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Confluence of thinking on Chinese outsourcing and supply chain risks from DSB and USCC

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Rather than selling US securities, consider China restricting microchip supplies to the west at a critical junction (which would hit Taiwan, the current global producer of electronic componentry). This is no more implausible than Russia restricting energy flows to the Ukraine which despite the repercussions remains a viable distress option. (Think of combining securities with chips.)

Consider a foreign nation-state or its proxy embedding malicious code somewhere in a software developer's global outsourcing tier. (If bugs get in, certainly purpose-crafted malicious code can get in.) The state actor can be camouflaged by the nationality and location of its proxy.

Think of the implications of the Defense Department "inadvertently outsourcing the manufacturing of key weapons and military equipment to factories in China."

These are but three implications of the confluence of thinking from the Defense Science Board (DSB) and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). With its transient task forces drawn from a wide range of industry and commerce, the DSB is as contemplative and low-key as the bipartisan congressional USCC can be public and hawkish.

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC)

As I consider the DoD to be a harbinger of threats to private industry, I find the concerns of DSB and USCC to have industry-wide significance in both the US and the EU. All the better that this fifth USCC report has shed its historic "harsh rhetoric" in favor of "more objective and supported cooperative efforts" that secured the "unanimous support" of its twelve Democratic and Republican commissioners; Its output defined realistic risks and offered useful responses, starting with industrial consolidation that amounts to a new autarky on the part of the Chinese:

China's consolidation of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is guided by a new policy announced in December 2006. The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) and China's State Council identified seven strategic industries in which the state must maintain "absolute control through state-owned enterprises," and five heavyweight industries in which the state will remain heavily involved. The strategic industries are armaments, power generation and distribution, oil and petrochemicals, telecommunications, coal, civil aviation, and shipping. The heavyweights are machinery; automobiles; information technology; construction; and iron, steel, and non-ferrous metals. It is estimated that forty to fifty of SASAC's 155 central SOEs fall in the strategic category and account for 75 percent of SASAC's total assets...

The Commission is disappointed that Beijing's efforts to move in the direction of a market economy appear to be slackening. In particular, the government's decision to retain state ownership or control of a large block of the economy is disappointing. In accord with its 11th Five-Year Plan, China has designated a dozen industries, including telecommunications, civil aviation, and information technology, as "heavyweight" or "pillar" industries over which it intends for government to retain control. In addition, 155 of China's largest corporations remain state-owned, including nearly all the nation's largest banks. Much of the economy remains under the Chinese government's strict control. Beijing's provision of subsidies to its pillar industries may damage competitors in other countries - including the United States where companies do not receive such subsidies...

It is precisely these "pillar" and "heavyweight" industries that China will protect to the point of excluding foreign firms. I offered this guidance in an October 2007 advisory but its theme could have been plucked from far earlier work:

China has repeatedly used standards and administrative edicts to hold competitors at bay until Chinese products were in the market, often at established levels that minimized success of any foreign competitor. One that comes to mind is the 'technical issues' barring Blackberries for well over a year until Chinese products were in the market. China has a not so thinly veiled plan to harvest foreign tech, producing indigenous standards which bar foreign standards BUT let Chinese standards compliant products work overseas, i.e., the PRC wants to completely invert all royalty payments while achieving the price volume curves of a global product... I am not the only one to have [observed] that this standards practice is a strategic weapon.

In private - as in group dinner conversations - senior Chinese individuals have specifically stated that US/EU automotive OEMs will be driven out by use of standards, tariffs and administrative rulings. [Personal email advisory]

The USCC is specific with regards to Chinese predation on US Intellectual Property (IP):

[China] enlists engineers and scientists to obtain valuable information from foreign sources ''by whatever means possible - including theft.''

Additionally, industrial espionage provides Chinese companies an added source of new technology without the necessity of investing time or money to perform research. Chinese espionage in the United States, which now comprises the single greatest threat to U.S. technology, is straining the U.S. counterintelligence establishment.

China still is not enforcing its own laws against intellectual property theft.

Of the USCC Commission's 42 recommendations to Congress, ten were seen to be "of particular significance." Of those ten, numbers 2, 3 and 7 are specific to supply chain and IP risk and affect all industrial segments, commercial and defense:

  • Determining the country of origin of U.S. weapon systems components: The Commission recommends that Congress require the Department of Defense to prepare a complete list of the country of origin of each component in every U.S. weapon system to the bottom tier.
  • Ensuring adequate support for U.S. export control enforcement and counterintelligence efforts: In order to slow or stop the outflow of protected U.S. technologies and manufacturing expertise to China, the Commission recommends that Congress assess the adequacy of and, if needed, provide additional funding for U.S. export control enforcement and counterintelligence efforts, specifically those tasked with detecting and preventing illicit technology transfers to China and Chinese state-sponsored industrial espionage operations.
  • Assessing potential Chinese military applications of R&D conducted in China by U.S. companies: The Commission recommends that Congress direct the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate, and, in its Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, to report on, potential Chinese military applications of R&D conducted in China by U.S. companies.

The specifics are laid out in the Commission's comprehensive recommendations:

The Impact of Trade with China on the U.S. Defense Industrial Base
8. The Commission recommends that Congress require the Department of Defense to prepare a complete list of the country origin of each component in every U.S. weapon system to the bottom tier...

China's Military Modernization
12. In order to slow or stop the outflow of protected U.S. technologies and manufacturing expertise to China, the Commission recommends that Congress assess the adequacy of and, if needed, provide additional funding for U.S. export control enforcement and counterintelligence efforts, specifically those tasked with detecting and preventing illicit technology transfers to China and Chinese state-sponsored industrial espionage operations...

China's Science and Technology Activities and Accomplishments
20. The Commission recommends that Congress direct the U.S. Department of Commerce to report periodically on the general R&D expenditures of U.S. companies in China, based on protected business proprietary data the Department currently collects.
21. The Commission recommends that Congress direct the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate, and, in its Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, to report on, potential Chinese military applications of R&D conducted in China by U.S. companies...

Defense Science Board (DSB)

It would appear that the USCC's 2007 report has been informed by work by the DSB in the 2005-2007 period, notably in the areas of firmware/microelectronics and software outsourcing and tiered manufacturing, encompassing both the buy side and the make side).

By 2005 DSB noted that the US defense side was disturbed by offshoring or "alienation" of critical supply chains, notably for microelectronics:

Pressure on U.S. IC suppliers for high return on invested capital has compelled them to outsource capital intensive manufacturing operations. Thus, the past decade has seen an accelerating trend toward vertical disaggregation in the semiconductor business. Companies whose manufacturing operations once encompassed the full range of integrated circuit activities from product definition to design and process development, to mask-making and chip fabrication, to assembly and final test and customer support, even materials and production equipment, are contracting out nearly all these essential activities...

One unintended result of this otherwise sound industry change is the relocation of critical microelectronics manufacturing capabilities from the United States to countries with lower cost capital and operating environments. Trustworthiness and supply assurance for components used in critical military and infrastructure applications are casualties of this migration. Further, while not the focus of this study per se, the U.S. national technological leadership may be increasingly challenged by these changing industry dynamics; this poses long term national economic security concerns.

