RANGER AGAINST WAR: Wild, Wild West <

Friday, February 09, 2007

Wild, Wild West

Mr. West, not every situation requires your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two.
--the character of President Grant, from The Wild Wild West


The U.S. government is petitioning foreign countries to allow pilots to carry guns in the cockpit when flying internationally ("U.S. Asks to Arm Pilots"). Gun-slingin' pilots are the obvious solution to a martial government's view of the threat posed by terrorism. Somehow, the idea of a shootout in the cockpit is not my idea of security. The threat should have been dealt with several steps back.


Previously, we mentioned the inappropriate arming and utilization of medical assets as riflemen; now, it's pilots, who I would think have a demanding enough job on their hands maneuvering planes through the sky. How incredibly ill-conceived and stupid! One must ask: Do we really pay people in Homeland Security to come up with these ideas?


Why is this stupid? Let me count the ways.


[1] Psychology - Pilots are not gunfighters or killers. Air marshals should fulfill this function.

The flight deck will always be penetrated by adversaries with a supply of hostages. How many pilots are wiling, able or cold enough to sacrifice hostage lives? This must be an air marshal prerogative. In fact, the airlines could and should place armed personnel on board responsible for the aircraft if such a threat should arise. This program should/could supplement federal air marshals.


[2] Pilots should be isolated, locked and protected from hijacker entry to the flight deck. Levels of security is the key. If the deck is penetrated, what good is a gunfight going to do? Who's flying the aircraft while this gunfight's going on?


[3] Preventive police and intelligence should be a level of protection that disallows hijackers from even flying on the aircraft. This policy could be well-covered in a book rather than a blog.


Suffice to say that aircraft security measures should be aimed at the threat, rather than at law-abiding U.S. citizens flying on the aircraft.


Arming pilots is a meaningless feel-good measure that does not address the threat to U.S. air carriers. Obviously 9-11 has taught that hijackers are going to fly the aircraft into targeted areas, if they gain control of the aircraft.
The key is to override control of the aircraft from the control tower or the ground. This technology exists.

Gunfights in the cockpit are wonderful in James Bond movies, but the concept is far-removed from reality. The time is passed for Marshal Matt Dillon with a six-shooter on his hip to save the day, especially one who's also in charge of flying a plane.

It appears the new 21st century security is a retrograde 20th-century vision of a pilot packing heat.

15 Comments:

Blogger Lurch said...

The fact that you mentioned Homeland Security explains everything. While the ants in the department are certainly well-qualified professionals, the truth is that the management is with almost no exceptions composed of grasshoppers, political hacks, party loyalists, and unemployed nephews with no knowledge or experience of the matters they are supposed to manage.

I guess if they see Jack Bauer shooting people in planes that must be the correct solution. Oh! And let's not forget that Dirty Harry dressed up in a pilot's uniform and killed two planejackers with his .44 so that's obviously the piece to supply to pilots.

Saturday, February 10, 2007 at 12:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Lurch,

I'm sure that just showing "Dirty Harry" on all flights would be a deterrent in itself.

In fact, maybe just showing your picture or mine alone, on a big billboard, would do it. It would certainly make them protect their goats and sheep better, thereby keeping them off our airplanes.

I'm the only person who has ever suggested having Schwarzenegger as Homeland Security Chief. That would make them march in step.

Saturday, February 10, 2007 at 5:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

Sir,

Does not training eliminate many of the problems you mention? Specifically, how many people are born "killers" to use your words that serve as FAMs, LEOs, military, etc. vs. how many are trained?

If the cockpit is breached and no FAMs are on board, what is the alternative? Either way there is going to be a fight, the only difference is what tools will be utilized in the ensuing melee. Maybe it would behoove us to give the ones doing the fighting the best tools available to help ensure the fight is won.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 12:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg Fed,

Glad to have you in the dialog.

A pilot is not a policeman; he is charged with flying an airship. We cannot militarize our entire society. Why do we endure 4-hour waits at the airport if not to ensure no unsafe materials come on board?

Let us hope with the giant expenditure on Homeland Security and every other measure enacted to make us safe from the great, unrepeated terrorist menace, that we will not see the attempt of 9-11 again.

Our learning curve was steep; by the third plane, word was out, and passengers took action. The concept of a pilot launching into a gunfight from the control panel is absurd.

Why not arm and train stewardesses and stewards in close arms combat, I mean, they're only pushing around coffee dollies?

In truth, if you suspect Homeland security is all a farce, then the airlines should be charged with hiring private security for each flight, as we suggested.

If a hijacker has managed to breach all defenses at that point in the game, all is lost already.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 5:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

Thank you for the welcome sir.

