Friday, January 4, 2008

War made easy for the lazy and spoiled

While he doesn't look like Arnold, evolution has to begin somewhere.

One of the biggest, and I don’t think fully realized, disasters of Bush’s Iraq war is how the men and women of the armed forces have been abused and misused. Multiple extended tours away from families, constant stress of never being in a safe place with the only ground you hold under your feet, equipment that can be unsuitable for the combat environment, and a population that at best thinks of you as an infidel or outright wants to kill you. Under such conditions the all volunteer force has found it hard to recruit middle and working class patriotic young men and women. Many in the Mr. and Mrs. Middleclass ranks while supporting the war just can’t see their Jane or Johnny going out and fighting. They have SAT’s, proms, and finding a good college to worry about so they can keep a decent career track going. And the supply of patriotic working class kids, while never really being used up, has become thin and many come with certain factors such as a criminal record that years before would have had the recruiter laughing them out the office. Being honest here while Bush, Cheney, and any number of neocon chickenhawk political pundits still talk of a “clash of civilizations” and “Islamofascism” a good many of my fellow working class folks are saying something to the effect: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” As for the children of the elite and rich serving, there are a few noble and honorable exceptions such as McCain’s boys, Jim Webb’s son, and a few others in congress and out but they are largely sitting out the war. They that stay home are serving in their own special way. Such as the Bush daughters that took a break from partying and went on an extended South American vacation to party some more. Also, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention Mitt Romney’s boys who are serving the country by campaigning for their hypocrite father and his special blessed underwear.

With the rich kids serving in their own special way, the middleclass kids to busy, and the working class kids running low how is the military to keep up with all the present and future wars that Bush and his fellows want to involve us in? At first I thought it was going to be an expensive cutthroat mercenary force, I mean expensive cutthroat private contractors, but with them out of the UCMJ (Uniform code of Military Justice) and their loyalties only to money they will have their own special Praetorian Guard duties in the future if things continue like they are now. I found the best possible answer just a few days ago.

Back in the 80’s the movie going public was introduced to a sophisticated bloodthirsty killing robot in the form of a terminator shaped like a muscle bound future governor. The robot was an autonomous system identifying and killing specific targets. The fact that his target in the movie was the shapely Linda Hamilton made this movie one I watched time and time again but that was me in the 80’s. It’s not like it was as good a movie as Red Dawn (I'm joking Vigil) from the same decade. But during the same decade DARPA and the US army were already beginning research into systems very much like in principle to the terminator. While stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado when winter weather confined me to the post I would often make my way to the post library to catch up on the weekly magazines such as “Aviation Week and Space Technology” and “Jane’s Defense Weekly”. Both magazines always seemed to hold a wealth of reports on some pretty far out research the military was pursuing. One of the reports with several very pretty speculative illustrations said that to overcome the huge advantage in the Soviet Union’s ground forces the military was trying to develop independent robotic tanks or armored cars that could identify hostile forces and engage them. Developing robotic systems that can navigate simple obstacles has proven very hard even now with quantum advancement in computers system compared to what we had in the ancient 80’s but the research still is continuing. This research is finally seeing the first generation of combat robotic systems enter the service. Now these bad boys are just remote controlled and not independent, you have to walk before you run. Even the reports I read while I was in the army in the 80’s stated that more than likely the first systems would be teleoperated from rear areas. But even though these remote operated systems are very limited right now I’m sure the powers-that-be are salivating over the new possibilities for imperial military adventures and will give a whole new meaning to REMF’s. Maybe even tempting some of the middle class and rich elites back for some video game-like service with them safely in some air condition trailer in the safe rear areas wondering if they will get a medal for combat carpal tunnel syndrome. So maybe there is a future son or daughter of the Bush, Cheney or Romney clan marked for combat glory.

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 6, 2004 – Soldiers may have armed robots as battle buddies by early next year, according to industry and military officials attending the biennial Army Science Conference.

The Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, or SWORDS, will be joining Stryker Brigade soldiers in Iraq when it finishes final testing, said Staff Sgt. Santiago Tordillos, a bomb disposal test and evaluation noncommissioned officer in charge with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Directorate of the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

“We’re hoping to have them there by early 2005,” Tordillos said. “The soldiers I’ve talked to want them yesterday.”

The system consists of a weapons platform mounted on a Talon robot, a product of the engineering and technology development firm Foster-Miller.