[For] DOD's strategy of information superiority to remain viable, the Department requires:

    • Trusted and assured supplies of integrated circuit (IC) components.
    • A continued stream of exponential improvements in the processing capacity of microchips and new approaches to extracting military value from information.

Trustworthiness of custom and commercial systems that support military operations - and the advances in microchip technology underlying our information superiority - however has been jeopardized. Trustworthiness includes confidence that classified or mission critical information contained in chip designs is not compromised, reliability is not degraded or untended design elements inserted in chips as a result of design or fabrication in conditions open to adversary agents. Trust cannot be added to integrated circuits after fabrication; electrical testing and reverse engineering cannot be relied upon to detect undesired alterations in military integrated circuits. [Emphasis in original]

The opportunities for adversarial intervention are great:

Finding: Because of the U.S. military dependence on advanced technologies whose fabrication is progressively more offshore, opportunities for adversaries to clandestinely manipulate technology used in U.S. critical microelectronics applications are enormous and increasing. In general, a sophisticated, clandestine services develop opportunities to gain close access to a target technology throughout its lifetime, not just at inception.

If real and potential adversaries' ability to subvert U.S. microelectronics components is not reversed or technically mitigated, our adversaries will gain enormous asymmetric advantages that could possibly put U.S. force projection at risk. In the end, the U.S. strategy must be one of risk management, not risk avoidance. Even if risk avoidance were possible, it would be prohibitively costly.

By 2007 DSB observed that the US defense side had focused on microelectronics' mating factor, software design, in its concern of "alienation" of critical supply chains, but with a difference. Software and firmware are not parallel "because the microchip fabrication business requires increasingly large capital formation - a considerable barrier to entry by a lesser nation-state. Software development and production, by contrast, has a low investment threshold. It requires only talented people, who increasingly are found outside the United States." (ICG has had a sustaining interest in the supply chain risks and diversion of embedded software within weapons systems. See my 2005, Israel as serial violator, temporarily the chicken killed to scare the monkeys.):

The task force on microchip supply identified two areas of risk in the off-shoring of fabrication facilities - that the U.S. could be denied access to the supply of chips and that there could be malicious modifications in these chips. Because software is so easily reproduced, the former risk is small. The latter risk of "malware," however, is serious. It is this risk that is discussed at length in this report.

Software that the Defense Department acquires has been loosely categorized as:

  • Commodity products - referred to as "commercial-off-the-shelf" (COTS) software;
  • General software developed by or for the U.S. Government - referred to as "Government-off-the-shelf" (GOTS) software; and
  • Custom software - generally created for unique defense applications.

The U.S. Government is obviously attracted by the first, COTS. It is produced for and sold in a highly competitive marketplace, and its development costs are amortized across a large base of consumers, Its functionality continually expands in response to competitive market demands. It is [a] bargain, but it is also most likely to be produced offshore, and so presents the greater threat of malicious modification.

There are two distinct kinds of vulnerabilities in software. The first is the common "bug," an unintentional defect or weakness in the code that opens the door for opportunistic exploitation. [DoD] shares these defects with all users. However, certain users are "high value targets" such as the financial sector and the Department of Defense. These high-value targets attract the "high-end" attackers. Moreover, the DoD also may be presumed to attract the most skilled and best financed attackers - a nation-state adversary or its proxy. These high-end attackers will not be content to exploit opportunistic vulnerabilities which might be fixed and therefore unavailable at a critical juncture. Furthermore, they may seek to implant vulnerability for later exploitation.

DSB reports are recommended reading as, noted above, DoD assets are the 'canary in the coal mine' for the larger set of commercial assets in the US and abroad. (Even when the subject topic seems far afield, the underlying technology discussions have surprising relevance.) Where DoD threats are now, the commercial sector will soon follow. The latest USCC report shows that defense and commercial risks have now substantially intersected.

The full 2007 USCC report is to be released next week. In preparation, I suggest:

ICG's Intellectual Property (IP) Protection Abstracts, September 2006 to June 2007
ICG's Intellectual Property (IP) Protection Abstracts, April 2004 to July 2006

 

U.S. - CHINA COMMISSION CITES SOME PROGRESS YET SOME TROUBLING TRENDS FOR U.S. ECONOMIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS
Press Release
USCC
November 15, 2007

USCC 2007 Report segments, available online 17 November:
2007 Report to Congress Intro
2007 Report to Congress Executive Summary
The Commission's Recommendations

Panel: China's Spying Poses Threat to U.S. Tech Secrets
By David Cho and Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post
November 15, 2007; 11:57 AM

Chinese Spying No. 1 Threat To U.S. Manufacturing
By Foster Klug, Associated Press Writer
Manufacturing.Net - November 15, 2007

National Security and the PC
Posted by Paul Murphy @ 12:18 am
ZDNet
November 14, 2007

Are Foreigners Ruining DOD Software?
Posted by Catherine MacRae Hockmuth
Ares/Aviation Week
10/30/2007 4:02 PM

Building Trustworthy Circuits
Posted by Catherine MacRae Hockmuth
Ares/Aviation Week
10/29/2007 12:48 PM

Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Mission Impact of Foreign Influence on DoD Software
Defense Science Board (DSB)
September 2007

Statement of Senator Carl Levin before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on The U.S. China Relationship
Contact: Press Office
Phone: 202.228.3685
February 1, 2007

Satellite surprise highlights U.S.-China gap: official
Reuters
February 1, 2007; 3:12 PM

Russia Bargains for Bigger Stake in West's Energy
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN
New York Times
June 12, 2006

Gas Halt May Produce Big Ripples in European Policy
By MARK LANDLER
New York Times
January 4, 2006

Defense Science Board Task Force On HIGH PERFORMANCE MICROCHIP SUPPLY
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
February 2005

Gordon Housworth



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The continuing strategic failure to address our slide in Pre-K through 20+ education

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During the preparation of Islamic flashpoints: Even adjustments may be outside Western control, December 1, 2006, which was a requested deeper dive on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine from the survey of Colonial/Western-Arab relationships in Islamic territory from North Africa to South Asia: No solutions, only adjustments, September 8, 2006, I found myself frequently thinking of vital national issues that have been neglected as Iraq continues to divert US attention, manpower, diplomacy and money to Baghdad:

  • China's growing mercantile net
  • Russia's kleptocracy class armed with the energy weapon
  • Eclipse of US dominance of technologically sophisticated, major weapons systems
  • Pre-K through 20+ education
  • Conservation policy and conservation technology
  • While it is transient - resolving the Republican struggle from the Bush Family struggle

In keeping with my view that 'The hole is as good as the donut,' that is, a thoughtful observer needs to look at what is missing as well as what is present, I opened the presentation with these six issues as I felt that they increased the gravity of the Iraqi situation in particular and the Middle East in general. It is one thing to be succeeding in Iraq, Afghanistan (we were, but we relocated attention and assets to Iraq and have likely lost it as well) and the Middle East so that one could argue that the tradeoff was worthwhile, but it is quite another to be singularly failing in those conflict areas as well as neglecting strategic areas of need.

