Archive for February 20, 2014

HOMELAND SECURITY: Shoe Bomb Threat Warning

It’s Not Over, Yet

TSA photo via Wikipedia

TSA photo via Wikipedia

The Department of Homeland Security is warning airlines about a possible shoe bombing threat from overseas. The warning was first reported by NBC News.

While there is no specific threat, DHS said Wednesday (February 19) that it was issuing a warning based on “very recent intelligence” considered credible that assailants would try to attack passenger jets using explosives hidden in shoes, according to the Voice of America.

VOA noted it was the second time in three months that the U.S. Government had issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives on a commercial jetliner.

But USA Today reported that the warning is not related to an earlier alert about threats to planes flying to Russia for the Winter Olympic Games. The warning, which involved possible explosives concealed in toothpaste tubes, led the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ban all liquids and gels from the carry-on luggage of passengers bound for Russia from the United States.

Richard Reid explosive shoe (FBI file photo)

Richard Reid explosive shoe
(FBI file photo)

TSA airport screeners have been checking air passengers’ shoes since late 2001 after an attempt by a British man to set off a bomb hidden in his shoe on an American Airlines Boeing 767 flight from Paris to Miami. Richard Reid, a self-proclaimed al Qaeda operative was subdued by passengers and cabin personnel when he failed to ignite the explosives packed into his shoes. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

A former CIA official and CBS security analyst says the latest warning causes him concern. Mike Morell, a former deputy CIA director told CBS This Morning that the fact terrorists appear to be using shoe bombs again is “worrisome” because it suggests “that they may have found a way around the screening that is currently done on shoes.”

Other security experts have said that al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups are still fixated on bombing aircraft. In addition to the Reid attempt, bombs were found secreted in air cargo in Europe and the Middle East in 2010; in a passenger’s underwear on a flight bound for Detroit in 2009. And in 2006, British officials broke up an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid components to be smuggled on board the aircrfaft and combined into an explosive while the plane was in the air. That led TSA to ban all liquids and gels from passengers’ carry-on luggage and then loosen the ban to allow containers carry up to 3 ounces of liquids.

February 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm 1 comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM’s Future Technology Needs

What Do Special Operators Want?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The big money defense budgets of the past decade have come to an end. And thanks to additional across-the-board cuts imposed by Congress, each of the armed services is being asked to find even more programs, platforms and procedures to cut.

So what do Special Operations Forces (SOF) – who depend in part on the other services’ capabilities – need to do their job in this austere funding environment?

Well the No. 3 commissioned officer at U.S. Special Operations Command cited some technology needs in a question-and-answer session at last week’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association in Washington.

There’s always a need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies – especially for sensors that can see through foliage in places like Africa and South America, Air Force Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, SOCOM’s vice commander, told industry representatives.

“Our focus is on high definition. That’s a game changer for us,” Heithold said, adding that “We’re in the business of man hunting – whether to kill someone or capture them – so the fidelity that we get from our sensors is very important.”

He said SOCOM was in the process of modifying its fixed wing and unmanned aircraft with updated signals intelligence capabilities. “I don’t think we have a gap there, but it’s a game you’ve got to be in all the time. You can’t fall behind,” Heithold said.

Major General Mark Clark, commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), said the command was “absolutely” looking at a Joint High Speed Vessel, for a MARSOC maritime platform — as long as it could accommodate MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft or helicopters; operate in the littoral environment and include SOF equipment modules “so you can put them on or take them off.”

Modularity for SOCOM aircraft was also important, said Richard Holcomb, civilian deputy to the commanding general of Army Special Operations Command. Modular ISR, strike and air drop packages for Special Ops aviation assets “are clearly the way of our vision [going] forward,” he said. Army experts are also exploring how to arm the Osprey tiltrotor. Another area needing future study is non-lethal capabilities like directed energy, Heithold said.

USS Greeneville, a Los Angeles-class U.S. submarine, with the SEAL Delivery System attached.  (U.S. Navy photo)

USS Greeneville, a Los Angeles-class U.S. submarine, with the SEAL Delivery System attached.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Undersea mobility is another crucial technology, Heithold added. While progress is being made with the Advanced Seal Delivery System, a mini undersea vessel to transport Navy SEALS from a submerged submarine to shore, he urged industry to come forward with any technology that might help. SOF’s stealthy capability, “our true magic,” Heithold called it, “is going to be our ability to infiltrate and ex-filtrate from the sea – under the sea.”

And, as we posted last week, Heithold said the Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit (TALOS) is the top acquisition priority. SOCOM commander, Admiral William McRaven, “is way focused on that,” said Heithold, noting that McRaven very much wants to protect “the first person through the door” during a raid or night action.

February 20, 2014 at 1:26 am Leave a comment


February 2014


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