Robotic Mules, Bad Idea
In reference to your October 2010 story, “Move Over Fido: Marines’ New Best Friend Could Be a Robotic ‘Mule,’” while I have utmost respect for the Marine Corps, I am concerned that its combat development side is clueless. The Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate vehicle (GUSS) is a stupid idea.
Light infantry do not need robotic or tele-operated vehicles to deliver water, carry cargo and evacuate casualties. They simply need light vehicles since depending solely on manpower is, by definition, labor and manpower intensive.
Marines and Army infantry used to have quarter-ton Jeeps, small light utility vehicles that could go pretty much anywhere. The big mistake was switching to the far heavier and larger Humvees, which are unsuited for accompanying light infantry. What is needed is a return to small utility vehicles.
The only remaining issue should be whether to get road-worthy vehicles like Jeeps or off-road “Gator” or “Mule” utility vehicles.
Advocates of gizmos like GUSS have no sense of operational needs and are chasing high technology while the obvious solutions are staring them in the face.
Chester A. Kojro Next Wave of Suicide Bombers
Your September 2010 article, “Terrorist Loophole: Explosives Under Clothing at Airport Checkpoints,” was dead on concerning the current nightmare of suicide bombers utilizing close-to-the-body (under and inside clothing) explosive devices to attack high-value targets such as commercial airliners and, by extension, VIPs and critical facilities. A multi-decade cat-and-mouse game between terrorists and security professionals has taken place which has resulted in increasing levels of sophistication in both hiding the bomb and reducing its signature and in detecting the bomb and/or looking for anomalies in the behavior of a terrorist attempting to penetrate the security protecting a highvalue target.
The article could have gone even further in its discussion and analysis of the iterated process taking place between bombers and security professionals by addressing the ever-evolving context in which explosives under clothing exists.
Having coordinated for a number of years a suicide bomber web base and having written the initial International Association of Chiefs of Police training keys on suicide bombers, my concern has grown with regard to high-value target suicide bombings.
Eventually, the only rational option for terrorists would be to utilize an internal body-cavity bomb. Accordingly, drawing upon the rich body of literature and data concerning body cavity contraband, by mid-to-late 2006 briefings on suicide bomber body-cavity bomb potentials were being provided to law enforcement and governmental security related venues.
These projected concerns were validated in August 2009 when an al Qaida operative, Abdullah al-Asiri, blew himself up while trying to assassinate the Saudi Prince bin Nayef in his palace in Jeddah. While Saudi security has attempted to suppress any broader implications by attributing it to a device hidden in the bomber’s underwear, independent forensic review of images of what remained of the bomber and bombing site, as found on the Al Yamama Press, Issue no. 15045 (www.alriyadh.com) Arabic site, clearly shows the seat of the explosion to be within the digestive track of the bomber — specifically in the large intestine/upper colon region.
The implications are that the current nightmare of close-to-the-body explosives has already begun to be replaced by the next iteration of threat based upon internally placed explosives, or body-cavity bombs. Such internally placed explosive devices pose unique bomb detection challenges — one clear example being that even the Transportation Security Administration’s advanced imaging technology sensors only peer under clothing and do not have subdermal sensing ability.
Robert J. BunkerDefense Budget Woes
Lawrence Farrell’s recent President Perspective articles have been right on target about the serious threats to Defense Department funding that loom imminently. It appears that the U.S. government is very close to the tipping point with respect to the enormous fiscal deficit it is running and we have only to look to Europe to see how this will play out. A fully socialized economy has always been one that spends more than it takes in, because spending invariably stays ahead of revenues. Virtually every country in the European Union has diminished its military in order to continue spending for social purposes, be it health care or pensions or vacations.
The United States is headed down this same path. Buying biofuels and installing windmills and tidal generators, etc., will divert funding from personnel and weapons without any measurable benefits.
It is appalling to see how quickly the world’s greatest military is being reduced to a shadow of itself.
Roger F. Jones