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Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
Read Debates, a
new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every
(277 previous messages)
- 11:16am Mar 9, 2002 EST (#278
Military palmtop to cut collateral
NewScientist 09 March 02
In the Afghanistan and Kosovo conflicts, military mistakes led
to air strikes against the wrong buildings, against civilians or
on friendly forces. One cause of such tragedies is misinformation
from the battlefield - perhaps because troops transmit the wrong
target coordinates, or are simply misheard.
To address the problem, the Pentagon has commissioned a new
battlefield targeting system based on a raft of sensing and
communications technologies, controlled by a hand-held Pocket PC.
It will go into service with US Special Forces in 2003.
The super-palmtop will combine laser rangefinding, GPS
satellite positioning, a satellite phone and text messaging.
Called JEDI, or Joint Expeditionary Digital Information, the
system will be controlled by Microsoft's Windows-CE operating
The Pentagon wants JEDI to help simplify the way soldiers send
target coordinates and other vital information from the
battlefield to control centres. "It has to be designed so it's
easy to use," says Peter Batcheller of Booz Allen Hamilton, the
technology development company based in McLean, Virginia, that
created the system. "Troops can't call up an IT desk if it goes
JEDI is used in conjunction with laser rangefinding
binoculars. A soldier spotting a target vehicle will use the
binoculars to get a reading on its position, speed and direction
of travel. This data is then collected by the Pocket PC, while the
soldier identifies the type of vehicle by pointing to simple icons
on the screen.
The palmtop codes the information into a short text message,
which it sends via the Iridium satellite mobile phone system to a
forward headquarters or to a waiting attack aircraft.
This is both more accurate and quicker than the current way of
working, which relies on soldiers calling in the coordinates by
radio and describing targets verbally. Slow response speeds can
For example, fast-moving mobile rocket launchers can be missed
by strike aircraft because they have gone by the time the attacker
gets to the scene. "It can take as much as 30 seconds to a minute
to get a message for a target with the current voice system," says
In recent US Army tests, JEDI target messages were sent and
received in as little as 3 seconds. Its simple, icon-based
software also reduces the risk of inaccurate information being
called in, cutting the chances of attacks on the wrong target.
If the Windows-based machine crashes, says Batcheller, it can
be rebooted within 12 seconds. But can a Pocket P - -more at home
in a Starbucks coffee bar than on the battlefield - handle combat
JEDI is a lot more robust, he says. To test quite how much the
gadget can take, the Army had a game of football using a JEDI as
the ball - and it worked just fine afterwards.
- 12:10pm Mar 9, 2002 EST (#279
Yes it is horrible that the Palestinian gentleman "lost his
face". But don't all Palestinians loose face when they condone the
bombing of pizza parlors, Bat Mitvahs, and schools. Mind you, this
is not collateral damage but the targeting of men women and children
which runs counter to the "rules" of war.
I don't know if you know this but shot guns are a banned weapon
in warfare. The idea is if you take a 9mm you can be rushed to a
MASH unit and maybe your life can be saved. A shotgun will blow your
face off and therefore is "inhuman".
As we speak of missile defense and other military issues, just
remember that defense is always preferred to offense. The posture
suggests that a nation doesn't intend to establish its policy
positions by the use of force.
- 01:53pm Mar 9, 2002 EST (#280
U.S. Works Up Plan for Using Nuclear Arms Military:
Administration, in a secret report, calls for a strategy against at
least seven nations: China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya
and Syria. - http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-030902bombs.story
- 03:16pm Mar 9, 2002 EST (#281
mAzzA - Human Capital * war
Loss of Human
Capital is sheer waste
In accounting terms a value could be placed on the 'lost' to his
family, hospital, country 'Doctor'.
Assume a full natural life, then it would take into account:
- Salary to retirement
- value to each patient
- value to each daughter and son
- value to spouse
- value regarding assistance to elders of family
- value regarding input to community
- value of 'new and unique' inputs
- value to those trained under
- value of interactions
War reflects a failure to appreciate the value of individuals
within complex societies. Work out the cumulative costs above,
then work out how these functions and activities are alternatively
sourced, then look for gaps ... when a parent isn't there - it's
It was interesting to note a President break down and cry with
respect to the loss of Eight military guys ..... note those losses
would have been far higher had the Aussie Diggers (SAS) on the
spot not covered and saved the lives of three dozen others ... but
the real reality is that in all unnecessary conflicts there is
lost, irreplaceable, Human Capital.
The secret of world success is to channel Human Capital
to improve and grow our world!
- 03:18pm Mar 9, 2002 EST (#282
"The posture suggests that a nation doesn't intend to
establish its policy positions by the use of force."
During the Cold War, the clearly recognized MAD could have
prevented some mad decisions by any of the nuclear powers.
That may no longer be true. The mads are reviving their plans. In
large part hoping for the protection by the Missile Defense. That,
in my view, leaves the chance for the humanity, including the US,
not more then 50/50 chance of surviving in this Century. One must be
indeed an overly optimist or, may be, quintessential MAZZA, to think
The way the US projects itself in the World leaves very little
dought of its intentions and willingness to unnihilate all the rest.
If it is a wrong impression, that may be even more sad.
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