NIGHTWATCH Highlight of the Day 11 February 2010

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IEDs. Update. The Taliban claim they have invented a new bomb that defeats US detection vehicles and technology.  A BBC report from the UK forces supporting Operation Together” in Marjah lends credence to the Taliban claim, after the detection vehicle was disabled by a bomb it was supposed to detect yesterday.

The Taliban posted to the Net the following statement, “After assessing the enemy’s new technology, the mine makers and explosives experts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan modified the types and construction of their bombs. They now have adopted such a technology which the enemy detection equipment cannot detect.”

”A bomb making expert of the Islamic Emirate told the Al-Emarah website: “The mojahedin have now made a special remote-controlled bomb called Omar which is more powerful then the other mines. The main characteristic of this bomb is that it is more difficult to detect. The mojahedin have tested this new remote-controlled bomb and the results have been positive. We have used this bomb in various parts of the country against the enemy mine-detector vehicles and the results were successful.”

”He said their technique was very simple and cost little and that they can make a powerful bomb. An average mine costs only 85 dollars which is not that much, but in turn it inflicts millions of dollars worth of damage on the enemy in addition to the loss of life.”

Comment:  No other source has reported on the use of a new bomb.  A key point is that the Afghan Taliban are innovative. They learn, as do all living systems. That makes them much more sinister than an adaptive organism, which is one that just learns to cope.

The Taliban aim to win, not to co-exist.  Co-existence in the form of power sharing is a political tactic in a campaign to achieve ultimate political victory.  Innovation is what they apply to the battlefield, as they can.  It is important to get the definitional language correct, if one hopes to discover or devise an effective response. The key teaching point is that Taliban learn and get better.

Phi Beta Iota: In El Salvador in 1980 the populist leftists fighting the extremists 14 families and their military mafia learned very quickly that mines inside wooden boxes could not be detected by the US and its local collaborators.  This was the basis of the top USMC requirements for Measurements & Signatures Intelligence (MASINT) in 1988: detect explosives at a stand-off distance regardless of container.  Years later an Israeli officer was asked how they did it and he laughed: “we use a dog.”  While MASINT has fooled around with “living tissue” experiments and this has enormous potential for both drug detection and mine detection, somewhere within the $75 billion a year we spend on secret sources and methods the original USMC requirement appears to have been misplaced.  Still needed.

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