Archive for the 'Military' Category

Current Generation HK’s on Display at the Air & Space Museum

Hunter-Killer(HK) UAV Aircraft

Hunter-Killer(HK) UAV Aircraft

Looking up from the ground floor of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, it is a bit creepy to see the southwest wing’s display of mostly armed UAV Aircraft (UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).  One cannot help but feel like he or she is suddenly transported to the year 2029 and is accompanying Reese from the movie The Terminator as he tries to evade the autonomous Hunter-Killers (HKs). 

It is interesting that in 1949 George Orwell envisioned a future 35 years in the future (1984) where world-wide totalitarian regimes enslaved their people (using mostly intimidation and propaganda).  Yet, when the year 1984 eventually rolled around, the movie The Terminator envisioned an even grimmer future (this time 45 years in the future) where machines enslave and try to annihilate the entire human race. 

If Darwinism is indeed correct, that may yet come to pass.  But nifty machines like these first crude UAVs may serve an intermediate step and bridge the gap between both of these dystopic visions.  A future in which totalitarian regimes can manufacture an entire robot army to subjugate humans at will (propaganda no longer required). 

Today’s generation still sees these machines as mostly non-threatening and neat.  But who knows? HKs may soon be coming to a neighborhood near you – and this time they may be a little more threatening than a Roomba?

HK Tank

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Getting the Intel on Social Networking

The task of any Military Intelligence (MI) gathering operation is essentially to first observe and document relationships and then to describe and build models of these relationships with network graphs.  So Military Intelligence organizations often create networks of equipment and assets, organizational hierarchies, and, perhaps just a little more insidiously, interpersonal relationships.

With all of the intense media buzz lately about Facebook and other social networking sites, I couldn’t help but see the similarity of the tasks and objectives of these sites with Military Intelligence gathering operations.   One is labeled “Market Research” while the other is called “Military Intelligence Gathering (hopefully-but not always-against an adversary),” but in most ways they are indistinguishable*.   

While I find this more than just a little disturbing, I’m not quite ready to take on the breadth of this subject matter yet.  But I do want to answer the first questions: Who are these sites?  Which are most popular?  What are their primary categories and audiences?

Preliminary Findings:

Social Networking and (Micro)Blogging:
Dodgeball.com
Facebook
MySpace (Fox Interactive Media)
orkut (Google)
Tribe.net
Twitter
Windows Live Spaces (Microsoft)
Xanga

Business Relationship Management:
JigSaw
LinkedIn
Spoke.com
ZoomInfo

Multimedia (Photos, Video, Music):
Flickr
Last.fm
PhotoBucket
YouTube
Zooomr

Blogging:
LiveJournal
BlogSpot
WordPress

Social News:
del.icio.us
Digg
reddit
Slashdot
StumbleUpon

School/Organizational Networking:
Classmates.com
Graduates.com
Reunion.com

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* This line has blurred to the point where, as reported in the FRONTLINE program “Spying on the Home Front,” the US Intelligence Community actually uses aggregated marketing and credit card databases to perform data mining.

Each According to their Needs…

This story may be apocryphal, but I found it amusing and plausible anyway and whenever I hear Karl Marx’s famous dictum “Each according to his needs” I am reminded of it. 

My good friend told me he was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, FL in the mid-1980s during the final death throes of the Cold War.  The Base Housing held one of those “Create Our Motto” contests with some meaningless honor bestowed upon the winner (such as free tickets to the base bowling alley). 

My friend submitted the entry of “Each According to their Needs” and nearly won the contest but for one small thing.  Some base officer noticed its origin and called him to sternly remind him that it was in fact the central tenet of communism.

Well, central tenet or not, it is still an admirable goal of any organization that professes to care for anyone in need.  Something we as Americans once prided ourselves in.

Lions and Tigers and Nukes – Oh My!

Today’s headline about nuclear warheads being mistakenly carried aboard a B-52 reminded me yet again that journalists need to take a few history lessons.  The period in history I am referring to?  Apparently a little-known period sometimes referred to as the Cold War.  You see kids we used to sail and fly nuclear bombs all over the world every day. 

Listen up you whippersnappers!  In a program call Airborne Alert, approximately a dozen nuclear-armed bombers were in the air at any given moment.  You may have even seen a film about it – Dr. Strangelove (you gotta know how to relate to these kids!).  The airborne program lasted for a smallish time period of approximately 20 years, but nuclear-armed subs still sail the seas – each sub with enough firepower to destroy a country (200 warheads each). 

Heck, one of these bombers full of nukes, Buzz One Four, tragically came to its final rest a few miles away from my home town in 1964 – apparently where it, minus its nukes, still rests (entire very detailed story here).  In another notable incident, a sub went down in the Atlantic and neither it nor its nukes were ever recovered.  These “Broken Arrows” seemed to happen with at least some regularity (at least 26 that we know of). 

So journalistic kids, this is a little technique that I like to call: putting things into historical and world perspective.  Yes it was a mistake, but no, it wasn’t a bombing mission, just transport.  Isn’t the bigger worry all of the nuclear material that we don’t know where it is or how it is tracked – from such unstable regions of the world as Russia and Pakistan? 

Oh I see – along with not taking a (or sleeping through your) history class, you also skipped Geography – excellent – well thanks for doing your best to help us make informed choices anyway.  Now, you kids get outta my yard and go read some history books.

Please be Nice to Your Brother When he Goes to War

One of the more heartbreaking images from Yahoo’s “Portrait of the Fallen (a display at Arlington during July, 2006)” is this one:

Arlington National Cemetary Display

which includes the regretful letter of a sister to her dead brother.  Let’s hope Dennis is at a place where he can still get his sister’s message and they will get a chance to make up yet.