Pentagon wants to buy Gitmo Bay a second fiber-optic cable
Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy, Jun 28 2016
In the latest sign that the Pentagon
is preparing for intends to continue Gitmo prison operations after Obama leaves office, SOUTHCOM is shopping for a second fiber-optic cable for the base, this one from Puerto Rico. Price tag? Unknown. A division of the DoD invited contractors on Jun 8 to submit proposals to “design, manufacture, install, test and commission” a 750-mile underwater cable linking the USN base to Puerto Rico. The work should be done, it said, 18 months after a contract is awarded. It set no projected award date. The Defense Information System Agency (DISA) said in a statement that the new underwater cable “will provide secure, high throughput, highly reliable, low-latency network redundancy” for the DoD “and other government communications” (OGA = Other Govt Agency = CIA = JWICS – RB) connecting Caribbean sites of SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM to the DoD Information Network. The fiber-optic line from Florida went live in January; now the military is proposing another one from Puerto Rico. SOUTHCOM is in South Florida. NORTHCOM is in Colorado. DISA would not elaborate on what “other government communications” might run between the military base and Puerto Rico. But the Obama administration has been proposing changes to its war court structure to let judges hold some hearings by teleconference between the base and mainland Pindostan, including allowing some detainees to plead guilty that way in civilian court.
The base’s first fiber-optic line went live in January, according to the DISA statement. In 2013, a retiring senior Pentagon boxtop testified at a Gitmo military commission hearing that the projected $40m undersea cable between Florida and Gitmo would have sufficient bandwidth to serve not only the base but the island of Cuba. A SOUTHCOM spox subsequently dismissed the idea of extending service to Cubans. Since then, Pindostan started normalizing relations with Cuba, the Castro (Jr) government renewed its call for Pindostan to evacuate Gitmo, and the first fiber-optic cable went online at the base. SOUTHCOM won’t discuss the possible cost of the alternative to the existing cable, which was projected to cost $40m. Now, SOUTHCOM’s new spox-woman says that the secondary cable is essentially meant to offer redundancy to the remote base in south-east Cuba. Army Col Lisa Garcia said (implausibly, cos can’t admit to existence of separate JWICS circuit, see above – RB):
The additional cable will provide an alternate path, preventing isolation for both islands in the case of a fiber break.
She would not elaborate on whether, or when, there was a break in the Florida-Gitmo cable. As of Tuesday, the Pentagon had 79 captives at the base’s sprawling Detention Center Zone and a staff of 1,950 to 2,200 to operate it. Another 3,000 or so sailors, their families, contractors and other federal employees live on the base. In May, prison leaders described some of the discussions under way to plan for a prison in coming years. They did not mention an expanded communications infrastructure or problems with the current cable. For that first fiber-optic cable, the DoD put the projected price tag at $40m. The contract was parcelled out piecemeal, and SOUTHCOM has never put a final price tag on the Florida cable. This time, Garcia would not offer a prediction on what the backup cable could cost taxpayers. She said by email:
Public release of this information could taint the outcome of bidding.
The DoD proposal created confusion on where precisely in Puerto Rico the cable would land.The DISA solicitation created confusion on the proposed place on Puerto Rico where the cable would originate. It said alternately that it would go to a “government landing site on the west and south-west coast” of Puerto Rico, then identified the landing site as Punta Salinas, which is on Puerto Rico’s opposite corner. The Air National Guard maintains a small facility in Punta Salinas, on the north-east part of the island, near San Juan. The Guard also has a similar facility at Punta Borinquen on the north-west tip of Puerto Rico, which would be the closest island landing site for a cable from Gitmo. Neither DISA nor SOUTHCOM would explain the discrepancy. Obama detailed the plan to close Gitmo at a presser on Feb 23, 2016. He said that Ashtray Carter and his crew has presented a plan to “uphold the values that bind us as Pindostanis” in addition to “eliminate a terrorist propaganda tool.” The statement was delivered the same day the DoD was slated to submit the plan to Congress.