Saturday, November 29, 2008


The situation in Mumbai appears to be over. Several things have already come out concerning the nature of the attacks that will have significant implications for counter-terrorism and homeland security policies in the future.

First, the attackers did not use any kind of weapon of mass destruction. No bombs, chemical weapons, biological agents or radiological materials were used. No car bombs or aircraft were used. The attackers did not rely on suicide bombers instead a small army went deep into a densely populated city. The attackers used rifles and military tactics to kill nearly 200 people.

Second, although initial reports made it seem like Westerners were the targets in actuality the attackers killed as many people as they could regardless of nationality or ethnicity. The nature of the attacks would suggest a regional agenda rather than national or theological.

Third, the fact a small army was able to assemble and launch an attack without alerting intelligence networks suggests an over-reliance of technology. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) took a bashing for 9-11 for allowing their human intelligence network to deteriorate to the point that hijackers were able to train and carry out preparations without causing the agency to notice (that assessment is overly simplistic but the fact human intelligence has been forsaken in favor of high-tech sensors is very much a concern).

Preventing attacks on unprotected targets such as cities or college campuses is challenging. There is only so much that can be hardened before you end-up with a fort. A fort is not conducive to commerce and tourism. If one city becomes a fort, then attackers merely target the next city that isn’t a fortress. I’ve written before about the error of fighting the last war. Homeland security (which is essentially preventing terrorist attacks) has focused almost exclusively on airports and maritime ports. The attack in Mumbai shows what can happen when a well executed plan uses the simplest of weapons (infantrymen and rifles).

I suspect the new Secretary of Homeland Secretary, Governor Napolitano of Arizona, will tend to focus her efforts on preventing terrorist attacks through immigration laws. The lack of human intelligence networks first recognized in 9-11 have yet to be properly addressed. The purchase of even more sophisticated sensors and overhead imagery is important but still does not address what is going on in the minds of potential terrorists.

Wendell Phillips quote still remains relevant almost 200 years later, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Go Bearcats!

It has taken Brian Kelly just two years to achieve the unimaginable; a win tomorrow will take UC to either the Orange or Sugar Bowl. Syracuse (the aptly named Orange) are the final hurdle and after beating Notre Dame last week the Bearcats are certain NOT to under-estimate them. Nineteen seniors will graduate this year from the team, what a terrific year for all of these young men and ending it in a BCS bowl. Every UC alum and fan should be proud. These young men and their coach have truly accomplished what few college programs do and especially in such a short amount of time! A victory tomorrow and trip to a BCS bowl could easily lead the Bearcats to become the true ambassadors of Cincinnati. Look out you scarlet and grey fans, there is another color combination around now and it is the black and red of the Bearcats!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Donate to the Freestore Foodbank

Brian had posted this earlier on his blog. The state of the economy is especially rough this time of year. If you haven't already, please consider taking a moment and donating to the Freestore Foodbank. Each year, the Freestore Foodbank provides over 37,000 holiday meals every year. The Freestore Foodbank was founded in 1971, and serves about 160,000 people in southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. More than ever, local residents will be looking to the Freestore for help. These could be your friends, neighbors or even relatives. A $20 donation buys a bag of food for a family of four. You spend more than that going to the movies, so make a sacrifice and donate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Next Secretary of DHS, part 2

No sooner do I post a blog on Sen Chuck Hagel possibly becoming the next Secretary of Homeland Security then I read the following this morning;

“President-elect Barack Obama's top choice to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, according to several media reports, citing unnamed Democratic officials.

Gov. Napolitano, whose handling of immigration issues brought her praise from fellow governors, was an early supporter and campaigner for Obama's presidential campaign and was reported to be on a short list of people to fill cabinet posts in the new administration.

Napolitano, 50, was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2006 as governor of Arizona, the home state of Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in the race against Obama.”

Governor Napolitano previously had been the attorney general for the state of Arizona. She won’t be the first governor to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, former Secretary Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania. If she is appointed, she would bring an interesting combination of experience as attorney general and governor of a border state. Current Secretary Chertoff concerns over the last few years have centered around immigration. I don’t know if her experience in Arizona will continue this trend or cause her to refocus DHS efforts elsewhere. I am glad to see someone from outside the Eastern Seaboard to hold this position. Perhaps now DHS efforts will have more relevance to those states without borders or coastlines.