Education gap of domestic students (those who will stay in the US) continues to gape

I urge readers to start with The US needs a "No Nation Left Behind" program - for itself which forms an effective preamble to this note. "No Nation" highlights the continued dwindling of US engineering and technical cadres for both the defense and commercial sectors:

My attention was arrested by the gap - more a failure to address with no systemic solution in sight - between two reports by the Defense Science Board, Future Strategic Strike Forces, Feb 2004, and Future Strategic Strike Skills, March 2006. Both deal with US strategic strike force capabilities, the first being a statement of strategic strike needs out to 2030 and the second describing the systemic breach in human assets, commercial valuation that attracts those assets, and education capable of producing the skills needed in order to achieve those strike goals.

I take this gap as a metaphor of our failure to properly incent and educate an entire class of technologists be it for military or commercial applications. Considering that many of our weapons systems are aging, designed twenty or more years ago by engineers that graduated fifteen or more years earlier, we are increasingly unable to revise and extend existing systems or design future systems...

Strike Skills makes appalling reading, noting that the "personnel required for the development of such systems should be highly innovative [but that] attracting such individuals may be difficult due to the lack of financial incentives associated with civilian industry's efforts." "[I]t appears that a serious loss of certain critical strategic strike skills may occur within the next decade." Whereas Strike Forces itemized "well known" deficiencies in command and control networks; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and battle damage assessment; delivery systems; and payloads, the five findings of Strike Skills paint the picture of a dwindling industrial base...

"The future workforce is here, and it is ill-prepared"

Improving our entire Pre-K through 20+ is worthy of a Moonshot mandate (also here); I'd go so far as to say it is the Moonshot mandate that will allow us to address other challenges. The Conference Board's recently released Are They Ready to Work? shows that our desired education levels for high school, 2-year and 4-year college graduates are about as far away as the moon: "Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America's youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace."

I found it interesting that business overwhelmingly valued applied skills over basic skills such as the three "R's":

Applied Skills refer to those skills that enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge they have acquired in school to perform in the workplace. Applied skills include those based on cognitive abilities such as Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, as well as more social and behavioral skills such as Professionalism/Work Ethic. Some of the other applied skills, such as Oral Communications and Teamwork/Collaboration, combine both cognitive abilities and social skills.

While K-12 (high school), K-14 (two-year graduates) and K-16 (four-year graduates were substandard when measured against business expectations, there was a painful performance gap in the top five applied skills, ranked "very important," for high school graduate entrants, 2-year and 4-year college graduates:

  • Critical thinking/problem solving (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Oral communications (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Written communications (2-year and 4-year)
  • Teamwork/collaboration (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Professionalism/work ethic (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Ethics/social responsibility (high school)
  • Diversity
  • Information technology application
  • Leadership
  • Creativity/innovation
  • Lifelong learning/self direction

Individual careers and national competitiveness obey the KANO Model just as do products and services

Applied to products and services since the early 1980s, Noriaki Kano's customer satisfaction model applies equally to individual career attractiveness and by extension to the products, ideas and services on offer from the nation of those individuals. The competitiveness of a nation is just as susceptible to decay as the value of an individual contributor or a product.

By the mid-1990s I was informally applying the Kano Model to career development as I counseled colleagues. I saw that individuals entered the marketplace with an attractive, perhaps even exciting, balance of skills (abilities divided by salary) but as time elapsed many individuals did not improve their skills yet claimed higher wages. No wonder that some unpleasantly found themselves both 'expensive' and 'out-of-date' when compared to new entrants.

Kano commenced consumer satisfaction research in the 1970s that soon identified both perceived and latent, or unexpressed, customer needs:

Konica camera company realized that to remain competitive its new camera must be something completely different from what was available at the time. However, when the R&D and Sales departments began talking to customers, it sounded like they were asking for only minor modifications in the existing model. When they went to a photo processing lab, however, they saw that there were many failures - such as blurry images, under and over exposures, and blank rolls. Working to solve these problems led to many features available in cameras today (such as auto focus, builtin-flash, automatic film winding). [The] key to success was to not just listen to what customers were saying but to develop a deep understanding of the customers' world and then to address these latent [unexpressed] needs.

The fundamental concept of "attractive quality" was the result. Kano went on to create three classes of attributes, excitement, performance and basic:

  • Excitement or "surprise and delight" characteristics: "unexpected attributes that, when provided, generate disproportionately high levels of customer enthusiasm and satisfaction." Customers rarely express a need or desire for them until they see them, but immediately cherish them when they do.
  • Performance characteristics: attributes exhibiting "a linear relationship between perceptions of attribute performance and customer satisfaction." I think the best way to describe this class of attributes is that they are the 'spoken' or verbalized in a product brochure.
  • Threshold or basic characteristics: "essential or "must" attributes of performance [that] do not offer any real opportunity for product differentiation. Providing threshold attributes and meeting customer expectations for them will do little to enhance overall customer satisfaction, but removing or performing poorly on them will hurt customer satisfaction, lead to customer complaints, and may result in customer defections." A product or service must have these features just to play in the market.

The Kano Model does not explicitly state the overwhelming contribution of Delight and Performance to the total feature set: The excitement features that captivate the buyer account for 5% or less of total features. Performance features account for approximately 15% of the total feature set. Basic, or must-be, features account for the balance of 80% of the total feature set.

As customer's requirements change over time, features initially generating excitement migrate downward to an expected or assumed category as the market approaches saturation. "In time, excitement quality will become a performance item and with the passage of time, quite possibly a basic requirement." Electric starting, pneumatic tires, and automatic transmissions initially generated excitement as each made vehicles easier and more comfortable to drive. Each progressively slid to a performance feature in which customers would rank certain designs better than others. Over time, each declined to an assumed or basic quality item from which customers demanded flawless performance. Comment occurred only when they failed.

This feature cascade can be stated as:

  • Customer is delighted because of an expected feature (excitement)
  • Customer is capable of evaluating vendors' features (performance)
  • Customer is disappointed if a feature is not present (basic)

To see Kano in diagrammatic form, go herehere and for comprehensive coverage, here. Substitute 'career' or 'national competitiveness' for 'product' here to see how easily you and your nation can become a commodity.

Failing to continue learning, fixing the 'half-life' value of education, is a recipe to slide from excitement to commodity

I found it depressing that the Conference Board respondents ranked "Lifelong learning/self direction" so low, ranking it 9 of 11 for high school graduates, 8 of 11 for two-year college graduates and 10 of 11 for four-year college graduates. Even considering employers' focus on short term remedial needs, the ranking indicates a general failure of business to understand that the 'half-life' of the content of a baccalaureate degree is measured in a few years - often four or less. Businesses need perpetual learners. To not understand this and plan for it is to orchestrate one's slide down the Kano model into uncompetitiveness.

Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century noted that:

The B.S. degree should be considered as a preengineering or "engineer in training" degree. Engineering programs should be accredited at both the B.S. and M.S. levels, so that the M.S. degree can be recognized as the engineering "professional" degree... Colleges and universities should endorse research in engineering education as a valued and rewarded activity for engineering faculty and should develop new standards for faculty qualifications. In addition to producing engineers who have been taught the advances in core knowledge and are capable of defining and solving problems in the short term, institutions must teach students how to be lifelong learners. Engineering educators should introduce interdisciplinary learning in the undergraduate curriculum and explore the use of case studies of engineering successes and failures as a learning tool... Institutions should encourage domestic students to obtain M.S. and/or Ph.D. degrees.

