Category Archives: Technology and Security

Reviving the F-22 –Common Sense or Not?

The F-22 is a great strategic aircraft, but we may have other more pressing priorities

The F-22 is America’s premier air superiority fighter plane.  Developed mostly in the 1990’s it entered service in 2005.  It is a pure stealth fighter but, unlike the F-117 stealth fighter jet, it is supersonic and has super-cruise capability, meaning it can operate at afterburner speeds without using the afterburner and without consuming excess fuel.  Thus the F-22 has great range, a superior radar, and beyond visual range (BVR) weapons.  Above all it is a strategic airplane.  Its role is to balance against an enemy air force and provide superior intelligence and kill capability to knock out their fighters and bombers.
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F22 Raptor

Stealth reduces an aircraft’s radar signature, sometimes called the radar cross section.  The F-22 looks to a conventional radar like a small grapefruit, if it sees it at all.  This gives the F-22 a massive advantage because it can penetrate an enemy’s air space and both attack an enemy’s airborne assets and provide critical surveillance and intelligence to other US fighter aircraft that are not necessarily as stealthy as the F-22.  In this role it becomes a type of AWACS surveillance platform, but one that can get close.

That is not to say that the F-22 is invulnerable.  In fact, a lot of what can be said about the F-22’s capability is presumptive, or based on simulations and test environments.  The plane has been used to chase some old Russian Tupolev bombers, but it has never been in a layered defense environment.  Its use in Iraq, for example, was more of a demonstration that the F-22 was functional; it had no air adversary or even any ground base threats of significance (in the form of missile batteries, for example).  We also do not know how the F-22 will perform in a heavy jamming environment, something the Russians have and continue to perfect.  Nor do we know how stealthy it is against unconventional radar (for example L-Band) and radio based detectors that do not use conventional radar frequencies, most typically X-Band.  Indeed, no matter how confident we think we are about the F-22’s performance, a lot remains to be proven.

VERA

VERA Passive Surveillance System can “see” Stealth

But we can say for sure that the F-22 was not designed against low-capability third world countries.  It was designed as a strategic system to balance what other potential adversaries might have in their arsenal.  In that sense, the F-22 appears to differ fairly radically from what the Russians and Chinese are up to.
The Russians are working on a stealthy fighter the Su-50 PAK.  This airplane is still under development, with some major components still not ready including its engines and radar. Moreover, we do not know the level of integration of the airplane’s systems.  We do know that it has some stealth features, but it is not as complete as the F-22 and has more in common, in that department, with the F-35.  Moreover the Su-50 is both a strategic and tactical aircraft by design, and it is exportable.  The F-22 is definitely not a tactical platform and is not exportable.
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Su-35 demonstrator #709 displays a mix of R-27 Alamo and R-77 Adder BVR missiles (KnAAPO). (Air Power Australia & Dr. Karlo Kopp)

We don’t know how many Su-50’s the Russians plan to build, but given the state of Russian finances and the intrinsic capability of Sukhoi to build these platforms, the best guess is considerably less than one hundred airplanes; probably more like 50 to 60.  From a purely numbers game approach there are already 184 F-22’s in inventory.  Congress is asking whether the F-22 fleet should be over 380, a massive expenditure if the production line was restarted because these planes used to cost over $400 million a copy (and over $600 million each counting non-recurring R&D).  They are also fabulously expensive to operate.  The cost per flight hour is $68,362 (the costly F-35 comes in at a fat $42,200 to operate per hour).  An inventory of 380 F-22’s would incur an annual cost that is budget busting if the planes are really flown.
Now it is true the Chinese are also working on stealthy airplanes and they have showed one of the prototypes off.  It is easy to get excited about, but until we know a whole lot more about the Chinese planes, it is hard to calculate them into any strategic assessment.  Japan is buying the F-35 to counter Chinese air power, but Japan’s first choice was the F-22.  It is probably the only viable customer that could afford the F-22.  Would we restart a production line for Japan?  Hardly.  A better solution would be to base a significant number of our F-22’s in Japan and ask Japan to pay the cost.  That may sound like Trump (sorry, but he is right), but it makes sense.
There is also a serious issue in the idea of restarting a production line.  Before that can be done two things are needed: the tooling for the airplane and the upgrades that are needed since some of the F-22’s systems are in need of improvement.  While there is only speculation about the tooling, most experts think most of it was trashed to make room for F-35 manufacturing. Recreating it is a big and expensive job, and where to put such production is also up for grabs.
Because of the costs, and the fact that Russia is still some years away from finishing the Su-50 PAK, it is unlikely anyone can justify producing the F-22.  Indeed, given the many trade offs, a better area for investment might be in jamming and other countermeasure equipment and improved radars and other types of sensors that can track a stealth airplane.  Like anything else, stealth has a half-life and there is little doubt we are on the right hand side of the bell curve.  Unfortunately we don’t know what the actual half life will be, but it can’t be much more than 10 to 15 years.  That is not good news for a re-start of the F-22.
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ECM “Khibiny” wing tip module on Su-34
There is yet another factor of serious importance: should be prepare for regional conflicts or for strategic ones?  Obviously we need  the ability to deal with all kinds of threats, but priorities are important.  Looking at the US aircraft inventory, we are in rather bad shape (notwithstanding the arrival in depth of the F-35).  Our airplanes (F-16’s and F-15’s especially) are close to worn out.  The Marines tell us their F-18’s and their helicopters are more than 80% used up.  Maybe the F-35 will fill the hole  –that is what Lockheed and the Air Force are claiming.  But it is a risky bet.  The F-35 lacks a lot of the combat characteristics desirable for regional conflicts, and it is not a strategic aircraft.  It does not have super-cruise, and its weapon’s portfolio is old.  The F-35 would have a hard time against Russia Su-35 and even many of the earlier Sukhois and MIGs.  And worse yet, it is a very expensive platform to use as a (poor) close support aircraft, something the Air Force is pushing.
If we must focus on strategic platforms, then the F-22 or an evolved F-22 makes sense.  If we are thinking about regional conflicts, the F-22 is unnecessary, and so maybe is the F-35.
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Taiwan on its Own

It is important not to allow the civilian component of the Pentagon and RAND to dictate measures that are suicidal for Taiwan and harmful to security in the Pacific and American credibility.