The Talon began helping with military operations in Bosnia in 2000, deployed to Afghanistan in early 2002 and has been in Iraq since the war started, assisting with improvised explosive device detection and removal.

Talon robots have been used in about 20,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Foster-Miller reports.

“It’s not a new invention, it's just bringing together existing systems,” said Tordillos, who has been involved with the project since its inception about a year and a half ago.

Different weapons can be interchanged on the system – the M16, the 240, 249 or 50-caliber machine guns, or the M202 –A1 with a 6mm rocket launcher. Soldiers operate it by remote control, from up to 1,000 meters away.

n testing, it hit the bull's-eyes from as far as 2,000 meters away, Tordillos said. The only margin of error has been in sighting, he added.

“It can engage while on the move, but its not as accurate,” Tordillos said.

The system runs off AC power, lithium batteries or Singars rechargeable batteries. The control box weighs about 30 pounds, with two joysticks that control the robot platform and the weapon and a daylight viewable screen.

SWORDS was recently named one of the most amazing inventions of 2004 by Time Magazine.

There are four SWORDS in existence; 18 have been requested for service in Iraq, Tordillos said. So far, each system has cost about $230,000 to produce, said Bob Quinn, lead integrator for the project. When they go into production, Quinn estimates the cost per unit will drop to the range of $150,000 to $180,000.

Quinn credits soldiers with getting the project started. “It’s a classic boot-strap effort,” said Quinn.

Tordillos fielded a variety of questions while showing off the system in the exhibit hall. Soldiers wanted to know what military occupational speciality they have to sign up for in order to work with the system. There is no specific (military occupational specialty) for it, he said.

Other questions were more thought provoking. Does he envision a day when armed robots outnumber humans on the battlefield? Tordillos firmly said no.

“You’ll never eliminate the soldier on the ground,” he said. “There’ll be a mix, but there will always be soldiers out there.”See Caption.


Vigilante said...

Linda Hamilton blows the fooking doors off Red Dawn and makes you impatient for sunset. In all seriousness.


The Zombieslayer said...

Great. Here comes the Terminator.

By the way, I was soooo in love with Linda Hamilton, and she was even hotter in T2.

As for our troops, know too many troops who have to serve LONGER than they were supposed to while the sons and daughters of our politicians are partying.

Ever hear the Judas Priest song Metal Gods? Written in 1980, four years before The Terminator.

As for neocon chickenhawks, that phrase is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Forrest Proper said...

Ah.... Linda Hamilton...

oops, did you say something?

Actually, you have just shown me how we are going to pay for Bush's stupid war- remember that story in the news about the "hunting ranch" in Texas that allowed "hunters" to stalk and shoot animals from the comfort of their home computer via remote-controlled guns and video cameras? Well, I'm sure there are lots of red-blooded 'Mericans who'd pay for a chance to shoot them an A-rab as long as they could do it from the safety of their own couch.

Just wait- the idea may sound outrageous now...

Beach Bum said...

Vigil: You will be happy to know that my son who is a very big war/action movie fan thinks Red Dawn is totally lame. I can't not explain fully since my site is semi-family friendly how much the shapely and beautiful Linda Hamilton was or is even now. I thought her so fine that I didn't argue with a former girlfriend when she wanted to watch her old television "Beauty and the Beast" which was a complete chick show.

Zombieslayer: The one aspect of my post that I failed to fully mention was that work is going on to create independent operating combat robotic systems. Despite the assurances of several computer wizards both civilian and military I have yet to buy into that any computer system is invulnerable. While a mad power hungry computer operating system is a far fetched story enemy hackers bringing down vital system is not. Then there is the topic I did stay on of chickenhawks using such systems to impose their will on other countries.
As for Judas Priest, no I haven't but I'll look it up.

Colonel: No, your idea is not far fetched. Many would jump at the chance to shot someone while they safely sit in their living room waiting for Chinese takeout.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if that tank can sweep the floor?

Beach Bum said...

Preposterous Ponderings; That area is already covered and working. Dragonwife owns Roomba and Scooba robots made by the iRobot company that vacuum the carpet and mops the floor. If she didn't take care of and pay far better attention to them than me the two would have already formed an union for better working condition.

Keshi said...

hey BB Im bak. :)

Its not fair that politicians send other youngsters to war when their own sons r having a ball.


Beach Bum said...

Keshi: Glad you are back and looking forward to more of your photos. What you have posted now is sizzling.

