January 17, 2004

Electronic Countermeasures

I have a question concerning the safety of our troops in Iraq and IED's. I posted the question last week, hoping for some kind of answer by a miliatry blogger but there weren't any takers. I decided to try it again because I know there must be a simple answer. Hopefully, through the use of gratuitous trackbacks I'll be able to get Blaster, John, Greyhawk, Blackfive, or at least the famous JP Carter to respond. (I promise I'll never do it again, honest.)

The Question is as follows:
On December 18 of 2003, someone tried to assasinate President Musharraf of Pakistan. The part that I find interesting is that the attempt was foiled by some type of electronic jamming device in his motorcade. My question is this; Since the terrorists in Iraq are using things like garage door openers to trigger IED's, why don't we have some sort of jamming device for them?

It seems like such a simple thing.

Well, anyone?

Posted by jdmays at January 17, 2004 03:29 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Hey J.D.,

I don't have a definitive answer but I think it could be one of two reasons:

a) The President of a country has more sophisticated equipment at his disposal than would an average soldier.

b) Using such jamming equipment also tends to screw up "friendly" gear as well. For instance, by jamming frequencies that would prevent garage door openers it would impede the use of other devices by the Iraqis.

Of course you are talking about a military that can afford B-2 bombers yet can't seem to issue decent body armor so maybe the Pentagon is just missing the boat on this one.

Posted by: Joe Carter at January 17, 2004 03:36 PM

I was getting to you - jeez, I did 38 links today...!

As it happens, I have some answers... but I don't know how much of what I know is classified, I just can't talk about it at all.

Suffice it to say that there are electronic countermeasures, both developed and being developed, that are being tested right now.

Let's just say there are several layers of problems that have to be dealt with.

That isn't quite what you were looking for - but them's the breaks. One of the other guys may know something and know whether or not what they know is still classified.

Much work is also being done on detection.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at January 17, 2004 04:14 PM

As a rule of thumb, all force protection methods are classified.

Posted by: Greyhawk at January 17, 2004 05:05 PM

I'm not looking for any specifics. It's just good to know that someone is addressing these things. It seems like it shouldn't be too hard to foil a garage door opener. I had thought about such a system causing a problem with our own radios but I would imagine that something like that could be directional. Yesterday I saw some video of two soldiers who narrowly missed getting blown up by an IED and it reminded me of this question. Thanks for responding to what is probably a stupid civilian question.

Posted by: JD Mays at January 17, 2004 07:39 PM

One additional comment...
I'm sure I wasn't the first person to think of electronic countermeasures for IED's, but without having any experience at how the military functions it's hard to know if anyone works on these kinds of things. I guessed that someone did, yet we keep losing people to IED's so it hasn't been too successful. Thanks again, Jim.

Posted by: JD Mays at January 17, 2004 07:43 PM

LOL - JD I paged down to the original post and didn't see any replies and completely missed this one! Anyhow, interesting responses from the military guys and I'm only posting because I noted your last statement about still losing soldiers to IED's. I'd say - yes we still haven't perfected a system (obviously since they're still blowing up) but how do we know that there aren't MANY that are being detected and disabled - that we don't know anything about? Just a thought - they aren't going to be telling us about the successes in that area because it might give the enemy too much info.

Posted by: Teresa at January 19, 2004 10:55 AM

You're right. They may have an imperfect system in place and aren't going to run around bragging about it. However, over the weekend I saw some footage that narrowly showed a couple of soldiers who narrowly missed getting blown up by an IED. They didn't appear to have any special equipment with them. I don't know. It just seems like there must be something besides trial and error to help protect these guys.

Posted by: JD Mays at January 19, 2004 06:18 PM

According to a Strategy Page article a few months back, the most common trigger for these roadside bombs are cell phones, as opposed to garage door openers. (I suspect so the range at which they are triggered would be greater)

Two things then come to mind, a general cell frequency jammer in your area could be very useful, the other would be a signal that would cause all the cell phones in an area to ring, perhaps blowing up the IED before it was in place, heh.

