DARPA plans soldier-tagging system for US troops
Entirely for their own good, apparently
DARPA, the Pentagon boffinry outfit which bestrides the tech world like some mighty, erratic robot colossus with a frikkin laser beam on its head, has made a new move. The plan is to electronically tag US combat soldiers in a similar fashion to criminals under judicial restraint, the idea being that the troops can then be swiftly found and rescued if they get into trouble.
DARPA calls the plan "Individual Force Protection System", and it intends to have it taken forward by monster US defence contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Apparently in DARPA's view, "SAIC is the only known source in the case of a follow-on requirement with the in-depth knowledge and experience with the Individual Force Protection System".
IFPS has already undergone extensive development under a previous contract. It evidently isn't ready to go yet, though, as "DARPA requires research, development and technical services to complete development". The research agency issued notice of its plan to go on with SAIC last week.
According to this presentation (pdf), given last year by DARPA officials, IFPS would consist of a small, three-inch lightweight tag attached to a soldier's uniform and a variety of vehicle-borne or portable receivers which could locate the tag even amid the busy electromagnetic spectrum of the modern battlefield. The DARPA people believe that there's no need to have GPS satnav in the tag itself, allowing its battery to last much longer, and that tracking ranges as good as 150km (in line of sight) would be possible.
All this is considerably better performance than current commercial offerings. The IFPS tags could still make sense for US ground forces even if they were fully equipped with systems such as Land Warrior, which provide a lot of digital comms nodes and GPS sets throughout a ground unit.
Firstly, defeated soldiers in an escape-and-evade situation often have to dump a lot of their equipment, so the Land Warrior terminals might well have been thrown away. Secondly, at present only team leaders carry the Land Warrior gear anyway because of its weight. The comparatively teeny IFPS tags could easily be worn round every soldier's neck along with his dogtags, allowing friendly forces to find him even if he'd lost touch with the military comms net. (There would obviously need to be ironclad security on devices of this kind, or our man wouldn't be doing much escaping and evading.)
DARPA does seem as though it might be open to some criticism on the idea that only SAIC can possibly take IFPS forward. Other companies are offering systems right now with similar capabilities, though there are differences of detail. The UK's Miltrak, for instance, uses standard mobile phone and satnav electronics in suitable ruggedised cases and is on the front lines in Afghanistan right now.
In any event, hardcore compound-dwelling libertarians will no doubt be smiling thin, snaggle-toothed smiles over their tin mugs of untaxed home-made bathtub moonshine at the news as they savour the irony. Rather than the free sons of America being tagged up and their every move watched from on high by federal helicopters (doubtless of sombre colour scheme), it seems that in fact it is the very government troops themselves who will be monitored. ®
A tag (euphemism) would probably be sub-cutaneous, so it could not be removed, turned off, lost or commandeered (without bloodletting). The first thing a captured soldier would be subjected to >would be stripped of his clothes and ornament (Tags, dog and otherwise), so we would have dead soldiers being used to set-up an IED attack, thus the TAG would sense lifesigns and report a positive/negative response.
It would probably only RE-sound, after a authenticated ping/handshake, with certain status results transmitted together, all with-in a small distance to increase accuracy.
And Iran/Iraq was/is/maybe referred to as a "Sea of Glass". In Afganastan this would not be achieved with ICBM's but with Suit-Case Nukes, They're Easy to transport, do not set the Chinese and Ruskies to scrambling to retaliate, and deliver a controlled "Flash & Splash". Maybe of the Neutron type to minimize any radiation; Heck it even leaves the buildings standing!
They/It would be "Delivered" after we gain knowledge of a training camp of non-native radically oriented individuals or even OBL's location, maybe after he ingested one of them there TAGS in his goats head soup, Knocking at his door would be done with a drone or perhaps a rattle placed in the boot of his conveyance (camera in place to see the look upon his face when he tries to shut the lid). He might even stumble upon it in his trek up through the mountain passes, an American version of an IED! Surprise!
Boom, Shak-A-Lak-A! BOOM!
1. It isn't on continuously
2. It uses frequency hopping
3. everything has a bad side; even aircraft
4. I think the Taliban has other things it would rather spend its money on, than electronics to counter this
5. There are a lot of odd-ball tones on a variety of frequencies... and we can even drop transmitters in enemy territory to confuse yet distinguish from those worn by troops
6. They will be worried about being led into a "trap"
... you get the point by now.
Erm..... this sounds like the plot of MGS4.
I am the only one here who's actually played through the game?
The plot to Metal Gear Solid 4 hinges on post-NATO soldiers being electronically tagged, and thereby monitored/controlled, by a network of AIs set-up by the US remnants of the "Philosophers" (read that as the Illuminati). The nano-tech to facilitate this supposedly comes directly from DARPA.
The system is called SOP: "Sons Of the Patriots".
Something about the writing of this article sent a chill through my bones as I read it.
Ah wait, there's my coat.