As Noah Shactman at the Danger Room notes, the U.S. government has been trying (with marginal success) to implement "high-tech" surveillance systems along our southern border. Current plans call for a series of "sensor towers," which will monitor the border and feed data to monitoring stations.
However, the so-called "virtual fence" has been affected by technical problems and staggering costs. Last May, Boeing announced plans to revamp the prototype, and it's still unclear how much we'll pay for the system. By one (inflated) estimate, the fence will cost between $300 million and $1.7 billion per mile; but even at a lower price, there are legitimate questions about how much security it will provide, and the long-term expenditures required to keep the sensors --and the technicians who monitor them--on the job.
Meanwhile, the Israelis have taken the concept of high-tech border security to another level. Aviation Week's Ares defense blog reports that the IDF is now operating remote-controlled weapons stations along the "hot" border with Gaza.
Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the network consists of weapons towers, mounting a remotely-controlled 7.62 mm or 50-caliber weapon, linked to an observation station. The observation post, manned mostly by female soldiers, monitors border activity around the clock. When an attempted border penetration (or other suspicious activity) is detected, operators can direct one or more towers to engage the targets. In addition to the tower-mounted guns, observers can also employ precision-guided missiles.
Obviously, we'll never have anything like the Israeli system in our country--that is, until terrorists detonate a nuke in an American city, and the plot is traced through our porous borders. There's nothing like mass casualties and a verified threat to change your way of thinking.
N/T: The Danger Room.
Don't hold your breath for a system like Israel possesses. We would be compared to the old East German regime. How can we have security when we can't even keep out run of the mill illegal aliens? A few bodies, that's all it would take to stem the flow. The bad press never seemed to bother the Eastern Bloc and they were trying to keep people in, not keep them out. We have a right and an obligation to secure our borders. The first duty of the government is the safety and security of its citizenry.
Security and sovereignty are deeply intertwined; especially in today's world.
PC--The post was made with tongue firmly-in-cheek. We can't even agree on something as simple as a border fence with passive sensors. Even after a terrorist catastrophe--and public clamor to seal the borders--the ACLU, Congressional Democrats and their "fellow travelers" would fight any security increase, tooth and nail.
However, your bottom-line comment is spot-on; security and sovereignty are interrelated in today's world. Sadly, it's a lesson that is lost on most of our elected leaders.
Border security is about way more than just chained link fences, razor wire, and remotely-controlled weapons. Yes, a nuke in a large population center would "wake" Americans up, but I don't think most Americans would accept 300-miles of fence; the first photo and story of a poor migrant Mexican family running across the border with 7.62 mm wounds would win a Pulitzer and kill any legislation to keep building such a fence.
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