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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: How hard would it be to reactivate our radiological monitoring mission?
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Author Topic: How hard would it be to reactivate our radiological monitoring mission?  (Read 2692 times)
walter1975
Recruit

Posts: 9
Unit: MER-VA-084

« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2017, 12:00:15 PM »

I am not entirely sure that the dirty bomb or power plant or industrial accident scenarios are the only credible threats today.  I agree that there is considerable capability to deal with localized exposure events, and that the monitoring requirements for these are different from the old Civil Defense mission requirements.  However, with the proliferation of nuclear capability matched to missile delivery capability, a case can be made that there are scenarios in which we would be dealing with the results of nuclear attack, either on the United States or as global fallout from a theater level nuclear conflict.  The old Civil Defense reporting networks no longer exist (and in many cases never really did exist - much of the CD program was about political mobilization rather than actual capacity building), and I doubt the capability of current systems to effectively monitor widespread fallout from even a small nuclear laydown.  Having watched the British Royal Observer Corps do this in the 1970s in NATO exercises, I can say that this is a problem requiring significant capabilities and high reliability, and I never saw that level of capability in US CD operations or subsequently in my employment as an emergency manager.   
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SM Walter G. Green III, CAP
Finance Officer
Group 4, Virginia Wing
sardak
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,131

« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2017, 11:24:38 PM »

Sardak, I recall my CO of the time required me to complete the 50-5 training which included a checklist on or near the back cover. If you have th manual, could you check: didn't that performance checklist set (which included a series of hops for both MS and MO) include practical flight checks
Spam, what a memory. I can't remember what I had for breakfast today. Yes, the back cover of 50-5 has a checklist which the trainer initialed. There were 5 required training flights:
Phase I - Scanner - Flight #1 - training must at least include area orientation, map reading, visual search and communications procedures and techniques.
Phase II - Observer
Flight #2 - pilotage techniques
Flight #3 - radio navigation
Flight #4 - search demonstration
Flight #5 - CD (Civil Defense for the younger ones, not counterdrug) and aerial radiological monitoring. "Use airborne radiological monitoring equipment in use by his unit." was one of the steps to complete on this flight. The step that tripped you up.

Mike
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Brit_in_CAP
Seasoned Member

Posts: 350
Unit: MER-VA-002

« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2017, 10:04:35 AM »

Having watched the British Royal Observer Corps do this in the 1970s in NATO exercises, I can say that this is a problem requiring significant capabilities and high reliability
Indeed.  I was able to watch the ROC at work during my RAF service; it was an impressive operation for an organization that was 90% volunteer and operated on a shoestring budget.  It was also remarkably egalitarian. 

It's also history.  The ROC was stood down on 31 December 1995 (31 March 1996 for HQ staff) once the Government realized how much it would cost to modernize the organization, let alone simply maintain the capability. 

For those interested, you can find on YouTube a film in 3 sections titled "To Sound a Warning".  Its part infomercial and part drama.  You can see the organization at work even if the acting leaves a lot to be desired!  You don't want to be Observer #3... >:D

Personally, I think this isn't a mission for CAP.  It's been said elsewhere; risk aversion, equipment, staffing, training.  The ROC built - literally and figuratively - on its WW2 network whereas we'd be starting from nothing.
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LGM30GMCC
Seasoned Member

Posts: 317

« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2017, 06:23:59 PM »

I am not entirely sure that the dirty bomb or power plant or industrial accident scenarios are the only credible threats today. . . However, with the proliferation of nuclear capability matched to missile delivery capability, a case can be made that there are scenarios in which we would be dealing with the results of nuclear attack, either on the United States or as global fallout from a theater level nuclear conflict.  The old Civil Defense reporting networks no longer exist (and in many cases never really did exist - much of the CD program was about political mobilization rather than actual capacity building), and I doubt the capability of current systems to effectively monitor widespread fallout from even a small nuclear laydown. 

This is an area I feel comfortable addressing a little.

I don't think "small nuclear laydown" quite means what a lot of people think it means. A few scenarios and the challenges we face.

Single High-Altitude Burst. Depending on height of burst, location, and many other factors that we don't fully understand...the area of effect could range from several states, to the whole country, or perhaps a little smaller. Fall out would be minimal, if present, and really not the biggest concern at this point. Any advanced electronics not EMP hardened are likely toast at this point. So all our nice G1000 aircraft may well be fried. But so are fuel pumps, credit card readers, lap tops, ipads, cell phones, most modern cars...etc etc. CAP in the area of effect would likely be crippled, and CAP assets outside of the area (again, we're talking multi-state sized impact areas) may not be able to refuel in the heart of the affected area until forward staging of AVGAS or some way to get at the AVGAS that is in the impacted area. (Not impossible...but a massive logistics effort.)

