RANGER AGAINST WAR: Wireless Revolution <

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Wireless Revolution

Power equality
And we're out to get it

--Party for Your Right to Fight,

Public Enemy


I can get a sparrow
With a bow and arrow.

I can live on bread and cheese.

And only on that?

--Anything You Can Do
,
Annie Get Your Gun


Religion served to the masses

Might be a dangerous seed

Forced down your throat

The last thing a free man needs

--Gotterdammerung
, Wagner
_____________

This is a challenge to recent articles linking the success of terrorists and insurgents [T/I] to the wireless revolution. An historical examination of terrorism and unconventional warfare suggests otherwise.

No doubt wireless communications are beneficially enlisted both by T/I and those fighting the unconventional threat, but that is not the key tool of the underdog on the assymetric warfare totem pole.

The reason the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq are successful. or at least not defeated, is that they have legitimacy -- something the U.S. lacks. This possession has nothing to do with cell phones.

Computers and cell phones are means of instant communication, but these tools are not essential components of T/I activty. Groups like the Irish Republican Army (IRA),
Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA) and Red Army Faction (RAF) all conducted successful operations in urban western cities without these new toys, and the IRA and the ETA are still in business.

While groups will always adapt and incorporate available technology, their success does not rely upon technical hardware but rather on organizational skills. Cell phones are undoubtedly used as IED triggers, but they are not the only wireless technique for detonating an electrical detonating cap. They are not required to conduct an improvised explosive campaign.

A cursory stroll through a Radio Shack catalog reveals myriad tools that will transmit an impulse to a detonator. Why not an electric garage door mechanism? Many of these commonplace items have been utilized by bombers for the last 40 years.

In fact, simple mercury switches, clothes pins and old fashioned mouse traps will do a bomber's work nicely in a pinch. Two tin can lids could suffice as a simple pressure switch, had for the cost of a stroll through the local rubbish heap.

In addition, suicide bombers require only a simple 1.5 v battery or a grenade to self-detonate, and the grenade need not be the latest model in order to inflict the maximum casualities. It is all really rather simple, and therefore difficult to counter. Ranger will bet the farm there is a local radio Shack in Kabul, Baghdad and Mosul. Stock tip of the day?

If U.S. Special Forces are trained in these improvised techniques then it is safe to say so are their adversaries. Improvised explosives manuals are available at Amazon.com. Palladin Press is another legal source. The Infantry Bookstore and the Ft. Leavenworth bookstore sell the Anarchist Cookbook. It is safe to say that U.S. SF Mobile Training Teams have taught our adversaries these techniques. The cell phone is not the centerpiece, but simply another tool in a large arsenal.

The old techniques have staying power. Runners and spotters are timeless, low-tech assets. Children are often used to alert fighters of approaching soldiers and are also used as mules to move contraband within given areas. Ditto women in burkhas -- walking duffle bags -- who surely hump all kinds of contraband save frillies from Victoria's Secret, and maybe even that.

Everybody in government, military, intelligence and the security industries is trying to portray the post- 9-11 threat as something new, 4 GW or the latest term du jour, but this is not the reality.

Old tried and true techniques of the trade are still as vital to the survival and success of today's groups as they were to the French Maquis of WW II or the partisans of the Eastern theatre. This is not a new form of warfare, and by definition it is a malleable one. It is we who are not the fast adapters, as this is surely a war of ideologies versus one of competing technologies.

Large conventional armies are designed to engage other large conventional armies. But armies cannot engage and destroy ideas, and insurgents have ideas. That idea is that they have the right to fight external invaders and their puppet regimes. Looking honestly at our core democratic beliefs, we agree with their idea. That idea of having agency over one's own territory is over 250 years old for us; it is a much older one for our presumptive adversaries. Ideas have staying power and in the long run trump preponderance of force.

But instead of acknowledging that fact, we invent a new Counterinsurgency manual and continue to fight and kill Iraqis and Afghanis in their own countries, and do so not only with seeming impunity, but with the pretense of doing the right thing.


Cell phones are not the threat to our safety and security.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous tw said...

When people start talking high tech warfare to me I always tell them this story I heard in Nam. I can't vouch for the truth of it but the theory sure seems plausible. Here goes.

In response to rocket attacks in Danang, Uncle Sam developed a million dollar computerised anti aircraft system wherebye it would pick up an incoming rocket, determine it's trajectory and the position from where it was launched and send the coordiinates to an artillery unit which would then obliterate the grid square from which it came. All this in under two minutes from the rocket being launched.

Charlies response was to line up on bamboo 4 or more rockets pointed down on Danang. He then hooked them up in series to a battery and a tin can full of water with a float system circuit. He then poked a hole in the can and walked away. As the water trickled away the float descended and finally made contact completing the circuit and rockets were on their way to Danang. Uncle Sam's million dollar system, picked up the incoming rockets, extrapolated the trajectory, fired the info to the artillery unit who then oibliterated a piece of mountain side that Charlie had long since vacated.

Result: a 25 cent item defeated a million dollar system.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 11:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

TW,

Yes this sounds plausible and very expedient. It's the opposite of using a balloon as an altimeter type means to blow up aircraft with a on board device.

Putting mortar rounds on a v-shaped board and pointed in the enemy's direction is another little device. You can launch it in a number of ways. One way is simple time fuse or electrical cap set to a any type of timer.

It's all so simple.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM GMT-5  

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