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US Army Spent $2.7 Billion On Crashing Computer

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the blue-screen-of-literal-death dept.

The Military 196

An anonymous reader writes "According to two former US Army intelligence officers, the multi-billion-dollar DCGS-A military computer system that was designed to help the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan simply doesn't work. DCGS-A is meant to accrue intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and provide real-time battlefield analysis and the current location of high-value targets — but instead, it has hindered the war effort rather than helped. Major General Michael Flynn, the top intelligence officer in Afghanistan, says that DCGS-A's faults have even resulted in a loss of lives (PDF)."

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196 comments

What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663696)

Does it run software so complex that modern-day servers can't handle?

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (3, Interesting)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663756)

Or modern day commercial "supercomputers" and clusters. These people are a budgetary black hole. They should be shut down.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (2)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663842)

Can those commercial clusters be easily deployed to a place where you don't have massive AC units, raised floors, and perfect 3-phase power links? Or are you suggesting that they run everything remotely, though satellite links (1sec or more of latency, well under a megabit of reliable speed)?

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663980)

Dude, they spent almost $3B (as far as we know). Surely the AC etc. could have fit in that budget.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664140)

Air conditioning is more expensive than you think. It's already cost the armed forces 20 billion [slashdot.org] by itself.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664730)

No, it isn't. The idiot included the cost of infrastructure like roads in Afghanistan into his calculations, the numbers are utter BS.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663982)

If not satellite, then what are they using that's faster over a multi-thousand square mile theater? They claim that the system often went offline unexpectedly on a frequent basis, so it's not a stand-alone system.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663998)

I'm assuming HF, from a portable antenna mast. Even UHF gets you line of sight with very respectable transfer speeds...

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664242)

If not satellite, then what are they using that's faster over a multi-thousand square mile theater? They claim that the system often went offline unexpectedly on a frequent basis, so it's not a stand-alone system.

Could be running Lotus Notes. Just sayin.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664250)

It is run over satellite and "1sec or more of latency, well under a megabit of reliable speed".

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663984)

Can a PS3? Why are they building multi-million dollar PS3 clusters if not for malleable deployment scenarios?

Anyhow, nothing but praise for the voices bringing this out. It must take courage.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664002)

My understanding is that DCGS-A is located at Langley Air Force Base, so these concerns aren't an issue.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664036)

My mistake they are deploying this near the front. I just read the pdf you linked below. Thanks for sharing.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

Tokimasa (1011677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664118)

The D stands for Distributed. There are probably many nodes. The USAF's DCGS (DCGS-AF) implementation has about half a dozen nodes with unclassified locations, plus a number of classified sites and mobile stations that are able to connect to the network. I would suspect that the Army system is very similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if Langley and/or Fort Meade are integrated into the system.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (2)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664120)

Your mean DCGS-1? The A stands for Army. I used to work at the 10th Intel Squadron, Langley AFB. Before it was called DCGS-1 it was called CARS (Contingency Airborne Reconnaissance System). It also didn't have any windows fail screens. Everything was UNIX (IRIX & Solaris) and just worked! I retired from there in Dec of 99.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (4, Interesting)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664430)

If its anything like the Air Force DCGS-1 its a mixture of both. Drones are operated in theater far enough away from any action but close enough for control. Data is relayed to a stateside base, our case was Langley AFB. Individual segments of the system can be operated anywhere. That is where data is analyzed and compared with previous missions data. And then the reports are sent to theater commanders and units world wide VIA SIPRnet. At Langley our system was fully deployed to Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War, that changed after Khobar Towers. Then it was decided it was safer to use a much smaller foot print. They use a system called MOBSTR (Mobile Satellite Transmitter Receiver) which only required a maintenance staff and not the intelligence analysts. Unfortunately I was a Senior NCO in charge of the maintainers! Since the addition of drones the need for larger in theater segments were required. The ability to deploy is still a requirement for the entire system as I understand it. So even the stateside system is in trailers that can be connected to for a large facility, Aircraft external power units and HVAC units were deployed. The trailers had raised floors and everything you would expect from a data center.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664130)

