About This BlogPart vanity, part practical, I decided to start my own blog in January 2012 to provide a home for my musings and writings. I also wanted a place to archive old articles and studies. I plan to write about the defense budget, government secrecy, the "war" on terrorism, homeland security, and the root of all evil: Washington. I'm not looking to be a scooper or a reporter. The thoughts are mine and mine alone. Write me if you want to make me or my readers smarter. Check out asides and comments @warkin on Twitter.
- Angry = the new black; Gates is a political chameleon. Solicitation for speaking fees. Why Is Robert Gates Angry? newrepublic.com/article/116500… 1 week ago
- Sensible comments on drones and civilian casualties. This Debate Has Been Redacted foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/… 1 week ago
- Devastating. Gates memoir: Faulty MRAP Recollections defensenews.com/article/201402… via @defense_news 2 weeks ago
- Oakland's Surveillance Center. Good local story on fusion centers. eastbayexpress.com/oakland/contro… 1 month ago
- Gates' Duty via @amazon Secretary "at war"; give me a break. Distrust of the military as old as Lincoln. big deal. amazon.com/dp/0307959473/… 1 month ago
Here’s a list of Army research and development projects from a document I obtained — dated November 2013 — covering the next five years. I was surprised, well not really, that so many are just continuations of what is already being done in Afghanistan, but not surprised how much is to tame the information monster. Don’t see much though that reflects any kind of commitment to some future big war.
The list (I didn’t correct for spelling or amplify; some items are inscrutable):
|3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared-Engine (3GF-E)|
|Acoustic Hailing Device|
|ACRO PET (London Larado) addition for Nitrate, Chlorate, and Urea explosives|
|Active Protection Systems|
|Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System|
|Airborne Counter-Explosive Reconnaissance and Targeting System|
|Airborne Electronic Attack|
|Airborne Recon Low-Multifunction Medium Altitude Recon & Surv|
|AirRobot AR150 with Dual IR cameras|
|American Innovations-Home Made Explosive Bulk Precursor Detection Kit|
|AMT, Sentinel XD CDS (Advanced Mesh Network)|
|AN/PSS-14 Cache Detection|
|ATACMS Unitary Increment 0 Product Improvement|
|Automated Surveillance Security Platform|
|Automated Wide Area Surveillance|
|Autonomous Mine Detection System|
|Avatar II Tactical Robot|
|Axton SMART AT-32S 8-watt IR floodlight.|
|Beagle – Handheld NQR|
|BETSS-C – Force Protection (FP) Suite|
|Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) 4.0 SP6|
|Bistatic Surveillance System|
|Black Granite Integrated Sensor Suite|
|BlueSky Mast Portable Modular Mast|
|Bobcat T110 with QinetiQ Robotic Kit with TARDEC roller|
|Bobcat with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Mobile Deployment System (MDS)|
|Boston Dynamics 30 lb robot with six paddles for rough terrain or swim|
|BuckEye – Geospatial Data Collection|
|C5ISR Aerial Layer|
|Checkpoint Explosive Detection System Gen 2|
|CI and HUMIT Requirements-Reporting Operations Management Environment|
|CISCO Identity Service Engine|
|Colorimetric Reconnaissance Explosives Squad Screening|
|Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminal|
|Combat Survivor Evader Locator (SEP)|
|Command Post of the Future|
|Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station|
|Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) UMR – JERRV|
|Common Sensor Payload|
|Company Intelligence Support Team|
|Constant Hawk – Afghanistan|
|Constant Hawk – Iraq|
|Container Weapon System (CWS) with CROWS II, Javelin, and SEK remote SA Computer|
|COP camera system with CROWS I camera parts and new cables, GPS, and tripod|
|CORAL-SD II passive, non-intrusive, thermal detection system|
|Counter – Unmmanned Aircraft Sytems|
|Counter Radio Control Electronic Warfare – Crew Vehicle Reactive Jammer|
|Counter Radio Control Electronic Warfare – DUKE|
|Counter Shooter System with Highly Accurate Immediate Responses / Iron Curtain|
|Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Automated Reporting a Collection System|
|Covert Thermal Camera System|
|CREW Stryker FoV|
|Crew Vehicle Reactive Jammer (CVRJ) Fixed Site|
|Cryptographic Equipment and Services|
|CVRJ Platform Integration Buffalo|
|DCGS-A Edge Node (DEN)|
|Deep Sea Set|
|Department of Defense ABIS|