The report does a creditable job of painting the need for growth, learning and flexibility:

If the United States is to maintain its economic leadership and be able to sustain its share of high-technology jobs, it must prepare for this wave of change. Although there is no consensus at this stage, it is agreed that innovation is the key and engineering is essential to this task; but engineering will only contribute to success if it is able to continue to adapt to new trends and provide education to the next generation of students so as to arm them with the tools needed for the world as it will be, not as it is today...

Although certain basics of engineering will not change, the explosion of knowledge, the global economy, and the way engineers will work will reflect an ongoing evolution that began to gain momentum a decade ago. The economy in which we will work will be strongly influenced by the global marketplace for engineering services, evidenced by the outsourcing of engineering jobs, a growing need for interdisciplinary and system-based approaches, demands for new paradigms of customization, and an increasingly international talent pool...

Engineering 2020 speaks to the fragility of initial knowledge. One of the discussion threads of the breakouts dealt with the short "shelf life" of knowledge in today's world (and what shelf life might be in 2020). Students needed to "develop the skills and attitudes that foster lifelong learning and that technology advances that allow distance and asynchronous learning could be key enablers to support that learning":

The half-life of cutting-edge technical knowledge today is on the order of a few years, but globalization of the economy is accelerating and the international marketplace for engineering services is dynamic...

I have seen figures stating that a top-tier lifelong student will have to retrain themselves four to five times in their career to retain currency against new domestic and foreign entrants. Those numbers become very believable when one sees how consistently short half-life periods are defined:

2005: "The half-life of knowledge has become miniscule in many fields. Having once undergone training or holding a degree or degrees is not enough. Lifelong learning is essential to competitiveness."

The American Academy of Political and Social Science "estimated the half-life of an engineer's skills in 1986 at 2.5 years in software engineering, 5.0 years in electrical engineering..."

IN 2001 "the half-life of an engineering degree is now projected to be something like seven years"

IN 2002, Penn State noted that "the half-life of one's Internet/Web knowledge obsoletes every two years"

"Where technologies and training once changed every 20 years, today the half-life of rapidly advancing technologies may be anywhere between three and five years. Such rapid development requires the education of current workers and professionals in the latest technological advances and related applications."

Put the failure of solving career half-life decay into the Kano Model and solve for your value. Individually and as a nation, we desperately need to teach early, teach thoroughly, teach consistently and as important, teach how to learn. It is our next Moonshot.

Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential for Success
Conference Board
Press notice
Oct. 2, 2006

Are They Really Ready to Work?
Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Marketplace
Jill Casner-Lotto, Linda Barrington
Report Number:  BED-06-Workforc
October 2006

MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR BEATING THE COMMODITY MAGNET
P.V. (Sundar) Balakrishnan
University of Washington
September 2006

Future Strategic Strike Skills
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
March 2006

Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century
Committee on the Engineer of 2020, Phase II, Committee on Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering
National Academy Press
ISBN: 0309096499
2005

2005 Proceedings
Association for Continuing Higher Education
67th Annual Meeting
Madison, Wisconsin
October 29 -
November 1, 2005

Kano Taxonomy of Customer Needs
Posted by Gene Smith on Nov 15, 2004
Atomiq

Future Strategic Strike Forces
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
February 2004

The Evolution of a B.S. Internet/Web Program at Purdue University Calumet
Charles R. Winer and John Maniotes
Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN
June 2002

THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE AMERICA'S PREMIER INSTITUTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
DR. KATHERINE BOSWELL
Center for Community College Policy, Denver, Colorado
July 2001

Evaluating Customer Satisfaction with Media Products and Services
An Attribute Based Approach
By Randy Jacobs
European Media Management Review
Winter 1999

A special issue on Kano's Methods for Understanding Customer-defined Quality
Center for Quality Management Journal
Vol 2, number 4, Fall 1993

Higher-Education Partnerships in Engineering and Science
Lionel V. Baldwin
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 514, Electronic Links for Learning (Mar., 1991), pp. 76-91

John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium
John F. Kennedy
Johnson Space Center, NASA
September 12, 1962

1961: Kennedy pledges man on Moon
On This Day
BBC
25 May, 1961

Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs.
John F. Kennedy
The American Presidency Project
May 25th, 1961

Gordon Housworth



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Presumably used by a Russian, possibly state, faction, Polonium-210 will fire the jihadists' imagination for dirty bombs

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An unmentioned subtext in identifying the presumably Russian actor - possibly state, private or an alliance of two or more groups - and the means of delivering a fatal dose of polonium-210 to now "British citizen and former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Aleksandr Litvinenko," is the attention paid by jihadists to the uproar and disruption it generated as well as the sources of acquiring polonium and other radioactive isotopes.

Most observers, likely including the ordinary jihadist, thought that Polonium was out of reach, severely controlled as is plutonium. The casual observer now knows that:

Contrary to early news reports, polonium-210 -- the poison suspected in the death of an ex-Russian spy in England -- is not some exotic material available solely from nuclear labs. The isotope is available from firms that sell it for lawful and legitimate uses in industry, such as removing static electricity from machinery and photographic film...

[and]

Today, polonium 210 can show up in everything from atom bombs, to antistatic brushes to cigarette smoke, though in the last case only minute quantities are involved. Iran made relatively large amounts of polonium 210 in what some experts call a secret effort to develop nuclear arms, and North Korea probably used it to trigger its recent nuclear blast.

Commercially, Web sites and companies sell many products based on polonium 210, with labels warning of health dangers. By some estimates, a lethal dose might cost as little as $22.50, plus tax. "Radiation from polonium is dangerous if the solid material is ingested or inhaled," warns the label of an antistatic brush. "Keep away from children."

Observers now know that it is highly toxic and has no antidote:

Polonium-210 is "approximately 100,000 million (100 billion) times more toxic than cyanide"... Polonium is an "alpha emitter," which, when it decays, emits high-speed volleys of subatomic alpha particles -- each one made up of two protons and two neutrons bound together -- that rip apart DNA coils and bust up the cells in which they reside... causes a hideous death...

The Health Physics Society [which] distributes information on radiation safety, estimates that a lethal dose of polonium 210 is 3,000 microcuries... Other experts put the figure slightly higher.

Observers further know that unless it is being specifically sought, it is not detected by the myriad of radiation detectors at airports, ports and key transit points since it is an alpha-emitter, not a gamma emitter as are traditional nuclear fuels for fissile packages, uranium and plutonium. Until polonium-210 was identified as the cause of death and not thallium (from rat poison) as first believed, and then sought with alpha detectors, it was not known that trace elements of polonium were scattered across London and on at least three BA aircraft on the London-Moscow run.

Observers now know that the UK is unprepared for a radiological event and that public concern will jam communication and response channels in the case of a primary radiological event. We know from the TOPOFF exercises here in the US that first responders will be overwhelmed, decreasing available support to other patients, as citizens demand to be tested, while others will create traffic problems as they attempt to leave the area. See:

The surreptitious radiation poisoning of one man overwhelmed the system's ability to respond:

"The man was radioactive in a hospital for weeks and nobody knew it. That's terrifying,"... "It's taken us three to four weeks to literally get on the case. In terms of us being prepared for a radiological incident, this is a very bad portent."... we can't handle one radiation incident, let alone someone exploding a dirty bomb."

Security officials have been braced for years for the scenario of a dirty bomb -- a device containing a mix of explosives and radioactive material -- that might only kill a few people but would contaminate a wide area and spread panic.