Source: Taiwan on its Own

Taiwan on its Own

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By Stephen Bryen* and Rachel Ehrenfeld*
Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 @ 10:03PM

Originally published by the American Center for Democracy

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It is important not to allow the civilian component of the Pentagon and RAND to dictate measures that are suicidal for Taiwan and harmful to security in the Pacific and American credibility.

The assumption for many years has been that that if China attacked Taiwan, Taipei would hold off China until the United States brought its power to bear and helped Taiwan survive.  The theory is no longer valid because the US lacks both the resources and the will to reliably intervene in time. Taiwan will have to save itself, and it is in the U.S. strategic interest to help Taiwan have the defense equipment and technology it needs to protect its territory.

Unfortunately, a RAND’s study of Taiwan’s air defenses, which was commissioned by Office of the Secretary of Defense, is more political than analytical. The study starts with a deeply flawed assumption – but one that the Pentagon and State Department politicians appear to favor – namely that Taiwan should all but abandon its air force and defend itself with its cache of air defense missiles, after China’s airplanes and missiles attack.

While the study talks about options, it aims at getting Taiwan to keep only a small number of upgraded F-16’s and get rid of all the rest, which means scrapping 275 fighter jets including all of Taiwan’s home built IDF jets and all its Mirage 2000’s!

RAND’s thesis is quite outlandish: When China decides to attack Taiwan with missiles and an overwhelming number of aircraft, Taiwan, with little air defense and early warning capabilities, will not be able to defend itself. Instead, it will have to watch how its planes are destroyed on the ground, and its airfields blasted away by Chinese missiles.

This is a strategy that no other country in the world would entertain. It is not NATO’s strategy vis-a-vis Russia; Israel’s facing Iran, or Japan facing China. Among these, Israel has good air defense missiles.  But why would Israel, which has good air defense missiles or Japan, or NATO put their military assets and their population under threat by waiting for the enemy? Suggesting that Taiwan becomes a sitting duck is preposterous.

Taiwan’s air force is competitive in size and capability to Japan’s. But the Pentagon is not advising the Japanese to scrap their airplanes as the RAND study and the Pentagon are advising Taiwan.

Of course, Taiwan is not Israel or Japan.

The U.S. sells Israel, Japan, and many others the means to defend themselves. Why then the refusal to sell Taiwan the weapons it needs to counter the growing threat from China? The last time Washington sold an airplane to Taiwan was 1992 when George H.W. Bush’s decided to provide them with the early model of F-16. Since then, his successors refused to sell upgraded versions of the F-16 with better range and capability to penetrate China’s airspace.

Fighter bombers (as opposed to purely air defense planes) have been absolutely out of the question.  Thus, Taiwan never got F-15’s or F-18’s, which would have helped ward off the Chinese.  Australia, Israel, and Japan got F-15’s, (Australia also got  F-18’s) and are now getting F-35’s.  Why not Taiwan?  The RAND study did not even consider this issue, and therefore offered no change in policy.

The RAND analysis misunderstood or ignored Taiwan’s home-produced fighter plane, known as the Indigenous Defense Fighter or IDF (technically the CK-1).  Although the IDF will soon be upgraded, it is already a prodigious dog fighter.  While it is not stealth, it can hide in and around Taiwan’s mountainous terrain and pop up and hit any Chinese fighters venturing into Taiwan’s airspace. Taiwan, of course, has no plans to scrap these planes or the 60 French Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft as RAND recommended.   Instead, it is planning to replace them.

As for the IDF, Taiwan should consider extending the range, equipping it with improved BVRweapons and better radar, and consider reducing the plane’s radar signature wherever possible.  The new government in Taiwan, which will take office in late May, is now evaluating options either for an entirely new aircraft or improving the IDF.  It would be sensible to do both.

To offset China’s move to stealthy aircraft Taiwan needs to improve its surveillance radars and expand the types of radars it uses to track enemy planes. Some experts, including Carlo Kopp from Air Power Australia, have studied developments in Russia and China, and the spread of stealth technology globally. Kopp sees a definite need for the U.S., Australia, and others to put in place a new generation radar sensors that can pick up stealth aircraft and attack it with long-range air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons.

When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to preempt the Egyptian and Syrian military build-up in 1973, Israel learned that waiting for the enemy to attack first could be a near-death experience.  Her refusal to act preemptively cost the lives of hundreds of Israeli soldiers and airmen, allowed the Egyptians to cross the Suez Canal and blow away the Bar Lev defensive line that was supposed to protect Israel. Meir mistakenly believed that not shooting first would earn her important political support and military assistance from the U.S. But the U.S. resupply of weapons to Israel was dangerously tardy, and the delay almost led to a nuclear war.

RAND’s recommendation to solely rely on ground-based missile air defense – though these missiles are not easier to protect than Taiwan’s air bases – is a prescription for failure.

Democratic Taiwan is a U.S. ally and an asset in Asia. The civilian component of the Pentagon and the RAND Corporation should not be allowed to dictate measures that are suicidal for Taiwan and harmful to the security in the Pacific, and the U.S.  Stripping Taiwan of its fighting capabilities would send the wrong message to China.

 

 

* Dr. Stephen Bryen is the author of Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers(Transaction Publishers) and Fellow at ACD; Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Director of ACD.

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Russia Buzzes Our Ships

by Stephen Bryen*

Pairs of Russian SU-24 fighter-bombers buzzed the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, about 70 km (43.5 miles) from Russia’s naval base at Kaliningrad, the home of the Russian Baltic fleet. The Donald Cook had departed the Polish port of Gdynia around 3PM on Monday the 11th of April intending to carry out exercises with Polish naval helicopters. A few hours later the first SU-24’s buzzed the Donald Cook, close enough to the water to create a wake and endangering the ship and the crew.

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(above) USS Donald Cook and SU-24 

From the US angle, the Russians were simulating an attack on the Donald Cook with 20 close flybys, some of them only a few feet above sea level (“on the deck”) -a well known tactic to make it hard for radar to lock onto the attacking planes and to reduce response time. The SU-24’s were unarmed, as was a KA-27 helicopter that also made seven passes around the Cook. The US immediately complained that the simulated attacks were unprofessional and dangerous. For their part, the Russians rejected the US complaint. Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov  told the Russian Tass newspaper that the Russians acted within international rules.