Posted by: Leo at January 20, 2004 11:48 PM

I thought that such a thing existed but I'm no electrical engineer. I hope someone over in Iraq is working on ways to block IED's. Whenever I hear of a bomber getting blown up by their own bomb it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling all over.
-Jim.

Posted by: JD Mays at January 21, 2004 06:10 PM

Personally, i think the musharraf thing is a conspiracy. I have never heard of any such device before. Its a way for the dictator to stamp out his fundamentalist opponents who are no better , for now and to make it look like he is under threat. So that the secret dealings of the ISI wont be known. We can only accept what they tell us in this matter. If a car is travelling 45 miles an hour and the magnetic thingy goes off a minute later, then the car has to be 4.5 miles away. You think any magnetic thingy is that strong. Hell if a magnetic thing was strong in its impulse why did it not just burn up the electronic equipment immediately. Al Qaida yahoos want commit suicide so why as a backup plan did they not put one with two wires to make an explosion. If it was a remote control and someone was watching the motor cade, why would that person press the remote control after the motorcade passed. One can only wonder.

Posted by: Joe Shmo at January 25, 2004 11:14 PM

There is no reason but stupidity and cost as to why more jammers are not deployed. The Israelis have used them for over ten years to successfully limit their vulnerability to IEDs.

The Dept of Defense is spending a fortune on building many sophisticated electronic devices, most of which never are used. Nobody cares about the grunt in the field until it becomes a threat to reelecting the President.

Jammers can be bought off-the-shelf. One similar to what the Pakistan President had cost about $10K. They block all Rf, no matter if at a cellphone frequency or in the junk band (garage door openers). In volume, the military could deploy one properly rigged jammer to protect a convoy that would cost $5K.

It is not just the lack of jammers that is astonishing, but how about the Hummers with canvas doors being used in combat zones. Pure stupidity. A BB gun could shoot through that canvas.

Better than a jammer, the military can easily deploy devices that ring cellular phones. By randomly doing that, you would blow-up the bombs before the convoy approached, if they used a cellular phone.

Posted by: Joe P at February 4, 2004 03:51 PM

I found a good article ( if you can belive it ) in the Washington Post about what the soldiers are up against in IEDs in IRAQ.

There are many ways to remotely detonate IEDs. Some are listed here.

Here's the link
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13930-2004Feb4.html

Posted by: E Peterson at February 4, 2004 11:05 PM

We do have them, but not lots of them. This is fairly new for the US.

Rumor has it the Israelis have been using a truck mounted RF generator that pulses all sorts of frequencies, and that a fair number of Palestinian "work accidents" are the result of that outside influence.

Posted by: blaster at March 1, 2004 12:17 PM

I work for an avionics house. And, we do some E/W.

1000 engineers. Fascinating folks to go out to lunch with, a little too much paper-pushing and Powerpoint chartsmanship for my taste.

My job is "DFX" - design for EMI-proofness, design for light-weight, design for producibility ... just another name for good old common-sense engineering.

Not a lot for me to contribute here. It's a cat-and-mouse game ~ what else could I say ?

Why don't "Allied troops" have all the "good toys" that they need to do their jobs ? Great question.

"Stillman Valley, IL" I see. Great, I'm in So Cal. I like corn and you folks grow corn, don't you ? Not be-littling corn ~ I really DO like corn.

And not just corn-ball jokes ;-)

Shelley is not my real name - I am a guy.

Just writing an email to a friend defining ECM, and found this forum.

High regards,

GunDriller

Posted by: GunDriller at March 5, 2004 09:27 PM

Not trying to be rude, but I am a geek. Just wanted to point out that Joe Shmo's math is a bit off. He said:

If a car is travelling 45 miles an hour and the magnetic thingy goes off a minute later, then the car has to be 4.5 miles away

Actually the car is ony 3/4 miles away. Even at 60 miles per hour, the car is only 1 mile away in 1 minute.