But the detection challenge would be much greater [in] the event of a more insidious attack such as spreading radioactive material in a public place where many people would be exposed and only gradually fall ill. "What we should be focusing on is our ability to detect and react to events like this in the future"

Observers also know that while the principle producer is Russia (certainly the low cost producer) which "sells 8g of polonium-210 each month to American companies for "scientific purposes"" as well as other states, polonium-210 is reasonably available from scientific houses and can be (laboriously) extracted from common industrial items. The fact that extraction is hazardous will not deflect the determined jihadist as we have already seen jihadist proposals to form sacrificial teams in order to produce a crude fissile package.

It would be interesting to audit Russian production, i.e., if Russia sells enough polonium-210 to the US for "thousands of lethal doses" (96 grams is 3.4 ounces), who else procures it. (While Iran produces it, as likely does the DPRK, their primary use would be nuclear triggers.) Many of those states will have legal and illegal channels of varying oversight.

Even if a large amount of polonium-210 is not included in a simple radiation device, it will satisfy the basic requirements of all dirty bombs - disruption and chaos. Jihadists may also look at fellow traveler isotopes and create a cocktail. Purity is not required.

Polonium
WebElements Periodic Table

RUSSIAN PROSECUTOR TALKS TOUGH TO BRITAIN
Patrick Moore
RFE/RL NEWSLINE
Vol. 10, No. 224, Part I, 6 December 2006

MEDIA CONTINUE TO SPECULATE OVER LITVINENKO'S DEATH
Patrick Moore
RFE/RL NEWSLINE
Vol. 10, No. 222, Part I, 4 December 2006

Polonium, $22.50 Plus Tax
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
New York Times
December 3, 2006

Spy case raises questions on UK radiation response
By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent
Reuters
Dec 1, 2006 10:09am ET

Polonium-210? it's yours for $69, no questions asked
Tony Halpin
The Times
November 30, 2006

WAS PUTIN CRITIC 'POISONED' IN LONDON?
Patrick Moore
RFE/RL NEWSLINE
Volume 10 Number 214, Part I, November 20, 2006

IRAN Report
RFE/RL Report
6 September 2004, Volume 7, Number 30

Gordon Housworth



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The lunacy of bottle embargo: think more water bottle, think drug mule, think both

  #

Paralyzing air travel, grossly inconveniencing travelers and creating chaos over the emptying of every conceivable bottle before a passenger can board an aircraft gains little and if continued will soon join the obsolescent but annoying tactics in place from 2001-2005. Merely substitute a zip-locked bag tapped to the body for the external bottle. And don't overlook the 'transporters' that every felon, male and female, learns to move goods into, around and out of confinement. Everything one needs could be cavity transported. Are we to cavity search every passenger? Cavities need not be limited to immediately external parts of the body. If drug mules can swallow well over 80 capsules of heroin, often more, a suicide bomber could swallow the primary charge and need only produce the detonator and booster charge from another cavity or another coconspirator. As microelectronic timers shrink in size, one of the capsules can house the timer and detonator such that the suicide bomber is self-sufficient. Sensors that can detect the outgassing from solid explosives such as C-4 and Semtex will be challenged to detect that mode of delivery.

We could easily slide back (also here) to the pre-2005 period before DHS adopted a Threat, Vulnerability, and Consequence-based Risk Analysis in place of previous scenario-based analyses, and when largely superficial measures where invoked that did little to deter terrorists but greatly inconvenienced passengers. In 2005 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reevaluated security measures put in place since September 2001 to ensure their validity for 2005 threats and available resources. Risk analysis concluded that the primary threat was now a suicide bomber boarding an aircraft, yet "security screeners spend too much time trying to find nail scissors and not enough time focused" on a suicide bomber, an already difficult problem as the TSA has a very limited capability to detect explosives under clothing. Struggling with budget and headcount reductions, air traveler complaints over flier unfriendly measures and new risk analysis to airliner safety, the TSA proposed removal of empty "feel good" security measures while focusing on "keeping explosives off the airplane."

The opportunities open to an asymmetric attacker are great as the exploitable vulnerabilities of a free society are enormous. In such an environment, the identification of atypical trends or asymmetric action is not easily observable. Successful interdiction requires:

  • Ongoing observation and data combing
  • Broadest permissible analysis and surveillance systems
  • Rapid feedback for investigative follow-up
  • Surveillance needs to focused and specific rather than broad and routine

In this porous environment, risk options largely devolve to three variants:

  • Do nothing, accepting risk by default – an exceedingly undesirable option
  • Perform a risk assessment, managing risk by installing reasonable mitigation measures
  • Harden the system against all threats, achieving least risk with possible business efficiency degradation

Narcotics drug mules, human smugglers carrying drugs in their stomachs, offer a means to carry more than a kilo of high explosives onto an aircraft:

The advent of the jet era and the proliferation of international air routes opened up an efficient new method of smuggling illicit narcotics from producer countries to consumer markets. One method of avoiding detection was swallowing pellets containing drugs, or inserting them into the body. The first reported case of "body packing" was in 1973 in Toronto, when a man was admitted to a hospital with a small-bowel obstruction developed 13 days after he had swallowed a condom filled with hashish. Officials at JFK International Airport first began to encounter and interdict drug swallowers and inserters in the early 1980s.

Given the illicit nature of drug trafficking, data regarding mules is necessarily incomplete. The statistics cited below are intended only to provide background context for the story told in [the film] Maria Full of Grace.

  • Average amount of heroin or cocaine contained in an individual pellet swallowed by a drug mule: 10 grams (approximately 0.4 ounces)
  • Number of pellets an average swallower can ingest: 80-125 (800 grams – 1.25 kilograms)
  • Number of internal drug mules (swallowed and inserted) intercepted at JFK for Fiscal year 2003 (10/1/2002-9/30/2003): 145 [38 female, 107 male,] Oldest: 65 years of age
  • Number of internal drug mules (swallowed and inserted) intercepted at JFK for fiscal year 2004 to date (10/1/2003 through 4/30/2004, not counting seizures currently in process: 57 [23 female, 34 male] Youngest: 16 years of age, Oldest: 72 years of age

One returning currency smuggler for the cartels "was found to have $197,000 worth of euros in his stomach" in the larger 500 euro denomination compared to the largest US denomination of $100 USD.

We need only blend suicide terrorists with felons to produce other means of transport:

Suspects and inmates can be highly creative in using their bodies to conceal contraband. For example, objects may be concealed by inserting them in the rectum. Illegal drugs can be placed in condoms and temporarily stored in the colon. Cylinders such as cigar tubes are used to hide money, intravenous syringes, and knives. Duplicate handcuff keys can be concealed in most body orifices. These goods are considered valuable inside a prison and can pose a security risk to staff and inmates at such facilities.

Further, not all contraband flows into the prison. Inmates affiliated with the Irish Republican Army were known to write assassination lists on cigarette papers and hide these lists beneath their foreskins.

In a thorough visual body cavity search, a flashlight is used to illuminate body orifices, including nostrils, ears, mouth, male penis (urethra and foreskin), female vagina, and rectum. Generally, the detainee is required to manipulate these body parts so that they can be examined.

