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March 12, 2012

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dsquared

another is training all the paramedics who will deploy behind them in the USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams

I feel they may still find themselves needed in the scenario where we fill the Blackwall Tunnel with tanks.

dsquared

I'm sure I remember there was some airport where revenue was about 55% retail and 45% aero. This would be a few years ago.

it might have been true of Heathrow before the Ferrovial takeover - I only looked at the 2011 results.

Phil

Speaking of plumbers, a friend of mine recently wrote a book chapter about de Menezes & Kratos. What I hadn't appreciated is just how logical Kratos is. You can't shout a warning to a suicide bomber - he'll just detonate. You can't shoot to incapacitate a suicide bomber - you'll just detonate him. So you have to shoot to kill - and, scariest of all, you can't give the firearms team the discretion to check out chummy visually before they carry out the hit. The explosive material may not be bulky enough to show (he may literally have it down his pants), so the ID has to be done on the basis of intelligence.

I suppose the really scary thing is that nobody at any stage stuck their hand up and said "Er, false positives?" Certainly nobody said "if that's the only way to address the risk, then we don't address the risk" - but seeing that the only person who could have said that was Ian "the Weatherman" Blair, perhaps that's not surprising.

Richard J

BAA makes about £1.2bn from "aeronautical income" at Heathrow and about £500m from total retail income at Heathrow plus Stansted (I doubt Stansted contributes all that much).

Given that the presentation carefully doesn't address this point, I'd be interested in how the costs breakdown between the retail/aeronautical side and also the respective yields they're getting from each stream.

Alex

"the Weatherman"?

Barry Freed

You can't shout a warning to a suicide bomber - he'll just detonate. You can't shoot to incapacitate a suicide bomber - you'll just detonate him. So you have to shoot to kill....

It's like no one has ever heard of a dead man's switch.

Charlie W

(1) Say you gather enough data (somehow) to say with confidence that 25% of terrorists use a dead man's switch; the other 75% don't. And say you also have sufficient confidence in your pre-engagement intelligence to be able to say that near as damn it all suspects are in fact bomb-toting terrorists. By way of a Bayesian formula you secretly adopt, on utilitarian grounds, a shoot to kill policy: once you have a suspect, the police go out, and they kill, like that.

(2) Suspect number one comes along, is killed. The terrorists now have data. Suspect number two comes along, is killed.

(3) All terrorists start using dead man's switches.

ajay

And yet, Charlie, this argument has been out there for some time now and suicide bombers have not as far as I know started using deadman switches.

Charlie W

None have been shot, either. Not in the UK, anyhow.

CMcM

Re Charlie W @1.53pm

Great: I'm in on the birth of a technological innovation I can live without.

dsquared

You can't shout a warning to a suicide bomber - he'll just detonate. You can't shoot to incapacitate a suicide bomber - you'll just detonate him. So you have to shoot to kill - and, scariest of all, you can't give the firearms team the discretion to check out chummy visually before they carry out the hit.

And yet the Israelis don't operate the shoot-to-kill policy in this way and regularly capture bombers alive with their suicide vests intact.

ejh

Re: airport revenue, I believe that Huesca Airport's sole source of revenue is its restaurant, as it's one of a number of Spanish airports from which no planes actually fly.

Charlie W

And aren't there basically two steps to policy justification, anyhow? First step is showing that the police can identify terrorists en route to a suicide bombing. Second step is showing that shooting dead, on sight, is less risky than not shooting. You have to master the first step before you can move on to the second.

Basically, I just wouldn't go down this road.

Richard J

Outside of cheap crime fiction, I can't help but feel that dead man's switches in real life are rarely used, mainly owing to the 'itchy nose' problem.

jamie

Yeah, and there's the additional technical challenge posed to people who have to make their own bombs anyway, and who often aren't very good at it.

Charlie W

Actually, scratch my 2:25. The better point to be made is that if you always shoot, you may sometimes kill non-terrorists (i.e. someone like de Menezes). If you never shoot, you may sometimes fail to prevent a suicide bombing. These are the risks you're trying to compute, and since the adversary can adapt, you're not going to get the luxury of computing them once: every time there's an 'engagement', you'll be obliged to re-assess. So I just don't see much scope here for anything you might call 'policy'.

Barry Freed

Outside of cheap crime fiction...

True that and guilty as charged. Almost everything I know about deadman's switches comes from watching "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (the good one with Walter Matthau, not the inevitable crap remake).

Phil

And yet the Israelis don't operate the shoot-to-kill policy in this way

Odd that - I mean, it's odd that the Met didn't work from what the Israelis actually do, considering that they did a fair bit of research into how other countries deal with suicide bombers; the other countries involved were Sri Lanka, Russia and Israel. I think they noted that human rights considerations may weigh rather less heavily on police forces in some of those places than they do in an ECHR signatory state.

First step is showing that the police can identify terrorists en route to a suicide bombing.