On a related note, The U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-USA) is calling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be restored to its former status as an independent agency reporting directly to the President. IAEM-USA also urges that the Director be designated as a member of the President's Cabinet. When DHS was created, FEMA was moved under the new department. Many feel the debacle of response during Hurricane Katrina was a result of FEMA being too far removed from the President. I’ve never understood why an agency that exists to respond to disasters reports to an organization responsible for preventing terrorist attacks. I don’t know when the next terrorist attack will occur but I can tell you to start preparing for hurricanes starting around April. FEMA needs to be able to do its job without trying to compete with homeland security interests.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The next Secretary of DHS?

The Obama Administration is beginning to take shape and an interesting name has come up for Secretary of Homeland Security, Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska. Senator Hagel was one of four Senate Republicans, along with two Senate Democrats, who felt the US Patriot Act lacked sufficient safeguards to insure civil liberties weren’t violated. I’ve never been a big fan of the US Patriot mainly because it was crafted without much debate. Senator Hagel in 2005 felt the renewal for the US Patriot Act was slanted too heavily in the government's favor when it comes to letting targeted people challenge national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI substantial latitude in deciding what records should be surrendered (source: Washington Post). The US Patriot Act was crafted and passed in the days immediately following 9-11. The rapid passage did not allow time to for Congress and Senate to fully exam the bill before it became law. In 2005, it wasn’t popular time to be a Republican and question one of the major pieces of legislation to come from the Bush Administration. He hails from Nebraska which is about close to the center of the Continental US as you can get. Hopefully this means he will look at homeland security and emergency management issues with more of an eye towards the heartland versus typical New York City/Washington DC model under the Bush Administration. I hope the Obama Administration will move away from the terrorist-centric focus of DHS currently and truly embrace an all-hazards approach. I’ve written before about my concerns with focusing exclusively on terrorism to the detriment of other disasters and emergencies. Recent articles have supported the lack of preparedness by most citizens which is caused in part because we have fortunately not seen a terrorist on US soil since 9-11. Changing any bureaucracy though takes time and all bureaucracies are at their hearts all about self-preservation. DHS is no exception, however being a newer bureaucracy it hasn’t had as much time to build a network of defenses. If Senator Hagel does become the new Secretary for Homeland Security he may be able to redirect its focus to have better relevance to the rest of the United States.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Keg of Nails

Last night the UC Bearcats won the Keg of Nails for the first time in five years. The trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and University of Louisville campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were "tough as nails." The evening started mild enough but by the second half rain had started proving that both teams had players as tough as nails.

I went to UC in the early 80’s and the football program was forgettable. I ushered at one game and believe the visiting team beat the hapless Bearcats 50-0. The football program improved while UC was in Conference USA but the real strength of course was the basketball program which helped get the Bearcats into the Big East. All eyes were on the basketball Bearcats under new coach Mick Cronin (Huggins record had gotten the team to the Big East but he was fired before ever playing a game in the new conference). Mark Dantonio was coaching the football Bearcats and got them to International Bowl. However, in a move that upset most Bearcat fans Dantonio left before the bowl game and it became Coach Kelly’s first game as the new head coach for the Bearcats.

Coach Kelly led the football team to its first ranking (25h) last year and a trip to the Papa John’s Bowl. The incredible turn around of the program in just one year fueled the ability of Coach Kelly to schedule a game against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners (who were ranked 4th at the time). The Bearcats lost that game but now are ranked 22nd and are poised to take the lead in the Big East. A victory next week against Pittsburgh will have the Bearcats looking at going to the Orange Bowl.

I’m not a sports expert, just someone who is damn proud of his alma mater! Cincinnati has always had exceptional high school football and mediocre professional football. College football was something your turned to the Ohio State University or Notre Dame if you wanted to follow a team. Not anymore! Even if the Bearcats don’t go to the Orange Bowl, the program has become vibrant and exciting. The Bearcats could easily become the identity for Cincinnati (much as the Buckeyes are for Columbus).

I wrote this piece because when I read the Enquirer the Bearcats rated only the second spot on the front page of sports. Perhaps it is me but the whole tone of the article seemed rather ho-hum. The Bearcats could be going to the Orange Bowl in only their second season of playing the Big East and the Enquirer treated last night’s victory as just another day in the office. The Reds haven’t been anything to right about and the Bengals are on track to produce another record losing season. Cincinnati has something to celebrate in the Bearcats and yet the Enquirer just can’t seem to get excited about.

The talk shows will blab ad infinitum about how Coach Kelly’s call to go for a quarterback sneak rather than punt in the first quarter took the momentum away from the team. Perhaps but as a former St Xavier high school coach used to tell us, “What matters is who has the most points at the end of the game.” Coach Kelly and Bearcats are a reason to take pride in Cincinnati and to finally be able to root for a winning program.

And lest I forget, if you want to really understand the caliber of the players you need not look any further than Mardy Gilyard. I could write about what happened during the University of South Florida game but why not let him say it in his own words?