On-body and cavity transport of contraband pose their own unique demands to a clothed (pat), strip or cavity search. Consider what is required for the middle search classification, the strip search (which contains many steps of the pat search) - and still contraband gets through:

1. Maintain safe distance.
2. Strip searches should be done away from other inmates to protect dignity of inmate.
3. Strip searches should be conducted by the same sex: female inmate by female officer and male inmate by male officer.
4. Instruct prisoner to empty pockets; remove coat, hat, tie, shoes, and belt.
5. Flex shoe, bend in several directions; hold shoe by toe, strike against floor to break open possible fake heel.
6. Inspect belt for contraband visually and by rolling it up.
7. Tug on belt buckle.
8. Inspect the belt seams by twisting the belt to see if it separates.
9. Check coat for contraband.
10. Remove trousers; inspect seams, pockets, waist bands, and cuffs.
11. Remove shirt; inspect collar, cuffs, pockets, and seams.
12. Remove socks; crush between hands.
13. Remove underclothing; check seams and inspect.
14. Remove and inspect wig.
15. Inspect hat or other headgear by running fingers around crown. NOTE: Watch for razor blades or pins.
16. Inspect sweat band of headgear for contraband by turning it down or out.
17. Have inmate turn away from you.
18. Check bottom of feet, one at a time.
19. Check anal area.
a. Have inmate bend over, and spread buttocks with hands.
b. Visually inspect the anus.
20. Have male inmate face you and instruct him to lift testicles; visually inspect. If individual is uncircumcised, have him pull foreskin of penis back.
21. Have inmate raise both arms, check armpits.
22. Have inmate extend arms in front; check palms and between fingers.
23. Tell prisoner to lower head and run a comb or fingers through hair. NOTE: Watch for razor blades concealed in hair.
24. Have inmate open mouth, lift tongue; visually inspect.
25. Check behind ears.
26. Use other applicable techniques.
a. Generally, the procedures for searching females is the same as males with the following exceptions:
b. Upper foundation garments, e.g. bra
c. Have inmate remove any tampons; visually inspect vaginal area.
d. Lower foundation garments.
(1) Girdles
(2) Panty hose
(3) Some girdles and bras contain METAL supports or underwires.
e. Have inmate lift breasts one at a time. Examples: Syringes, etc. can be taped under breast and hidden effectively.

A suicide terrorist could combine both 'mule' and 'cavity' transport, individually or severally. Bomb component miniaturization is only going to make the interdiction task more difficult. It is an axiom at our shop that "items at the edge of technology" are often unrecognizable or unidentifiable by inspectors unfamiliar with the technology. Two characteristics most contributed to a lack of recognition, robbing the viewer of visual cues as to function:

  • Miniaturization – a reduction of size and form
  • Integration (often a handmaiden of miniaturization) – the combination of functions of multiple items into a single item, itself often miniaturized

Recognition of miniaturization and integration are crucial components in risk evaluation of any class of item. The emergence of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) (also here) exhibiting both miniaturization and integration will affect the embargo/alert environment Current watch list items will be continuously affected. How will we uniformly shift screening focus as the function of the larger, more recognizable items are performed by a proliferating class of the smaller, cheaper items?

We expects the following fluid conditions:

  • Unexpected, innovative and non-traditional methods will proliferate, finding broad applicability
  • Targets will have changing vulnerabilities, technological abilities and associated risks
  • Terrorist tactics will evolve in methods and operational activities from internal technological "lift" and as a response to changes by the targets
  • Short of nation state confrontations, conventional operations will draw less interest as adversaries will look to escape retaliation and the cost of investments required to underwrite an overt effort
  • Unless we design around the asymmetrical adversary, such adversaries will continue to find ways to bypass our defenses and exploit our vulnerabilities. Such asymmetric operations will have common characteristics:
    • Small-scale high-impact operations
    • Operations performed with greater efficiency and effectiveness, both to minimize footprint and discovery and to conserve organizational resources, in order to achieve maximum results
    • Rise in operations taken to address ideological causes – and this applies equally to fringe Muslim fundamentalists and single-issue groups such as Earth Liberation Front (ELF)

Current events are tracking with my prediction in the aftermath of the strikes on New York City and Washington DC that the "war on terror" would be as intractable as the war on drugs. Combine that with the increasing sophistication and capacity open to an asymmetrical attack and it is clear that lethality will rise even as components shrink. Business as usual cannot continue indefinitely.

Focused on 9/11, U.S. Is Seen to Lag on New Threats
By ERIC LIPTON and MATTHEW L. WALD
New York Times
August 12, 2006

Liquid Threat Is Hard to Detect
By MATTHEW L. WALD and ERIC LIPTON
New York Times
August 11, 2006

Foiling the Would-Be Hijacker
Reuters 08:00 AM
Aug, 11, 2006

Agent infiltrated terror cell, U.S. says
Air travel in chaos after plot to bomb airliners exposed
CNN
Friday, August 11, 2006; Posted: 3:33 p.m. EDT (19:33 GMT)

New rules put laptops in checked baggage
After bomb scare, U.K. authorities ban all electronic items from carry on luggage
By Jeremy Kirk
IDG News Service
August 10, 2006

what a fucking crock (updated)
Pirate's Cove
Aug 10, 2006 @ 11:58

Register: Fliers stripped of hi-tech, remote detonation a possibility in terror plot
Posted by David Berlind @ 6:50 am
Between The Lines
August 10, 2006

Planes Remain Vulnerable Targets
Associated Press 13:15 PM
Aug, 10, 2006

Update on Foiled Airline Terror Plot
OSAC Hot Topic
Americas, Europe - United Kingdom, United States
10 Aug 2006

In This War, Technology Is Key
Who is more tech-savvy—drug traffickers or federal agents? The answer may determine who wins the war on drugs
By Alex Halperin
Business Week
AUGUST 10, 2006

The Drug War's Technology Tricks
Here are some of the techniques and tools that government officials and traffickers use - from special greenhouses to Predator drones
By Alex Halperin
Business Week
AUGUST 10, 2006

'Airlines terror plot' disrupted
BBC NEWS
Published: 2006/08/10 14:16:12 GMT

RFID passports with improper shielding triggers bomb in simulation
Posted by George Ou @ 12:17 am
August 9, 2006

In the fight against terrorism, the long war is the wrong war
Sooner or later, terrorists will get, and use, WMD
John Arquilla
San Francisco Chronicle
July 16, 2006

Airline Security Changes Planned
Threats Reassessed To Make Travel Easier for Public
By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post
August 13, 2005

Remarks for Secretary Michael Chertoff U.S. Department of Homeland Security George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute
George Washington University
Homeland Security Policy Institute
March 16, 2005
(Remarks as Prepared)

FM 100-14, Risk Management
Field Manual Headquarters
Department of the Army, Washington, DC
23 April 1998

Search of Inmates – 01-97
Instructors Guide
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education (TCLEOSE)
January 1997

Inmate Search
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education (TCLEOSE)
1997

Gordon Housworth



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Laser pointers: another example of unintended consequences, glide slope to the desktop

  #

Laser pointers are yet another example of what I call technology's glide slope to the desktop, i.e., becoming smaller, cheaper, and more widely available. Once even reasonably available, all it takes to attract terrorist or criminal interest, is the public recording of someone experimenting, or the mimicking of the outcome of an accident or natural disaster. (Think how easily we now know how to take down an LA metro rail system or collapse a regional power grid.)