|Dismount Blue Force Tracker|
|Dismounted Soldier Autonomy Tools|
|Dismounted Standoff Explosive Hazard Detection-Handheld Small Sized Detector|
|Dismounted Standoff Explosive Hazard Neutralization – Remote Initiator|
|Distributed Commom Ground Station-Army (DSGS-A) Cloud|
|Distributed Common Ground System – Army Increment 1 DSB 1.0|
|Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Increment 1 Release 2|
|Duke V2 EA|
|Duke V3 Fixed Site|
|DUKE V3 Platform Integration Husky|
|Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations|
|Electronic Protection System on MRAP|
|Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS)|
|Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Digital|
|Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Optical|
|Evaluation of each additional candidate Nano Unmanned Air System (NUAS)|
|Expendable Unattended Ground Sensor|
|Eyeball Remote Camera System|
|Eyedrive throwable UAV|
|Fido Handheld Sniffer|
|Forensic Operator Advanced Kit|
|FORGE (Zero Base) Li-Ion|
|FOTOD-Screening Obscuration Device-Visual (restricted terrain)|
|GaRD Mobile System|
|GDC4S Intelligence Low Overhead Driver|
|General Fund Enterprise Business System-Sensitive Activities|
|Georgia Tech (GTRI) Integration of Boston Dynamics Sand Flea Hopping Robot|
|Global Broadcast Service|
|Global Visualization Information System|
|Green Laser Interdiction System (GLIS)|
|Gunfire Detection System|
|GunSHOT Detection (GSD)|
|Gunshot Detection Simulation Training System|
|Hand Held Precision Targeting Device|
|Handheld Laser Marker|
|Handheld Minefield Detection System|
|Handheld Optical Augmentation|
|Harris Fusion Network Communication Server|
|Harris-Aerial C4ISR Payload Suite|
|Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team|
|Homemade Explosive Characterization|
|Hostile Fire Detection System Warfighter in the Loop Design Study and Demo|
|Hostile Fire Indicator|
|HTV HEMTT CVRJ|
|Husky MK III with OEF SPARK|
|Husky Mounted Detection System|
|Improvements to Remote Monitoring System (RMS) Direction Finder.|
|individual Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare|
|Individual Gunshot Detection (IGD)|
|Integrated Blast Effects Sensor Suite (I-BESS).|
|Integrated Broadcast Service|
|Integrated Sensor Improvement|
|Integrated Sensor Tower Long Range|
|Integration of CROSSHAIRS 2.0 and CROWS II gun in static mount|
|Intelligence – Central Security Service – Project G|
|Intelligence Warfighter Function|
|Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer|
|Intelligence-Special Access Programs|
|IRobot Warrior robot with XADS StunStrike Xap Disrupter|
|Israeli Namer Feasibility Assessment|
|Joint and Allied Threat Awareness System|
|Joint Crew 3.3 Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device|
|Joint Direct Support Airborne ISR|
|Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) Target Location Designation System (TLDS)|
|Joint Personnel Identification System, Version 2|
|Joint USFK Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition (JUPITR)|
|Joint Warning and Reporting Network|
|L-3 CyTerra lightweight mine detector|
|L3GDS Hawkeye III Lite CoCP|
|Launched Electrode Stun Device|
|Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS) managed by PM CCWS|
|Linguist Geometry-Realtime Adversarial Intelligence and Decision Making|
|Live Aerial ISR Link (LAIL)|
|Long Range Acoustic Device 360X|
|Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System|
|Low, Slow Airborne Threat Response|
|Machine- Foreign Language Translation System|
|Magneto Inductive-Remote Activation Munition System|
|Man Portable Detection System|
|Marathon Robotic Human Type Target (RHTT) System.|
|Maritime Domain Awareness Joint Integrating Concept|
|Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System|
|Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR)|
|Micro Unmanned Aircraft System|
|Mine & IED Detection – Minehound, Vallon VMR2|
|Mobile Unmanned Tactical Transport|
|Motion activated camera with video storage and RF to portable Interrogation Set|
|Motion activated camera with video storage and RF to Route Clearance Vehicle|
|Multi-Function Electronic Warfare|
|Multiple Intelligence Sensor V4|
|Narcissus Counter Surveillance Systems|
|Networked EW, Remotely Operated (NERO)|
|One System Remote Video Terminal|
|One Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems|
|PackBot 510 Engineer|
|PackBot 510 Upgrades|
|PackBot 510 with FASTAC|
|Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter and Wi-Fi only Apple iPod Touch for control|
|Pearls of Wisdom|
|Persistent Surveillance Systems – Tethered|
|Picatinny Optical Detection System|
|Polaris Diesel Ranger with QinetiQ Tactical Robotic Controller (TRC) and roller|
|Prioria Maveric lightweight, portable unmanned aircraft system (S-UAS)..|
|Prox Dynamics Nano Unmanned Air System (UAS).|
|Puma AE RQ-20A with MicroLink thin film solar cells on wing|
|PUMA DDL upgrades to PUMA DDL launcher, battery and 9 DB GCS antenna.|
|PUMA modules Micro Laser Marker (uLM) and Tactical Compact Comm Relay (TCCR)|
|RAID Mobile Tower|
|Rapid Attack Identification, Detection and Reporting System|
|Rapid Deployment Integrated Surveillance Systems|
|Rapid Reaction Tunnel Detection (R2TD)|
|Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform (REAP) Model XL R3500B|
|Rapiscan Eagle T1000|
|RC-50/60 Modular Robotic Control System|
|RCV Buffalo Duke V3|
|Relevant ISR to the Edge 3G|
|RG-31 Medium Mine Protective Vehicle (MMPV)|
|Ringtail Common Tactical Vision|
|Robotic Bobcat with a Laser Vibrometry Imaging and Detection System (LVIDS)|
|Robotic Deployment System 2 on RG31A2|
|Robotic Pointman – Mini Flail|
|Route Clearance Interrogation System (RCIS) Type I|
|Route Clearance Interrogation System (RCIS) Type II|
|Route Clearance Mounted Detection & Marking|
|Route Clearance Mounted Explosive Hazards Survivability and Force Protection|
|Route Clearance Optic System|
|Route Clearance Vehicles Panther|
|Route Clearance Vehicles-Mine Protection Clearance Vehicle|
|Route Clearance Vehicles-Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection|
|Rucksack Portable UAS Pop|
|Rucksack Portable Unmanned Aircraft System|
|Sapphire Detection System|
|Sarnoff fused color and thermal image camera|
|SCI Technologies TOCNET-G3|
|Semi-Autonomous Tactical Squad Robot|
|Sense Through The Wall (STTW)|
|SENTINEL Enhanced Target Range Acq & Class|
|Shop Equipment, Contact Maintenance System|
|Sickle Stick 2.0|
|Silicis 26-foot ISR balloon for robotic flight or tethered aerostat|
|SKYLARK I – Long Endurance (LE) UAS|
|Small Robot Standardization Effort|
|Small Tactical Multi- Payload Aerostatic System|
|Small Unit Support-IED Defeat (SUSI)|
|Small Unit Unmanned Aircraft System|
|Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) XM1216E1|
|Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle IBCT Increment 1|
|SOCOM Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) Version 1.1|
|SOFCOAST MAKO ISR Manpack Balloon|
|Sparrow Sentry System for Vehicles – Portable|
|Speckles Unmanned Aircraft System|
|Speech to Speech Smart Phone|
|Standoff Suicide Bomber Detection System|
|Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures|
|Supersonic Pulse-jet IED eXcavator|
|Sync-Think Eye-Tracking Rapid-Attention Computation (Eye-TRAC) with 850 IR LED|
|Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator Payloads (SAR/GMTI)|
|Tactical – SIGINT Payload|
|Tactical Assured GPS Reference System|
|Tactical Reconnaissance And Counter-concealment Enabled Radar|
|Tactical Unmanned Ground System|
|Tactical Unmanned Ground System (TUGS IBCT Inc 2)|
|Talon 3B Engineer|
|TALON IV Engineer|
|Threat Detection Fire Control System (Crosshairs 2)|
|Thru The Wall Radar|
|Towed Artillery Digitization Fire Control System|
|TROJAN SPIRIT LITE|
|TUAS Shadow Simple Key Loader|
|Unattended Transient Acoustic MASINT System|
|Unmanned Aircraft System Class I|
|Unmanned Aircraft System Class I (UAS CL1 IBCT Inc 2)|
|Unmanned Aircraft System Live Training System|
|Unmanned Cargo/Logistic Resupply|
|Urban Unattended Ground Sensors IBCT Increment 1|
|VADER (Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar)|
|Vehicle 360 deg fused thermal and visual camera to auto track up to 10 objects|
|Vehicle Observation Sensor System (VOSS) on the Medium Mine Protection Vehicle|
|Vehicle Optics Sensor System on the MRAP BAE RG-33L|
|Weaponized Reconnaissance Against Insurgents by Targeting HELLFIRE|
|Wideband Remote Monitoring Sensor: AN/FSQ-234(v)1|
|Zebra Imaging Tactical Digital Holograms (TDH)|
Rutland Herald, Sunday, November 17, 2013
The good people of Burlington – the Stop the F-35 Coalition – declared war this week, decrying what they call a “corrupt basing selection process” to put the new fighter jet at Burlington International Airport, and making all sorts of claims as to the dire circumstances that will befall the community if the Air Force carries out its plan.