"I tried to dive hoping the parents around the kids would be like, 'Guys, move,' "

"The parents kind of pulled the 'Ole' move and left the kids right there in the middle," Gilyard continued. "I was stuck in mid-flight. I tried to turn, and it so happened I missed everyone. But I caught the one kid that got out of the way. He moved to the left and that's where my shoulder cracked him right in the face."

Then, in a move that led to national acclaim and inspired an avalanche of e-mails to the Cincinnati athletic office praising Gilyard's reaction, he ripped off his helmet and lifted 7-year-old Garrett Monroe into a giant bear hug.

"As soon as I hit him, I was instantly trying to snatch my helmet off," Gilyard said. If the kid sees you scared, they're automatically going to be scared. So, I said, 'Everything is OK.' He gave me a little smirk, and he slapped me five, and then his dad came over and said, 'Oh my God, are you OK?' He kind of glanced over and started crying. He was choking the life out of me. I said, 'You have to let me go. I have to go. You're OK, right?' I wasn't going to leave until he told me he was OK. They would have just had to send a sub in for me. I had to make sure that kid was OK, because I hit him, you know?"


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ground TACS (mobile radar)

Everyone probably remembers Top Gun and the final air-to-air battle were “Maverick” goes against the Soviet fighters one last time. The guy looking at the radar scope (which was way too bright for real use) and says to the “Air Boss”, “Maverick is re-engaging” was a radar controller. I wasn’t in the Navy but did the exact same job in the USAF (minus the theme music and Hollywood sets). I referenced to Top Gun only because the majority of people have seen it and helps you to understand a little bit about what a radar controller (or as the USAF calls now refers to the career field, air battle managers) does for a living.

I got thinking about my old line of work today corresponding with 5schw4r7z. Seems his father was a radar maintainer, a career field indispensable to being able to do my old job. Radar maintainers were the lifeblood of radar units. If the radar “bent” (malfunctioned), we couldn’t direct aircraft during intercepts and refueling missions. We were then worthless to the pilots flying the missions. Guys like 5schw4r7z father kept us in business and kept the pilots safe.

So what exactly is an air battle manager? The term is new, when I was first in the radar business the title was air weapons controller (sometimes referred to as “scope dope”). Air battle managers in effect direct fighter and attack aircraft around the battlefield. Air battle managers may also work with Army air defense artillery (ADA) and short range air defense (SHORAD) units. Total quality management infected the USAF in the early 90’s and the title was thought “too directive” and we became air weapons directors since we lowly ground controllers could never truly tell fighter pilot what to do.

Allow me to use my old nomenclature as it applies to the timeframe. I came into the USAF during the mid 1980s at the height of the Reagan build-up and the final throws of the Cold War. The radar system used to direct fighter aircraft during intercepts of enemy aircraft was referred to as the Tactical Air Control Systems or simply “TACS”. The TACS provided the Tactical Air Forces (TAF) Commander the capability to direct and control tactical air assets (fighters and attack aircraft). The system was highly flexible and was employed in support of a unified command, Joint Task Force (JTF), as an augmentation resource or as an independent element. The TACS provided both control of aircraft during intercept and refueling missions as well as air surveillance of the airspace adjacent to hostile nations (East Germany and the Warsaw Bloc in the case of USAFE TACS).

The elements of the ground TACS were: Control and Reporting Center (CRC), Control and Reporting Post (CRP), Message Processing Center (MPC), and Forward Air Control Post (FACP). The Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) was also part of the TACS. The MPC would allow ground units to link their radar picture to AWACS and vice versus.

Ground TACS domain was Korea, the Philippines, and Germany. Mobile radar units were housed in-garrison on air bases providing day-to-day air surveillance and direction of fighter intercepts. In the event of hostilities, the mobile units would “crash out” and deploy to forward locations near the border (either with North Korea or Eastern Germany). Ground TACS had to be self-sufficient under those circumstances so we all were qualified on M-16s as well as M-9s and M-60s. We had our own medics and could sustain operations in the field for extended periods of time. Illuminating the battlefield with 100,000 watts of energy wasn’t without peril, an anti-radiation missile could track down our main lobe (radar signal) and terminate the entire site.

The radar system used was a semi-automatic system called the 407L. A semi-automatic system had limited computer abilities to generate symbology (flight data) requiring a controller to constantly update the symbology on the radar track. (Modern systems automatically updated the flight data with the radar track.) As cumbersome as the system was, there still was manual systems which had no flight data capability and only a “raw” radar blip for the controller to work with.