It's doing exactly what it was designed to do: spend money and get people post-army civilian jobs.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663786)

Military computer systems share a lot in common with servers, including hardware (although SPARC and PowerPC are disproportionately popular), but tend to have special requirements that differ from normal commercial or technical systems. In this case, it was a massive and complex machine that would be deployable to near the front, would take multiple vehicles to set up, and was designed to handle battlefield intelligence needs for a fairly large area.

http://www.gdc4s.com/documents/DCGS-A.pdf [gdc4s.com]

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664176)

I also wouldn't be surprised if, documented or not, it wasn't hardened to withstand some measure of EMP or other ECM, not to mention inimical natural environments.

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664394)

Well, just this time I have RTFA (in fact both) and here is what I get:

1.- Military wants a system that mixes all data and works under every situation and infalibly marks insurgents automatically.

2.- "Shockingly", the system fails to deliver it 100%.

3.- "Oh, my god, if the system does not detect an enemy fighter and he flees then the enemy might strike back at us and might kill one of them! That means that THIS SYSTEM IS KILLING OUR SOLDIERS!".

4.- Cry in the newspaper to make politics look bad, so they buy something else.

5.- Someone PROFITs....

Frankly, from reading the articles one would think that they military are all day looking at a computer waiting for a "Kill" command to appear, while not taking care of what is happening around them. I do not find this new to be very balanced, and some people's claims of slashvertising seem to be very pausible. I mean, the guy who wrote that could also have written that every dead soldier is God's fault because God failed to kill all the insurgents with lightning...

Re:What's so special about this computer system? (0)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664696)

We are fighting sand people for christ sake! Why not just use a pocket calculator for all our computing needs? That's far more powerful than anything they have.

I don't meant to be offensive, but we really do overpower them by so much we really don't need to be spending a crap-ton of money to overpower them even more. I'm sure there's something here about diminishing returns.

Pentagon Irresponsibility (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663716)

Yet more colossal irresponsibility and corruption at the Pentagon in the War on Terror scam. Their needs on the last page seem modest. It's hard to believe how they could not have been served by a few tens of millions of dollars in off-the-shelf equipment and manpower over a few years.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (0)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663868)

This is just more proof that Windows Vista is a terrible OS. They should have stuck with XP.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663956)

This is just more proof that Windows Vista is a terrible OS. They should have stuck with XP.

Except Windows Vista is a fine OS. XP at launch was far worse than Vista at launch.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664294)

We've all heard that myth before. XP at launch was a decent system. Vista at launch sucked. Vista sucked after it's service packs. Microsoft has all but abandoned Vista, because it sucked so bad. Upgrade to Win7, dude. Better yet, upgrade to a Unix-like.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664446)

I know right? I need to find the old link, but I remember commenting right here on Slashdot as Vista was being released. I proclaimed that Vista is the new Windows ME. People got ANGRY at me for saying such a thing. Years later, this is what we see.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664772)

I'd say that Vista was more akin to NT 3.51, as unlike ME the code represented a significant change in structure and lead directly to the next version.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664328)

Except that you are a liar, for I used both OSes around their launch, and XP was great. It was insecure, yeah, but that's a different thing from being so fucked up that you have to restart it at least every two days just to stay online.

True story: One of the updates to Vista before the first service pack broke things so bad that at least once every 24-48 hours HTTP, SMTP, POP, and IMAP would stop working. The machine would still be online, I could even keep using IRC or ping anything I wanted, but not browse any web pages or send/receive any email. Crazier still, the machine was set up to be a gateway, and any system on the other side had no trouble, so the problem was limited somehow to the user session. It was bullshit. Repairing the connection didn't work, you could restart any number of network related services and nothing, driver updates didn't work, adapter settings had no effect (why would they with an application layer problem?), etc. etc.

Luckily the service pack for Vista finally fixed that shit, but it was so significantly shitty that it pushed me over the edge and got me using Linux full time on my primary personal desktop.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (5, Interesting)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663990)

The Pentagon does not write its own budget. Our military is civilian led, which means the place to point fingers is at the Senate Defense Appropriations committee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_Appropriations_Subcommittee_on_Defense [wikipedia.org]

Note the list of Republicans: all of them are 00's-style big spenders, and perfect complements to their democratic counterparts. There is not a single voice on that committee for fiscal conservatism or budgetary restraint.