Lasers were pointed at US military aircraft as early as early as 1997:

The incident involving [Lt. Jack Daly] occurred April 4, 1997, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near the U.S. submarine base at Bangor, Wash. The Navy intelligence officer was flying in a Canadian helicopter monitoring the Russian merchant ship Kapitan Man, which appeared to be shadowing a U.S. ballistic missile submarine. A suspected laser device fired from the Kapitan Man left him and the Canadian pilot "victims of what could be argued was a hostile act in an undeclared war, an act of terrorism, and, at a minimum, a federal crime," Daly told Hunter's House Armed Services subcommittee on procurement. He and Canadian Air Force Capt. Patrick Barnes have since suffered persistent pain and deteriorating eyesight.

While there have been some 400 reported instances of lasers aimed at aircraft since the early 1990s, the volume is now increasing rapidly:

Over [January], pilots have reported more than 30 incidents of laser beams being trained from the ground into their aircraft, prompting warnings from federal authorities and new reporting guidelines.

Lasers were pointed at US commercial aircraft with rising frequency by September, 2004, and the incidents have now blossomed. By December, an FBI bulletin to law enforcement rightly notes that lasers are now "relatively inexpensive, portable, easy to conceal and readily available on the open market [and] Although lasers are not proven methods of attack like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight."

Lasers have long been able to cause temporary blindness, even causing severe retina burning and permanent blindness depending on intensity, proximity, and protection:

But just as red lasers were used by drug dealers to harass police helicopters and by sports fanatics to distract basketball players taking free throws, green ones have been put to ill use. And with their longer range, experts say, green lasers pose a real danger because they can render pilots temporarily blind.

The rise in incidents is due to plummeting cost and the emergence of green lasers. While prices have dropped for both red (150:1) and green (6:1), it is the fact that the green devices are visible over a much longer range (4:1) and have a much greater effect on the human eye:

The human eye responds to the green light approximately 50 times better than the red laser pointer, and that is why it appears so bright.

Lasers have become an ubiquitous fact of the economies of the developed world. A good introduction to laser hazard classification of the four categories can be found here. CD and DVD devices have the lowest, Class 1, lasers. Laser pointers are Class 3 ("definitely hazardous for intrabeam viewing," i.e., when its pointed at you), while industrial laser equipment are the highest, Class 4 ("either a fire or skin hazard or a diffuse reflection hazard. Very stringent control measures are required")

Most of the inexpensive, portable green lasers are Class 3. Think of simple approaches such as ganging them in bundles.

I urge readers to read Granneman's article on unintended consequences. We will not stop the march of technology any more than we will reformulate political decision making, but we can at least begin to consider the consequences, good and bad.

Laser Pointer Abuse Threatens Air Safety
By David A. Fahrenthold and Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post
January 27, 2005

Exploring the law of unintended consequences
By Scott Granneman, SecurityFocus
21 January 2005
The Register

Gordon Housworth



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COTS electromagnetic weapons from simple dual-use items

  #

COTS (commercial off the shelf) microwave weapons are tracking along with military systems and I find it astonishing that they do not get more serious attention for both infrastructure attacks and for "screen attacks" to a more traditional payload process. Having following David Schriner's work in directed energy since his testimony to the Joint Economic Committee in late 1998 when he spoke about broadband Transient Electromagnetic Devices (TED) which he exected to be the "RF weapon of choice to the modern cyber or infrastructure RF warrior" -- remember this is 1998.

In comparison to Narrowband (NB) devices, TEDs are "relatively simple devices that generally use simple spark-gap switches, [whose] power supplies are relatively small in size and much lower in average power and cost [in which the] engineering and mechanical issues are small, [the technology] well described [and] most of the technology required is available and is an outcrop of the various nuclear and flash x-ray work done in the past." Simple TEDs "would be about $500 and take one week to build."

Schriner later built a frequency pulse emitter in 2001 for his Volkswagen which could "disrupt or kill computers and microprocessors that run financial and communications networks, electric power grids, even car engines and traffic lights." Schriner mused that "driving the VW van around Wall Street in Manhattan, emitting radiation that would disrupt thousands of computers critical to the nation's stock market and financial and communications networks… could have been pretty exciting." Schriner has "subjected cars, radios, medical intravenous pumps, computers, and other equipment to their homemade, portable gadgetry [and has] disrupted and destroyed them."

Schriner described "four basic configurations:

  • Briefcase size "that could be placed very close to a target system (like a computer at a desk or counter)"
  • Mountable in a small van and disguised to appear as ordinary
  • Dedicated unit set up "at a remote target location and used for some purpose where appearance was not of any concern"
  • System "located in one's back yard such that it could be aimed at over flying aircraft"

It's only gotten easier since. An admirer of Schriner, Slava Persion -- as a 20-year old -- used to host Voltage Labs devoted to COTS component electromagnetic weapons such as a directional, tuneable waveguide HERF (High Energy Radio Frequency) and a railgun, complete with reasonable schematics, descriptions, and videos, but has since taken it down. However, you can see one of his simple devices harvested from a kitchen microwave unit here which also tracks with one of the devices here.

Not to be confused with electronic warfare systems which jam or spoof an enemy system when it is operating, requiring specific knowledge of the target in order to do so, microwave weapons are remarkable as they:

  • Do not rely on exact knowledge of the enemy system
  • Can leave persisting and lasting effects in the enemy targets through damage and destruction of circuits, components, and subsystems
  • Will affect enemy systems even when they are turned off
  • Force the enemy to harden the entire system, not just individual components to counter its effects

These units are well suited for covert military operations, down to handheld size, as well as regional-scale impact:

  • Numerous entry points
  • "Dial a hurt" scalable effects
  • Adjustable lethality
  • Tedious target repair
  • Wide footprint area weapon
  • Weather independent
  • Great speed and long reach
  • Easy logistics ("deep magazine" with no "expendables")
  • Collateral damage control

Perfect tools for the asymmetrical warrior, and devastating to US commercial and military installations, the latter of which had given up much of its hardening in the mistaken assumption that EMP (Electrometric Pulse) threats declined with the fall of the Soviet Union. E-bombs (non-nuclear EMP) now come in many packages.

Targeting the Human with Directed Energy Weapons
Dr. Reinhard Munzert
6 Sept. 2002

Everyday materials used in radio weapon
Source: UPI
Publication date: 2001-04-26

High Power Microwaves: Strategic and Operational Implications for Warfare
Occasional Paper No. 11 Center for Strategy and Technology Air War College
Eileen M. Walling, Colonel, UASF
May 2000

The Design and Fabrication of a Damage Inflicting RF Weapon by 'Back Yard' Methods
Statement of Mr. David Schriner before the Joint Economic Committee
United States Congress, Wednesday, February 25, 1998

Gordon Housworth



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3rdGen COTS robot teams for collaborative sensing, exploration, mapping, and independent team coordination

  #

More commercial off the shelf (COTS) wonders. While each technology contributes something to the collective Scout team, I find the software architecture able to render effective teamwork among inanimate objects to be the most intriguing.

The team leader is named MegaScout, "a 15-inch-long sibling of the smaller Scout which can carry larger sensors, a manipulator arm (for opening doors, lifting Scouts and similar tasks) and the processing power to control the Scout team in the field."