The TACS began to change in the early 90’s when the Chief of Staff, Gen McPeak, decided to eliminate the terms “tactical” and “strategic”. The “T” in TACS became theater instead of tactical. From there the 407L was slowly phased out for the new Modular Control Element (MCE) replacing the old TPS-43 radar with the new TPS-75 phased array radar. The MCE wasn’t new, the US Marine Corps had actually developed it but it work perfectly for the TACS. Computer technology has advanced even further to the point were TACS units (now called air control units) were being phased out in the late 90s. Then 9-11 brought the units back to the forefront when everyone was looking for Flight 93. Air defense radars and FAA radars were not equipped to look IN the US for targets. The ground TACS units of the Air National Guard were called upon to fill in the gap in radar coverage. These same units were some of the first over during IRAQI FREEDOM to provide radar coverage during the initial attacks.

Alas, ground TACS has pretty much come to the end with the advent of stand-off precision bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles. These systems don’ require the skills of the ground TACS controllers to executer their mission. It amazes me how many were involved with TACS yet the majority of USAF memorabilia fails to recognize the contributions of these men and women. Here is a link to USAFE units.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crisis of Complacency

Crisis of Complacency
Came across this articlethe other week. The author, Anthony L. Kimery, writes about the lack of emergency preparedness in general and of particular concern is; “that federal and state governments aren’t paying nearly enough attention to the steady deterioration of emergency medical care across the nation – the very medical care that will be needed in the event of a mass casualty catastrophe.” I don’t know if I agree that the federal and state governments aren’t paying enough attention. Rather, I think the economic environment prohibits being focused on “what if” instead of the “right now”. The big three automakers aren’t selling enough cars so they are asking for a federal bailout. What this really means though is no one is buying which in turn means no tax revenue. Without sufficient tax revenues, the federal and state governments don’t have to money to subsidize emergency medical care.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that less 1/3 of the population is ready for an emergency. According to the CDC, US citizens are “too busy, too distracted, or too frightened to plan carefully for a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or local catastrophe.” A few years ago, everyone was preparing for the avian flu and now hardly anyone mentions “bird flu” anymore. People may remember last decade all of the doomsday predictions associated with the “Y2K” scare. It is human nature to start reacting to a new threat but if that threat does not materialize than our attention turns to other issues. Complacency has always been the challenge for state and local officials. Civil Defense had to constantly remind citizens how to respond in the event of a nuclear attack. Although those drills look clichéd now, the principle of constantly reminding people is as valid as it was 50 years ago.
Right now it seems unrealistic to encourage people to worry about a potential flu pandemic when people are much more concerned about their own jobs. In Wilmington, it looks like close to 10,000 jobs will be lost. In Hamilton County, several hundred jobs may be lost due to budgetary constraints.
Anthony concludes his article with a turn on the old Total Quality Management phrase, “people need to understand the consequences of NOT being prepared.” Too much information has left people throwing up their arms in frustration or simply dismissing these studies as the latest Y2K. How then should we proceed? I suggest going back to the Civil Defense model but instead of surviving a nuclear attack preparing focus on basic emergency preparedness. Much as emergency managers are getting away from scenario based training and favor the “all-hazards approach”, we need to be prepared for all emergencies not just the most recent one.

e-Justice Blog

I received a note from e-Justice blog which appears to be a new blog covering a range of topics from cyber law to personal security. The blog is part of the Criminal Justice website. The authors are interested in helping people to become more pro-active and better informed citizens. They just compiled a listing of the Top 50 Homeland Security blogs and Losantiville is one. Thanks for including my blog!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

World War I, which introduced atrocities such as chemical weapons and the machine gun, end officially with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles June 29, 1918. Seven percent of the male population of Germany, nine percent of United Kingdom male population and eleven percent of the male population of France would die during the Great War. If the Treaty of Versailles, why is Veteran’s Day on November 11th? Communications on the battlefields of France were still carried out primarily by courier. Military units remained entrenched in the same area for months at a time. Therefore, even though the treaty was signed in June, fighting continued for nearly seven more months. Fighting is regarded as having finally stopped on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926. On May 13, 1938 a legal holiday was proclaimed for the 11th of November. “Armistice Day” would be a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated. Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance.

The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

As you seen veterans around today, don’t wish them a Happy Veteran’s Day. Today is not a celebration as much as a remembrance of those that have served. Regardless of your feelings towards the war, take a moment and thank the men and women that served their country. You don’t have to agree with the politics of the war in which they fought. You don’t have to agree with the military. I do ask you to respect the dedication to country and service that these veterans have shown. If you are reading this and are a veteran, I salute you as a fellow veteran!

Col (ret) Robert Baylor, USAF