Skip to comments.MORE ON WARLOCK'S TRICKS [U.S. remotely detonates IED's and incoming enemy mortar rounds in Iraq]
Posted on 11/29/2004 11:01:47 PM PST by Southack
It's not much. But I've got a leeetle more information on the military's hush-hush defense against improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
The Warlock radio frequency jammers are made by the New York and Simi Valley firm EDO. And they're based on an earlier EDO product called the Shortstop Electronic Protection System, which is designed to protect troops against proximity-fused weapons, like mortar rounds and artillery shells. According to EDO, Shortstop grabs the electronic signal that one of these weapons makes, "modifies the signal and sends it back to the weapon making the fuze think it is close to the ground. The fuze then prematurely detonates the warhead rendering the weapon essentially harmless."
The Warlock doesn't do anything quite so dramatic. Instead, "it basically works by intercepting the signal sent from a remote location to the IED instructing it to detonate," an Army official told Inside Defense (which has a wrap-up of all its recent IED stories here.) "The signal 'cannot make contact, therefore when it cant make contact it doesnt detonate,' much like a cellular phone call that does not connect, he added. "The cell phone never gets through, but [enemy forces] think it go through."
The jammers come in two flavors, each interrupting different frequency bands. Warlock Green connects off of the 24V DC power supply of any military vehicle, an Army document notes. Warlock Red is "designed to connect off the cigarette lighter and/or 12V DC power supply."
THERE'S MORE: "The Army is testing a new method of intercepting improvised explosive devices that relies on an up-armored humvee and two types of vehicles designed in South Africa to withstand blasts from land mines," Inside Defense also notes.
$2.9 million will pay for two "Hunter/Killer" teams, each with an up-armored humvee, an enhanced RG31 Medium Mine Protection vehicle, and a bulldozer-like Buffalo Explosive Ordnance Disposal vehicle, the magazine says.
U.S. forces -- including the 82nd Airborne's Task Force Pathfinder -- have been using the vehicles since the beginning of the year. According to an Army public affairs story, soldiers like the RG31 because it's built to withstand a bomb (more on how that's done here) and because it's roomy. "Like riding in an armored Cadillac," one soldier quips.
I.E.D.S - WHY THE WHISPERS?
It all seemed pretty straightforward, at first.
I wanted to do some follow-up on a post from a few weeks back, about the U.S. military's efforts to counter improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Those are the roadside bombs which are proving so lethal to American troops in Iraq.
A company out of New York, EDO, put out a couple of press releases announcing their $45 million contract with the Army, to make radio frequency jammers that could block the signals triggering the IEDs. Some of the government trade press had followed up, with quick articles on the jammer, called Warlock Green.
But despite the semi-public profile, when I asked EDO chief Bill Walkowiak about Warlock Green, he went mute. The Army wouldn't let him talk any more, he said. Anything having to do with IEDs it was all classified now.
And that's a problem, some defense industry insiders are saying. Not whether or not Walkowiak will talk a reporter -- defense contractors clam up all the time, often rightly so. The dark blanket of secrecy that's been thrown over any and all information about these roadside bombs is the issue. "The Pentagon remains tight-lipped about how much money it is spending on a regular basis to counter the threat of such devices and how many troops who need it have access to specialized equipment, such as electronic jammer devices," Inside Defense notes. "Even details on how the enemy builds the IED remain under wraps."
Finding and stopping IEDs is a super-hard problem. They don't give off heat, so thermal sensors won't work; they're not made of metal, generally, so magnets are out; they're not unstable, like a chemical agent, so detectors that "sniff" the air haven't done the trick, yet.
In fact, the problem is so hard, that all interested researchers and contractors and scientists not just the ones with security clearance need to get a whack at IEDs, says John MacGaffin, former associate deputy director for operations at the CIA.
Why is it classified? he asks Inside Defense. What is the secret?
MacGaffin, who spent 31 years at the CIA, now runs the AKE Group, which provides training and security in Iraq for major media organizations and industry. He says the only information that should remain classified are the frequencies used by the United States to jam IEDs. He acknowledged that if information on how enemies build IEDs is released, other insurgents could learn how to construct the devices. But there is also a strong likelihood that release of that information will prompt industry to find the solution that will make the weapon less deadly, he says.
Whats more important? Keeping people alive, MacGaffin told sister publication Inside the Army last week.
Not everyone agrees that DOD should be more generous with IED threat data. Defense officials say the protection of such information is vital to ensuring countermeasures will work for as long as possible
I know theres a frustration, Scott Gooch, senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, said. [The company] is conducting capabilities assessment work on IEDs for the Joint Staff.
