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?
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