This is not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) at its finest, and I applaud the citizens for being motivated at all to involve themselves in the touchy world of national security.
But I can’t support them. I can’t support them because the arguments they use are faulty and intentionally manipulative, and in that, they merely mirror the Pentagon’s own ritualistic nonsense, a campaign thus destined for failure, a learning opportunity lost, and change thwarted.
The F-35A will go to Burlington to replace the F-16s that are already there, and by all accounts, Vermont’s elected officials all support and have lobbied for this no-brainer modernization.
No brainer because no one is willing to question whether we really need to protect the skies, whether we need a new plane for this task at all, whether any airplane should be based at a civil airport, even an ostensibly National Guard airplane, whether lobbying should be the basis for our national security, whether overall continued down the same-old, same-old path of homeland security after 9/11 makes the slightest sense.
The Stop the F-35 Coalition doesn’t really address any of these gigantic questions, instead saying that the Environment Impact Statement prepared for basing lacks crucial health-related information, claiming as well that the jets in Burlington will devalue property, disproportionally impact minorities and low-income people, impact cardiovascular health of those nearby, and impair the learning ability of children in nearby schools.
After a few more back-and-forth, even in court, the government is sure to prevail, maybe even addressing some of the Coalition’s concerns – want more health-related information?, the government might say. Ok, we’ll spend even more of your tax dollars to produce whatever you want. But absent the support of the Governor or our Congressional representatives, the Coalition doesn’t really have a prayer.
Meanwhile, what’s destroying our nation, what’s robbing from civil society, what’s short-changing health care and even directly messing up the heads of our young people, is the constant state of war we endure, the overblown threat of terrorism, our crazy worship at the national and homeland security alter.
NIMBY is fine, but in this new world of interconnectedness and social media, Not-in-my-Country is the more appropriate campaign. The roar of F-16s or F-35s might rupture the peaceful image of Vermonters, nice people who think that they can create some sanctuary and drop out of the national tragedy. They should spend their energy instead going to war against a national security system that can no longer police itself, and one that no one in Washington has any intent of changing.
William M. Arkin, who lives in South Pomfret, is author of “American Coup: How a Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution” and co-author of the national bestseller “Top Secret America.”
In the Event of an Attack, Who’s Minding DC?
Washington’s security would be up to a patchwork of military commands and law-enforcement agencies.
Washingtonian Magazine, October 2013
If an unauthorized plane or a cruise missile sneaked into Washington airspace, the last line of defense would fall to soldiers under the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, headquartered at an armory at 3111 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The large windowless building has a sign that says AMERICA’S SHIELD, but there’s no perimeter fence and only waist-high Jersey barriers stand at three of its four entrances. The fourth is open to traffic, without even a gate arm to regulate entry.
The reason for the lax security may be that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard isn’t in DC. It’s in Anderson, South Carolina.
Arrangements for Washington’s air defenses are classified, of course, but according to both published plans and documents I’ve obtained, our protection against rogue attacks has long depended on a shadow world of overlapping commands and jurisdictions that overlay the capital region and extend far beyond it. In the 12 years since American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, the top-level organization responsible for super-emergencies has become more complicated as our national-security apparatus has exploded in size. The Program, as this group is known (short for Program Coordination Division, its name before responsibility shifted from FEMA to the White House), is now a broad interagency network comprising military and civilian functions. One fact about the Program, however, has not changed: There’s no single person who understands it, no one really controls it, and no one is really in charge.
No territory has as many watchers as the area called the National Capital Region (NCR)—originally consisting of the District and the surrounding counties but repeatedly enlarged to cover sensitive sites as far away as Pennsylvania. Fighter jets, on alert 24-7, scramble on the orders of a command center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, on the Potomac River opposite Reagan National Airport. Bolling reports to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which in turn answers to the main command in Colorado. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and Park Police helicopters stand ready to intercept “low and slow” movers. Faster-moving threats are the concern of that armory in South Carolina, which oversees antimissile batteries around DC, manned by personnel from North Dakota, Ohio, Florida, and Mississippi who take rotating stints in the NCR.
