Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reader Comment – 10-02-13 – Ground Surveillance Radar

There was an interesting response to my post about the effects of the budget shutdown on the CFATS website from John, who is apparently a security contractor of some sort. After making some comments on what I wrote he wrote:

“Which brings me to one of my clients that is getting some recent love from the private sector oil & gas industry while the military figures out how to buy smarter. CFATS Perimeter Security must be addressed by the chemical industry and low cost ground radar is being discovered as a way to reduce threat levels without breaking the budget. IE. SpotterRF”


Now I understand that this is at least partially an advertising ploy to get a product name in front of an audience that might have an interest in that product. I must reject a couple of ‘comments’ each day because they are nothing more than spam advertising. The reason that I let this one through is that it (and its product) does address a potential need for some of the readers of this blog. That and the fact the product is a type that I haven’t addressed before in this blog.

Of course readers of this blog know that if you intend to throw something this way and it catches my attention you might not like the response that you get. Or you might, who knows. You take your chances and get the response that you get. It’s my blog, you’ll just have to deal with it.

Ground Surveillance Radar

Now I have some ‘experience’ with GSR, even if it is a tad bit out of date. Back when I joined the Army in the mid-70s each Combat Support Company in mechanized infantry battalions had a GSR Platoon. They had these tripod mounted radar units that could detect dismounted infantry out to a respectable distance. They were used principally at night for long range (tactical ‘long range’ 500 to 1000 meters if I remember right) detection of approaching enemy forces when we were in defensive positions.

A GSR team consisted of two men in a jeep and trailer. They spent a lot of time training with the devices because there was a lot of interpretation involved in the process. Remember we didn’t have portable computers back in pre-history, so a lot of the ‘signal processing and interpretation’ went on in the wet wear inside that steel helmet. It was a step or two above ‘crude’ but it did provide a significant technique to aid infantry operations at night.

Compact Surveillance Radar

The SpotterRF®  that John refers to in his comment is the manufacturer of a newer generation of GSR that they call Compact Surveillance Radar (CSR). As one would expect most of the wet wear processing of the old GSRs have been replaced by much more advanced signals processing capability and an ability to interface with other types of security equipment and monitoring devices. Check out their web site for details and contact information if you are interested.

Perimeter Surveillance Limitations

This is just another tool for perimeter surveillance. It will have its strong points and its weak points. It will work better in some places than other surveillance tools like video or intrusion detection devices. It isn’t a wholesale replacement because it also has its weaknesses. If you don’t understand the ins and outs of all of these devices (and I certainly don’t) you had better find a contractor/integrator that does.

There is one major drawback to all of these surveillance tools, they only allow you to detect intruders, they don’t let you stop them (unless of course you manage to tie them into weapons controls, but no one is going to allow that in a civilian facility in this country). You still have to have some sort of response force to investigate the intrusion to determine if it is someone wishing to do you serious harm or just someone that wants to paint slogans on your storage tank. Your barriers should stop the people that are just casually wondering through the property, so anyone detected inside the perimeter (other than employees, contractors and legitimate visitors) needs to be investigated.

Advanced video tools might allow you to do some of that investigation from the comfort of the security center (someone carrying an RPG over their shoulder is almost certainly a bad guy) and 80 year old nuns usually just carry spray cans, but most of the time it is going to take security personnel getting up close and personal to make a proper determination.

And I don’t know of any surveillance system that is going to stop bad guys armed with their particular weapon of choice from committing death and destruction upon your facility and personnel. That always takes some sort of armed response force. If your surveillance plan does not take that into account save your money and pretend that your six foot chain-link fence is protecting you.

Don’t waste your time talking with any security contactor or vendor that isn’t willing to admit this basic limitation of any surveillance system.

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