I agree that we need to slash and gut the military budget. We can run a better, cheaper army, but first we have to gut the appropriations committee (and the Senate Armed Forces committee). For my part, I have supported primary challengers to ever Republican on that list (to little effect). I urge democrats to do the same.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (2)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664050)

Exactly. What reason is there to be spending the massive sum we're spending on a force that has dropped both quantitatively and qualitatively from its peak? In 1988, a world-beating US military took $426bn in spending, compared to $685bn today. That budget sustained every branch at a level far stronger than now; the Army especially has been gutted since then. We should be able to do cuts to $550bn, if not lower, while expanding and improving the force.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664464)

Taking inflation into account, $426b in 1988 is worth $775b today

Don't try to paint this as a Democratic thing (3, Insightful)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664136)

Every time a Democrat tries to do something about the corruption and fraud committed by military contractors, they get accused of treason loudly by our "liberal media" and the usual right wing blowhards until they get run out of office. What did you think would be the net result of making military contractors immune to oversight? Was the Magic of the Free Market supposed to fix this on its own?

Re:Don't try to paint this as a Democratic thing (3, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664256)

Fact: democrats love pork just as much as republicans do. What free market? There is no free market here. A republican walks up to a democrat and says, "Hey, I got this company back home that wants to develop shitty trucks for $1 million a pop", and the democrat responds, "Really? Because I got a company back home that wants to develop ballistic armor made of Saran-Wrap. Let's do lunch." If you don't believe that, you are living in a fantasy world.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664132)

It isn't just "war on terror" that is a scam. Almost all high cost "war on ______ " government projects are a scam, including: drugs, poverty, illiteracy, teen pregnancy.

I chalk it all up to the logic found in most government projects: "Something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done"

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664300)

Fuck a poor, illiterate teen for drugs! Hmm, I don't think I have the proper protester mindset.

Re:Pentagon Irresponsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664426)

Where's points when ya need 'em?

high-tech armies are vulnerable (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663730)

T.E. Lawrence and the Mind of an Insurgent

"Lawrence distilled six fundamental principles of insurgency that even today have remarkable relevance.

First, a successful guerrilla movement must have an unassailable base - a base secure not only from direct physical assault, but from attack in other forms as well, including psychological attack.

Second, the guerrilla must have a technologically sophisticated enemy. The greater this sophistication, the greater this alien force would rely on forms of communications and logistics that must necessarily present vulnerabilities to the irregular.

Third, the enemy must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory in depth with a system of interlocking fortified posts.

Fourth, the guerrilla must have at least the passive support of the populace, if not its full involvement. By Lawrence's calculation, 'Rebellions can be made by 2 percent active in striking force and 98 percent passively sympathetic.'

Fifth, the irregular force must have the fundamental qualities of speed, endurance, presence and logistical independence.

Sixth, the irregular must be sufficiently advanced in weaponry to strike at the enemy's logistics and signals vulnerabilities."

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3723/is_200507/ai_n14685818

--------

In the words of Scotty, Star Trek III: "The more you overtake the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain."

The complexity of modern armies is their Achilles heel.

Re:high-tech armies are vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663924)

Here, here! It's far time we strengthen our armed forces by returning to using only sticks and stones!

Re:high-tech armies are vulnerable (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664322)

t's far time we strengthen our armed forces by...

Maybe it is time that more development by those working directly for some security/software agency instead of by contractors.

Maybe we should consider a modernized form of the draft, where nearly all people spend a couple of years doing public sector service. I'm not just talking troops, but people working on various community projects, infrastructure development, and software development too. And end unemployment pay for doing nothing. Even the unskilled could be put to some constructive use. A bunch of excessively costly government employee and contractor positions could probably be avoided. (And those who do work in government jobs shouldn't be paid more than what our enlisted men get. It's bankrupting our cities, states...)

