.

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