Questions the Media Isn't Asking About 3 Troops Killed in Middle East
C-UAS [Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System]: it’s a massive military program disguised by an acronym that makes people’s eyes glaze over.
Just how the Pentagon likes it.
By relying on clinical jargon like “C-UAS” and “force protection,” the news media can cover the three American soldiers killed in Jordan last month without any outrage that young Army reservists with their whole lives ahead of them are now dead.
It all started just hours after a kamikaze drone killed the three soldiers and injured dozens more at a U.S. base in Jordan, unremarkably titled “Tower 22” (the existence of which the U.S. government only acknowledged after the attack). But instead of demanding the Pentagon be held accountable for the failure of its counter-drone program constituting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, the media did the Pentagon a huge favor.
The Wall Street Journal almost immediately reported an obviously planted leak that it was all a tragic mistake: the base had counter-drone defenses but the kamikaze drone had been mistaken for an incoming American drone. But instead of interrogating why our amply-funded counter-drone program failed to correctly identify the drone, the media chalked it up to a tragic mistake. The American people will undoubtedly be asked to cut another check for the Pentagon’s counter-drone program to fix the problem.
But I’ve started to hear rumblings from soldiers and veterans that there were not adequate counter-drone systems at Tower 22. (I’ll have an investigation coming out on this shortly, so stay tuned.)
If you have any information about what happened at Tower 22, text me securely via Signal at 202-510-1268.
I started investigating the C-UAS question and quickly ran into secrecy and an arsenal of acronyms. The first thing I learned was that, despite the picture in my head that some gun or missile was or wasn’t deployed at Tower 22, the reality was that these days, C-UAS doesn’t mean that at all. Mostly the counter-drone game amounts to electronic (“non-kinetic”) warfare, the ability to “shoot down” a drone by spoofing or destroying its electronics, particularly the bluetooth or radio link to its operator, but also by blinding it, or messing with its GPS guidance, or even destroying the internal electronics by overheating them.
C-UAS isn’t just some gun or missile on the ground, it’s is a complex system on top of other systems that includes various components: radar and other devices to detect the drone, gizmos to identify that it is enemy, direction finding gear to precisely locate it and assess its route, computers to tie it all together, and then the kill mechanisms that need to be instantaneously alerted to respond quickly enough.
Were all of those parts in place at Tower 22? Evidently not, and the media should be asking why.
Second, if all of these pieces were in place, why didn’t they work? I ask this because since October, there have been repeated drone attacks on similar U.S. outposts in Iraq and Syria. Yet despite that, Tower 22 either wasn’t important enough to adequately defend or the military just dropped the ball, concerned with other matters.
And as for secrecy, there is the very question of Tower 22, how obscure it was and how sensitive, and the possibility that this hampered its counter-drone capabilities. After all, and this is no joke, the official Jordanian government position is that the attack didn’t take place in Jordan, that the drone attacked a base in Syria and not on its territory. (Jordan is lying: satellite images make clear that the base is located within its borders.) It isn’t a particular secret that the U.S. has forces in Jordan — including, by the way, many of the fighter aircraft that are attacking the Houthis in Yemen —it’s just that the Jordanian government hosts them with the agreement that Washington not talk about them. So the Pentagon obliges and refuses to talk openly about the base, about its defenses, about who’s there, about its importance or even just its basic mission. The Jordanians know about it. The enemy knows about it. Only the American people (and the Jordanian people) can’t know.
Finally, there is the question of secret beam weapons — high powered microwaves and lasers — that are used in the counter-drone mission. A number of different prototypes are deployed to protect bases in the Middle East and details about all of them are shrouded in secrecy. And the news media goes along, writing endless articles using the usual jargon like “non-kinetic” or “effectors” or “negation systems” to describe such capabilities. Don’t believe me? Just look up programs like Coyote Block 3, Epirus, HELIOS, and THOR to see how the media describes these weapons, skirting any controversy or human rights considerations.
The official position of the Pentagon is that it is still conducting an investigation to figure out what went wrong and it does not want to talk about the specifics because of “OPSEC” (operational security) considerations, that other soldiers and secret bases are still out there being attacks and we don’t want to tell the militias what defensive capabilities we have.
An accumulation of secrets thus contributed to the deaths of those three soldiers: secrecy about the presence of U.S. forces, about the bases supporting U.S. military efforts, about what those efforts are, about what is needed to sustain and defend them, about what the “host” nations are doing, about what role Jordan plays in the defense of Israel against Hamas or the war against the Houthis, about what weapons and capabilities are there and are being used, and about what the Pentagon is preparing for, or more precisely what train is coming down the track that we can’t see.
Since last Sunday’s attack, Washington has been abuzz about the Biden administration’s possible retaliatory actions — in other words, war with Iran.
And, I’m going to just come out and say it, because the three soldiers were black and came from Georgia, the Washington and New York media aren’t as interested in their deaths.
Deciphering the blizzard of Pentagon jargon to get to the truth of why these three Americans died is time consuming; please become a paid subscriber so I can continue this investigation and hopefully get some measure of justice for them — Ken
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