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9/11 Signal Corps Recommendation

The reply of 9/11 Commissioner, John Lehman on C-Span answering questions about the 9/11 Commission Report, when asked about the commission’s recommendation for an Emergency Management Signal Corps: 

We uncovered a fairly significant range of command, control and communications problems…. The military has struggled with this for a long time. Now today the normal order of military operations involves all services integrated working together. Radios that are designed to work at sea don’t necessarily work in intense land environments, in cities, in buildings. The military learned long ago that you need a systems approach to radios and to connectivity. In cities like NY especially, that remains one of the most important, valuable targets of our enemy, we have to be able to assure the connectivity between the commanders, the civilian commanders on scene, the mayor and the civilian authorities the fire department, fire departments of adjacent areas of police departments and in totally different environments; tunnels, skyscrapers and in the port areas and so forth, There’s no one radio you can buy to fix that. And so you need a systems approach like the military uses, every military unit that deploys to an operational area has a signal corps type unit with it that has the robust communications of different kinds that can keep the different units connected together and communicating, whether it’s in a ship to shore, or an air to ground, or a ground to ground environment. And with the people trained on how to assure failsafe connectivity. That does not exist in NY or most other cities today. And with the assistance of the pentagon and the federal government it is a very high priority that this kind of connectivity be established to deal with threats in the future.

Okay, this was a recommendation that I liked.  Big thumbs up from the Signaleer, but that’s a big surprise, right?  Commo is the answer to almost any organizational problem.  Sometimes it’s not the means of comms that’s the issue but the media and sometimes it’s the communicators themselves.  Touching (but only for a moment) on the recommendations I made for the Intelligence Community, I believe that rearranging the communicators facilitates the communication.  This is a part of that systems approach to communication that the military has been dealing with for a very long time though it usually gets buried by questions of how to communicate.  Essentially, however, four people in one room can share ideas more effectively, and more quickly, than four people in four separate rooms.

I have some reservations about holding the military’s systems approach too high though, especially the Army’s.  We do have a variety of media for communications, but they aren’t deployed well and in some cases not at all until the usual means fail.

I’m in Afghanistan.  The terrain here is amazing; mountains everywhere.  The radio communication system that the Army has deployed in depth to all units is a VHF radio system.  VHF, Very High Frequency, radio waves will only be received if there are no large obstacles between antennas.  This is referred to as LOS, Line of Sight.  I did mention that there are lots of mountains here?  We have another system that overcomes this problem, Tactical Satellite, TACSAT, radios.  These aren’t deployed in any great depth and they have problems of their own; there are only so many users a given satellite can support at one time and you can’t use it well, if at all, on the move.  We have another system.  HF, High Frequency, radio uses lower frequency transmission than VHF (hence the names) the benefit of which is that while VHF waves will penetrate the ionosphere and continue out into space, HF will not.  They bounce back to earth.  A skilled operator can communicate around the world on less than 10 watts of power—it’s been done on 2.   And it can be done on the move.  We have this system, but it’s hardly deployed at all.  And we don’t have as many as we really need to take advantage of it.  There are drawbacks, operators must be more skilled than with other systems, and there is some lag in the send in and receiving.  The right radio, in fact, for Afghanistan, but there are only small numbers of them and they are largely in warehouses and not with units.  This creates a learning curve problem, too for units that do get them.

And that’s what Mr. Lehman is referring to—a set of systems that cover for the disadvantages of the others.  If one system doesn’t work, try another.

Here’s a goal for the Signal Corps he wishes to create, it’s not one that we always achieve ourselves, but it is what we are suppose to strive for in our communications planning.

PACE:  Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency.  We should have no fewer than four means to transmit information.  One that is relied upon, one that we go to if its busy or not working, one for cases where the situation isn’t what was expressly anticipated and a final one that is the last ditch.  In reality there are even more than this, because it can refer to modes of the same means; like calling your friend’s cell phone number if the home phone isn’t answered. 

It’s an excellent recommendation.  I just hope that they’ll strive to emulate the model and not necessarily the actual execution.

Call Me Weird…

..if you must, but I very strongly believe that the intelligence reform recommendations in the 9/11 Commission Report are just band-aids. 

As a result I felt motivated to annoy a good chunk of our national legislature.  I sent e-mails to Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Tom Daschle, Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Sam Johnson and let them know what I thought.  Sent one to the White House too.  Tomorrow I plan to hit a few more.

