Weapons: August 20, 2005


Vidcams are increasingly playing very effective defensive role. In Iraq, the biggest killer of Iraqi and coalition forces is the IED (improvised explosive device). Analysis of the bombs used, and interrogation of the many bombers, and bomb makers captured recently, indicates that the supply of explosives is not as abundant as was once thought. Over the last two years, thousands of tons of Saddams explosives (shells, bombs and all sorts of other stuff) has been found and destroyed. Now there are two large sites where a lot of stuff, that has not been destroyed yet, sits. And these sites are still being plundered by Iraqis for IEDs. Long term, the solution is to blow the stuff up. But short term, vidcam surveillance systems are being installed at the two fixed sites. In addition, six mobile vidcam surveillance systems are being brought in to keep an eye on other temporary dumps, where newly discovered stuff is stored only until it can be blown up by the experts. Another problem is that when large quantities of stuff are blown up, Iraqis will sneak into the area and look for bits of unexploded shells and the like from which some explosives can be extracted. 

The surveillance systems are called RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment.) They are blimps that float at about a thousand feet, tethered by a cable that provides power and communications to the day and night cameras up there. The big problem is ground fire from rifles and machine-guns. Iraqis, in particular, like using the RAID blimps as targets. Rifle fire wont destroy the blimps, but does cause them to be brought down more frequently for repairs. Normally, the blimps can stay up for 30 days at a time, but the bullet hole repairs have some of them coming down every few days. The digital cameras send their images through a software system that can spot suspicious behavior, and alert human operators, who can decide if troops have to be sent to arrest someone. Its believed that the RAID protection of the ammo disposal dumps will reduce the number of IEDs. 


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