PENTAGON'S PRIVATE INTERNET

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Subject: FREE SPEECH AND THE PENTAGON'S INTERNET 2


THIS  IS A UPI STORY - SEE ALSO: http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=3004
 

THE WEB: PENTAGON'S PRIVATE INTERNET


By Gene J. Koprowski

Published 11/17/2004

CHICAGO, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has begun a massive program -- whose budget dwarfs the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb -- to install its own encrypted, private computer network designed to connect every HumVee, helicopter and human in the military.

Called the Global Information Grid, or GIG, the Pentagon is budgeting approximately $200 billion on the network-centric warfare project over the coming decade, which is intended to give soldiers and sailors bandwidth on the battlefield powerful enough to download three full-length motion pictures in a few seconds.
"The old way of making war does not work anymore," said Wolfgang Gentzsch, managing director for grid computing at MCNC, a computer research firm in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

"In Iraq, the opposition is working in cells -- they are distributed," Gentzsch told UPI's The Web. "But our troops are operating in a centralized fashion. The answer is a distributed infrastructure of many kinds of resources -- computers, storage, networks and sensors. This will make the soldiers on the edge as independent, flexible, and intelligent as possible."

Earlier this month, contractors announced they had completed the initial operational capacity tests for the new network for the Defense Information Systems Agency. Juniper Networks Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., working through prime contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, completed installation of Internet-protocol routing platforms at one of the six planned GIG hub sites.

"Reaching the milestone on budget and on schedule demonstrates that our vendors are successfully supporting the DoD's goal of leveraging information technology to more efficiently network our troops with operations," Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raudege, director of DISA, said in a statement.

Thus far, vendors told The Web, between 80 and 90 sites around the globe have been connected to the GIG, a fiber-optic cable-based network with up to 10 Gigabits per second connectivity. In the future, that could be expanded dramatically -- to 40 Gbps.

Chip Elliott, a principal engineer with BBN Technologies, a networking firm in Cambridge, Mass., said work has been going on for the GIG for several years behind the scenes.
 

 - " IT IS JUST COMING TO LIGHT NOW,"  HE SAID, 
"BUT THE SCALE OF THIS IS QUITE STAGGERING."


Much of the project is shrouded in secrecy. In fact, one contractor, SI International of Reston, Va., would not comment on the record for the story, even after UPI agreed to submit questions in advance. What is known has been disclosed through contracts announced by the Pentagon and its vendors.
 

- " WE ARE UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT," ELLIOTT SAID, "BUT THERE IS PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE ABOUT CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT."


He said year ago, BBN helped create the Internet -- at the time known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Network, or DARPA-Net, also for the Pentagon.

Other experts told The Web there are four main components to the GIG: a fiber optic network connecting sites, such as buildings, around the globe; a satellite system to relay high-speed connectivity and satellite imagery to troops in the field; a radio network,, and a bevy of next-generation encryption devices to keep all communications secure.

"We're very actively in the building stage right now," Elliott said.

Some of the hardware being used is known publicly. For example, the Pentagon is using M and T series routing platforms from Juniper, technologies that integrate easily with high-performance routers, firewalls, Frame/ATM switches, virtual private network appliances, packet shapers and traffic monitoring and analysis devices.

Many of the technologies are commercial off-the-shelf products used by commercial companies, vendors told UPI.

"For economy's sake, the government didn't lay all of their own fiber," Marty Schulman, chief technologist at Juniper's federal division in Herndon, Va., told The Web. "They do use the same cable bundles that carry commercial telephone traffic, but we are not privy to the details with interconnections with other systems. I would expect that any exchange points with commercial Internet take place at a limited number of well-managed, well-guarded points, but nobody would want to see lots of the details of this disclosed."
Just as the Internet revolutionized computing and society decades after its initial debut, so too will this network offer commercial spin-offs in the coming years that are not yet even imagined.

Gentzsch said the new Pentagon Internet is a prime example of what is called in the computing community "grid computing," which is the latest, most advanced stage of IT.

Rather than using a network to bring information back to a centralized location, the Pentagon, or a battlefield commander's office, sensors can be used to capture data in the field and analyze it over the network, enabling the soldiers themselves to make the decision.

"This is part of the trend of going away from the supercomputer and towards delivering computing in every cell -- through sensors," said Gentzsch. "There are sensor fields out there, and, very soon, computing data and intelligence will be resident in them to do part of the job."

The network, with sensors in the field, could even help reduce human error in tactical decision making during combat.

"The only one who benefited from centralization was the general," Gentzsch said, "but human faults and attitudes can overload one when decision making time comes."

The network could become so advanced one day that sensors might even be incorporated into soldiers' clothing, so if they are wounded, their blood pressure, blood loss, and other vital signs can be wired to a doctor -- perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles away -- who can direct medics as to how to deal with the trauma, immediately, Gentzsch said.

"Grid computing will help solve more complex problems and challenges than in the past," he added. "It will create a permanent feedback loop where we will be in constant contact with the tools we create."

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The Web is a weekly series by UPI examining the global telecommunications phenomenon known as the World Wide Web. E-mail sciencemail@upi.com

2004 United Press International - URL.: http://tinyurl.com/6cdlz
 

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FPF@Chello.nl

The Dutch author has this far worked abroad for 4 decades for international media, as a foreign correspondent, of which 10 years - also during Gulf War I - in the Arab World and the Middle East.

Seeing worldwide that every bullet and every bomb breeds more terrorism !
( US Senator Hollings agrees:http://tinyurl.com/2ylmv )

"If you are not offending people who ought to be offended, you're doing something wrong."  http://www.journalism.sfsu.edu/www/pubs/gater/spring95/apr27/chom.htm

Help the troops come home ! We need them badly to fight 
our 'governments': http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/
 
 

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