But classification issues are nothing new, Gooch noted -- and new ideas are making their way to the Pentagon. In one example, a farmer discovered a material that could withstand explosives and sent it via UPS to the Defense Department.
THERE'S MORE: Shhh! Keep quiet when you're reading Steven Aftergood's Slate story on why airport screeners don't have to tell you what law they're relying on to give you the pat-down.
AND MORE: House Armed Services Committee chair Duncan Hunter "is developing a proposal to boost production" of Warlock Green-like jammers, Aerospace Daily says. "The Army plans to buy another 3,300 jammers, a figure that Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) asserted still would leave many U.S. vehicles unprotected against IEDs."
Amazing how the defense contractors can invent this stuff that really works.
The information on the anti-IED and anti-mortar product is useful, but sadly, Defense Tech is wildly anti-Bush due to a personal relationship with Spencer Abraham, among others...
So why are we telling everyone???
Spencer Abraham the soon to be former Energy Secretary? Is he anti-Bush? Am I missing something here?
So, this is one of the toys I'll get to play with, once I get in theater!
The ingenuity of the terrorist, versus the innovation of a motivated entrepreneur - guess who wins every time?
That dark blanket is there to keep the enemy from adapting it weapons to defeat our countermeasures and THAT is the real issue.
Any countermeasure detail is information that can be used by an opposing engineer.
Ask Bin Laden about his sattelite phone and whether he uses it anymore. What he didn't know was very dangerous to him.
Has something been developed to counter the car alarms being used to trigger booby-trapped vehicles?
Here's another idea. The "insurgents" use cell phones as triggers. When a cell phone is turned on, it has to ping a tower to let the system know where it is. Have the system call back everyone when they turn on their phone. If it's a bomb, it will explode - in the terrorist's hands. Good for one or two tries before they catch on.
I missed the farmer example. Still, I agree -- product and research development secrecy has VERY serious flaws. Not only do you shut out a lot of very smart, cunning and out-of-the-box thinking folks -- but you fortify the castles of the incompentent. The technically incompetent and uninspired are quick as all get out to realize the value of project secrecy in terms of (1) protecting their jobs by radically limiting the client's available market, (2) as a lever applied against the competent to remove them by shutting them out of key information and thereby allowing false charges of incompetence and/or inability to be brought against even the most competent, and (3) to preclude accountibility for failure, schedule overrrun, and incomptence. Once the technically incompetent, yet politically shrewd, learn this they can be quite adept and potent at empowering and enriching themselves while buggering the rest of us.
We kinda inferred the existance of these devices, what, about 3 or 4 years ago?
"THERE'S MORE: Shhh! Keep quiet when you're reading Steven Aftergood's Slate story on why airport screeners don't have to tell you what law they're relying on to give you the pat-down"
A quick fix to this whole "pat-down" problem would be if we could Pick from a team of Pat-Downers who we would like to pat us down.
Of course then the only objection would be that they didn't "finish" or pat us down enough...........
Yeah, that was great. Marcinko was riding through Beirut with the device running, and blowing up bomb factories they got near. Sadly, the diplomats at the embassy wouldn't let them use it there, allowing the marines guarding it to be vulnerable. According to his version of events.
Well, we hope you get to play with it.
Were you here when they tested ShortStop?
They may also be looking at agile jammers...
Thanks for the post.
It is amazing how the enemies of America have wrapped the flag around themselves, then burrow into a defense industry, and then work 24/7 to expose our tech secrets to minimize their effectiveness.
No, but his victims certainly had it on their shirts.
Fighting terrorists with kid gloves will always yield limited results.
Very true, and I'm sure all the Marines that got killed there would agree with you too. lol Marcinko was always surprised when he found a diplomat that was actually on OUR side.
Our conversations back then were only about what the Israelis had finally obtained from us. There were simply too many Palestinian "work accidents" to be coincidence. The obvious explanation was that the Israelis were juicing the Pali explosive labs with *something*.
True, but remember that there is more to the world than just military intel. I come from the days when Van Eck units were routinely used to display targeted firms' computer screens remotely...quite useful for civilian corporate espionage and counter-intel operations.
Frankly, even the civilian corporate world is engaging in some pretty sophisticated EM sniffing these days. Greed is a powerful motivator for technological advances, and some of that civilian tech will be applicable to military Intel.
And the civilian tech is by definition not "classified."
Collection isn't the sensitive part: detailing what we can and can't analyze is.