This is not the first time that the USS Donald Cook has been involved in incidents with the Russians. The Donald Cook entered the Black Sea on 9 April, 2014 just around the time the Russians had annexed the Crimea, and was carrying out exercises with the Ukrainian navy. On the 12th of April Russia SU-24’s buzzed the Donald Cook in a manner like the simulated attacks on the 11th and 12th of April.

Stories have circulated (but have never been confirmed) that the SU-24’s that operated against the Cook in 2014 carried a special radar jamming system which, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, contained a Russian electronic warfare device called Khibiny. The word Khibiny is Russian for “electronic countermeasure system” produced by the Kaluga Research Institute of Radio Engineering. The system has been recently tried out in Syria mounted on the wingtips of a SU-34. According to the manufacturer, it has never been mounted on the SU-24, and there is nothing in the photos made by the US Navy of these incidents that show the Khibiny on board.

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(above ) Su-34 with ECM modules “Khibiny” on the wing tips

Another incident in May 2015 Russian Su-24s repeated similar maneuvers over the USS Ross, another destroyer sailing in the Black Sea. The Ross had just left port in Romania.

The Ross and the Donald Cook are powerful ships equipped with cruise missiles and the SM-3 anti-ballistic missile system as well as Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Clearly the US has been using these ships to project power in eastern Europe, in part to compensate for an Obama administration decision to abandon placing US ballistic missiles in Poland and the ABM radar for the system in the Czech Republic, ostensibly to defend against “Iranian” missiles. From Russia’s point of view, placing missile defenses in eastern Europe facing Russia was provocative.

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 (above) SHIP-BORNE BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE TEST-FIRING ABOARD THE USS HOPPER (DDG 70) NEAR HAWAII. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The original idea for putting US missile defenses in eastern Europe came from President Bush in 2001 before the 9/11 attacks and before Iran’s missile and nuclear program were understood. The subsequent outcry from the Russians gained momentum over the ensuing years as development of the system continued. But after 13 failed tests, Obama abandoned the program but replaced it with an AEGIS-based missile defense system on seaborne platforms. The USS Donald Cook is an Arleigh Burke guided missile cruiser which is equipped with an ABM radar system and the latest SM-3 missile interceptors. In a similar fashion the USS Ross, also an Arleigh Burke guided missile cruiser, was updated with the same ABM system.

Based on the weapons on board these platforms, and their presence near critical Russian ports that include Kaliningrad, the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet, and Crimea’s Sevastopol port, the home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, it is clear that the Russians are trying to make clear their extreme displeasure over the US fleet presence so close to such sensitive Russian facilities.

It is clear that had Obama stuck with the original Bush idea of land based ballistic missile defense in Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere inside NATO, the Russians would have been checkmated because they could not overfly national territory.  Big mistake.  Nor could they claim the systems were too close to any Russian base.

Even so, the US can have in place sea borne ballistic missile defenses to protect NATO in the Baltic area without being adjacent to sensitive Russian ports and defense installations. One wonders if the Russians have, at least for now, checkmated the US for going too far, unnecessarily so. It would make sense both both sides to reduce their profiles before things get out of hand.

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*Dr. Stephen Bryen is the author of Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers (Transaction Publishers).

 

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Defense News: “Un-Niching” the Niche

April 11, 2016

by Stephen Bryen*

The venerable publication Defense News and along with it Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Times and Federal Times have been sold by Sightline Media Group, formerly Gannet Government Media. A number of the top executives of Defense News have been dismissed, including its top man Vago Muradian, and the future shape of the company remains unclear. The buyer is Los Angeles based Regent Equity Partners (“Regent”) which also owns www.historynet.com and a number of publications including Military History, America’s Civil War, Vietnam, World War IIand Aviation History.

Over the years Defense News, widely read by the top echelon of the Department of Defense and by foreign readers in the global defense establishment, focused mainly on Pentagon plans and programs and on the contractors looking for business from the DOD and the military. As a result, despite trying to do some television and modernizing its web presence, Defense News (and its sister publications) has been a niche weekly magazine largely supported by defense company advertising. But, because of a small audience (no matter how influential), advertising could not really sustain these publications. While no numbers have been published, it is a good guess that Defense News and its brethren all were losing money. Indeed, if these publications continued as they were it is almost certain they would remain unprofitable and slow growing, if there is any real growth at all.

So what would a private equity firm want to do with a business like this?

 

One early move that Regent will want to make is likely to be to consolidate the management of its existing property, historynet with the new acquisition of Defense News. This could significantly reduce expenses for overhead and bring in better operating numbers fairly quickly.

But that really does not solve the overall business model which cannot grow beyond what it is now without a significant refocus.

The real play for Defense News in its consolidated form is to restructure and reinvest to compete with History Channel with something like a History and Security Channel or History and Defense Channel.

Above all this means doubling down on the cable-TV market space and probably offering multi-platform support. Sports, especially ESPN, today feature programming that users can enjoy on their tablets and smartphones or, as the advertising says, just about anywhere. Interest in technology, defense systems and history is strong, but most of the presentation available today is limited and not well produced.

A glimpse of what can be done can be found, of all places, on RT, the Russian news and propaganda TV and Internet outlet. RT has been producing outstanding video of the war in Syria, for example, and is also increasingly reporting events in Europe, using very high quality technology and somewhat less capable reporters and commentators. Apparently RT’s success has contributed mightily to Russian arms sales because Russian systems are featured in a way that was never possible or permitted during the Soviet era. In short, among its other benefits, RT is a money maker for Russia.

I don’t want to compare RT to a future history and defense network, but the model is there and Regent, it would seem, has grabbed an exciting property at a presumably low cost, because of the narrow focus on the old niche market served by these publications. I believe the path to making this acquisition into a powerhouse is “un-niching” the niche and creating something new, accessible and exciting.

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Atom Bombs Away -Was Trump Right?

By Stephen Bryen*

Presidential candidate Donald Trump riled the feathers of the White House and America’s allies South Korea and Japan when he suggested both countries get their own nuclear weapons. He told CNN that “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.”  “Wouldn’t you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?””

It was this statement, which Trump made in the midst of the largely unproductive Nuclear Summit in Washington, that spun up the criticism.

But was Trump so far off the mark?