The lesser Scouts "incorporate a video camera, three infrared range finders, two light sensors and a pyroelectric sensor (for sensing body heat)plus a two-way remote-control system that supports frequency hopping and signal encryption" and do it in about the size of "cardboard tube inside a roll of toilet paper."

They are designed to work as a team using a combination of sensing devices under instruction from the MegaScout who communicates back to a human operator.

It's only a matter of time before anti-handling devices are installed and then on to offensive roles far from disaster recovery.

While a sophisticated teaming version may not be fielded by terrorists, you can expect smaller solitary versions.

It is worth visiting the site to see how small these items are.

Turning Robots into a Well-Oiled Machine
Robot teams to help emergency responders in the trenches
NSF PR 04-046 - April 12, 2004

Gordon Housworth



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Barcelona club chips (as in RFID implants) its VIP members

  #

It has become a truism that many individuals will surrender privacy and permit intrusion in exchange for comfort, convenience, and pleasure.

Rarely is this more true in the case of Spanish club that is chipping its VIP members. As I was rather hoping that the news reports were a hoax, I visited the Spanish site for the Baja Beach Club and clicked on the 'Original Baja VIP' link. Sure enough, part of the spanish text matched the translation: "We are the first discotheque in the world to offer the VIP VeriChip. Using an integrated (imbedded) microchip, our VIPS can identify themselves and pay for their food and drinks without the need for any kind of document (ID)."

It seems tailor made for an SNL skit when one reads that, "He himself was implanted at the media launch of the VIP implant system along with stars from the Spanish version of the TV Show, "Big Brother," (called "Grand Hermano" in Spain)."

Poking around the Euro-scene, I found an 18 March 2004 notice on BarcelonaConnect heralding the club's 7th Anniversary party with a "spectacular skyshow, the Grand Opening of the new Champagne bar and the introduction of new technologie "The VIP Verichip". (Famous people will have an implantation in Baja Beach club)"

Found an interview of Conrad Chase, director of BBCI, by Alex Jones of Infowar.com in which Chase states that VeriChip informed him that Italy was intent on chipping all government workers -- and that the chip plant was in China.

I do hope to see this pop up on an urban legend site. Soon.

Conversely, were I a terrorist, I could hardly wait for my targets to be conveniently ID'd as so many cattle in a feed lot.

As noted previoulsy in RF networks under assault, I feel that RFIDs are complicit assassination tools as a "pre-scanned and identified RFID chip in a credit card, vehicle, or other device known to be on or near the targeted individual" can trigger a device when the target comes into range.  If the RFID is inside the target's body, so much the better.

Other delights come to mind, for example, if a country or a company chips their employees, will you as a visitor have to be chipped to gain entry? Who will assume liability for complications in removal?

Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain Launches Microchip Implantation for VIP Members
Violet Jones/Infowars.com | April 7 2004

Gordon Housworth



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COTS cruise missiles get easier yet

  #

See parts one and two of "Building a COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf Technology) cruise missile."

AirScooter II, a one-man VTOL helicopter that meets the requirements of Ultralight FAR Part 103 (no pilot's license required), returns to Sikorsky's original coaxial design rotorcraft. Why is coax such a big deal? As one of our regular readers who flew rotary wing can attest, conventional helicopters are complex, tricky things to fly. Coaxial rotor designs dispense with swashplates, collective and cyclic control, offering simple flight controls via motorcycle-style handlebars without pedals or tail rotor. (A paraplegic could fly it.) The engine is also mounted vertically so that the complex right angle drive components are removed.

The AirScooter carries some 350 total pounds of useful payload at 55 knots for two hours of flight time. It will come fully assembled save for rotor blade installation and has pneumatic floats in lieu of skids. Its cost is less than $50K, cheap for a rotary wing of any kind. Not surprisingly, pre-production interest is said to span "military surveillance and mail delivery on military aircraft carriers to police agency and border patrol surveillance applications." The AirScooter is due out later in 2004.

Here's the punch line: it has a much smaller, cheaper UAV sibling using the same coaxial design in flying prototype state.

"The radio control is high-end hobby equipment… This simplified coaxial control system is more than what is required for an observation vehicle and is beyond our expectations. The control system is patent pending. The system response is almost as good as 3D R/C models but yet is easier to fly. Pilot training will be at a minimum and will not be necessary for anyone with R/C helicopter experience."

[UPDATE NOTE: The above AirScooter UAV link is no longer active; All AirScooter UAV material is now here.]

The prototype Airscooter UAV has a dry weight of 37 pounds and a payload approaching 30 pounds at 70 Fahrenheit, sea-level performance. Flight time may be up to three hours. Still earlier in the design state is an electric version to supplement this gas-powered bird.

"Side-ways flight is almost as easy as forward. All directions would be the same if it were not for the small tail fins. These fins provide visual feedback for pilot orientation and assist forward speed stability."

The lead engineer on the AirScooter UAV has over 30 years of aerospace experience with the majority of that in helicopters. "His hobby is model building with emphasis on radio controlled VTOL craft. He established the first FAI world altitude record in 1971 for radio controlled helicopters."

The glide slope to the desktop gets steeper, shorter still.

Updated February 2008

Gordon Housworth



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GPS projectile 'sniper rifle' hoax generates telling interest at China Police 2002

  #

Jakob Boeskov is a conceptual artist rather than a weapons dealer, yet he set off for China Police 2002, armed with a poster and false business cards from a fictitious firm, Empire North. His weapon was one "of the most terrible… he could imagine," the "ID Sniper Rifle," a 'GPS microchip based identification rifle' that fires a tracking device into a human target.

Boeskov shared his experiences at China Police 2002 with NPR’s Next Big Thing interviewers on 11 April, 2004.  Listen to the audio.

The project rose back in Copenhagen out of sci-fi conceptual art with colleagues. Boeskov left on day three of China Police 2002 as interest in his rifle was apparently getting serious. He was also rattled that no visitor to his booth evinced any human rights issue with shooting ‘microchips’ into a human body -- and the projectile in question was anything but small.

I found his comments on responses from a Brazilian arms dealer, a French diplomat, and a Chinese agency delegation to be revealing:

A Brazilian "arms dealer" was fond of the rifle’s concept, noting that Brazil has many prisoners held in jungle prisons subject to escape and this would facilitate their recapture.

A "French diplomat" asked what would happen to the target’s internal organs, appearing not to believe that its effect would "like a mosquito bite." Boeskov finessed him, saying (and I am speaking from my handscript notes of the interview) ‘that his firm was working on it as it was one of our most pressing issues.’

On day three, a "Chinese agency" visited Boeskov and appeared to show great interest. A prime question seemed to be, would the weapon violate human rights? Boeskov countered that ‘it is a problem that we watch and if things continue as they appear after 11 Sept, that we can proceed.’ The Chinese helpfully offered that ‘another solution would be to move production to China.’

Readers may draw their own conclusions as to merit.

FYI, checking the China Police 2002 website, there were luminaries from China’s Ministry of Public Security. From what I could make of limited English text, there were three country pavilions: Civipol (France), Defex (Spain), and Rosoboronoexport (Russia). Participating Countries were Belarus, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, United Kingdom , and the US.

Gordon Housworth



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