My second or third reaction to the de Menezes shooting was to thank the Lord that they didn't get the "right man" - if it had been Hussain Osman, he could have been sitting on the tube in his Y-fronts and the Met would still have run the line that he could have been loaded with explosive, so better be safe than sorry.

I just don't see much scope here for anything you might call 'policy'.

The logic is airtight in more ways than one - it's untouched by reality. My mate's argument is that the shooting is more than anything else an argument for transparency and accountability - because if the Met had let the public know that they were developing a policy that would involve shooting (a) to kill (b) without warning (c) because bloke said, on the radio, the public would have suggested they should try a different policy pronto.

CMcM

So, to summarise the question that this thread has brought into focus: who would win in a tunnel collision just underneath Heathrow's main shopping area between a tube train going at full pelt without a deadman's handle and a Chieftain tank?

Phil

Alex: if you wanted to know what colour the sky was...

Richard J

So, to summarise the question that this thread has brought into focus: who would win in a tunnel collision just underneath Heathrow's main shopping area between a tube train going at full pelt without a deadman's handle and a Chieftain tank?

To punch through a Chieftain's glacis plate, you need at least a modern Russian sabot round, weighing 5.8kg and with a muzzle veloicty of 1,785m/s. Kinetic energy of approximately 9MJ (if I've not fucked up with the SI units).

A 6-carriage tube train (each carriage weighing 26.5 tonnes) travelling at 35 km/h has a KE of just 7.5MJ.

It's not looking good for the boys in blue, white and red.

guthrie

I have the impression that policy nowadays, as applied to any difficult or dangerous task, is not so much about how to deal with them but rather how to ensure that senior management's arses are covered no matter what happens.

CMcM

&, for extra marks, how many wifi equipped homeless people would it take to replace all the luxury goods knocked from their shelves in the shopping mall above after the collision?

You're wasted as an accountant you are.

dsquared

To punch through a Chieftain's glacis plate, you need at least a modern Russian sabot round, weighing 5.8kg and with a muzzle veloicty of 1,785m/s. Kinetic energy of approximately 9MJ (if I've not fucked up with the SI units).

but the tube train doesn't need to punch a hole in the armour; it just needs to bend it out of shape to such an extent that the internal topology of the tank doesn't conform to the shape of the Olympic athlete inside. I think this is much less cut and dried than you imagine, and that mutual destruction is possible.

Barry Freed

It doesn't even need to bend it out of shape. The enormous shock of the impact alone should be enough to cause severe traumatic brain injury and other internal injuries to the Olympic athletes. I'd say mutual destruction is pretty much assured.

Charlie W

The tank's gun barrel and the tube train driver's compartment should, in combination, make quite a good crumple zone, though. At least some of the train's KE will have become heat by the time the first motorised bogie makes contact with the tank hull, no?

Richard J

I think you're underestimating the robustness of a modern MBT. I've read somewhere about an Abrahms heading full tilt into Baghdad along a motorway managing to smack its gun into a flyover. The turret crew had the merry-go-round of their life, and the gun was bent out of shape, but otherwise undamaged.

Though, I suppose spalling is always the danger - after all, that's how squash-head rounds were supposed to work.

Cian

I think you're underestimating the robustness of a modern MBT

True, but you're seriously overestimating the robustness of the Olympic tank crew. They'd be jelly.

ajay

And yet the Israelis don't operate the shoot-to-kill policy in this way and regularly capture bombers alive with their suicide vests intact.

Really? I mean, yes, I know they capture them, but I thought that was because they have second thoughts and give themselves up (hence the recent development of having a backup man with a mobile phone to activate the bomb remotely).

I don't know what Israeli policy is with regard to seeing someone whom you know is a suicide bomber and who isn't surrendering, but this article seems to imply that they follow the Kratos policy pretty much to the letter.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/05/israelandthepalestinians.international

ajay

As an aside, whatever the Israelis do seems to work because they haven't had one in ages.

skidmarx

And yet the Israelis don't operate the shoot-to-kill policy in this way and regularly capture bombers alive with their suicide vests intact.
Presumably when there were regular suicide bombers, before the Palestinians discovered that firing missiles in a half-assed manner wasn't rocket science.

Cian

As an aside, whatever the Israelis do seems to work because they haven't had one in ages.

I think a separation wall separating Luton from central London might be a step too far even for the Tories/Met.

ajay

There's a separation fence around the Olympics area with 5000 volts running through it, so it's not too far off.

Richard J

The various discussions about ringing Muslim-majority areas with CCTV cameras do have an unpleasant tinge of the same thought process though.

I mean, yes, I know they capture them, but I thought that was because they have second thoughts and give themselves up (hence the recent development of having a backup man with a mobile phone to activate the bomb remotely).

