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Improvised Everything: The changing Role of Advanced Technology in Warfare (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love

Commercially Available Technology)

Dr. Allan Steinhardt & Dr. David G. Smith with Art Fritzson

The Improvised Explosive Device as Example (Improvised Ordnance)

The IED attack has become a symbol of the Iraq War. The IED can be seen as precision ordnance without expensive launchers or the risk of counter fires. A strategically placed IED, often gives insurgents tactical initiative and surprise The IED is often considered alone

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but it actually represents a new approach in which our adversaries leverage commercially available technologies to create a broad range of highly capable threats Improvised Everything
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Improvised Ordnance Historical and Current Examples

Middle Ages Vietnamese Booby Traps, c. 1960-1975

Toepopper buried bullet

Spike Pit

Grenades with tripwire

Siege/Storm Defense - Boiling oil (expensive) - Dropped rubble from previous attacks - Heated sand - Boiling Water

- Constructed from native materials and available explosives - At the height of fighting (1965-1970), 11% of US Army troop deaths and 17% of wounds were caused by booby traps

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USA, 1995
Tim McVeigh blows off the front of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma city using racing fuel and fertilizer

Improvised Everything

Improvised Everything:

The Emerging Threats of an Improvised Army, Air Force, Navy and Intelligence
Through leveraging commercially available technologies, our adversaries are increasingly able to develop a range of sophisticated, low cost, low barrier-to-entry military capabilities. These capabilities can mimic functions traditionally performed by Army, Navy, and Air Force, and intelligence services This concept we call improvised everything Technology developments driving forward this trend of improvised capability include: Telecommunications technologies that facilitate group comms & C2 - Internet, cell phones, sat phones, etc. Proliferating GPS technologies Global transportation and shipping Expansion in knowledge through the Internet

Improvised Everything

Improvised Army/ Artillery: The Israeli-Hezbollah Conflict in Lebanon, 2006

During the recent Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, Hezbollah rained down thousands of missiles on northern Israel missiles Israel was largely powerless to stop. Some missiles were allegedly fashioned out of lamppost sections, packed with explosives and equipped with fins and fuel. Even for traditional military rockets, Hezbollah used readily available digital technology as enablers such as using digital watches as timers to allow remote firing. Where possible, transport was also done unmanned through trained donkeys.

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Improvised Army/ Infantry

An infantry capability uses tactical forces to apply pressure to achieve objectives Flash mobs organizing by cell phone and the Internet Like during the French Revolution, these mobs can appear to come out of nowhere Recently these tactics have been used by anti-globalization G-8 protesters and the immigrant youth rioters in France

Improvised Everything

Improvised Infantry Historical Examples

French Revolution Mobs - 1789 New England Minutemen - 1775

Storming of the Bastille - Mobs seemed to appear from nowhere - Word of mouth spread in wine shops, taverns, crowds, coffee houses, and food markets - Agitators capitalized on events, like rise in bread prices - Oral communications meant French government had little intelligence on when and where mobs would appear

- Word

spread through word of mouth/riders - British turned away militia at Lexington Common and at Concord. - On British trip back to Boston, however, they were set upon by militia and simply farmers with guns firing from ambush positions, and then redeploying further down. - Colonists inflicted 273 casualties on an expeditionary force of 700


Improvised Everything

Improvised Air Force

Air forces have many capabilities. Here we examine the capability to penetrate air defenses to carry out a mission. 9/11 illustrated the threat from flying hijacked airliners into buildings Small UAVs or radio controlled aircraft have been reportedly used to gather intelligence or deliver payloads; Hezbollah has allegedly penetrated Israeli airspace twice with small UAVs.

Improvised Everything

Improvised Air Force

Hezbollah UAVs similar to this one have penetrated Israeli air defenses

Vehicle launch

Remote control
Source: Eugene Miasnikov, Media Reports of Terrorist Attempts to Employ UAVs

Hand Launch

Capability: RC Aircraft have flown across the Atlantic in 1998 and 2002

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Improvised Navy
The capability here is using the seas to project power and counter US power. Counter-Navy: Attacks on the USS Cole and a number of other vessels (see facer).

