Oddly Shaped Pegs

An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Stuff

Military security

with one comment

Two interesting reads this morning on military security.

First, Matt Blaze blogs about physical and procedural security measures at a decommissioned nuclear ICBM silo. Startling pictures and lots of food for thought. The cultural and game theoretic aspects of our current conflicts are pretty different from those of the cold war; I was surprised to find myself looking back with something like nostalgia at the bright ideological lines of my childhood.

“MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction] may well be the most perfectly evocative acronym in the English language, but for 40 years, it actually seemed to work. Leaders on both sides evidently knew a Nash equilibrium when they saw one. […]

A few hundred of the successors to the Titans, the “Minuteman III” missiles, remain active in silos throughout the northern US. […] Looking up from the bottom of the silo at the little crack of sunlight 150 feet above, an obvious fact hit home for me. I realized at that moment that these things are actually aimed somewhere, somewhere not at all abstract.”

*****

On an unrelated (?) topic, the Washington Post (discussed by Harry Lewis) reports that US drones have been transmitting video in the clear, and that militants in Iraq and Afghanistan have been watching avidly.

“The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s… But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn’t know how to exploit it, [current and former] officials said.”

That explains it. But surely, in 15+ years, someone would have had time to patch the hole.

“Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator’s price.”

Huh? Software encryption is cheap! All right, maybe dedicated hardware costs more. Maybe even thousands of dollars. Ok, now I get it.

“Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million…”

Never mind.

PS: Of course, the security of video transmissions may be the least of the problems that the extensive use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan raises. Reading the Post article this morning reminded me of this Fresh Air interview from a few months ago on the use of robotic weapons in general.

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Written by adamdsmith

December 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Also check out Jane Mayer’s excellent New Yorker article on the Predator program.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/26/091026fa_fact_mayer

    Chris Peikert

    December 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm


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