You said-
A pilot is not a policeman; he is charged with flying an airship. We cannot militarize our entire society. Why do we endure 4-hour waits at the airport if not to ensure no unsafe materials come on board?

ME-
Correct, insofar as you've written. Neither are passengers policemen, but we would hope they would resist come game time. We would hope the flight deck crew would resist as well. What we are arguing about here is tool selection, not motivation. At the end of the day, should another 9/11 go down what it will come down to is how effectively those people in the plane(s), FAMs, crew and passengers, resist. I am assuming you are for said resistance? So all that is left to discuss is what tools can they have to do so.

You said-Let us hope with the giant expenditure on Homeland Security and every other measure enacted to make us safe from the great, unrepeated terrorist menace, that we will not see the attempt of 9-11 again.

Me-
Sure, you hope so, but you can't count on it. WWI, after all, was a huge expenditure that was to end all war. That one didn't work out too well.

You can't make a target immune, just harden it. Aviation is a lot harder than it was, but in our civil society the degree necessary to make it invulnerable in not palatable to the American citizen. So, with that in mind, you create layers. FFDOs are one of those layers.

You said-Our learning curve was steep; by the third plane, word was out, and passengers took action. The concept of a pilot launching into a gunfight from the control panel is absurd.

ME-
Absolutely. What is not absurd is if that door crashes down. One way or another there is going to be a fight. I'd rather have a guy three steps away with a drawn pistol sending rounds downrange center mass than some guy standing there in his kung fu stance.

As for the passengers, it took United 93 some 25 minutes and a vote before they fought back. WAY too long. It needs to be done in the back part (behind the cockpit doors) in seconds, not minutes. Otherwise its up to the pilots. And if its up to them, would not tools be better? I can guarantee the bad guys will have tools, even if just implemented weapons.

You said-Why not arm and train stewardesses and stewards in close arms combat, I mean, they're only pushing around coffee dollies?

ME-
This is a weapon retention issue here. What I'm talking about is having the weapon in a secure area for the "line in the sand" mode. They're essentially Alamo'ed up.

You said-
In truth, if you suspect Homeland security is all a farce, then the airlines should be charged with hiring private security for each flight, as we suggested.

Me-Perhaps. But would that be required?

You said-
If a hijacker has managed to breach all defenses at that point in the game, all is lost already.

Me-
I wholeheartedly disagree sir.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 7:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

I believe we're getting bogged down on the micro level. I do not believe the almost 200-yr-old Alamo provides a valid comparison to the scenario of a modern plane hijacking. The men or women on the flight deck are not garrisoned up for a battle.

Let's wait to hear what Jim says tomorrow,

Lisa

Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 8:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

Jim here: were you a Marine, by any chance?

I didn't say "natural born killer," I said, pilots are not gunfighters or killers, nor do they want to be.

Killing is a state of mind, and not necessarily a state of training. Training increases the likelihood of effective violence.

If there are fights in a cockpit, then the entire system is incorrectly configured.

Yes, I am for resistance, but the aircraft must be controlled from the ground if it is breached.

I agree about layers of security.

I'm glad you disagree with some of my arguments, but at least we're both making good faith efforts to think.

Thanks for writing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 6:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

"Jim here: were you a Marine, by any chance?"

No sir.

"I didn't say "natural born killer," I said, pilots are not gunfighters or killers, nor do they want to be."

Yes sir, I understand. But if they're not killers, how do you make them killers, because that is what they'll need to be if and when the cockpit is breached.

If they're not natural born, they have to be trained.

"Killing is a state of mind, and not necessarily a state of training. Training increases the likelihood of effective violence."

I, along with Dave Grossman and SLA Marshal, would respectfully disagree with you.

"If there are fights in a cockpit, then the entire system is incorrectly configured."

No sir, it just meant that all the plans for battle went out the window with the first shot. Even with the best configuration there exists the possibility of chance. Take away all the weapons, screen as best as you can and the pilots still have to use the restroom sometime. Five plus men rush the door when its open. Stuff like that.

"Yes, I am for resistance, but the aircraft must be controlled from the ground if it is breached."

Sure, but how about giving the people flying a chance to fight back and survive before blowing them up"

"I agree about layers of security."

And FFDOs would be one very small part of that.

"I'm glad you disagree with some of my arguments, but at least we're both making good faith efforts to think.

Thanks for writing."

Yes sir. Dialogue and reason serve much better than ad hominem crap.

Thank you for responding. Its an interesting discussion.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 6:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

Haven't you been reading the latest on the deconstruction of SLA Marshall, to the effect that much of his stuff is fabricated?

This may be sad news, but I don't advocate making anyone a killer unless they have to be. And a pilot flies planes.

