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COTS Technology & Security December 1, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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Back in the1990’s I was a qualified Marine Sniper.  In the good ‘ole days of the USMC, we fired the M40a1 (don’t laugh jerks 😉 .  It was basically a Remington 700 action chambered for 7.62 x 51mm NATO (.308) with a Win M70 (pre64) trigger, a Unertl fixed 10 power scope with a MilDot reticle and a McMillan monte-carlo stock (I sound like a computer geek…it hash 500 gigibits of RAM..;).  The A1 was introduced in the 1970’s and we had to learn the rifle inside and out for Sniper School.  The rifle was guaranteed to shoot 1 MOA (or roughly 1 inch groups per every hundred yards for the non shooters).  1″ at 100 yds, 2″ at 200 yds, and so on.  I though the 14 lb rifle was the apex of engineering and was proud to carry that heavy bastard.  Back in the 1990’s there were a number of companies that could make an M40 replica for around $3,000US or about $4,500 today, when adjusted for inflation.  Back in the day as a young Marine, I could never afford a precision rifle as they all ran upwards of $3,000 in 1993 dollars.

Last year I purchased a Remington M700 SPS Tactical .308 for $599US. I figured that for $600 even if it shot only 1.5 MOA it would be fun to shoot.  I put a $350US Nikon tactical scope on top and took it to the range to break it in.  This rifle has a Remington XMark pro adjustable trigger, a 20″ barrel and Hoag over-molded stock.  I had read good reviews about the rifle but imagine my surprise when, after breaking it in,  it was shooting 3/8 inch 3 shot groups at 100 yds from a bipod! (see the pic at top..that is 3 shots)  This is only a 7.5 lb rifle.  I could NEVER get my M40 to shoot better than about 3/4 inches off a sand bag.

The moral of the story is that while warfare is not good for much, manufacturers really begin to focus on improving technology that can be used on the battlefield.  A person today can purchase a rifle for less than $1,000 that shoots better than my M40 did “back in the day”.  We see these improvements not only in rifles but in body armor, camoflage, communications equipment, optics, and other areas. The military is increasingly looking at Commercial Off the Shelf Technology or COTS. Looking at what the modern soldier, sailor, and Marine carries today really puts into perspective how much has changed.

So what does this have to do with Maritime security?  Security often requires firearms, optics and other technology.Today, it is possible to outfit guards with very reliable, very accurate firearms at reasonable prices.  The same can be said for optics.  It is possible to purchase good Gen 2 night vision in the US for about $2,000US and Gen 4 for less than $4,000 US.  Night vision technology even in the 1990’s was prohibitively expensive.  Even thermal imaging technology can be had for less than $8,000.

On the flip side, it should be noted that the “bad guys” can also get their hands on better gear today then they could even 5 years ago.  It is important to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that if you hire guards they have appropriate kit and are adequately trained to use the equipment.

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