Posted by: James at March 20, 2004 10:22 PM

You're right. Well, what did you expect from a guy named Joe Shmo - he probably programs in Java too.
By the way, I had an interesting comment from someone that I put in a follow-up post here: http://www.stillmanvalley.org/aoo/archives/000148.html

Thanks for stopping by,
Jim.

Posted by: JD Mays at March 21, 2004 09:25 PM

REMOTE COMMAND/CONTROL DEVICES CAN USE MODULATED FREQUENCIES THAT WOULD TAKE YOU HOURS TO COVER THE ENTIRE POSSIBLE MODULATED FREQUENCY UNIVERSE, AND BY THAT TIME YOU WOULD BE TOO LATE TO JAM MOST SIGNALS. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THE FREQUENCY, YOU CAN NOT JAM IT. WHITE NOISE WILL NOT GET THE JOB DONE. WE ARE TRYING TO COME UP WITH SOME OTHER UNIQUE APPROACH TO SOLVE SOME OF THESE PROBLEMS. OBVIOUSLY, CELL PHONE AND OTHER JUNK BAND SIGNALS CAN BE JAMMED. HOPEFULLY, THIS IS BEING EFFECTED AS WE SPEAK.

Posted by: stan at March 28, 2004 01:37 PM

I don't believe it would take hours to jam any band of frequencies. Pulses cover a wide band of frequencies per pulse.

Posted by: Dave at April 28, 2004 03:27 PM

Dear Sirs

I heard a lot about IEDs jammers, and recently I saw
absolutely new company for internet www.army-technology.com/contractors/navigation/vniis/

It has very interested products. Can anybody tell me something about that company?

Posted by: M at May 24, 2004 12:03 AM

According to one individual who left a response, "as a rule of thumb, all force protection methods are classified." This is very much untrue. I am taking a class on sensitive evaluation techniques, safeguards and countermeasures and have found many things on the internet pertaining to force protection, ECM's, and EW. Unfortunately the United States has an "open-society" in which much of "secrets" are disseminated across "open-source" material (i.e. the internet).

Posted by: Dave P. at June 17, 2004 01:07 PM

I`m one of the civilian IED targets out here and I would like any information concerning IED countermeasures. It`s perfect common sense that some sort of broad spectrum jamming device could, and probably already is, in the market. I just want to know who may be producing them...have a personal interest in the matter. The idea that the US DoD has such devices and is not sharing the information is to my way of thinking, irresponsible. You think the bad guys are going to figure out a way around jamming? I think not.

Posted by: Bill Stone at August 14, 2004 01:58 AM

Tried to find the VNIIS info on cited web page, but no joy. Are you sure DaveP of the source?

Thanks

Posted by: Bill Stone at August 14, 2004 02:56 AM

My son is in Iraq. He said outfitting one truck with such a device cost $150,000. What's up with that? Wonder who has the no-bid contract on that?


There is no reason but stupidity and cost as to why more jammers are not deployed. The Israelis have used them for over ten years to successfully limit their vulnerability to IEDs.

The Dept of Defense is spending a fortune on building many sophisticated electronic devices, most of which never are used. Nobody cares about the grunt in the field until it becomes a threat to reelecting the President.

Jammers can be bought off-the-shelf. One similar to what the Pakistan President had cost about $10K. They block all Rf, no matter if at a cellphone frequency or in the junk band (garage door openers). In volume, the military could deploy one properly rigged jammer to protect a convoy that would cost $5K.

It is not just the lack of jammers that is astonishing, but how about the Hummers with canvas doors being used in combat zones. Pure stupidity. A BB gun could shoot through that canvas.

Better than a jammer, the military can easily deploy devices that ring cellular phones. By randomly doing that, you would blow-up the bombs before the convoy approached, if they used a cellular phone.

Posted by: Joe P at February 4, 2004 03:51 PM

Posted by: Paula Scott at September 24, 2004 10:07 AM