Strip Up

Thanks to Dan and Curtis for helping out on the movie letter thing. We only have J, X and Y to get.

New strip is up. If you've been following, yes that's Ms. A in there. Despite all the things that are going on, we're all still family and that won't change. So we're all still going to be in the strip together. Plus I had a neat story line with her and the robot already planned, so she has to be in there.

I was thinking of doing something additional with my little blog, something more real world, in addition to all the nonsense I heave up and stick in here. I was listening to NPR on my way home and I thought about maybe doing a reaction to a story a day, depending on if I hear a story that sparks some interest. I don't know, maybe I'll play with that idea.

Anyway, I'm listening to a report about how the Pentagon is combating the problem of IEDs in Iraq. If you've been under a rock, IED is short for Improvised Explosive Device. They are generally copper disks with a degree of concavity that when exploded create a 7lbs metal slug that travels 2,000mph. The most dangerous gun we have on the ground is the M2A1 which fires a 7oz. slug about 900mph. An IED basically goes through anything the Armed Forces can come up with, so they've had to improvise. The article written by the interviewee was called "Left of Boom" which is a Pentagon phrase for the time line surrounding an explosion. So far soldiers and brass have worked on the mitigation and clean up after an explosion, or Right of Boom, but have desperately tried to find ways to render the IEDs ineffective.

Much of the innovation and improvisation comes from the field. Knowing most IEDs are heat sensitive or triggered from infrared, convoys would attach heating elements - including toasters and hair dryers - to the front of the lead vehicle on long poles to trick the IED sensors. The enemy would counter that by aiming the IEDs ten meters back from the trigger, and so it goes.

This got me thinking. First, that the war effort has spent billions and billions of dollars so far and the best we can do is a toaster on a pole? I applaud the soldiers for coming up with ad hoc fixes on their own and yet I shake my head at the funding fighting politicians and high brass that can't help them come up with anything better.

Like drones or whiskers; unmanned sensor tripping vehicles sent in front of and around convoys to trigger IEDs and mines. It seems simple enough and I have no idea if it's been done or not. All RTS gamers know there's always a way to trigger traps and most larger fleet vehicles have ways of doing that and absorbing the explosion before the manned vehicles get close by enclosing themselves in a cloud of unimportant and cheaply manufactured remote drones. Why not outfit a bunch of old Jeeps with radio control and a few crash test dummies and send them in front of the convoys. If the IEDs aren't manually triggered, no reason this wouldn't set them off. And if they were manual, the dummies might fool at least a few people into thinking they were live people.

The numbers were confusing as well. The commentator said there were around 160 insurgent cells in Iraq. Each ground would have about 5-7 people including a financier, equipment man, bomb maker and trigger men. I guess that number seems really low, but I guess if each cell made 50 bombs and placed them around cities and villages, I can see why this is a problem.

So if anyone with military experience reads this, please comment on why a drone or whisker system wouldn't work or has been tried and didn't work, I'd appreciate that.

Maybe I'll hear another story today. Carry on.

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