How to tackle a problem like the IED


Defence IQ recently investigated the current gamut of new gadgets on offer to military and police forces confronted with the task of defeating the growing tide of explosive ordnance being used among insurgencies, terrorists, and even criminal organisations.

At a London-based industry event, we met up with Major Chris Hunter QGM, a former British Army Bomb Disposal Operator in Iraq, now a senior IED analyst, and the inspiration and advisor on the recent Hollywood film ‘The Hurt Locker’.

On the subject of counter-IED technology, Hunter points first to the nature of the bomb itself and the ease with which it grows in sophistication.

“If you look at the IRA, for example, who were our primary threat for thirty years, the level of sophistication they achieved in that time – and they were the best bombmakers in the world – was superseded in just 12 months when we went into Iraq in 2003-2004,” he says.

“That’s just continued at a rapid and alarming rate. It was superseded in Afghanistan in just 18 months.”


As the IED presents a variety of problems, Hunter confirms that there is now a need for technology to respond in kind, offering technologies that are not specific to one solution, but to many.

“As every IED specialists will say, there is no silver bullet. But if you’re talking about the Defeat the Device component, where we’re looking at technologies to detect and neutralise, we have to really focus on multi-sensor technologies.

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Replacement Theology

Monday, September 26, 2011

In the Washington Post‘s “On Faith” section, a story asks; ‘Judaism without God? Yes, say American atheists’. You can have Judaism without G-d, much as you can have an “On Faith” section without anything to have faith in.

It’s all a matter of definition. If you define Judaism by its covenantal document as a binding agreement between a people and the Creator of the universe, then an atheistic Judaism is a contradiction in terms. But if you define it as a cultural experience that calls us to social work and spirited debate, then it makes no real difference what you believe, so long as you volunteer at the Tikkun Olam soup kitchen.

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Al-Qa’ida is still a mystery

Ground Zero

Image by wallyg via Flickr

Get Your Cyber War On


According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.” Since the military has been using computers since World War II, it is pretty remarkable that they are just now getting around to figuring this out. 

As defined by the Constitution, it is the government’s job to “provide for the common defense.” Why would the rules in cyberspace be any different? Continue reading

Libya: has Nato made its first real mistake?

In Nato’s nearly two-month war in Libya, civilian casualties have been conspicuous by their almost complete absence. But in the early hours of this morning, did that change?

Around two hours ago, Gaddafi government spokespeople held a press conference here in Tripoli to give details of what, if true, would be the worst civilian killing since the bombing began.

According to the Libyans, eleven imams – part of a larger delegation on a peace mission across the front line – died today when Nato bombed their guesthouse in the town of Brega, around 500 miles to the east of the capital. Gruesome pictures of some of the dead were shown. Continue reading

Iran, China Block Outside Sites to Muzzle Mideast News

The authoritarian    regimes in Iran and China are playing a double game, when it comes to the unrest in the Middle East. Tehran and Beijing are doing their best to spin the protests in their favor, when they talk to the world. But at home, they’re pursuing a different strategy: trying to muzzle anything but the official line on the upheaval.

Commentators have been keen to liken the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia both to the 1979 revolution that brought the Iranian regime to power and the electoral protests of the Green Movement which tried to unseat it. Not surprisingly, the Iranian government has preferred to use the latter comparison. Continue reading

Transition could weaken U.S. anti-terror efforts


By Mimi Hall and Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Egypt’s role in aiding U.S. counterterrorism efforts across the Middle East — through intelligence assistance, interrogation tactics and more — could be diminished after a new government takes hold in Cairo, intelligence experts say.

  • President Obama listens to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Sept. 1 in Washington. Experts say a post-Mubarak government could be less of a partner in the U.S. war on terror. 

    By Charles Dharapak, AP

    President Obama listens to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak on Sept. 1 in Washington. Experts say a post-Mubarak government could be less of a partner in the U.S. war on terror.

By Charles Dharapak, AP

President Obama listens to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak on Sept. 1 in Washington. Experts say a post-Mubarak government could be less of a partner in the U.S. war on terror. Continue reading

Marc A. Thiessen – The state of our terrorist detention policy

Obama probably won’t mention Ghailani‘s name from the rostrum of the House of Representatives. But the Ghailani case underscores the necessity of his quiet decision to change course and lift the ban he imposed after his inauguration on new military commission trials at Guantanamo. An infuriating New York Times story last week described how Ghailani’s lawyers managed to convince the jury that their client had no idea that he was involved in a plot to blow up two American embassies using explosives-laden trucks. The jury even sent a note asking the judge whether Ghailani needed to know the plot’s specific objectives, or was it enough that he knew something unlawful was going on? The judge told them Ghailani had to know the specific objective of the conspiracies – and later that same day, the jury acquitted him on all but one count.

But Ghailani did know the specific objectives of the plot. In 2007, after being transferred from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay, he was interviewed by the FBI and provided a confession he acknowledged was completely voluntary. Ghailani told the FBI that he had put “the pieces of the puzzle together” before the attacks and even considered stopping the plot because he believed civilian locations like embassies and hotels were not proper targets for al-Qaeda. Continue reading

Why the TSA Should Not be Unionized

Transportation Security Administration

Image via Wikipedia

Matthew Buckley, Contributor

01/26/11 – 11:51 AM EST

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — We learned this week that the Transportation Security Administration (also known as the TSA, or “Thousands Standing Around”) has been given approval by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to unionize.

If this doesn’t make you shudder, it should. If you think the snowplow drivers in New York caused havoc, wait until the TSA doesn’t like having to change their “sanitary” gloves more than once a day.

Let’s start with the fact that in the dark days following the attacks of 9/11, the knee jerk reaction of the government was to do “something,” and one of those “somethings” involved creating an entirely new federal bureaucracy called the Homeland Security Department. I shuddered at the time simply from the name of this new soon-to-be behemoth. And then came the TSA. Continue reading