Gledwood said...

hang on are you the same Beach Bum I know... if so you have altered your avatar... maybe you're what they call a "googleganger"... know whatteye mean..??


Mike said...

We need more Colonel Kurtz's from Apocalypse Now fame and fewer George Bush's.

This war annoys the living fuck out of me, but then again, so did Vietnam. Our methods (not taking and holding ground) simply do not work. If you don't take ground, you cannot win a war. If you are not willing to win the war, then why even bother to fight it. It's ridiculous. I had hight hopes that once we got rid of that idiot Rumsfeld, we would change our strategy. Apparently not.

Kentucky Rain said...

I found Red Dawn to be one of the worst movies ever. The acting was stilted and the dialog was atrocious. I had eagerly anticipated the experience and was disappointed within the first fifteen minutes. This movie is an embarrassment to all involved. So ask me what I really think!

Great post as usual BB!

Beach Bum said...

gledwood: I'm probably not the same Beach Bum. "Googleganger", dude definitely copyright or patent that word and you can use me for a reference. Please drop by again.

Mike: I don't think I ever told you but I bought the Bush/Cheney/Rummy Iraq has WMD's and we need to stop him bullshit. The main reason for my stupidity was my years in service hearing lectures that we had satellites that can take the picture of a gnat farting. I had this silly idea that no "leader" would ever play with vital information to national security. I was turning against Bush even before that but the Iraq lies and later the indifference he showed to New Orleans after Katrina really sicken me to my core. So while I feel that Gates is huge improvement over Rummy no matter what the "Surge" is nothing but an attempt to keep Iraq from falling apart until Bush leaves office.

MadMike: My attachment to Red Dawn stems from its timing. When it was still riding high in the box office me and my fellow members of my basic training unit had gotten our first pass after weeks of training. While I'm sure we would have all wanted to hit the titty bars instead we all had to be back far sooner that going to such a place would allow. Going into the theater we found at least a hundred other fresh trainees waiting for the movie to start. Is it a "B" movie? Hell yes, but a bunch of gung-ho kids didn't really care. I'm sure you can guess it feed on much of the mental training we had just finished received.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

ok, i know you said some important stuff about things. i am not trying to not minimalize this.

HOWEVER, i have never gotten wet for linda hamilton. never. she just does not rock my dock.

Sara Sue said...

The iRobot company is the epitome of the good/evil technology can bring. I own two Scoobas and a Roomba ... soon to be two and two ... I love them! I hate the horror of war and how we mask it just as passionately.

Great post.

Beach Bum said...

Tequila; The younger Linda from T1 did far more for me than the tougher Linda from T2. But then again I was in my twenties.

Sara:I believe my wife would sell me for a few more Scoobas. My biggest fear about the combat robots is that a great many people are already disconnected from the war because they have none in their family fighting. Twenty or thirty years down the road when this technology is more matured we could be even more diconnected and not caring. This time just about who we are killing and why.

Kentucky Rain said...

Beach I am talking about the Red Dawn that was released a few months ago starring Christian Bale. Are we talking about the same one?

Beach Bum said...

MadMike: Almost certainly not, my Red Dawn was about a Soviet, Cuban, Commie Central American invasion of the United States. It had very young Patrick Swzaye, Charlie Sheen, the chick called "Baby: in Dirty Dancing, and Lea Thompson. They were high school kids that through chance and a semi-clever script fought a guerrilla campaign against Soviet occupiers.

Vigilante said...

I end up infuriating Beach every time the real RED DAWN comes up, Mike. This time I'll just say that you're to blame for reviving this thread.

But I remember very clearly when we were in an matinee audience about half full. People were laughing a guffawing at several points, unable to suspend their disbelief at the thought of Cubans and Russians occupying the heartland of America. At the peak point one of the American characters reported a gang rape of high school students. Before Patrick Swatze could respond, someone in the Audience yelled out "Yeah, and now it's your turn!" Which was followed by raucous and sustained laughter, hoots and cheers. I remember very clearly. My oldest sons were with me.

(Sorry, Beach. Mad Mike put me up to it.)

Vigilante said...

If only Linda Hamilton had been a member of the cast..... I might have stayed for the whole movie.


Beach Bum said...

To be honest Vigil figuring your response to Red Dawn everytime I mention it that was the reason I had to throw it in this post. :b I did and do enjoy the movie but I will admit that some naked women and sex would have made it better.

Vigilante said...

LOL! (I hate being so predictable!)

Anonymous said...

Really interesting....
thanks for sharing...

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