If not tied to hugely expensive contracts, it should be feasible to develop several competing approaches for software and pick from the best, or make the best from the work of several. And to whatever level is feasible, software should be open source or at least shared and improved by collective efforts of multiple agencies. Avoid costly license agreements. And where there have been some, the contractors should be held accountable for the costs of failures.

Re:high-tech armies are vulnerable (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664174)

That and the laws of war. There is no way to defeat a popular insurgency without committing so-called "war crimes" directly or by proxy.

Therefore, only a Hafez Assad or a Stalin can win those sort of wars.

Re:high-tech armies are vulnerable (1, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664590)

Well, a quick overview:

First, a successful guerrilla movement must have an unassailable base - a base secure not only from direct physical assault, but from attack in other forms as well, including psychological attack.

None of our enemies currently have this. Pakistan is getting a little restless, so the situation could change in the future, but this has not been an issue so far.

Second, the guerrilla must have a technologically sophisticated enemy. The greater this sophistication, the greater this alien force would rely on forms of communications and logistics that must necessarily present vulnerabilities to the irregular.

This is just stupid. Greater sophistication decreases vulnerability.

Third, the enemy must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory in depth with a system of interlocking fortified posts.

Yes, this is usually the main problem.

Fourth, the guerrilla must have at least the passive support of the populace, if not its full involvement.

Again, not really a problem in the most recent conflicts. Iraq had too many factions for any one particular group to have "passive support of the populace", and in Afghanistan the Taliban has very little support, though they have been successful at terrifying significant fractions of the populace into not opposing them.

Fifth, the irregular force must have the fundamental qualities of speed, endurance, presence and logistical independence.

This doesn't really mean much. You can rephrase it as "the irregular force must be an irregular force".

Sixth, the irregular must be sufficiently advanced in weaponry to strike at the enemy's logistics and signals vulnerabilities."

This hasn't been an issue for western nations in a long, long time. Even in Vietnam, logistics and comms weren't significantly impacted by enemy action. These days the "irregulars" we face depend solely on shifting political opinion rather than achieving military goals like disrupting communications abilities or supply chains.

Conclusion: T.E. Lawrence lived in a completely different era. In his time, "communications" still meant messengers on horseback, and maybe telegraph lines running through the desert. While a couple of his observations are still valid today, the majority are just a quaint reflection on the attitudes and tactics of ancient armies. They have as much bearing on combat today as the musings of a caveman would have had on the armies of Lawrence's time.

Not the greatest headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663736)

I pictured platoons of soldiers doing crazy things with Internet Explorer in a vain attempt to crash this super-hardened machine.

Re:Not the greatest headline (1)

slackzilly (2033012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663902)

I misread the headline too at first. There has been a lot of easily misinterpreted headlines on here lately.

Lets face the truth (0)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663746)

We all know what the problem is. The system was made by ***** and it gives a **** ***** ** *** every time they ******. If **** made a decent system there would not be an issue but *** could not make a stable system if their life depended on it.

IMHO They should ditch **** **** and use **** instead. It is more stable and reliable than *******.

( This information has been scrubbed by the Department of Homeland Security and is deemed as acceptable for public release. Redacted sections are available with Top Secret clearance only.)

Typical... (4, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663754)

Meantime, the Republicans want to cut *every* social service, but won't cut a single dollar of "defense" spending, which is how the US Army spends more per year ($20 billion) providing Air Conditioning in Afghanistan, than NASA's entire budget.

We cannot sustain fighting three or more Wars (I've lost count), without new taxes. And since nobody wants more taxes, the wars must end. What happened to Rumsfeld promising that we'd get Iraq's Oil, and it would pay for the war???

Cripes we're in a bad situation.

Re:Typical... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663920)

Well, as long as we're dumbing things down... I'm no math wiz, but according to my count, when Bush left office, we had two active wears, and right now we have 5. republican president starts 2 wars in 8 years. democrat president starts 3 wars in 3 years. Republican party somehow gets the blame.

that's some pretty damn good spin right there.

Hey, maybe we should just stop getting into new wars, period?

Also, when a republican senator says "hey, its' time to cut defense spending", even his own fans start booing. blame the people, for they are the stupid ones.

