An undersea world of soft targets

Offshore platform located in the Gulf of Mexic...
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Great article in the Wall Street Journal today: “The Terrorist Threat Beneath the Waves” (behind a paywall, I’m afraid). It discusses how our “undersea economy” — in particular our offshore oil rigs, etc. — are incredibly vulnerable to terrorist attack, especially as submarine technology is now amazingly cheap.

The idea isn’t attacking with a submarine equivalent to on of America’s underwater “bad boys,” which are out of the reach of most nations. Rather, the article points to the sort of “cheap” submarines being used now by drug cartels and even smaller, remote control vehicles which are more and more common and which can go “all the way down,” as it were.

I admit that I haven’t given this idea much thought, but I think that the author — president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Andrew Krepinevich — makes a good case. Right after 9-11, there was a great deal of talk about hardening America’s numerous soft targets, but the impetus seems to be gone these days. However, should we become entangled in an overt conflict with Iran or Syria — which means at war with their terrorist proxies, as well — reminders of the vulnerability of such soft targets may arrive uninvited.

5 thoughts on “An undersea world of soft targets

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    I wonder how many terrorists read paperback spy and intrigue thrillers. They must give them a ton of ideas.

  2. Steve

    Yeah, the world is getting so interconnected and dependent on technology that the moat surrounding North America doesn’t provide the same security it used to. I mean, the French could drop the U.S. right now, if they really wanted to – with two or three nuclear submarine shots in a coordinated EMP attack.

  3. Thomas

    Following up on Mr. Wheeler’s thoughts, if terrorists were really stumped for ideas all they have to do is jump on the web and read the papers these various think tanks are putting out about the U.S.A’s vulnerabilities. Pretty much lay out their plan of attack for them.

  4. Ha — good point, Thomas! I actually has a similar thought, myself. Regrettably, though, that’s often the way things go in our democratic-ish society. Things get pointed out to policy makers, who — for whatever reasons — decide they don’t want to act on it, so those who feel passionately about it work to build up public support to press for action. Given how many out there are actively working on ways to destroy America, perhaps these policy wonks feel that if they’ve realized the vulnerability just now, then those who’ve devoted their whole lives to discovering and planning to exploit those weaknesses already know and are already preparing.

  5. 13b

    It is a good point indeed, if we did get in a war with an oil supplying nation then they would indeed be interested in cutting off local supply also. After the Deepwater Horizon BP oil disaster there was Interesting conjecture that a hostile submarine triggered that explosion. The argument was plausible at least, but more to the point, if plausible, then certainly possible in other scenarios. I had not thought of the Middle Eastern countries being the progenitor of such.

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