Thursday, November 10, 2005


Apparently the American bomb disposal men in Baghdad sometimes can't go out because their comrades in the Air Force are jamming the GSM phone network and therefore, there's a risk that any command detonated IEDs might go off unintentionally, and also their radio detectors won't work.

Is it me, or is this just incredibly, amazingly stupid?

Recap: very soon after the occupation of Baghdad, we issued three regional licences for mobile phone service in Iraq, both for our own convenience and also as a contribution to restoring the Iraqi economy. After all, economic recovery means less unemployment, which means fewer army-trained young men with no money and plenty of time on their hands, which means less Unfortunately, it turned out that the insurgents, being tech-aware Robbites, loved mobile phones. They use them for all kinds of things, including command-detonating IEDs and tactical communications with a modicum of security. So, we are flying a Compass Call electronic warfare C-130 around over Baghdad jamming the 900MHz band.

Now, that stops the phones working. Which, presumably, means any business dependent on phone service stops working. Can you see where we're going with this? Worse still, being an aircraft, it can't stay up there all the time, so the jamming is only ever temporary. Which is probably worse than permanent because the enemy can still use the phones as long as they look up in the sky first, but no-one can rely on the service. And if the phones don't work...we can't listen in on them either.

It's also stupid to listen into GSM calls from a multizillion dollar EW aircraft that can only be overhead some of the time when we control the SS7 switch (or at least I fucking hope we do...). There's actually a chapter in the GSM standard that deals with "Lawful Interception" - all we need do is drive down to Orascom's switch and ask them nicely if we can use it. Or, failing that, kick down the doors, scream "Gettthefuckinghellyourhandzondawallshajimotherfuckers!" and put a gun to their heads. But I'm trying to be sensible.

That way, we could listen to them all the time without letting them know we're doing it. And we could get the location data from the HLR, too. We could even put in an E-1 line straight into intelligence HQ and spy on them from the comfort of our desks. Diddlididididi("nokia tune") Hey Ahmed, it's Fahd here...the fuel convoy just went past on Highway 8..should be at your location in 5 minutes. Allahu akbar, out. Let's see...that's coordinates X,y..tap'em into the Predator drone..look, there he is with the phone glued to his ear.

This ought to be obvious. What renders it especially stupid is that it's a case where the two halves of Thomas Barnett's military - the Leviathan and the Sysadmin - are both in the field, but they're at each other's throats like two Hull fans in a phonebox with knives.

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