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663952)

Republican party somehow gets the blame.

Yeah how dare we blame the people who are ruling the governmental body whose power it is to declare war!

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664188)

quick quiz, how many of the 5 current wars did congress officially declare, vs how many were executive actions of the commander in chief?

I'll wait while you go wikipedia it.

Re:Typical... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664270)

quick quiz, how many of the 5 current wars did congress officially declare, vs how many were executive actions of the commander in chief?

Completely irrelevant since Congress controls both the military and the purse strings. Without complicity from Congress in relegating their authority none of these wars could have happened at all.

Re:Typical... (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664346)

So why didn't the democrats take their opportunity to stop being complicit in military activity when they controlled both branches of congress as well as the white house.

Am I missing something, or did defensive spending not go up during 2009 to 2011?

Blame republicans all you want, but the democrats are just as complicit.

Get off the god damn blue team vs red team bandwagon people. this isn't fucking college football. Stop blaming "the other guys" for things that "your team" are just as responsible for.

Re:Typical... (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664342)

Right, good point, because we all know that wars come with a flat price, so Obama's 3 are obviously much more expensive than Bush's 2. 3 > 2, it's simple math!

Re:Typical... (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664108)

What happened to Rumsfeld promising that we'd get Iraq's Oil, and it would pay for the war???

That was horse-shit fantasy from day one ... did you really believe that Iraq was going to pay you for the troubles of overthrowing their government, and that they'd be beholden to you and sell you cheap oil for decades?

That was one of those purely bullshit things the previous administration was prone to saying (like "Mission Accomplished" [wikipedia.org]) that was so far detached from reality as to be offensive. Oh, sure, they'll give you billions of dollars in oil to offset your costs, and they might throw in a pony as well.

I find it hard to believe that anybody actually believed that the upshot of overthrowing Iraq would be cheap oil -- unless, of course, the whole invasion really was a pretext to try to grab the oil. Mostly, it's just another example of how Bush et al had their heads up their collective asses.

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664424)

Iraq was about one thing. Revenge. Bush junior went in and finished what his father failed to do. Kill Saddam Hussein. The FBI/CIA blunder of information regarding the 9/11 terrorist attack gave bush the green light to take Saddam out. Everything else that happened in between then and now was damage control such as the oil story, nuclear weapons, etc.

Re:Typical... (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664564)

I find it hard to believe that anybody actually believed that the upshot of overthrowing Iraq would be cheap oil -- unless, of course, the whole invasion really was a pretext to try to grab the oil.

The oil aspect of the Iraq invasion wasn't so much about us getting the oil as it was everyone else not getting it. Saddam was talking to everyone under the sun about selling oil if only they would help him get the UN sanctions removed. Had the Iraq invasion not happened Iraq would today be a huge oil exporter and likely selling it against any currency that isn't the US dollar. This idea was practically the purpose of the PNAC [sourcewatch.org] of which a good portion of the Bush administration were members or original signatories.

Re:Typical... (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664124)

Democrats don't want to cut defense spending either. The DoD is the easiest place to get pork-money for your favorite lobbyists back home.

The corruption of the military industrial complex is a bipartisan problem. To believe your favorite politician doesn't dip into that well is naive.

Re:Typical... (3, Interesting)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664166)

Democrats don't want to cut defense spending either.

Yes, because the ones that do get called traitors by the same blowhards who whine about how the government isn't fiscally responsible enough.

Re:Typical... (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664282)

No, because that ones that do lose out on precious appropriations dollars for friendly lobbyists back home. Then they lose campaign dollars. Then they lose elections. And no one wants to lose an election.

Re:Typical... (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664380)

Excuse my double reply.

because the ones that do get called traitors

I forgot to ask you: What "ones who do?" I'm not aware of any such "ones".

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664152)

Nice strawman. You should open up a boutique to sell them.

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664212)

That's the whole point - Hard line Repuglicans are so bent out of shape about the whole idea of social programs that they will bankrupt the country in order to make sure it doesn't happen. If they can pad their stock portfolios with profits at the same time, then it's a double win.

