Department of Google?

What the military can learn from Google. For starters, how do you deploy a supercomputer and network center in a shipping container?

The military needs to be more like Google.

That's the surprising conclusion of Baseline columnist Paul Strassman. A consultant to the Defense Dept. and former IT manager at many government agencies, Strassman says Google has shown it can do the same sort of technology projects that the military desparately needs to do.

Among other things, Google has developed the capability to rapidly deploy prefabricated data centers anywhere in the world by packing them into standard 20- or 40-foot shipping containers, Strassmann says. That's just the sort of capability an army on the move would like to have at its disposal to provide tactical support for battle or relief operations.

According to Strassmann, the idea of portable data centers has been kicking around the military for years, but today exists mostly as a collection of PowerPoint slides. And Google-like rapid access to information might be just what's needed in a war zone, where reports from the field too often pile up unread, he says. The military equivalent of Googling your competition would be for a field officer to spend a few seconds typing a query into a mobile device to get the latest intelligence about a hostile village before the troops move in. "It's Google skinned down into the hands of a Marine," he says.

Commenting on the article at eWeek, GoogleWatch blogger Steve Bryant says:

Beyond technology, the military may also be able to take a page from how Google manages employees. Specifically, the military might read up on Google's employee management practices. Instead of relying on complex forms to track what employees are doing, Google managers simply ask them to write in longhand e-mails. All that info gets dumped into a searchable database, and managers search for "accidental cross-pollination" of ideas and trends.