ecurity Information Publicly Disseminated

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Government Spending Is Offending

We have all heard of the $500 toilet seat and the $1000 hammer but the DOD in recent years has been interested in toys. The Department of Defense or the War Department as it was called during the Second World War has been interested in force multipliers. Waring factions throughout history have been looking for better and more efficient ways to wage war. 

A force multiplier is a gizmo or a tactic that multiples a single operators ability to kill his enemy the rock, knife, sword, horse, elephant, gun, explosives, airplane, and the tank are all force multipliers. Throughout history these gadgets have increased the armies ability to wage war. Each time a new weapon or tactic in employed on the battle field a counter for that weapon or tactic is devised for example the shield and leather armor was the Roman solders defense against the sword. 

During WWII, Dr. Lytle S. Adams a dentist that was politically connected devised a WMD and submitted his idea to President Roosevelt who in-turn forwarded the idea to the War Department with instructions to proceed with R&D. The WMD consisted of bombs filled with bats and dropped from aircraft over Japanese cities. The bats would have small incendiary devices attached to them and activated by timed fuses. One airplane loaded with "bat bombs" could start a firestorm engulfing an entire city in a matter of hours. The concept actually worked during testing as envisioned by Dr. Adams and it made him rich.  The bat bomb was never deployed because the Atomic bomb was ready and deployed in its place, the rest is history. 

In the past decade miniaturization of computers, explosives and robotics has lead warfare into the the remote control electronic age. The President of the United States highlights a name on a DoD hit list during a meeting on Terror-Tuesday and a militant is killed by a hellfire missile half a world away on Wack-em-Wednesday. The success of remotely operated vehicles by police departments and the military has given birth to all sorts of  small RC toys each devised for specific purposes. One such device is the “Throwbot XT” manufactured by  ReconRobotics, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. Recon was awarded a $13,900,000 firm-fixed-price contract June 18th 2012.  "The award will provide for the procurement of a maximum of 1,000 Throwbot XT robots.  Work will be performed in Minneapolis, with an estimated completion date of June 6, 2014.  The bid was solicited through the Internet, with one bid received.  The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W91CRB-12-C-0008)."

The company describes the unit as “Inherently water and dust resistant” and is made to be throne into a structure for the purpose of reconnoitering the building. Recon describes the mobile unit as weighing just 1.2lbs (540g), and “can be thrown up to 120 feet (36m) and that “it is also exceptionally quiet (operating at just 22 decibels)”  The company claims that the Throwbots camera can see in “complete darkness” and transmit images and sound back to its operator. 

ReconRobotics leaves out any details like if the hand held device can clime stairs, open doors or pan, tilt and piviot its camera to see overhead or from side to side. Chances are it can not. Then there is the question of deployment it seams as though an operator would need to breach a door, wall or window in order to gain access to a structure for Throwbots deployment. This breaching would (1) put the operator into a vulnerable situation and (2) give his position away thus loosing any element of surprise. Not to practical. If an operator is able to get the device inside a structure, bunker, cave, etc. undetected and find a subject what is stopping the combatant from shooting the unit or just stepping on it, thus giving the operator incomplete information and putting him in danger because of discovery. The demonstration video on the company website shows a squad of men deploying the Throwbot. What is obvious is that the structure that they are using for demonstration has no interior or exterior windows and doors. Another interesting observation was that the opposition force inside the building does not fight back and looks scared of the toy that was just thrown in from a hole in the wall. What the DoD has purchased hear is a glorified cellphone duct-tapped to an RC car that {if all 1000 units are delivered} cost $13,900.00 each. The DoD also describes the contract for the Throwbot as a firm-fixed-price contract and that Recon will supply a maximum of 1000 units. What if only 500 are delivered? Will that make the unit price $27,800.00??? 

The past week we have witnessed Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey describe the coming military armageddon in front of Congress because of the across-the-board DoD spending reductions, known as "sequestration," the cuts take effect Jan. 2nd and need to be reflected in the 2013 budget year. 

The Pentagon is looking at a $500 billion reduction in projected spending over 10 years on top of the $492 billion that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans already agreed to in last summer's deficit-cutting budget.

Dempsey said the cuts would mean fewer troops and "the possible cancellation of major weapons and the disruption of operations around the world."

"We can't yet say precisely how bad the damage would be, but it is clear that sequestration would risk hollowing out our force and reducing its military options available to the nation," Dempsey told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee. "We would go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries, and that would translate into a different deterrent calculus and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict."

Dennis Wilson of Beach Boys fame sang about his girlfriend “we’ll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes the T Bird away” well General Dempsey your daddy took back the keys! Like the rest of us, the US military needs to suck in it gut and tighten its belt. It is never good to limit the nations offensive and defensive forces but spending money on frivolous things like the Throwbot XT only proves one thing, the days of the $500 toilet seat are not over.

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