My late colleague, Undersecretary of Defense Fred Ikle, told the US China Economic and Security Commission in July, 2003 that Korean unification would immediately create a unitary nuclear power on the Korean peninsula because North Korea already has nuclear weapons.   It is well known that North and South Korea have been secretly discussing unification for many years.  About the only worthwhile incentive North Korea has, other than cheap labor, is nuclear weapons.

Japan, for its part, can become a nuclear power in a matter of a few months at most.  Just as Sweden has successfully hidden its nuclear weapons program from public view, so too has Japan.  Its vast supply of plutonium and its far advanced space program means that Japan has the capability to offset pressure from China and North Korea  with its own nuclear weapons and delivery systems.  The only issue is when and where for Japan to reveal it has them.

Indeed Japan has long been a nuclear power.  It has been thus since World War II.

In my new book, Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers I explain some of Japan’s history on nuclear weapons.  It is a history that was misrepresented by American-imposed censorship at the end of World War II.  And, because Japan was a victim of two atomic bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), Japan’s public to this day is deeply opposed to nuclear weapons and to the politics that underlays them, namely Japanese militarism.

The “official” explanation of Japan’s atomic weapons program during World War II is that Japan’s attempt to build atomic weapons was  both small scale and a failure.  But nothing can be further from the truth.

Japan had two atomic weapons programs underway during the war.  One, headed by the Army, known as the NI project, was based primarily in Tokyo at the RIKEN (Rikagaku Kenkyūsho) Institute for Physical and Chemical Research..  RIKEN is Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution.  Founded in 1917 RIKEN attracted important scientists such as Albert Einstein.  Its leading experts were linked to US universities such as Princeton and the California Institute of Technology,  and to leading centers in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.

                                              (Above) Albert Einstein visits RIKEN, 1922

RIKEN was deeply involved in refining uranium. Its cyclotrons were similar to the Calutrons at the Oak Ridge’s S-20 plant and a Nazi cyclotron plant in Heidelberg built by Walther Bothe and Wolfgang Gentner which became operational in 1943.   Five Japanese cyclotrons were recovered at the end of World War II, broken up, and dumped into Tokyo harbor by a special unit of the US Army known as ALSOS (ALSOS means “grove” in Greek and the head of the Manhattan program in the United States was Lt. General Leslie Groves).

The other Japanese program was known as F-Go and was headed by the Navy.  A large part of that program was in what is today North Korea, specifically at Konan (now Hamhung). Konan was not targeted by US bombers, had hydro power to drive critical uranium conversion equipment, and had significant natural resources  including uranium and thorium.  (In 1950, at the start of the Korean War, the US bombed the Konan NZ facility and took out the thorium plant located there.)

Japan’s objective in World War II was either to attack a major US  port with an atomic bomb (one candidate was San Francisco) or to try and destroy the US invasion force about to be launched against Japan.  Such weapons would most likely be delivered by submarine.  In this the Japanese strategy differed from the Germans, although there was substantial cooperation between Japan and Germany especially between 1944 and 1945.  Germany shipped uranium to Japan and other supplies suitable for nuclear reactors (at the time called nuclear piles). To get ships through there was a succession of Japanese, German and Italian U-Boats.  Thanks to MAGIC intercepts the US was able to target these submarines and most of them were either destroyed or surrendered.  At least some of the uranium aboard one u-boat, U-234 was said to be either weapons grade or partially refined uranium with some claims that the material ended up in the Hiroshima uranium  bomb four months after U-234’s surrender.

David Snell, a young journalist for the Atlanta Constitution was able to interview an important Japanese prisoner on his way to repatriation in Japan.  He was probably an engineer or chemist who was in the F-Go project.  This prisoner alleged that Japan had exploded two test atomic weapons of small yield, one in Manchuria and the other offshore of Konan. It would appear that what inhibited the Japanese was a shortage of fissile material suitable to a gun type device.

Generally speaking there are two basic forms of proven atomic weapons.  The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was packed with weapons grade uranium, U-235.  The mechanism to make the bomb work was fairly simple, but because of US weapons grade uranium shortages,, the Hiroshima bomb was never tested before it was used.

The other form is a plutonium fueled atomic bomb.  The bomb tested in 1945 at Almagordo(known as “the Gadget“) and the weapon dropped on Nagasaki was a plutonium fueled weapon. Unlike an uranium bomb, the triggering mechanism  to get a fission event in such a bomb is fairly elaborate and requires exquisite timing of a succession of explosive charges.  By the time the Nagasaki bomb was dropped the US had three or four such weapons ready for use.

There is, yet, a third way to get an atomic bomb, a method that allows the use of a gun type device and works with a combination of U-233 and a small amount of plutonium.

U-233 does not exist in nature.  It is produced by converting thorium (thorium oxide) intoprotactinium (PA-233).  PA-233 has a half-life of 1.8 seconds and rapidly changes to U-233 which is fissile.  U-233 combined with plutonium can be used in a gun type weapon, although there are stability and other issues at work that makes this complicated.  The great advantage is that the amount of material needed in such a weapon is significantly less and the gun type weapon is advantageous because it can easily be fabricated.  It is known that the Nazis were building special devices for manufacturing protactinium and had taken virtually all of France’s supply of thorium.  As Paul Frame has written: “Auer Gesselshaft, a German chemical company involved in securing and processing uranium, had taken over the French company Terres-Rares during Nazi occupation. Ominously, Auer had shipped Terres-Rares’ massive supply of thorium to Germany.” There are those who have argued that Germany tested an atomic weapon based on U-233 at Ohrdruf, although this has not been conclusively proven.

In the context of the time, Japan was desperate  and trying to survive against a strong allied force about to overrun them.  At the same time the Japanese were in a dangerous atomic race with the United States. So, too, were the Russians making every effort to lay their hands on Nazi and japanese nuclear scientists and equipment.  In the closing weeks of the war, Russian forces sprinted to Konan.  Thanks to effective Russian spying inside Japan, they understood the importance of what the Japanese had, and were especially focused on thorium.  Until the US took out the Konan thorium facility in  1950 at the start of the Korean war, something the Koreans and Russians worked hard to stop by blowing up bridges and reinforcing air defenses, they failed.

