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Military News Briefs for the Week Ending Oct. 13, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2000 –

(This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Servicestories for the week ending Oct. 13, 2000)

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Cole Explosion Death Toll Rises

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2000 -- Three more sailors have died in an apparent terrorist attack against the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. This brings the death toll to seven. Ten more sailors are missing.

Defense Secretary William Cohen said that while the United States could not definitively prove terrorism, “If … we determine that terrorists attacked our ship and killed our sailors, then we will not rest until we have tracked down those who are responsible for this vicious and cowardly act.”

Cohen extended his sympathies to the families of those killed, missing or wounded in the incident. “All Americans can be proud of the men and women who protect our country around the world,” he said during a Pentagon news conference. “The world is safer because of their service, and their dedication to our ideals of freedom and security makes their loss even more painful.”

The 35 sailors injured in the incident have all been medically evacuated, Navy officials said. French transports evacuated 11 sailors to a hospital in Djibouti. The other 22 are being evacuated to a Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany. The search is still underway for the sailors listed as missing in the explosion.

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DoD Issues Time-saving Common Access Cards

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2000 -- Over the next several years, DoD officials expect "smart cards" to replace the identification cards of all active duty military, Selected Reserve personnel, DoD civilian employees and eligible contractors.

DoD began issuing the cards this month, Pentagon officials announced Oct. 10. Personnel at the Pentagon and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., will be among the first to receive the new card. The card will eventually allow physical access to secure areas, permit entry into DoD's computer networks and serve as he authentication token for DoD's computerized public key infrastructure, officials here said.

The Common Access Cards, as they're called, put DoD in the forefront of e-commerce and security, officials said. The cards feature barcoding, a magnetic strip and, for the first time, an embedded integrated circuit chip.

The deployment of the card moves DoD one step closer to a significant milestone in securing its information systems, officials said.

What makes the card "smart" is the circuit chip. The chip has the ability to read, write and perform various functions and operations on several thousand bytes of information.

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Navy, Marines Get ‘Wired’ Via Worldwide Computer System

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2000 -- Sailors and Marines ashore and at sea will be able to exchange information instantaneously and securely thanks to a new integrated computer system that will be implemented worldwide during the next few years.

Senior DoD officials at an Oct. 6 Pentagon press conference said the $6 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet represents the largest Defense Department information technology contract ever. Department officials announced Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano, Texas, would be the primary contractor.

  “The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet will revolutionize the way we look at the process of sharing information," Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy de Leon announced in a press release. "It gets the government out of the business of owning and operating information technology systems, and instead transfers that function to a fee-for-service contract with private industry. The potential for increased efficiency, standardization interoperability and better business practices is tremendous.”

The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet should be mostly implemented by June 2003, officials said. The consolidation of currently separate systems will save the Navy about $2 billion over the life of the initial five-year contract, they estimated.

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Cohen Says Balkan Progress Encouraging, but U.S. Troops Stay

THESSALONIKI, Greece, Oct. 10, 2000 -- The United States will help Yugoslavia introduce economic and political reforms, but the size of the U.S. troop commitment to the region will remain the same, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said here Oct. 8.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Greek Minister of National Defense Apostolos-Athanasios Tsokhatzopoulos, Cohen placed U.S. strength at 10,000 troops in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He said the size and structure of U.S. forces will always be measured against the security environment.

"To the extent there continues to be progress made in stabilizing the region and peaceful democratic institutions are created and solidified, then we can look to ways in which we can reduce the size level of our presence," he said. All the countries providing troops would like to reduce their commitments, but recognize they can't until the security environment permits, he said.

"We need more time to make such an assessment," Cohen noted. Because of previous assessments, for instance, the United States reduced its forces in Bosnia substantially, he observed.

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