It’s Time to Change Navy’s Tactical IT Game!

AN UYK 43 computer Google SearchFrom the first military use of computers until the late 1980s, military computers were designed and built from the circuit board up. This included designing the instruction set architecture (ISA) that operated the computer’s primary functions. As a young military officer, part of my first postgraduate school assignment was helping the AN/UYK-43 design team build the ISA for this military specification (MILSPEC) tactical computer. AN/UYK-43 computers continue operating the AEGIS combat systems in many of the Navy’s AEGIS cruisers and destroyers today. Continue reading

Posted in DoD IT Acquisition, Technology Evolution | 14 Comments

Time to Stop Measuring Inputs and Deliver IT Capability!

“…the result is institutionalized processes that prevent IT acquisitions from fully meeting operational needs while failing to defend against peer-capable cyber security threats!”

Measuring inputs does not equal effective outputs!

It is difficult to measure the output success of a military system acquisition before that acquisition is delivered. For this reason the defense acquisition system is built around a set of input measures aligned across requirements, budgets, and acquisition oversight. In addition, the acquisition workforce is saddled with well meaning organizational efficiency input measures such as travel restrictions, reduced support contractor headcount, more competitive contracts, and even cost controls on the amount government is willing to pay for system development contractors. The general belief is that these input measures are necessary for our Government to be a good steward of public funds, and in the case of the DoD, to more efficiently buy military capability in the face of shrinking budgets. Continue reading

Posted in DoD IT Acquisition, Leadership, Technology Evolution | 32 Comments

Can DoD Get Out of It’s Cyber-IT Rut?

In the January 2014 Proceedings article, Time for a U.S. Cyber Force, Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Retired) and David Weinstein argue for an independent branch of the armed services, dedicated to cyberspace.

information assurance Google SearchCyberspace, like airspace, constitutes a vital operational venue for the U.S. military. Accordingly, it warrants what the sea, air, and land each have—an independent branch of the armed services. Continue reading

Posted in Cybersecurity, DoD IT Acquisition | 14 Comments

Is DoD an Information Intensive Organization?

IT BudgetUnlike banks, security brokers, insurance companies and other information intensive organizations (IIOs), the military is not generally considered to be an IIO. Information intensive organizations routinely spend 20% of annual budget on IT products and support. In 2014 the U.S. DoD will spend $39.5 billion or 7.5% of its annual budget on IT. Although a considerable amount it numerically confirms that the DoD does not allocate budget as an information intensive organization. Continue reading

Posted in DoD IT Acquisition, Technology Evolution | 12 Comments

Man and Machine: Our Integrated Future

Eight weeks ago I walked into a San Diego, CA hospital to undergo elective surgery to repair two leaky valves in my otherwise healthy heart. My leaky heart valves were discovered following a 2012 ski trip, where the high altitude alerted me to breathing challenges that couldn’t be shrugged off as “just being out of shape.”  da Vinci Surgery - Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical SystemSearching the web for causes and solutions, I discovered the relatively new medical practice of robot-augmented cardiac valve surgery using a machine named Da Vinci, after Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1495 invention of the first robot. Continue reading

Posted in Global Perspectives, Technology Evolution | 17 Comments

Cyber-Security On the Global Playing Field

“…state and non-state actors have demonstrated that acts of cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-warfare will continue to be increasingly disruptive threats to our complex lives…”

CyberThreatBlog_032313A couple of months ago I spoke on the subject of cyber-threats to a small evening gathering.  Because the group represented very diverse backgrounds, I focused on cyber-threats at the macro level as they impact our human future. With President Obama and this administration recently speaking openly about the relationship between National Security and cyber hacking of U.S. corporations, this subject is worthy of further dialogue. Continue reading

Posted in Cybersecurity, Global Perspectives | 10 Comments

We Won’t Get What We Don’t Measure!

“…sustaining exaggerated acquisition timelines in the name of good public stewardship has become an embarrassing National failure.”


In my opinion there are two primary issues damaging our Nation’s future defenses!

  1. Loss of technical superiority – bureaucratic acquisition processes are breaking the bank while doubling or tripling system development and delivery times; and,
  2. Smaller numbers of military platforms –American taxpayers are spending too much to get too little military capability.

Continue reading

Posted in DoD IT Acquisition, Technology Evolution | 15 Comments

… Information Technology really is starting to deliver…

…there is an App for that…

While working at the computer this evening I found myself smiling about the power of the IT tools now helping me live my professional and personal life.  Despite being in senior CIO positions during my earlier career, my glib slogan has always been, “information technology really doesn’t work.”  By that I meant it is difficult to operate IT devices that improve our lives, without the hassle factor over riding the productivity gains. A good example continues to be video tele-conference meetings.  Most are too complicated to set-up, for the small value gained through low quality images. Continue reading

Posted in Technology Evolution | 8 Comments

…I love TED talks…

Given the demonstrated value of information in modern warfare, one wonders why DoD information systems and shared data services lag so far behind the state of commercial technology?

When I allow myself idle time, I most often pull up TED talks and browse for something interesting.  If you are not familiar with TED talks, I encourage you to check them out.  My favorite way to watch TED is on a large screen TV through internet streaming television on a ROKU device.  TED is the acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  It is now a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate ideas worth spreading. Continue reading

Posted in Global Perspectives | 4 Comments

The Future is Still Bright…

Earlier in my career, with the help of the brilliant minds of my co-workers, we in the Navy CIO office hyped the idea that “the future is so bright we gotta wear shades,” a phrase we borrowed from the  1986 song, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” by Timbuk3.   In the mid nineties, the future of information technology was truly bright and the world was radically changing with the exponential growth of networks connecting we humans to our growing client-server applications, our emerging personal smart phones and our new laptop computers.  Since then we have witnessed the demise of the dot com boom and the bursting of the housing bubble that ushered in the 2008 depression we are starting to crawl out from under. Continue reading

Posted in Global Perspectives, Technology Evolution | 13 Comments