What the history tells us, at least about Japan, is that it had the scientific know-how, the industrial capacity, and most of the raw materials (save enough enriched uranium as a feed stock for producing plutonium) to deliver an atomic bomb to a target.  It had two major deficits: it was out of submarines by the last few weeks of the war, which made delivering a weapon all but impossible since no surface ship could get through the US naval blockade; and Japan was out of critical supplies like partially enriched uranium.  The US program to intercept and destroy submarines heading for Japan with nuclear supplies worked. The last few Nazi U-boats surrendered after they were ordered to do so after Hitler met his end.

The broader lesson from history, properly understood, is that states that have reason to fear for their survival will develop nuclear weapons.  That is what Japan did during World War II.  That is what North Korea has done facing a hostile United States.  And it is quite likely that is what South Korea may be doing, although there is no proof it is so.

Neither Japan nor South Korea need advice from US political candidates when it comes to an issue impacting their survival in a hostile world.

But, by the same token, this also partially vindicates what Donald Trump said.  The vindication is only partial because Trump’s statement bypasses some issues of great concern to the United States.  Principally the United States wants to contain, not exacerbate, nuclear threats.  If South Korea or Japan had nuclear weapons and was under great pressure, using such weapons could lead to an even broader conflagration of incalculable dimensions.  In this sense, Trump’s proposal fails the test as a component of a sensible US strategy.  But, sadly, he may correctly be anticipating the future, because America’s ability to control nuclear proliferation  may be entering the twilight zone.

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Reprinted from Bryen’s Blog (www.bryensblog.com).

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USE NATO TO FIGHT ISIS IN EUROPE

 

by Stephen Bryen*

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of the interest this article has generated, I have added a set of Questions and Answers  at the end of the article.

Europe is in a war but it does not seem to know it. Neither does NATO which has not been called upon to fight the war. All of this is very strange, because the turmoil being caused by ISIS in Europe poses a considerable threat to peace and security.

President Obama, as is well known, does not think too much of the ISIS threat anywhere, thinking it is not existential. But the truth is otherwise. ISIS was planning an attack on a Belgian nuclear reactor and was collecting data on other nuclear installations.  Extensive ISIS-made surveillance film captured by police shows dramatic evidence that ISIS was well along on organizing such action.

There are different theories about the ISIS objective or objectives. These include: (1) blowing up a nuclear facility; (2) stealing radioactive material for a “dirty” bomb; (3) kidnapping nuclear officials and holding them for ransom; (4) sabotaging power plants and cause them either to go off line or to be made unrepairable; (5) crashing an airplane into one of the power plants in Belgium.

Two of the bombers who attacked Zaventem, the Brussels international airport, apparently were airport employees so they could enter the facility with an employee pass and avoid inspection. Had they chosen to do so, they could have allowed hijackers into the airport.

50 Islamic State supporters are working at Zaventem as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff

There isn’t any doubt that ISIS has penetrated critical infrastructure facilities in Belgium including its nuclear power plants. At least two Jihadists employed at the Doel nuclear plant left Belgium for Syria to fight with ISIS. One of the men, Ilyass Boughalab, is believed to have been killed in Syria and another was briefly jailed for terrorism in 2014 before disappearing.

Last November there was an unexplained explosion at the Doel Nuclear Power Station, which caused significant damage. 

Overall the security situation at critical infrastructure facilities in Belgium is terrible. Israeli security had warned the country about the airport, but to no effect. Turkish authorities repeatedly warned about the suicide bombers and their colleagues, who they twice deported. Again to no effect. Others are keeping quiet, but it is likely Brussels got many more warnings and just sat on its hands.

The abysmal security situation in Europe is a major threat not only to all the nearby European capitals, but it is a threat to the United States and many others, especially if there was a nuclear incident. When Chernobyl melted down, there were major leaks of radioactive material into Europe. Even as recently as this year, 29 years after the disaster, forest fires in Ukraine have spread radioactive debris into Europe as far north as Scandinavia and Italy. The danger of a local nuclear plant explosion in the heart of Europe could impact millions, because the area is much more densely populated than Chernobyl in the northern Ukraine.

It is fairly clear that police and law enforcement authorities in Belgium and in the rest of Europe too lack any real ability to deal with the local terrorist threat, itself now being reinforced as ISIS and other Jihadists flood into Europe. It is foolish to depend on local law enforcement anywhere in Europe. Either they lack the manpower, know how, training, or political support, or all of the above, to handle the situation. This leaves Europe a ticking time bomb.

What is needed is a military intervention managed by NATO. Isn’t it odd that NATO folks have no lack of enthusiasm to go bomb folks in Libya, Iraq and Syria, but have nothing to say about the threat at their very doorstep. NATO has not held one meeting about confronting the ISIS threat in Europe or even declaring war on this terrorist organization.

1280px-NATO_Ministers_of_Defense_and_of_Foreign_Affairs_meet_at_NATO_headquarters_in_Brussels_2010

NATO Ministers Meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels

How could NATO help? There are five major steps a NATO intervention can achieve:

1. Supply a multinational force to fight ISIS within Europe. This is highly important because a multinational force is less likely to be swayed by corrupt politicians and weak administration.  The force has the equipment in the form of armored vehicles, drones, helicopters, communications to carry out all the needed tasks.  Putting NATO in charge puts professionals on the job and commits everyone to the goal of eliminating ISIS.

2. Assures far better targeting and coordination by bringing professional military command and control assets into play to fight the threat. This will immediately result in a huge improvement in going after targets and neutralizing them.

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NATO Rapidly Deployable Command Center

3. Assures more professional and decisive action against terrorists including putting in place emergency military courts to try those who are captured and incarcerate them with very long prison terms. There is ample precedent for this based on the Nuremberg Military Tribunal. In 1945 it charged those involved in crimes against humanity, which fits ISIS perfectly. The definition is as follows: “Crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”

4. Puts professional military protection over critical infrastructure assets including nuclear power plants, nuclear industry, railroad, metro and airports, communications hubs, water supply and food distribution, and essential government agencies. This means NATO will guard critical facilities and provide alert and warning services as to any threat. NATO would also carry out checks on employees and others with access to critical facilities to ferret out ISIS infiltrators and spies.

5. Deploys forces and intelligence assets across national borders to shut down ISIS links and break the back of their organization. This contrasts today where internal law enforcement groups often fight among themselves even in their own country and fail to effectively cooperate across national boundaries.