USS Cole

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Improvised Navy
Strike from the Sea: Container threat using shipping containers to transport individuals or WMD 16,000 containers arrive daily In 2001, a terrorist was captured in Italy inside a shipping container. A trained airplane mechanic, he was traveling from Egypt to Canada with a laptop, a sat phone, and fake airport ID.* US authorities believe Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombing explosives came by container.*
*Source: On the Waterfront, 60 Minutes, August 3, 2003

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Improvised Navy
Strike from the Sea: Ship-borne missile threat potential for launch of short and intermediate range missiles from freighters

Strike from the Sea: Use of scuba divers to infiltrate US, attack vessels, etc. In WWII, Japanese used suicide divers and human torpedoes in asymmetric naval warfare.

Improvised Submarines: Carribean drug smugglers have attempted to use semi-submersibles to elude US interdiction

Improvised Everything


Improvised Navy

20 Shipping Container

Japanese Kamikaze Speedboat, 1945

Spanish SOF Intercepting North Korean Freighter with 15 SCUDs

Japanese human torpedoes, 1945

Source: Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies Improvised Everything 13

Improvised Intelligence/ Counterintelligence

The Internet permits easy access to types of information usually manifested in nation states Google Earth access to satellite imagery collected in the last few years. Google Alerts ability to collect specialized, topical information in real time around the globe The Internet also allows gathering and sharing of information by dispersed groups Through the Internet, numerous small scale information gathering efforts can be linked into usable intelligence/counterintelligence.

Alleged CIA Plane outed by plane spotters

Source: Washington Post

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Improvised Space Assets

Counter-Satellites Chinese broadcasts of political speeches and sports events have been jammed and replaced with information about the Falun Gong. Space vehicles In the long term, access to space is increasing with trends like space tourism and the X Prize. In 2004, SpaceShipOne won the X Prize. It reached an altitude of 377,491 feet (71 miles)

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Improvised Space Assets

X Prize winner SpaceShipOne achieved

71 miles

Falun Gong have jammed Chinese satellite signals

200-250 miles 115-400 miles 100-300 miles 62 miles 50 miles

International Space Station Space Shuttles Navigation satellites, hamsats Space starts here at 100 kilometers NASA awards astronaut status for flights above 50 miles

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The Spirit of Improvisation

The United States military has a long history of flexible thinking in response to new situations. In some cases, the responses is truly improvised, as in the case of field expedient armor, field expedient camouflage, or the packaging of explosives a la Saving Private Ryan During WWII, because of the small size of the prewar military, many technical solutions were inspired or borrowed from commercial technology Ex.: A key component of the proximity fuse vital to defeating the kamikazes and, when given to Britain, the defense against V-1 attacks was a miniature vacuum tube developed for prewar hearing aids.

Improvised Up-Armoring with sandbags

WWII Infantry prepare for an improvised attack on enemy armor

Improvised Everything


The Spirit of Improvisation

The spirit of improvisation delivered war winning capabilities to the US military for instance, the landing craft that were able to cross coral reefs such a necessary capability for the Pacific War.
The Amtrac, based on civilian technology, was a key enabler of the United States islandhopping strategy

US Ranger with field expedient breaching charge made fro C-4, flex cuffs, electrical tape, and steel fence posts Supermarine found a way around a ponderous acquisition system Field Expedient Camouflage of Military Vehicles in snow & orchard

The corvettes specs were set by Lloyds of London

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Advanced commercially available technologies mean that our adversaries can create credible threats in a number of capability areas. Army, Air Force, Navy, Intel/Counterintel, WMD, and Training capabilities can all be created using this approach. Because many COTS technologies in electronics, software and other fields leverage commercial R&D, these threats will become greater in the future. Of course, we can and should leverage this advanced technology as well.

Improvised Everything


In the new world of Improvised Everything: Leverage COTS technology where feasible Focus on developing assets that are highly flexible
In the future, threats may not always be clearly identifiable In many cases, we need to focus on developing capabilities to counter a broad range of threats, rather than specific point solutions This is a shift in mindset more than a technological challenge

Repurposing: Reuse existing systems Improvisation-friendly design: Focus on developing assets that are highly flexible
In the future, threats will not always be clearly identifiable In many cases, we need to focus on developing capabilities to counter a broad range of threats, rather than specific point solutions.

Incentivize improvisation and invention

Improvised Everything