Monday, April 8, 2013

Drone Group: Standoff Security


In the realm of global security, standoff technology has increasingly become a vital aspect of defense since post-WWII. With both the evolution in the types of weaponry (nuclear warheads) and the war-fighting strategy behind enemy forces (i.e. insurgency, guerrilla warfare), more nations are finding themselves investing in their capability for standoff security. It is imperative that international attention be given to standoff capability because it is directly affects national security and human security on a large scale.
        To first understand “standoff security” as a collective we must define the types of standoff technologies and their uses. Standoff Security can be defined as the range or distance at which enemies and other threats can be eliminated. They can be preventative systems that deter attacks on vital areas such as military base camps, federal buildings, and even some public spaces. In standoff security we must pay special focus to the range at which these threats (i.e. suicide bombers or warheads) can be eliminated.
When thinking of standoff security in the context of war, the classic image of a military checkpoint will pop into one’s mind. At the very minimum, standoff security should be implemented at this level in a theater of war. During the beginning of the War on Terror, little standoff technology was used to protect U.S. military installations in the Middle East. Most troops resorted to the physical searching of vehicles and pedestrians to prevent suicide bombings and other IED attacks on the base.  Because security checkpoints were often makeshift especially in FOBs (Forward Operating Bases), the military could not rapidly employ complex standoff security systems. Elements outlining importance of checkpoint procedures can be found in an article where U.S. Marines trained Gabonese and Congolese soldiers (http://www.marforaf.marines.mil/News/NewsArticleDisplay/tabid/5697/Article/82360/vehicle-checkpoint-demonstration-increases-interoperability.aspx).
For a developing nation like Gabon, physical searching is probably the most direct standoff security to protect larger installations and residential areas. Again, the most basic form of standoff security comes in the form of physical searching.
        Next several standoff technologies can be implemented at place like these checkpoints to avoid direct contact with possible belligerents. These technologies can come in the form of screening and detection. Screening standoff security can be used in situations described above where there are vehicles and pedestrians entering installations and compounds. With risk involved with physical searching, several systems are being used in domestic installations as well as military installations today. Even in our airports at home we are being screened for potential explosive devices and weaponry. This is a clear indication on how 9/11 has changed our daily lifestyle. The DHS released a report reviewing these different types of technologies and their capabilities (http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_st_sodtp.pdf). Detection systems on the other hand can be anything from robots designed to detect (and dismantle) IEDs and Missile Defense Systems. A clear example of how standoff technology can be implemented is the case of the North Korean nuclear crisis. South Korea has now added an open air Missile Defense System called THAAD (Terminal High Area Altitude Defense) to protect itself from nuclear attacks. More details and specification on the technology can be found on http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/4/4182372/the-missile-defense-system-that-could-stop-a-north-korean-attack. With new technologies like screening systems and THAAD being implemented internationally, the standoff range as well as risk for casualties can be minimized.
        Though we now have these wonderful standoff technologies, there are still flaws and kinks to be worked out with these systems. Because terrain, environment and atmosphere can interfere/hinder these relatively new systems, human and national security can still be regarded as “at risk.” Keeping in mind the broad span of standoff security; what does the future look like for these systems? Can we regard these systems as effective overall?

For more reference:



http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/4/4182372/the-missile-defense-system-that-could-stop-a-north-korean-attack





16 comments:

  1. Are drones unique relative to other standoff weapons and techniques? If so, why?

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    1. Drones are unique weapons because they are often used for offensive purposes. Standoff security on the other hand is a measure of defensive capability. The overlap in these two lie in the range/distance at which they can target and prevent enemies. So yes, drones are unique on the part that they can be also used for offensive purposes.

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    2. Is it possible that we could see an increase of drones or similar unmanned technology defensively? I'm thinking specifically of the Russian Star Wars/Strategic Defense Initiative or something similar to Israel's Iron Dome. Is drone technology flexible enough that it could be adapted in this way?

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    3. The question is, defensive against what? Missiles? The only comparable program would be the use of the YAL-1 laser (designed to shoot down ballistic missiles) fitted aboard some sort of new drone platform. However, the capability for such a program isn't likely to exist in the near term future as no unmanned platform with the size or life characteristics necessary currently exists.

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  2. How do US policymakers balance their national security imperatives with political pressures and concerns regarding individual liberties? For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun rolling back increased airport security measures, often citing political pressures. Is there any research about how these non-national security considerations play into the policy-making process?

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    1. Policy regarding standoff security is almost exactly the same as you'll find in the drones issue. Clearly, there are violations of individual freedoms (i.e. unreasonable searches), but they can be justified under DHS legislation (I don't know the exact publication). A level of moral obligation to agree to post-9/11 policy is the tradeoff with standoff security, especially at points of entry and exit in our nation.

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  3. Nico, you start out mentioning that standoff technology is vital to defense and that it directly affects both national and human security. Why is standoff security so important to consider?

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    2. What I was referring to is the increased level of terrorism, non-conventional warfare, and nuclear pressure in today's world. It is important to consider standoff security these days because most dilemmas regarding defense will most likely come in the form of terrorist threats/activity where we rely heavily on standoff technology to prevent these issues. It is imperative to provide this type of security these days.

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  4. What are the concerns regarding policy on standoff security? I'm assuming there are privacy concerns as well as others.

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  6. With cyber-terrorism on the rise, do you think that there could be a reversal with standoff security, where drones are hijacked and turned back on to the U.S.? What do you think would be the best safeguards or security measures against this possibility?

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    1. You can't really turn a drone against its owners. The control scheme can't be replicated with a simple laptop or the like; the control software and input (basically the entire control panel) would have to be replicated. The drones also have a redundant Inertial Navigation System on board; if the feed is significantly interrupted the drone shuts down and flies itself back to a known airbase using dead-reckoning. In order to gain control, would need to emulate and synchronize a new signal similar to the one being fed to the drone and connect it to a control panel laid out exactly like the one being used to emulate the control scheme. While "hacking" it is possible, it's EXTREMELY unlikely and would require an impractical level of commitment to the idea that would be better invested in surface to air missiles.

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  7. Supposedly North Korea has aimed missiles towards the U.S. Although the consensus is they're currently not much of a threat, do you see any benefit in the U.S. implementing a system like THAAD? Do we already have something like it in place?

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    1. The THAAD system is US built, although it's only one of three Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) technologies in existence. The SM-3 missile equipped aboard a handful of Aegis Combat System equipped warships (Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyers and Ticonderoga-Class Cruisers) is considered the primary "strategy" BMD technology, with the greatest range and highest altitude. The SM-3 can also intercept missile mid-trajectory, something other BMD systems aren't designed to do since they intercept in the final phases of the missile's trajectory.

      THAAD is the second BMD technology, designed for intermediate range, meant to address theater level concerns. The final system is the PAC-3 (an evolved version of "Patriot" air-defense missile created exclusively to BMD), which is intended for short range, "last ditch" engagements.

      All three systems have iffy implementation with regard to the US. Only a handful of Aegis-equipped ships have gotten the appropriate upgrades to use the SM-3, and they have to positioned correctly with radar watching the sky in order to work. This is potentially problematic since the margin of error isn't forgiving. THAAD and PAC-3, which are more static systems which handle terminal engagements, haven't really been implemented in the US mainland yet.

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