Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bee-lown Up

Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan DoD, DARPA, corporations, and universities have engaged in an expanding universe of new ideas that will allow soldiers or civilians to identify and destroy before they or their comrades are injured.

There are a great many ideas, but two common ones are bees that are trained to smell explosives and plants that change color near IEDs or landmines.  One recent proponent of the use of bees was

The diagram at left illustrates (simplistically) the research-to-field flowchart for both US research and insurgent research.  Supporters of US research (e.g., bees) forget that there is a mirrored world where insurgents are planning to deal with any new technique.  Bees or plants or whatever could be effective if all sides were looking to destroy mines from WW II, Korea or Vietnam.  Extrapolating these techniques to current guerilla wars is quite another matter.

They have no intention of letting anyone's army occupy their land and remove IED/landmine barriers with impunity.  The lower red triangle illustrates their priorities:  little money, time, or expensive materials.  Once an agent is found, however, they have abundant personnel to impliment their countermeasures in the field.  As has been the case since the first guerilla war against Napolean the costs are minimal and the battlefield is their research lab.

Countermeasures against the $million bees are numerous, and probably cost under $25.  One example that came to my mind as I read the article was several sticks of dynamite surrounded by several cans of bug killer.

The image at right is a prop, folks, so don't get excited.  The red tubes, meant to "represent" dynamite are nothing more than harmless road flares.

"Know yourself and your enemy and you will win every battle.
Know yourself but not your enemy and you will lose a battle for every one that you win.
Know neither yourself or your enemy and you will lose every battle."

--Sun Tzu, ca. 2500 BC

Insurgent spotters could detonate four or five of these little devices and that would be the end of the bee swarm.  And then it's back to the drawing board.


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