[ISN] The War in All its Online Glory

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri May 31 2002 - 05:06:01 PDT

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    Forwarded from: Bob <bobat_private>
    [Talk about a challenge for hackers, this is it.
    Bob Adams - http://www.globaldisaster.org ]
    Associated Press
    May 30, 2002 PDT
    BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- The war in Afghanistan is going online.
    A drab tent under the Afghan sun hides a high-tech war room that soon
    will become the nerve center of the campaign: Inside, tables are lined
    with soldiers bent over laptops. They look up at computer maps of
    Afghanistan projected on large screens illuminating the dim interior.
    All are logged onto the Tactical Web Page, a secret, secure website
    being used in combat for the first time, through which American
    commanders at Bagram air base and in the United States can direct the
    fight in Afghanistan.
    The system collects all information and communication in one place.
    Commanders confer in chatrooms and pass on orders; messages scroll
    across the screen, alerting developments from the field; maps show
    troop dispositions for both friend and foe.
    The tent, actually a honeycomb of tents linked by narrow passages, is
    the headquarters from which Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill will work when he
    takes command of Bagram air base, north of Kabul, as soon as Friday.
    "The rule here is that you can reach any critical information within
    two clicks of the mouse," said Maj. Keith Hauk, the knowledge
    management officer.
    With wary looks, soldiers at work in the tent closed their laptops as
    journalists passed by on a tour of the facility. A copy of the
    website, stripped of sensitive information, was projected onto one of
    the main tent's large screens.
    The command staff is confident that the site is secure from hackers.
    "There have been a few instances when unidentified computers have
    tried to get in, in which case we throw up additional firewalls," Lt.
    Col. Bryan Dyer said.
    McNeill takes over the coalition campaign in Afghanistan at a time
    when the hunt for al-Qaida and Taliban fighters has grown more
    complicated. Many fighters are thought to have fled to Pakistan; those
    still here are believed to be operating in small groups. U.S. and
    other troops have been scouring eastern Afghanistan near the border
    for infiltrators.
    "These are great tools," McNeill said, surrounded by the computer
    wizardry. "But it serves one purpose, to reduce the complexity" of
    fighting the war.
    "The sharp point of the spear are the soldiers, sailors, airmen and
    marines who ... are taking the fight to those who would wage a
    terrorist war throughout the world," he said.
    McNeill's station in the war room, with his laptop, is in the center
    of the first table in front of the projection screens. Behind it are
    five rows of tables rising up like a stadium where "watch groups"
    monitor the action.
    Commanders in the field send information up through the website, and
    orders flow back down to them. Generals at Central Command in Tampa,
    Florida, which runs the U.S. military in the Middle East and Central
    Asia, can also log on.
    With all sides logged on, "the boss can point out items on the map
    with his subordinate commanders to draw up plans without everyone
    having to be in one place," Dyer said.
    The maps on the website and the tent screens can show all flights
    through the region; icons point out U.S. and allied troops as well as
    enemy positions.
    The network replaces the old system of paper maps and radio
    communications though these are on hand in case of a breakdown.
    "A computer with a bullet in it is just a paperweight," Hauk said. "A
    map with a bullet in it is still a map."
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