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By Ed Timperlake and Robbin Laird

02 Oct 12. One of the threatening impacts of the CNN policy approach is that problems not dealt with are forgotten, but not resolved.

Threats not dealt with an eliminated in an earlier moment simply do not go away because your attention span is one day or one crisis.

The attention deficit syndrome affecting modern policy systems is chronic and deadly.

A case in point was the decision to NOT put boots on the ground to secure the KNOWN Libyan manpads stockpile, but to strike without any real consideration of the OBVIOUS consequences of thousands of manpads escaping destruction or control.

While we were celebrating the short lived and narrow “victory” in Libya, later in the year the US Ambassador was annihilated.

For the CNN policy system, there can be no connection or causative relationship. And suspected manpads strikes against unmanned vehicles, rotorcraft and other aircraft in combat zones is yet another isolated event with the CNN straight ahead focus.

And of course 9/11 was about planes going into buildings.

But it was also about virtually shutting down the civilian aircraft industry.

A DHL Airbus air cargo jet with left wing on fire returns to the airport in Baghdad to make a controlled landing shortly after being hit by a MANPADS fired by an Iraqi insurgent. Fortunately, there were no injuries to the crew. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Homeland Security

We now face the possibility of this happening once again; this time not by planes but by the loose manapads from Libya.

And of course, civilian airliners have already been struck in the past by

But in a recent trip to Europe, we had a chance to discuss this and other issues with one of the most respected senior European aerospace executives and thinkers.

We were discussing the possible EADS and BAE Systems merger and some of the reasoning he saw behind it. As one of the architects of the creation of EADS and of the integrated Airbus company, he was well positioned to talk about this subject.

He emphasized a point that is frequently cited, namely, that by so doing, EADS would plus up its defense revenue, and he believed there is a clear need to have a core defense supplement – almost viewed as an annuity – to counterbalance the commercial cycles of the commercial airplane business.

He then popped into the conversation: Of course, the manpads threat – accelerated by Libyan developments – poses the stark possibility of repeating what we saw after 9/11. A sharp downturn in the commercial airplane business, and 10 year growth plans was thrown into the wastebasket after the terrorist crashed into the World Trade Center. A manpads incident could be the functional equivalent; and could shut down the commercial airplane business with an abrupt thrust. It would recover but the demand to deal with this threat would then have to be dealt with, rather than ignored.

This concern was widely stated in the 2-3 years after 9/11, but the cost of placing defensive aids onto planes was simply considered prohobittive.

It was a risk the world of commercial aviation was willing to take.
(For a look at the various means for defending against manpads see the
following: http://www.sldinfo.com/enhancing-and-defending-air-mobility/).

And prior to Operation Odyssey Dawn the US Department of State had published a fairly comprehensive analysis of the world wide proliferation of those deadly missiles.

The State web link announces their lofty objectives.


An interagency task force chaired by the State Department is implementing the United States International Aviation Threat Reduction Plan — a component of the broader National Strategy for Aviation Security– to protect global aviation from MANPADS attacks.”


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