These steps are how to fight ISIS in Europe. This should be the first priority of any self-respecting European government, and it should be the first duty of NATO to go after ISIS on its own territory. This is the only practical way to get rid of this threat.  

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Questions and Answers on NATO Fighting ISIS in Europe

A lot of interest and many questions have been asked about my article Use Nato to Fight ISIS in Europe.

1. Would Using NATO be very costly?

No, the NATO countries are already maintaining forces in Europe (including the United States). Putting them to work in Europe would not add much more in the way of cost.. NATO already has equipment, armored vehicles, command posts, communications to do the job.

2. Would the Europeans support the use of NATO?

It is hard to tell how Europe will react. Until now the case has not been made and European countries have been relying on law enforcement in each country. It has been a total failure and the danger has escalated. What is most needed is for European leaders to understand just how great a risk they face. NATO could start immediately by gathering the necessary intelligence and presenting it to Europe’s leaders. The intelligence will say the risk is to the way of life of Europe, because threats to nuclear power stations and critical infrastructure are very severe. By now the Germans, French and Belgians understand that their failures are stimulating the rise of fascist political parties and serious unrest. If they go on this way much longer, there may be no way to turn back or stabilize the situation.

European societies today are, if you want to label them, neo-socialist and liberal in attitude. Individual countries have surrendered much of their sovereignty to the European Union which has had the perverse impact of allowing individual government leaders to lead less, or to defer to Europe (as if it were a real sovereign entity) instead of taking responsibility for countering societal threats. This has created a law and order vacuum of dire proportions. No European country has empowered law enforcement, taken steps to assure cross-border cooperation, or done anything to stop both the flow of terrorists and the flow of weapons into their territories. The availability of military grade explosives, rapid fire weapons, and secure communications systems has given terrorist organizations more capability than law enforcement, which is why NATO forces are needed to re-balance enforcement of law and order.

3. How Would NATO Operate?

NATO troops would be deployed in two ways. First to provide protection for critical infrastructure assets starting with nuclear power plants. Second to gain control over neighborhoods where the terrorist threat is concentrated.

Of course this requires three things: (1) a decent plan; (2) clearance to take control over specific entities and areas that must be granted by the national government; (3) the right to arrest and deport terrorist threats under military law.

It will be important to work with local law enforcement, but leadership must be with NATO during the authorized period of their operations. A one year program makes sense since not everything can be done at once.

NATO already has experience working against terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It knows how to organize information and how to act on it; how to create safe zones; and how to deal with threats such as suicide bombers and IEDs.

4. Can NATO operate legally on European territory?

NATO’s article five can be invoked whenever there is an attack on one of the members warranting NATO action and approved by NATO members.

A recent precedent was when the United States asked for NATO support after the September 11 (9/11) terror attacks in New York and Washington DC. NATO responded with (mostly symbolic) help such as flying AWACS over US territory. But the idea was absolutely right. This time, of course, real muscle and determination are the order of the day. It is, however, completely in NATO’s terms of reference to carry out this task.

5. Why is NATO a better option than local law enforcement?

Local law enforcement does not operate across national boundaries and has been restricted by politicians and by absurdly restrictive laws. In Belgium, for example, law enforcement cannot go after a terrorist target in a home at night. This means that the night is owned by the terrorists and they can move around and set up attacks that can be executed in daylight or in the evening at their option.

NATO also will work under military rules of engagement making it far more effective than law enforcement where the concern sometimes is collecting evidence instead of stopping terrorists. There is a war in Europe, plain and simple. War invokes different rules than peacetime.

6. Where are the main problems?

The main areas of urgent concern are in Belgium and France, where the police and special forces lack the equipment and experience to deal with organized terrorist activity. One only has to look at the mess that was made in France during the Paris attacks, or watch videos of French police running away from gangs threatening them, to understand that they are not up to the job.

Of course Belgium and France are not the only countries with severe problems. Germany, Denmark, Holland and the UK are also in the cross hairs of the terrorists and there are problems elsewhere, notably Italy and Greece.

NATO needs to work against the worst areas first and foremost and set up units to run down the arms runners and smugglers. Military prison camps will be needed and military tribunals should be established to assess guilt and put the criminals behind bars.

7. What About Infiltration of Terrorists in Critical Infrastructure Institutions?

It is clear that employees in sensitive industries –railroads, power plants, airports, water treatment facilities –even hospitals and schools- need to be checked. This means putting in place a coherent review system and coordinating with intelligence agencies and police. No one knows just how much of the critical infrastructure has been penetrated, but it appears on the information that has so far emerged that some, such as Belgian nuclear plants, are compromised.

8. What about Hate Preaching?

Hate preaching has to stop as does active recruiting for terrorist organizations. This means clamping down on those who preach hatred in all its forms, just as the Italians recently have done. It also means shutting down ISIS and other Jihadist communications on the Internet, through emails and SMS (and SMS-like) messaging. Active measures of this sort are needed and allowing these means of communications to continue is against the national interest of all free nations.

9. Stopping Illegal Arms and Explosives?

It was only in 2014 that Europe started to address traffic in illegal arms, and mostly that was just to collect information. Like the United States, there are a lot of illegal guns in Europe –most recent estimates put the number at some 67 million weapons!

Guns and explosives and other weapons are smuggled across open borders, are easily smuggled, and are purchased at relatively low cost from intermediaries and dealers. A fairly high number of transactions occur on the “Dark Net” which is that undocumented part of the Internet where criminals and terrorists operated.

At present there is no concerted effort to clean up the mess. A NATO-run effort and real border controls are badly needed, just as are checks at ports and harbors, rail transit, and airports.

10. What happens when NATO completes its work?

For Europe to combat terrorism in the long run new institutions are needed and domestic laws need to be revised. NATO can stop the bleeding and buy time for a solution, but in and of itself it is not a long term solution.

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*Stephen Bryen is the author of Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers (Transaction Publishers, 2015)

 

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DON’T TRUST EUROPE: THE RISK IS TOO GREAT

by Stephen Bryen*

There is no reason to any longer trust Europe.  Europe is a collection of incompetent and dangerous nation-states with reduced sovereignty that are incapable of defending their borders and inept at ferreting out the terrorists in their midst.  Typically greedy and stupid, Europe’s police and military are all but emasculated, and Europe’s tolerance for domestic and imported terrorism is outright frightening.