I’ve already got some nice e-mails back.

Football Stuff

Well.  The Cowboys signed Eddie George, late of the Tennessee Titans and released Chad Hutchinson.  I’d been wondering what they were going to do about having 5 quarterbacks.  4 may still be one too many, but a little depth can’t hurt…unless all the choices are kinda iffy.

SarahK of Mountaneer Musings says she likes QCar (Quincy Carter to the uninitiated) and that he may not have been given enough time or enough of a chance yet.  I’m not sure yet.  While I have seen all too brief brilliant moments from Q, there haven’t been enough for me to think that his talent will overcome his, as yet $.10 head.  An arm is great, legs are good, but the QB is the general on the field and its his judgement that’s the deciding factor.  That he shouldn’t be allowed, in SarahK’s estimation, to speak in public yet is just an off-field indication of this same problem.  So Sarah, I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just saying that I don’t know, but what I see don’t look so good.

The 9/11 Commission Report is Out…

…and it’s a let down.

I was prepared not to like the Intelligence Czar idea.  I wasn’t prepared for the panziness of the recommendations for the Intelligence Community as a whole.

The Commission cites 9/11 as a “failure of imagination” and then follows up with a completley unimaginative approach to reform.  Additionally, none of their “reforms” would have changed a thing about how events went down.   What’s more; they want the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the FBI Intelligence Director to work for two bosses,  the SecDef and AttGen respectively, and the National Intelligence Director.  I’d heard a proverb once about a man not serving two masters and it really seemed like good advice.

And this National Intelligence Director.  What have we changed with this idea?  The NID will report directly to the President…just like the DCI does now.  The commission identifies the weakness of the DCI as being his mandate to manage the Intelligence Community as a whole.  They say that most DCIs simply haven’t because they can’t.  Will the NID not have this job?  Of course he will.  But the commission blythely drives right past the point they raise never to address it.

They want “Unity of Effort” but they recommend nothing to rectify the fact that 15 agencies or parts thereof are supposed to play well together.  “Share more” is the conclusion.  Wow.  Wish we’d thought of that sooner.  Fix the ability of the DCI/NID whadeveryouwannacallit, to manage the community and you will solve the sharing and communication problem.  The Commission ignores this.

Stick with me for a few days.  I’m going to pick this apart.

John Kerry Vs. The National Guard

I’m a National Guardsman.  I’m proud of my service, and my unit.  I’m a member of Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade.  The Thunderbirds.  I’d heard about flyers and such that Kerry had endorsed (he must have, he was Preisdent of the group) while a member of the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the 70’s that had denigrated service in the National Guard, but they weren’t direct quotes so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It appears that I was wrong to do so.  I came across some much more recent statements actually from the horse’s mouth. 

“‘If people went to Canada, if people opposed the war, if people chose to be in the Guard, that’s their choice, and I’ve never raised that in an issue,’ he said.� (Noelle Straub, “Kerry Presents Himself As GOP’s Worst Nightmare,� Boston Herald, 2/3/04)

“‘I’ve never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard,’ Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, told Fox News Channel. ‘Those are choices people make.’� (Nick Anderson, “Buoyant Kerry Embraces Role Of Frontrunner,� Los Angeles Times, 2/4/04)

If this isn’t equating National Guard service with draft dodging I don’t know how much more plainly it could be stated.

And this guy wants to be our Commander in Chief?  He wants me to think he should be?

Football Stuff!

This is just too cool:  Thank you Wizbang.

Not many people know this, but I’m somewhat of a geek.  I’m also somewhat of a football fan.  So I get great enjoyment from this site wich is two, two, two great hobbies in one!   This adds the attraction of baseball–stat keeping–to the action and excitement of football.  Now if we could add some action and excitement to baseball….

Well.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve gotta wonder about the Dallas Cowboys’ chances this year.  Don’t get me wrong; I think El Tuna Grande is great and is doing great things.  The Wide Receiver lineup is the strongest its appeared to be in years.  The QB slot is still the big question mark.  Running Back?  I guess we have to wait and see.  The really good news is that it seems Larry Allen may have turned the corner, at least is relationship with Coach Parcells seems to have and that could mean great things for the Defensive line.

I’m wondering how much Fantasy Football I’ll be able to get involved in this year.  I have serious misgivings about paying for internet content (I already pay for access, dammit) and there seem to be fewer and fewer free venues.  I’ll probably have to get together with Redun at and build our own Fantasy Football web interface.