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What's Brewin: Hot Brews — A review of the top five columns of the past six months

Columnist Bob Brewin is on vacation until next week. In his absence, we decided to look back at the most popular columns so far this year. The five biggest hits follow, as measured by number of page views:

1. Cable Cut Paranoia (Feb. 11)

During the past week, four undersea fiber-optic cables serving the Middle East, India and Pakistan were severed, wreaking havoc on Internet and data service.

Now lightning can strike in the same place more than once, so it's entirely possible that four cables carrying vital Internet traffic could have been cut in the same area.

Ships' anchors were cited as the likely cause of two of the breaks off the coast of Egypt, according to initial news reports.

To read the full column, click here.

2. Airport Insecurity (March 3)

I fly into Dulles International Airport about once a month, and it's hard to believe it serves as the air hub for the city that houses the headquarters of the Homeland Security Department. Based on my observations during the past two years, the roadways in front of the terminal are a parking lot for the privileged, despite all the signs forbidding parking or standing.

The reasons for the ban seem obvious to me. Some bad guy with a bomb could decide to blow up himself and his car or ram through the doors, as happened last June at the Glasgow, Scotland, airport.

Despite the potential threat posed by vehicles parked in front of the terminal, Dulles seems to take a lackadaisical approach to enforcing its no-parking, no-standing rules.

To read the full column, click here.

3. Tanker Wars on the Web (April 14)

A decade ago, when a company won a major contract, it would issue a press release and maybe take out a full-page ad in some trade magazines and The Washington Post. If a competitor decided to protest that award, it would hire some high-priced lawyers, issue a press release and then do some heavy, but quiet, lobbying on the Hill.

It's different today. Northrop Grumman Corp., which in February won the Air Force's $40 billion contract to build the next fleet of aerial refueling tankers, and Boeing Co., which quickly protested it, have taken the battle over the lucrative deal out of the backrooms and onto the Web.

The companies are using the same kinds of tools that candidates in the presidential race have embraced. The tanker Web wars on both sides are managed by Internet-savvy communications managers who have deployed a virtual arsenal to make their case. This includes tanker-specific Web sites, blogs, e-mail campaigns to Congress and key journalists, and even YouTube videos.

To read the full column, click here.

4. Cyber Command Sweepstakes (May 19)

Eighteen states are vying to become the home of the headquarters for the coveted Air Force Cyber Command. So, on May 15, William Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, sent a letter to the governors, asking them to provide details that will help the service make its decision.

The letter, which a source was kind enough to send me, notes that the unique nature of the cyber domain dictates that the candidates have a complete understanding of the supporting capabilities of headquarters bases and their surrounding communities. Anderson included in the letter a checklist of requirements.

These included the ability of the new HQ to work easily with other Air Force commands near the Cyber Command that are engaged in activities such as intelligence and space operations. The new Cyber Command HQ also will require an extensive high-speed network, including state-of-the-art secure fiber networks and connections to unclassified and classified Defense networks.

To read the full column, click here.

5. Taking Acquisition Seriously (Feb. 4)

The Defense Logistics Agency buys $31 billion worth of stuff a year for the Defense Department, including food, fuel and clothing. But until recently, acquisition management took a back seat to the agency's core supply chain management function.

That changed last year when Army Lt. Gen. Robert Dail took over command of DLA and decided to create a single directorate within the agency that was focused on acquisition management. He tapped Claudia "Scottie" Knott, a member of the Senior Executive Service, to run the new organization as director of acquisition management.

Knott, who previously had served as deputy director for logistics policy and acquisition management, said Dail created the organization to elevate the status of acquisition management in the agency and make it a core competency for the outfit, which has had its business almost double from 2002 when it bought $18 billion worth of supplies.

To read the full column, click here.

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