Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The new war in space on the cheap.

MSN reports today that, "After more than two decades of research, the United States is on the verge of deploying a new generation of weapons that discharge beams of energy, such as the Airborne Laser and the Active Denial System, as well as the Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL. "

It looks like my post about W. fighting ET wasn't so far off, after all. I wrote about Paul Hellyar, a former Canadian defense minister, who thinks W. is planning on building a forward operating moon base and is developing "laser and particle guns to the point that they can be used against the visitors from space." Some times truth is stranger than fiction, but I'm not ready to start dressing up in a dark over coat and eating sunflower seeds just yet.

What I do find interesting about this article is the part about the "Active Denial Technology --- a non-lethal way to use millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary. This technology, supported by the U.S. Marines, uses a beam of millimeter waves to heat a foe's skin, causing severe pain without damage, and making the adversary flee the scene."

Yeah, right, that's what they said about Willy Pete, too. The New Scientist says this weapon is expected to be deployed to Iraq in 2006 but also says there still might be some kinks to work out:

VOLUNTEERS taking part in tests of the Pentagon's 'less-lethal' microwave weapon were banned from wearing glasses or contact lenses due to safety fears. The precautions raise concerns about how safe the Active Denial System (ADS)weapon would be if used in real crowd-control situations...People's reflex responses to the pain is expected to force them to move out of the beam before their skin can be burnt. But Neil Davison, co-ordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at the University of Bradford in the UK, says controlling the amount of radiation received may not be that simple.'How do you ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent damage?' he asks"

Hmmm... good question and what if we just said 'what the hell' and use it for more lethal purposes? I mean, we are running out of armor and other basic equipment over there, why not just shoot micro-waves instead of bullets? But wait a minute; what if the insurgents counter with mirrors?

The World reported on the 10th that "Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says the war in Iraq could wind up costing Americans trillions - not billions - of dollars. " The Guardian writes:

The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well
as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is ontinuing to underestimate the cost of the war. ..The economists predict the cost of lifetime care for the thousands of troops who have suffered brain injuries alone could run to $35bn. Taking in increased defense spending as a result of the war, veterans' disability payments and demobilisation costs, the economists predict the budgetary costs of the war alone could approach $1 trillion."

Interestingly, the study points out that:

The latest Pentagon figures show that more than 16,000 military personnel
have been wounded in Iraq. Due to improvements in body armour, there has been an unusually high number of soldiers who have survived major wounds such as brain damage, spinal injuries and amputations."

Of course, there would be a lot more wounded Marines, not dead ones, if the pentagon had actually sprung for some decent armor. Defense Watch says the Interceptor OTV body armor system sucks, basically:

"As many as 42% of the Marine casualties who died from isolated torso injuries could have been prevented with improved protection in the areas surrounding the plated areas of the vest. Nearly 23% might have benefited from protection along the mid-axillary line of the lateral chest. Another 15% died from impacts through the unprotected shoulder and upper arm," the report says. The internally produced report revealed that a random sample of 93 Marine deaths studied for the report showed that 60 percent of the fatalities suffered by the Marines who were killed in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2005 died from gunshot wounds received while wearing Interceptor OTV body armor."

Madtom at fucking war posted that Hillary called, "the Bush administration "incompetent" when it came to protecting the troops in combat and called the lack of adequate body armor for soldiers and Marines "unforgivable." So far in Iraq, more than 2,100 American troops have been killed. Critics like Clinton, D-N.Y., say that many of these deaths are the result of inadequate body armor. A secret Pentagon study of 93 Marines who were killed in Iraq found that 74 died after they were hit by a bullet or shrapnel in the torso or shoulders Â? areas unprotected by the armor most are issued. "We perhaps could have avoided so many of these fatalities with the right body armor," said Clinton,

Also, as I pointed out on the 28th of Dec., the WaPo reported yesterday that the VA is exploring ways to nickel and dime our returning troops that suffer from PTSD. It seems in the past five years claims for disability from PTSD has risen by 150% and the resulting costs are breaking the bank. Interestingly, the majority of claims are coming from Vietnam vets who have been dealing with their traumas by themselves up until now. (Just wait until the tens of thousands of troops who will be coming back from their 2nd or 3rd 18-month tours in Iraq, who have endured the viciousness and brutality of urban guerrilla war, start seeking the help only the VA can provide.)

War on the cheap ain't so cheap Rummy!

Letter the the editor: Miami Herald (Again.)

Where's FEMA?

My retiree parents in Hobe Sound need help. Hurricane Wilma took their roof and most of their possessions, and they are still waiting for FEMA and their insurance company to help them rebuild their lives. They have received not one iota of assistance yet.

My mother and military-veteran father have spent days calling bureaucrats who promise return calls that never come. Now their insurance policy has been canceled. They are in their 60s. Such stress is too much for them, to say nothing of the anguish living in the ruins of the only home they've owned.

The system that failed to help the vulnerable in New Orleans is again failing. Before Wilma hit, Gov. Bush said that Florida was ''battle tested, well resourced, well trained.'' Since then he has had to admit that ''We did not perform to where we want to be.'' The state still hasn't.

Miami Herald, Dec. 23, 2005
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