Re:Typical... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664572)

What happened to Rumsfeld promising...

I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that.
-- Donald Rumsfeld (November 2002)

Re:Typical... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664736)

Because we have essentially a two party system, we really end up with two coalitions. This means you keep your coalition members happy. The republican coalition includes a big pro-military bloc, as well as a "government spends too much" bloc. In order to keep both blocs happy you cut spending somewhere other than military even if these smaller cuts don't actually solve the big problem.

Re:Typical... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664768)

What happened to Rumsfeld promising that we'd get Iraq's Oil...

So far as I know Rumsfeld never promised the American taxpayer any Iraqi loot. There *was* a lot of administration talk about "low hanging fruit", and indeed that fruit was picked, but not for the benefit of the American taxpayer. A lot of people made a lot of money off of the Iraq war, money that came out of the pockets of the American taxpayer. That part of the post-war reconstruction went off as planned, and no shareholders were harmed in the conduct of the war.

What Rumsfeld (and others in the administration) *did* promise was that Iraq would be able to pay for its own reconstruction. The problem with that scenario was that it was like trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps -- while somebody with a sharp knife is attempting to cut off your thumbs.

In a way the whole Iraq war resembled the Iran-Contra fiasco. The Bush administration even named one of the key figures in Iran Contra as ambassador to Iraq during the initial phases of reconstruction. Although it *sounds* a lot worse, it might not have been so bad if the plan was to make Iraq pay the US for the service of being liberated. But that deal was never on the table for the American taxpayer. What the administration was lusting after was a pot of money outside of Constitutionally mandated oversight.

Of course this particular fiasco we are discussing shows once more that congressional oversight doesn't exactly strain the national security budget through a fine tooth comb. Even a project going down in flames doesn't attract much scrutiny. A defense project has to crash and leave nothing behind but a smoking hole in the ground before anyone dares to question it.

But senators need money, too! (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663776)

Unfortunately, it's a sad fact that the US military often does not have the option of choosing the best tool for the job: rather, politicians budget for them ridiculous pet projects (from the politician's own home turf, naturally) that is orders of magnitude more expensive than it has any right to be. The military industrial complex is crony capitalism at its worst: buying solutions in search of a problem, and hobbling military expediency in favor of political back-scratching.

As an aside, crony capitalism is not capitalism. It's closer to corrupt autocratic government monopolies. There is no free market involved. It's about which lobbyist can promise the most campaign funds.

Re:But senators need money, too! (2)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663942)

Reason #1 why no U.S. politician wants to cut defense spending right there.

Important Factor (1)

Zeromous (668365) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663782)

I'm not apologizing for what is a 3 billion dollar boondoggle, matched only by the Canadian gun registry (which cost half of your computer system).

However, it is important to not that "off the shelf" aside from toughbooks, is not an option for the military. Clearly they screwed up royally here, but it is reasonable to expect the military's desire to work with proprietary technologies.

Re:Important Factor (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663918)

No it is not. Generally what they need can be made from COTS units. Sure you might need to modify that stuff a bit, but that is what a toughbook is a modified laptop. The military does not have computer needs that could not be met by modified COTS units.

Re:Important Factor (0)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664678)

Speaking as somebody who had a seat in bleachers to a government project that went under because of a misplaced faith in COTS: Fuck you. You don't have any idea what you are talking about, and because there are people like you making decisions, that is why so much money is wasted on shit that doesn't work, and then hundreds lose their jobs because some genius decided to cut corners in proposal.

It's easy to blaise about the Toughbook, never mind how much R&D was necessary to make it COTS. To hear you talk it sounds like you think some guys just picked up a laptop and said 'hur dur, let's make this *tougher*!' and it magically happened, and now you can buy them. You should take a look at the Army's standards [army.mil] for certifying these units, and maybe you'll be able to deduce that the 'modification' required to achieve these ends is rather more than 'a bit'.

Designs for field use of this kind have to build from the ground up at a component level. Chassis construction and composition has to be different, circuit board substrate has to be different, component quality, solder and soldering methods have to be different, QA has to be different, hell, for government work even supply chains, distribution, export control and the training and clearance for the staff at all levels of the operation have to be different.