ISTR, can't remember where from, that most kamikaze sorties included a landing at the end. Not so much through a loss of nerve, more that finding a target was usually a surprisingly tricky thing.

dsquared

I have this reference which seem to suggest that the basic technique is "be really incredibly brave", and that the assumption that a terrorist has his detonation trigger handily to hand and can set off the bomb the moment he's rumbled is incorrect. Which makes sense to me; after all, he has to conceal it in order to avoid being shot dead. Also, the successful suicide bombers tend to use proper C4-type explosives which need proper detonators, rather than homemade TATP which would be set off by an incapacitating bullet.

Richard J

Going back a bit.

&, for extra marks, how many wifi equipped homeless people would it take to replace all the luxury goods knocked from their shelves in the shopping mall above after the collision?

As anyone who's actually been to Westfield Stratford will know, this is a trick question. The place is usually packed so solid there's nowhere for said luxury goods to fall to.

Barry Freed

Are terrorists there building bombs with rubbing alcohol? Because I just found out you can't buy isopropyl alcohol in a pharmacy in the UK. Which seems very strange to me because I can buy it in the supermarket as well as a pharmacy here.

skidmarx

It used to be possible to get in in chemist's shops, as I was told some time in the 90s that it was ideal for cleaning tape heads, or separating hemp oil from the plant. Maybe you have to ask for isopropanol.

Cian

Tramps drinking it maybe? Dunno.

Incidentally, has everyone seen the instructions on the internet on how to make sudofed from Crystal Meth.

Cian

it could simply be a naming issue thinking about it.

guthrie

Chemists in this country have long ago stopped being 'interesting', for certain values of the word.
If you are after a variety of substances, I have tracked down a number of smaller suppliers who will send them to you, let me know if you want to know who they are.

skidmarx

has everyone seen the instructions on the internet on how to make sudofed from Crystal Meth
I've never needed a decongestant that badly.

Cian

I've never needed a decongestant that badly.

As is noted in the paper - Chrystal Meth is a lot easier to buy these days in the US, since Sudafed became a controlled substance.

Phil

Pholcodine is a Class B drug as well as an OTC cough medicine. There's a whole separate classifying system for pharmaceuticals, and sometimes they overlap oddly.

skidmarx

Like this

Dan Hardie

Phil: 'You can't shoot to incapacitate a suicide bomber -'

You can't reliably shoot to incapacitate anyone who poses a serious threat. What's the magic part of the body that you can shoot that prevents a guy from firing a weapon or tripping a switch? There isn't one.

If you're confronted by someone who's a threat you fire into the centre of mass (ie the torso) or the head. Hitting either area has a high probability of killing the person you're firing at. You can shoot someone who isn't posing a serious threat to anyone in the leg (like Andreas Baader when he was randomly blatting off pistol rounds in the vague direction of some very well-protected German police). If you're lucky (as the German marksman was) you won't sever his femoral artery and kill him or miss and hit his torso (very easy to do- I would quite possibly do it and I'm not a bad rifle shot). And if you're still very lucky your target will be enough of a gutless exhibitionist that he promptly drops his pistol and starts squealing for medical help, as Baader did.

Taking on someone you think is seriously trying to kill someone? Fire at the torso or head, or don't fire at all. Even firing at the head is beyond most armed men. Your average soldier- me, for example- is trained to make centre-of-mass shots because he will miss the skull.

Cian

What's the magic part of the body that you can shoot that prevents a guy from firing a weapon or tripping a switch?

If you severed the spine in the right place you would manage it. Of course, ignoring the implausibility of such a shot, the individual would be on a machine the rest of their life in order to breathe. Many would consider the head shot the merciful choice.

Phil

Even firing at the head is beyond most armed men. Your average soldier- me, for example- is trained to make centre-of-mass shots because he will miss the skull.

Perhaps I was imprecise, but that was exactly the point I was trying to make. Previous guidance for dealing with people posing an imminent threat was to drop them with a shot or shots to the torso, after shouting a warning; it was to be expected that many or most of those shootings would be fatal, but the idea was to remove the threat, not specifically to kill. The Met's Kratos guidance ruled out centre-of-mass shots because of the danger of accidental detonation & specifically mandated shots to the head. It really was (or is) an Execution Of Suspects policy.

dsquared

The Met's Kratos guidance ruled out centre-of-mass shots because of the danger of accidental detonation & specifically mandated shots to the head. It really was (or is) an Execution Of Suspects policy.

Going by Dan's comments on headshots, and presuming that policemen (even the "elite" C19 or whatever it is unit) aren't circus sharpshooters either, it would also seem to be a potentially wildly counterproductive policy - not so much "Shoot to Kill" as "Shoot to Miss".

dsquared

Although thinking about it a little more, I would guess that even an average marksman could probably get the headshot if he was shooting at point blank range at a person who was being restrained with both arms held behind his back. Although with respect to the apparent rationale for the Kratos guidelines this probably raises more questions than it answers - the "But He Might Trigger His Bomb" rationale could support a doctrine of "Shoot At The Head On Suspicion From A Distance, In The Knowledge That You Might Miss", but surely not a doctrine of "Restrain And Wrestle To The Ground, Then Shoot In The Head, On Suspicion".

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