[ISN] Web site links Navy war officers

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Dec 30 2002 - 00:24:29 PST

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    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    By SONJA BARISIC, Associated Press
    NORFOLK, Va. (December 27, 2002 3:21 p.m. EST) - When Lt. Cmdr. 
    Michael Crockett was promoted to executive officer of the guided 
    missile destroyer USS Porter, he naturally sought advice from fellow 
    officers on other ships. 
    But he didn't pick up the phone. 
    Crockett posted a query for "XO pearls of wisdom" on an Internet 
    discussion list for U.S. Navy surface warfare officers, or SWOs - the 
    10,000 or so junior officers who command a ship's sailors and lead 
    them in combat. 
    He received many responses, from words of encouragement to suggestions 
    on how to streamline tasks. 
    The discussion list is just one feature of the Surface Warfare Officer
    Network, which debuted a year ago. SWONET [1] is a Web portal where
    SWOs can receive counsel from colleagues stationed worldwide. They can
    air their gripes, obtain training documents and stay in touch with
    family and friends.
    "It's virtual mentoring," said Crockett, who reported to the 
    Norfolk-based Porter a few months ago. "In this busy life we have, 
    it's neat to be able to log on to something and when someone else has 
    the time, they can give you some free advice." 
    The site - most of which is off-limits to the public - appears to be a 
    hit, especially its discussion groups. There are 13,500 separate 
    conversation threads like Crockett's on the site. 
    Since July 2001, traffic to the groups has jumped from 17,000 page 
    views, to 665,000 a year later, to 1.2 million by Nov. 1, said SWONET 
    program manager Tom Hart, who works for Integic Corp., the Chantilly, 
    Va.-based company that developed the site under contract with the 
    SWONET arose from the Navy's desire to find a better way to 
    communicate with junior officers, said Lt. Cmdr. John Fuller, who 
    manages SWONET as part of his Pentagon responsibilities overseeing the 
    surface-warfare community. 
    "There's a lot of information that doesn't get out because ships are 
    spread out," Fuller said. "There wasn't a dedicated forum like this 
    before. This gives people the opportunity to talk about things outside 
    the wardroom, outside the waterfront." 
    The Navy pays Integic roughly $1 million a year to support the site, 
    including changes to content and security patches that have so far 
    shielded it from hackers, Hart said. 
    Integic designed the site to cope with achingly slow satellite 
    connections on the Navy's smallest ships, which, in some cases, share 
    as little as 32 kilobits-per-second of bandwidth between six computer 
    workstations - a fraction of the bandwidth of a home dial-up 
    connection, he said. 
    For larger ships and shore command posts, where bandwidth isn't a 
    problem, the Navy has added streaming video to the site so an admiral 
    can sit at his desk and videotape a morale-boosting message for 
    officers to view at their convenience. 
    "This system is there to let those officers out there on the tip of 
    the spear know that the community still cares about them," said John 
    Sutton, vice president for uniformed services at Integic. 
    Some 60 percent of SWOs have looked at the site. A third are regular 
    users, Integic says. 
    As an attraction, SWONET users get a personal e-mail address that they 
    can keep throughout their careers. Regular Navy e-mail addresses are 
    tied to commands, meaning sailors must get new addresses each time 
    they are reassigned - often every two years. 
    The network's search mechanism allows users to track down and e-mail 
    counterparts based on criteria such as their ships, graduating class 
    or job responsibilities. 
    "Say I'm in operations and I have a question for other ops officers. 
    I'll click on 'ops' and search," said Lt. Chris Senenko, the Porter's 
    operations officer. Senenko demonstrated SWONET in the ship's combat 
    information center, a darkened room where battle is managed. 
    Discussion groups, the most popular feature, let sailors exchange job 
    advice, discuss investments and ask where to find housing or what the 
    schools are like where they are about to be stationed. 
    "What's neat about it is it's 100 percent anonymous," Crockett said. 
    That makes people free to speak their minds, which can result in some 
    lively discussions, he said. 
    [1] https://www.swonet.com/cgi-bin/swoprod.dll/public.jsp
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
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