Armchair fucktards like yourself have not even the first inkling of how shit like that comes together.

Re:Important Factor (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664168)

Having worked with the system in question, I agree with the analysts quoted: the system is a dud.

I wish I could say more about this, but I can't.

Obligatory MS post (0)

AresTheImpaler (570208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663790)

Woah! I knew MS was expensive, but didn't know it was THAT expensive... /should have used "M$" // wait.. this is not fark /// slahies!

To be fair.. (1)

batquux (323697) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663792)

That $2.7 billion is just what it cost to buy a copy of Windows Vista and put Adobe Flash on it.

Re:To be fair.. (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664344)

Knowing how government bureaucracies work, this is just the bill for Netscape Communicator going through.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663806)

Can't wait until the second spin!

Marketing gimmick (5, Interesting)

losttoy (558557) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663822)

RTFA and comments on it. Apparently, the linked article is a pro-Palantir marketing gimmick.

Re:Marketing gimmick (3, Interesting)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664384)

The JUONS (PDF) linked in the article is likely pro-Palantir or pro-Something without coming out and saying it, too. They are written with "requirements" that usually only one system can fulfill. It's not necessarily malicious, though. The writer is sure they know which system they need to satisfy their own requirements.

Sad for the lives lost (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663844)

It's terrible that people actually died as a result of shoddy programming but I am not surprised. Having programmed professionally for 30 years now, I can honestly say; management should NOT be running engineering because their priorities are only to get the software shipped on time, whatever the cost while typically, software developers want to get software 'right'

So sad it's come to this

Re:Sad for the lives lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663936)

If Manning faces the death penalty when no lives were lost those responsible for this should be swinging on the end of a rope.

Re:Sad for the lives lost (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663988)

Prosecutors have said that they will not push for the death penalty for Manning, if I recall. Espionage is a capital crime, but one that very rarely involves an actual death sentence.

Re:Sad for the lives lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664114)

I don't know the meaning of the word 'don't'

According to my local slashdot editor: its an abbreviation for 'donot', a sweat convection in the shap of an O, often associted with lharge chriminal organizations likes the LAPD.

Re:Sad for the lives lost (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664198)

The "lives lost" comment is not justified with any examples at all and is likely included for effect. I'm sure, in some roundabout way, that the lack of something in DCGS-A lead to a death. You could blame lack of cigarettes, a computer crash or a flat tire in a similar convoluted way for deaths, too.

Re:Sad for the lives lost (3, Interesting)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664454)

It's terrible that people actually died as a result of shoddy programming but I am not surprised.

People were going to die either way; this is the military we're talking about. Seems better that an invader should die than someone defending his home, doesn't it?

Now everyone's a freakin' expert! (3, Interesting)

david.emery (127135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664022)

It's really easy to produce a system that meets the easy 80% of requirements. It's A LOT harder to complete the job. The 'lives lost' statement is a consequence of 'missed operational opportunities', where the computer is only an enabler. It still takes a human to decide to act on information (in a timely fashion.) I've met very few people who are both trained intel analysts and experienced/competent programmers or system engineers and therefore competent to pass judgement on the implementation of a large complex distributed (and hopefully fault-tolerant) system that must deal with incomplete/inconsistent information and communications problems. (But I've met a lot of military/government people writing requirements who are happy to specify things that are theoretically impossible...)

This reads like someone trying to do 'procurement via public relations,' something that was particularly blatant during the USAF Tanker recompete.

And of course the Slashdot postings are full of posturing based on political persuasion and no knowledge of the actual system or its requirements or implementation.

I'm not defending DCGS-A, I'm just pointing out observations from a career spent doing these kinds of systems in both military and non-military government contexts. I do not have any knowledge of DGCS-A requirements or implementation nor do I speak for anyone besides myself. If caught or captured, my secretary will disavow any knowledge of my actions.

Re:Now everyone's a freakin' expert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664224)

Surely "not crashing" is going to be with the first 80%, rather than the last 20%?

