Posted on Wednesday, 09.25.13
Southcom: No fiber-optic contract yet; cable to Cuba to be dropped in 2015
BY CAROL ROSENBERG
A senior Pentagon official testified last week that a fiber-optic
communications cable linking Florida to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo
Bay, Cuba, "would probably be implemented in about two years." At
Southern Command, a spokesman says the contract has yet to be awarded
and the work won't start until after that Defense Department official
departs government service.
Broadly, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a Southcom spokesman, agreed
with the two-year timetable that the chief information officer at the
Secretary of Defense's office, Ronald Bechtold, testified about at a
military commissions case Friday.
But Flanders said the bidder "probably won't start laying the cable
until 2015" with a goal of completion "around January 2016."
Flanders was unable to say Wednesday how many firms had bid on the project.
"The work will start in January, though, and it will be a long process,"
Flanders said by email this week from the Southern Command in Miami, the
Pentagon regional division in charge of the project.
A surveyor ship has already mapped the path along the ocean floor to
establish the route the cable will follow, said Flanders. Once the
contractor is chosen, it then builds the actual cable and puts it on a
giant spool, he said. Bechtold described the cable as a "gigantic
bundle" big enough to one day serve the entire island.
Other work will require building ground delivery stations on both sides
of the Florida Straits where the cable emerges on land.
None of that starts until after a bidder is chosen, and until after
Bechtold leaves government service on Nov. 1.
Bechtold brought up the cable while talking about Pentagon efforts to
shore up computer security for defense attorneys preparing for the
death-penalty trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and
four accused co-conspirators.
At the 9/11 trial, the prosecution team has proposed a Sept. 22, 2014
trial date, a timetable the judge has not adopted and defense attorneys
have said is unrealistic in the complex, five-man conspiracy prosecution
that seeks to execute five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001
terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Judge James L. Pohl has not yet set a provisional trial date. He's now
considering a defense motion to abate the proceedings to let the alleged
terrorists' Pentagon-paid lawyers set up a computer system they consider
consistent with their confidentiality obligations.
Source: "Southcom: No fiber-optic contract yet; cable to Cuba to be
dropped in 2015 - Guantánamo - MiamiHerald.com" -