Pentagon Finds Calls Wanting

  • Share
  • Read Later
Government auditors have recently finished a review of the Pentagon's nuclear-war-fighting communications satellites and -- whoops! -- it seems that they underperform. A primary component of the costly, top-secret Milstar satellites is the Military Commanders' Voice Conference Network. That's mil-speak for telephone links between the President and his senior military commanders.

The voice network has an important job, the General Accounting Office pointed out in a report released last week. It's designed "to enable commanders to discuss whether a ballistic-missile launch threatens North America and, if so, to determine the appropriate retaliatory response." But, like your first cell phone, the system is a bit clunky. The GAO says recent tests show that "the National Command Authorities and the chief military commanders would be unable to communicate by voice in a timely and intelligible manner."

That's grim news, given the $17 billion U.S. taxpayers are spending on the Milstar satellite system. Maybe the Pentagon should consider using Iridium satphones instead. They're only $3,000 each.