Re:Now everyone's a freakin' expert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664428)

Getting as many agencies onto a common platform as possible should be an American priority. It demonstrates the complete absence of tactical thinking and can be used for final validation of the irrelevance of our intelligence infrastructure.

Can you imagine a single escalation vuln potentially compromising everyone?~! Exactly what we need, the spectre that all systems could have been compromised when an anomaly appears on any one.

Disclaimer: I am posting from both sides in this thread. Whatever happens in this issue will have little chance of breaking the cycle of eWaste-Ready technologies.

Costs (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664154)

Never mind, you can add the cost to the $14Trillion you already owe the rest of the world

Re:Costs (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664210)

They're not worried. $9.5 trillion is owed to the US public anyway who will buy up more bonds and treasuries whenever needed so that the interest from the foreign debt can be paid.

It's not the software its the system integrator. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664286)

The cost of the software/hardware is only 10% maybe 15% of the total cost. The rest is the integration cost that the system integrator charges. Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, Northrup, General Dynamics are famous for front loading a contracts with big name resumes with high salaries, then have in-experienced college graduates do the actual work, but still having the big names charge to the contract, while they travel around giving speeches during conferences at fancy resorts all at government expense.

And the guys who are suppose to review designs and costs are idiots...All they need to do is pass a CBT to get a piece a paper and they are considered Security and Systems Engineering experts.

The biggest problem with Government contracting is they rely to heavily on what paper you have and not looking at years of experience or following up that the big names are the ones doing the work. Just read mandate DoD 8570-1 for proof.

Windows Server OS LoL!! (1, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664478)

Good Heavens...

https://l3com.taleo.net/careersection/l3_ext_us/jobdetail.ftl?job=208541&src=JB-10095 [taleo.net]

Windows OS server. Now, given the experience I have running WIndows, there is no way in _HELL_ I would use it in life or death situations.

I mean the largest application domain for windows is playing GAMES, not business and certainly not for combat operations.

These people must be complete idiots.

-Hack

I used to work for them... (5, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664620)

I used to work for one of the suppliers (the one most "at fault" according to the article, with the shitty code and shitty UI we provided).

Here are some things to consider:

The company's business model was to procure IDIQ contracts...they succeeded for several years by purposefully providing broken bits and pieces, in order to assure that more fixes would be purchased later. It finally caught up to them because you can only pile so much crap on existing crap before the whole thing breaks.

Palantir is great software, but people in the Army don't like it. They think it's pretty with no functionality. They are wrong. It's awesome. There are two problems with Palantir, in that you have to store your data on THEIR servers, and the owner of the company is not a US Citizen. They have some inroads, like the links suggest, but they'll never be able to get the most sensitive contracts because of the US Persons requirement.

DCGS-A sucks because it is closed-source garbage that runs only on Microsoft components, and relies heavily on SQL-server. Plus all the people I used to work with are overpaid self-taught jackasses who got the job because they could code in visual basic and they had a clearance.

In all, I'm glad to see the Army and military in general understand and accept that they are suckers and slaves to politicians and "the free market" mentality of PACs and lobbyists. Too bad this garbage (and even bigger garbage FCS/BCTM that finally got axed last month) wasted so much money in the meantime.

Screw the free market. Time to put all this money into government R&D and churn out some decent software for the investment. The NSA alone has enough talented programmers to make this happen.

Summary is a Lie (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664676)

Nowhere in the PDF does it claim the DCGS-A's computer faults have resulted in lives lost. The PDF is a request from MG Flynn for more advanced analytic tools because they don't have all the software they need to sort through the enormous amounts of information and make the connections they need to. That's not a fault of DCGS-A, that just means they want more functionality integrated into DCGS-A. Trying to claim he's saying DCGS-A is resulting in lives lost is like claiming someone said Windows is failing because they asked for some custom graphing programs to be procured. The only time he even mentions DCGS-A in his need statement is when he says he wants the new software to run on it. Not exactly something you'd request if you were of the opinion it was costing the lives of your men.

That doesn't speak to whether DCGS-A is a great system or not, but neither does the PDF they're claiming as evidence which is why I'm calling bullshit.

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