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Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 7.17
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 88 15:14:11 EDT
From: mnetor!utzoo!henry@uunet.UU.NET
Subject: Re: "The target is destroyed."

> "...So from now on it's hair-trigger 24 hours a day...  Shoot first and
> ask questions later.  The hell if I'm gonna be the next one to lose his 
> Florida retirement condo to keep Marconi's rep clean."  I can't find it in
> my heart to blame the man, either...

Nor can I, for a different reason.  We're seeing yet another manifestation
of the everything-should-be-absolutely-safe-and-if-it's-not-then-somebody-
has-been-negligent syndrome.  For heaven's sake, has everyone forgotten that
(ignoring the political hairsplitting and sticking to the pragmatic facts
of the situation) there is a *WAR* underway in that airspace?!?

In a war zone, a bias toward shooting first and asking questions later is
normal for anybody with any desire to survive.  Wars are confused.  The
"to shoot or not to shoot" decision often has to be made with inadequate
information.   A "wait and see" decision is *very* hazardous to your health.
"Own goals" -- shooting down your friends -- are  normal in a war; the most
one can do is try to reduce the frequency.

The fact is, when you take an airline flight through an area where a
missile war is in progress, nobody in his right mind is going to expect
that flight to be risk-free.  You won't find me in an airliner anywhere
near the Persian Gulf without an awfully good reason.  Anyone who got on
that flight as if it were a normal peacetime flight was either misinformed
or crazy.  Trying to be an innocent bystander to a war while standing in
the middle of it is a damned risky project.  The Stark incident evidently
made the US warship captains aware of this.  It's too bad the Iranian
airline passengers had to learn the facts of life the hard way, but the
people who fired those missiles cannot really be blamed for it.

Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology   {ihnp4,decvax,uunet!mnetor}!utzoo!henry

Date: Fri, 26 Aug 88 23:04:02 EDT
From: attcan!utzoo!henry@uunet.UU.NET
Subject: Re: Vincennes and Non-Computer Verification

> Indeed, **what happened** in the case of the Vincennes?  Was the U.S.
> operating naval patrols in a war zone without air support?  If so, why?

The underlying problem here is simply that today's US Navy is not built
for environments like the Gulf War.  Their air support is concentrated
in a handful of big, expensive, conspicuous, vulnerable carriers that
cannot be risked in the Gulf.  If the Vincennes had had a Harrier parked
on its helipad ready to go, that would have been different, but it didn't.
In an area as small as the Gulf, things happen quickly and there is no
time to call up distant support forces.  It's not practical to maintain
airborne patrols on speculation -- too costly, not just in money but in
wear and tear on men and machines, and in outright accidental losses.
(A significant fraction of the British Harrier losses in the Falklands
War were accidents not involving enemy action.)

Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology

Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 8.58
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 89 23:16:29 -0400
From: henry@utzoo.UUCP
Subject: Aegis the almighty

In the Feb 27 Aviation Week, in an article on US Navy antisubmarine warfare
and future plans for same:

	The fundamental problem with ASW is that it is very complicated.
	There is no single system that is a panacea, like Aegis is to
	air defense, Rear Adm. James R. Fitzgerald, director of the
	antisubmarine warfare division of naval warfare for the chief
	of naval operations, said.  "If there were, the Navy would buy
	a lot of them and declare the problem solved."

The view of Aegis that is revealed in this is, um, interesting.

                                     Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 90 14:10:23 EDT
Subject: Re: Expert system in the loop (Philipson, RISKS-10.38)

>... Military personnel have, by joining or
>accepting induction into armed service, accepted certain risks. 
>Civilians have not.  If there is any doubt whatsoever that the
>approaching plane was hostile, the Captain should have decided not to
>destroy it, accepting the risk of outcome #3, i.e., that his ship might
>come under attack ...  He and his crew signed up for that risk...

One should remember that soldiers are not policemen.  Policemen generally
are required to accept risks themselves rather than passing them on to
civilians; their *job* is reducing civilian risks.  The military are not
in quite the same situation.  Their job is to carry out the policies of
their government, and if innocent people get hurt, that is the policy-
makers' problem.  Military actions often involve injury or death to
innocent civilians, and avoiding this entirely is probably impossible,
although minimizing it is usually desirable.  The captain and crew of
the Vincennes signed up to risk their lives in protecting the United States
(and its allies and interests), not in protecting civilians in general.

>... The passengers of the airliner had accepted no such risk...

Their government had accepted it on their behalf, by initiating warfare
against foreign vessels, for what it presumably considered adequate reason.
Governments in general feel that they have a right to risk the lives of
their citizens -- without their individual consent -- for sufficient cause.
Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology utzoo!henry

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