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Net will bring Super Bowl to troops in Iraq

Thanks to the Internet, many U.S. soldiers in Iraq will be able to catch the Super Bowl as it is being broadcast from Houston on Sunday _ though kickoff will be about 3:30 a.m. Monday, Baghdad time.

The game feed will come via satellite from the American Forces Network, an arm of the military. Units in Iraq will then use a device called the VBrick VBXcast. The VBrick can take any conventional TV signal, compress it into the video standard known as MPEG-4 and send it out through the Web.

At the other end, viewers can watch the streaming programming from a Web page by using Apple's QuickTime multimedia viewer.

Rich Mavrogeanes, the founder and chief technology officer of VBrick Systems in Wallingford, Conn., said the boxes purchased by the military are used for purposes beyond entertainment. Some Army field hospitals connect cameras to VBricks to send images of patients to larger medical centers for remote diagnosis.

Army planning in case it

stays in Iraq through '06

WASHINGTON _ The Army's top general said Wednesday he is making plans based on the possibility that the Army will be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that "for planning purposes" he has ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that is now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005 _ and again in 2006.

Stretched by commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans, the Army has used emergency authority to go beyond the limit set by Congress on the number of soldiers who can be in uniform, Schoomaker said.

He said the Army now is about 11,000 soldiers above the 482,400 limit, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has authorized the service to temporarily exceed the limit by as much as 30,000.