If you read my posts, I say the war on terror is phony, and certainly battle plans have no place on commercial aircraft. This is a criminal scenario, not a military one. If it were military, I would sandbag the cockpit and set up an M 60 on a tripod.

I'm not advocating blowing up the aircraft, but manually diverting to an area where it cannot cause a significant event.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 6:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

Well sir, perhaps Mr. Marshal's methodology was incorrect or false or whatever, but the training modalities instituted by LE and military organizations are not. Hence no longer shooting bulls-eyes. Your and my training was a direct result of these studies.

Sure a pilot flies planes, but do you not think that civilian aviation remains a viable terrorist target? It has been since 1985. And even after horrific failures, much less their most unqualified success (9/11). If it remains a target, one must at least entertain the notion of what happens if there is a coordinated attempt on the flight deck.

The job of stopping a hijacking is somewhere in between a LEO and military function. The FAM rules of engagement are a little less strict than on the ground use of force continuum.

As far as controlling the plane from the ground, how?

Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 8:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

Historically, aircraft have been threatened since J. D. Cooper hijacked a commercial aircraft in 1970. Black September and PFLP in the early 70's were an extremely viable threat to civilian aviation.

This problem didn't just appear in civilian aviation worldwide 1985. I hate to discuss the following b/c it is an opsec issue, but I think the greatest danger to civil aviation is the carriers similar to FedEx and UPS.

The hijackers do not have passengers or crew members to control, and gaining control of the aircraft can be done b/f it even leaves the ground.

There should be no coordinated attempts on aircraft b/c we should not be allowing threat groups onto flights. Yet we do. We should profile better, as the Israelis do.

Per controlling it from the ground, I do believe we're the ones who put the man on the moon 38 years ago. I'm not an engineer, but ECM measures and overriding of the aircraft could be accomplished via the autopilot systems once the aircraft is compromised. This is w/in our engineering capabilities.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 1:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

Civilian hijackings as a political tool are generally noted as beginning with the hijacking in Athens in 1985. Essentially hijackings prior to that were free trips to Cuba, EDPs or robberies (ala Cooper).

That is why the FAM program was started.

Don't sweat the opsec stuff because there are only about seven million web pages that note all the vulnerabilities in the US. Fed-Ex has been mentioned a ton of times. There used to be a YouTube video about it.

Profiling is fine, I'm all for it. But with 35,000 planes a day in the US, how do we screen so many? El Al screening (have you experienced it? It is thorough) is prohibitive here due to numbers of people, although I think we could find a happy medium.

How would you prohibit a "threat group" from flying? What constitutes a "threat group"?

Thanks for the discussion. This stuff interests me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 9:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

My comments are not made from readings, but from personal observations, so I was unaware that the Fed-ex linkage had already been put out there.

In my past, we were always taught that you had to think like a terrorist to counter them, but I believe this is virtually impossible b/c we hire nothing but bureaucrats who think only about their pensions.

Every time I pass the Tallahassee airport I see the Fed-ex a/c in an unsecured area that could be easily breached; therefore, my mind wanders/wonders.

It takes a truly sick mind to be able to think like a terrorist, but I feel I've developed the skill.

Somehow I get the feeling that you're interested in 1985. You cannot discount the Black September and PFLP hijackings as anything other than acts of terrorist theatrics aimed at an audience beyond the target.

Previously, I've stated that I would not allow more than two Arabs to fly on any one flight. If Islamic extremists are the threat, then aim your countermeasures at Islamists. The next generation of threat will be the Western converts.

I take a lot of criticism for not cross-fertilizing my mind with current practices, but it allows me to present a personal, uncontaminated viewpoint on the topic.

I enjoy your comments,

Jim

Thursday, February 22, 2007 at 9:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

Jim-

In my work I also am trained to and try to continue to think like a terrorist. How would I do this or that? As for the bureaucrats I agree at the upper levels, but the street operators have a real sense of mission.

As for 1985, I have not explained myself well. 1985 is the first time American's were targeted in political terrorism in civilian aviation and where we were now in "the Game", per se.

As for Islamists, what is an Islamist? Regulating Arabs is only partially effective. Another huge concern are Chechnyans. They can be blond haired and blue eyed, and you only have to look at Beslan to see what they're capable of.

Also, what about American citizen Arabs? Are we back to internment, like with the Japanese? Can we keep them off flights?

Friday, February 23, 2007 at 7:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Law Dawg,

As I say, interview all suspect populations as El Al does. you are correct in that our total number of fliers is too great to interview everyone. But I am not speaking of internment, except for members of the present administration.

You can keep people off of flights.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 6:33:00 PM GMT-5  

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