With all the refugees pouring in, what are they doing to screen out terrorists?  Nothing.  They have failed to allocate money to buy minimal equipment.  Their security authorities are “detached” keeping their distance from densely populated Muslim communities and the refugees. Madness?  You bet.

While Europeans amuse themselves by beating up on Israel and practicing snarky antisemitism,  they have voluntarily surrendered their countries (such as they are) to domestic and imported Muslim terrorists who are steadily taking control of key neighborhoods, importing large quantities of weapons and explosives, and building close-knit, difficult to penetrate networks. The fact that most law-enforcement and security members speak no Arabic doesn’t help.

Had the terror cell responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks delayed the attacks, they may have been able also to carry out their reported plan to attack a nuclear power station.

Most Euro-police forces lack the will and, therefore, the tools to go after suspected Muslim terrorists.  They show up after a terror event and parade around wearing body armor, protective helmets, and rapid fire guns. But they are poorly equipped, uncoordinated, and held in check by political leaders who don’t want to rock the boat of their illusions.

Consider the suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui.  He was deported twice by the Turks who warned the Belgian authorities he was a terrorist threat.  No matter.  The Belgians who promptly ignored the warnings are now responsible for the killing of at least 31 people, more than 330 wounded and for the short and long term enormous economic cost caused by the recent attacks.  But the Belgians insist it’s not their fault. They claim they are doing their best. The prevalent attitude is, “Once people get it into their minds that they’re going to kill people, you can’t stop them,”

No matter what European bigots say about Israel, and they are always screaming the Israelis are Nazis –  even worse, Jews – the fact remains that Israel has one of the best intelligence operations in the world.  Unlike their incompetent counterparts in Europe, they want and work hard to stop terrorism.  They would also like to protect Jews and Israelis who are all too often the target of terror attacks, as they were recently in Belgium.  One can rightfully ask: how come European intelligence, or the CIA, or Interpol didn’t issue proper warnings?

Europe, in its current condition, is not only living in a terrible threat environment largely of its own making. It also presents a major threat to the United States.

Why?  The lax security conditions and gross incompetence in Europe mean that terrorists can get on a plane and come to the United States.  The risk of hijackings, crashing planes or importing terrorists is very high.  Given the lack of effective European intelligence and monitoring, the U.S. should consider stopping all flights from Europe to the U.S. until the mess is cleaned up.

Many will say such measures are extremist and unjustified.  Really?  A flight from Brussels to Dulles Airport, with one or more ISIS terrorist on board could end up smashing into the White House or the CIA complex, or hitting NSA, south of Baltimore or a nuclear power station is frightfully real and immensely dangerous.  Such an event would make Fukushima look small by comparison.  Yet we already know that the same terrorists who blew up the Brussels airport and metro had also planned to blow up a nuclear plant there. Do we think through some heavenly miracle that won’t happen in future?

The European security situation is, at the moment, beyond hopeless.  It is a train wreck with existential implications for America.   Our President’s inability to grasp the danger makes matters that much worse.

America can’t trust Europe right now.  It is urgent that we take measures to protect our homeland.

nuclearpowerplant

The terror cell responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks was planning to attack an unidentified nuclear power station, it has been reported. Pictured is the power plant in Doel, Belgium Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3507417/Brussels-bombers-DID-plan-attack-nuclear-power-station-police-uncover-12-hours-footage-jihadists-filmed-outside-plant-director-s-home.html#ixzz43pbfRWDU

 

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*Dr. Stephen Bryen’s latest book is Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers (Transaction Publishers).

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Why Russia Is Pulling Out of Syria?

 It is a Tactical Move With A Strategic Rationale

by Stephen Bryen***

The big question is why Russia is pulling out of Syria? Is it because Russia is out of money and the Syrian operation is hurting? Or is something else going on.

There is no doubt Russia’s economy is suffering. Even without sanctions, Russia would be having a hard time since oil prices crashed. Oil and gas exports account for a whopping 68% of Russia’s export earnings, and oil and gas income supports Russia’s currency, its banking, and Russia’s ability to finance government, social and military operations.

Putin

Vladimir Putin President of Russia (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

But the fact of the matter is that the Syrian operation is not as costly as it might seem at first glance.

The equipment, munitions and salaries of Russian personnel were paid for before the Russian Air Force was dispatched to Syria. While it will cost money to replace equipment and renew stocks of weapons, all in all the impact on Russia’s current budget is minimal. One reason for this is that Russia has not been continually engaged in military operations so it has a reasonable stockpile of munitions, decent equipment and ancillary supplies including fuel. Compare that to the United States. We have been fighting wars continuously since 1990 -the time of the First Gulf War. In short for over a quarter of a century the United States has been engaged in war-related activity, meaning that for the US to sustain its operations it has needed special appropriations (called Supplementals) to finance these operations. Aside from the two Chechnya wars (1994-1996 and 1999-2009) the other significant conflicts that have engaged Russian forces was the brief Russian-Georgian conflict (7 to 12 August 2008) and the Russian military semi-engagement in the Ukraine war (2014 to date). The Ukraine battle has been relatively slow rolling and Russia always denies its troops are engaged there. The Chechnya wars were far more significant and costly but it was a war entirely on Russian soil. Syria is the first important example of Russian military forces operating on a large scale and far from Russia’s territory.

It is hard to see that Russia’s pull out is caused by a budget crisis. A good case can be made that Russia’s decision is much more based on political developments. As Russia will retain its bases in Syria, redeployment in case of any emergency is not only possible, but it can happen in a few days. One of the things the US military learned is that Russia can rapidly move its air force and heavy equipment. It has the necessary transport and it knows how to set up quickly and coordinate intelligence with military operations.

Russian television and press is emphasizing that the renewed self-confidence of the Syrian regime has sparked a strong interest among many of the combatant groups to seek a political solution, which Russia is backing. Putin has said from the start that he wanted a political solution, but not with terrorists. He has put a great deal of pressure on the insurgents in Syria, backing them into a corner. The proof of this, of course, is the escalation of refugees fleeing Syria. If the rebel held areas were really secure, people would not run. The fact that they are running and running at an extremely high rate means that the rebels are losing control and either face annihilation or need some political agreement. Russia, for its part, wants a political agreement so it can play peacemaker and demonstrate that it is a responsible international player.