These lines of command merge at the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region at Fort Mc-Nair, near the Jefferson Memorial, and ultimately report to the Secretary of Defense. On paper, it all seems perfectly prudent and redundant. In an actual attack, though, the various security forces would implement their contingency plans while officials in the Program’s org chart consulted code-red envelopes and attempted to assert control.
In the case of a terrorist act involving, say, weapons of mass destruction, the Program would go into action, directing the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Energy Department, and a host of others, even as the DC government executed its own “homeland security” plan involving hundreds of federal agencies and police departments.
The best analogy for the Program is Wall Street: a collection of institutions whose common interests supposedly allocate resources efficiently. Five years ago, we got to see how Wall Street handled a crisis. How did that work for you?
William Arkin is a national-security expert, a former Army intelligence officer, and the author of more than a dozen books, including his latest, American Coup: How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution.
This article appears in the October 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
State of Emergency
Rutland Herald, Sunday, September 22, 2013
In case you missed it, it’s National Preparedness Month, one of those earnest government PR campaigns that is half propaganda and half patronage.
For the Department of Homeland Security, which also is celebrating its 10th anniversary, it’s a bittersweet month. The post- 9/11 department, which has established a permanent foothold in Washington, comes in for constant criticism and has little actual authority.
But it has also sold the idea of the need for a whole-of-nation, whole-of-community approach to domestic security, and that idea successfully enlists more and more normal Americans into vastly expanded ranks of national first-responders.
The impact at the state and local level has been profound. From California to Maine, and here in Vermont, terrorism task forces, homeland security departments, and intelligence fusion centers mimic Big Brother.
Even the state National Guard, venerable offspring of citizen militias that predate the United States, is not just a local response force or called out for federal service overseas. The Guard is also increasingly reoriented as a regional and national homeland response force, less and less the governor’s reserve or connected to the local community, more and more an undifferentiated federal government adjunct.
The specter of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction hangs over all of this — it was after all, why the Department of Homeland Security was created in the first place. Yet the real need at the local level remains an Irene and not an Iraq.
That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in all of the swag emanating from the feds promoting National Preparedness Month, there isn’t a word about terrorism. “We as individuals and communities must do our part to become safer by following some commonsense advice,” FEMA’s Ready Campaign urges.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what the threat is. It just matters that the American public feels threatened enough to either join in the ranks or stay obediently out of the way.
If it were only preparation for hurricanes we were talking about, none of this hyper-preparedness would threaten any of our liberties or challenge our system of federalism. That system, under the Constitution, places police powers in the hands of the local community and gives states the authority to ask for federal assistance rather than have it imposed. Yet for the sake of national security and its baby brother, homeland security, both principles have been subtly reversed in the past decade.
Syria may seem so distant to Vermonters, and a concern only played out in Washington. But since Washington unquestioningly asserts that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction trump every other concern, that’s where the resources go — even almost a decade after the abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina showed the dangers of neglecting day-to-day needs.
In Vermont, with a northern border and a significant federal presence given how small the state is, all of the “security” and response levers of the state are increasingly pushed to be militarized and hierarchical under national security command.
It’s not just federal dollars and the names of organizations. It’s a way of thinking and organizing ourselves that shortchanges civilian society and shifts the emphasis from building a more resilient country to preparing for its inevitable collapse.
If you missed National Preparedness Month, perhaps it is because you are not part of the 60 million Americans, about one-third of the adult population ages 20-64, whom the Department of Homeland Security counts as part of the regimented conglomeration of troops, government workers, first-responders, private-sector enlistees and civilian volunteers — a gigantic all-hazards reserve trained in everything from storm spotting and first aid to animal rescue and crowd control.
Precisely because preparedness for Washington’s priority concerns and fears is more important than the need (or the focus) of the actual readiness for real threats, intelligence collectors (and increasingly state and local police as new spies) need to feed a constant search for signs of disturbance.
Of course, there are real terrorists and criminals already on the radar screen of the authorities, but in this world, everyone who isn’t friendly is a potential enemy, that is, in a post-enemy kind of way.
As these ginormous databases of potential threats become available to state authorities, and as collection devices such as license plate readers and drones begin the proliferate to feed the insatiable appetite for intelligence information, Vermonters should ask if this emergency apparatus, set up with such panic after 9/11, still serves our interests, or even the national interest, any longer.
William M. Arkin, who lives in South Pomfret, is author of “American Coup: How a Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution” and co-author of the national bestseller “Top Secret America.”