By the same token, Russia is not wedded to President Assad of Syria or even to an Alawite-Sh’ia solution. In fact, there is reason to believe that the Russians and the Saudi Arabians have been talking and may have found something that approximates a modus vivendi regarding Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s big dream of a Sunni caliphate under Saudi leadership and control has met up with the reality that so far at least all the Saudis have done is create a threat of a radical Sunni Islamic movement that could easily engulf the Saudi regime. For years the Saudi strategy was to pay off the radicals and keep them occupied killing infidels elsewhere. But there is always a moment when the dog bites the hand that feeds it, and for the Saudis -preoccupied with Iran and the loss of its influence in Yemen (where it is fighting its own war), it may be better to make a deal. Adding to Saudi nervousness is the US-Iran agreement that has put billions at the disposal of the Iranian government which will help Iran modernize its weapons and what seems like America’s shift in alliances away from Saudi Arabia.

For sure Russia would like to capitalize on American geostrategic errors. It would also like to restore its position in Europe and avoid a potential revitalization of NATO, as unlikely as that may seem since Europe is a big customer for Russian oil and gas, and in the long term critical to Gazprom’s ambitions.

Putin’s withdrawal, therefore, can be seen as a tactical move in the framework of what seems to be a strategic objective that, if successful, will strengthen Russia’s economy and give it time to continue the reconstruction of its military capabilities. As a tactical move it makes sense and is very appealing to Europe, which wants the refugee flow to stop, and to the players in the Middle East that need to contain the religious-ideological struggle that threatens to consume them.

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***Dr. Stephen Bryen is author of the new book, Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers (Transaction Publishers).

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Waze, Qalandia and Social Media Danger

by Stephen Bryen*

[Significant parts of this post were quoted in Defense News.]

The essence of the story is quite simple. An Israeli army driver and a squad commander entered the Qalandia Palestinian camp by mistake while using the Waze smartphone GPS navigational app. People in the camp attacked the Israeli military vehicle with firearms and molotov cocktails. The two soldiers, for unknown reasons, split up. Israeli security forces were sent in, there was serious violence, and of the ten member rescue squad made up of five soldiers and five members of the Border Police, one was moderately wounded. One armed Palestinian was killed. The first of the two missing soldiers was picked up almost immediately; the other was found after an hour long search.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

By Heinrich Böll Stiftung from Berlin, Deutschland – Flüchtlingslager Kalandia, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12071592

The Qalandiyah refugee camp was set up in 1949 by the United Nations’ UNRWA. Between 1949 and 1967 the camp was located in the area under Jordanian control and, in fact, UNRWA leased the land for the camp from the Jordanians. After the 1967 war the camp fell under Israeli control; today the camp is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. This camp, which should long ago have been liquidated (just as the other Palestinian refugee camps), is located just outside the Jerusalem municipal boundary. For Israeli military patrols who provide protection for Israeli settlements and run counter-terrorism operations, Qalandiya is a no-go area. There have been, nevertheless, previous conflicts in this camp brought about because of terrorists fleeing to the camp for protection.

Waze is an Israeli developed app (or application) that runs on most smart phones. The app was invented by Ehud Shabtai and the company was originally called Freemap. In 2009 it became Waze Mobile Ltd. In 2013, after becoming wildly popular with millions of users, Waze was bought by Google for $1.1 billion.

Waze_3.5_Screen

Waze 3.5 screen

Waze is a crowd sourced mapping and directions tool that is used regularly by millions of drivers to get updates on traffic issues, to locate police radar and speed traps, and provide location specific alerts. By 2013 Waze had over 50 million users.

The two Israeli army drivers used Waze for directions and for traffic updates. It is an open question whether they were explicitly authorized to do so; but it is clear they were not explicitly authorized not to do so. Waze has features that can warn about certain “no go” areas, and in addition Waze can be programmed to make sure that no direction through such an area is possible. According to news reports and Waze personnel, this special feature was not enabled on the phone used by the soldiers.

Waze, nonetheless, can be spoofed. It is possible, for example, for a hostile organization to set up a fake accident or other event and steer users from a popular route onto a route that could, potentially lead them into a trap. In fact, two Israelis , Shir Yadid and Meital Ben-Sinai, at the time fourth-year students at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, did just that by setting up a thousand or so fake accounts that provided fake coordinates and claimed to be stuck in traffic, sending users off on alternative routes. The project-scam worked as the students imagined it would.

If Waze can be faked, it can be used to set traps that could prove fatal. In Israel it is a genuine threat-risk. For example, Hamas and Hezbollah, not to mention the Syrian Electronic Army and its equivalent in Iran, and probably Isis too, can spoof an app like Waze and use it to lead both military, police and private citizens into ambushes.

Waze is just one example of a social media app that brings with it considerable risks. The fact that two Israeli soldiers got into terrible trouble shows just how serious the risks can be.

In the United States, and in Israel too, the line between commercial products and military-defense applications is extremely blurry. Both countries, and their counterparts around the world, are using social media type apps and other commercial hardware and software products for security. This leads to a growing perfect storm of risk that the enemies of peace and freedom are exploiting and will do even more to exploit in future.

It has been true for a number of years that senior officials, top military officers, and police and law enforcement officials have been using social media where they often exchange sensitive information and confuse personal and private matters with their official responsibilities. This opens them up to exploitation that can include threats to their families and friends as happened when the families of US Army personnel were threatened by al-Qaeda and other radical groups. Just recently a group called the Islamic State Hacking Division posted the names, photos and addresses of about 100 U.S. troops online, calling for attacks against them. In a Tweet claiming to come from ISIS, as reported by CNN, was one saying “”We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children. U.S. soldiers! We’re watching you!” ”

The US government has not issued any clear rules on social media, including Waze which is a social media product because it is crowd sourced. Nor, as far as is known, has Israel.

Israel has vowed to investigate the circumstances of the Waze incident at Qalandiya. Perhaps more will be learned; perhaps not. But the real bottom line is that government, military and law enforcement are lacking sound policy about social media and treating it as if it is not a problem. That, it seems, is a big mistake.

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*Dr. Stephen Bryen is author of the new book, Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers (Transaction Publishers).

 

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