1 to "a few" strategic weapons. We're talking in the hundreds of kiloton range here. If they were "ground bursts" (the kind that make the most fall-out" it depends again on what the targets were. Some adversaries might go for a few hardened targets, military targets to try to tip the scale in the nuclear conflict. Other adversaries might go for soft targets...like cities. Depending on the adversary we're talking about you're looking at anything from Hiroshima/Nagasaki levels of destruction in a modern city...to weapons around a hundred times more powerful. The scale of devastation depends on many factors (time of year, dryness of surrounding plant life, and on and on.) Once again CAP may or may not be able to really operate in the area of effect for days-to-weeks-to-months at which point RM by us isn't necessarily going to contribute much.

In a full-scale laydown....yeah...no.

Finally, with advances in weather modeling, blast modeling, and the like, we don't need as many aircraft or teams on the ground trying to find where the fall-out plumes are moving. There are ways to get a pretty good idea without the need to put civilians in light aircraft, who aren't equipped to handle the worst case, in the area of danger.

And...of course...there are already military assets dedicated to precisely this kind of thing. They have much better sniffers than we could hope to have, and the training and logistical capability to do it much better than us.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_WC-135_Constant_Phoenix
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wingnut55
Seasoned Member

Posts: 351

« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2017, 05:36:14 AM »

I recently had a long discussion with an Engineer with the department of Energy RAP (Radiological Assistance Program) team at Nellis AFB, I was on a rudimentary RAP/Broken Arrow team in the
Air force in the 70s, so I was able to engage him in somewhat familiar vocabulary and experiences. We both chuckled at CAPs early days of Radiological Monitoring, because in the 50s and 60s it was really make believe, not based on science or reality. Flying a Piper Pacer into a radioactive cloud to tell Civil Defense people that it "was" a radioactive cloud is by todays standards a suicide mission. But, the cold wars was a hectic and different time for CAP. My father was both a CAP pilot and a Federal Government employee, as such all Govt. employees were Civil defense officials and I grew up reading all of his Radiological Defense material. Later, in the Air Force I was taught that a Nuclear exchange was a survivable event according to the DOD. And the Tactical use of nuclear weapons was a common war strategy but I digress. back to the real world.

According to the Department of Energy, any Nuclear event would be handled in such a way that the RAP team when requested or when dispatched, is in an advisory capacity only to the State.
SO the RAP (Radiological Assistance Program Team) (Note not RAT), provides the following:

1. Plume Predictions, as appropriate.
2.Air and ground concentrations in time and space.
3. Deposition patterns of isotopic concentrations and exposure rates.
4. Concentrations in Environmental media in time and space.
5. Assurance of Quality of Data.
6.Retrevable documentation of environmental conditions.
7. Dose predictions in time and space.
8. Results of Data collection, analysis, evaluation,and predictions.
9. Technical assistance to State and LFA (Lead federal Agency) decision making officials as requested,
10. Weather forecasting.

Lead Federal Agencies can be FEMA, DOD, NASA, EPA, or DOE

The Department of Energy has full time RAP teams on standby, they use Twin turbine engine aircraft that carry over 10 million dollars of equipment, satellite communications,
and most importantly Highly educated scientists such as nuclear physicists', Meteorologists', Biomedical engineers. The DOE RAP teams (only a few exist) can be anywhere in the US in just a few hours. And they do not actually fly into a radioactive cloud, with speed and realtime 3D Air sampling modeling they just skirt the edges, above and below, watching its movement, flow pattern, how much radiation and predicting movement.

SOOOO  Class

What can CAP do??? Stay out of there way is what we can do, and make the Aerial Radiological Survey Patch into another ribbon for Cadets, like a Boy Scout Merit Badge.

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LTC Don
Seasoned Member

Posts: 349
Unit: MER-NC-143

JoCo CAP
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2017, 07:20:35 AM »

Flying a Piper Pacer into a radioactive cloud to tell Civil Defense people that it "was" a radioactive cloud is by todays standards a suicide mission. But, the cold wars was a hectic and different time for CAP.

You make some salient points, and there is a lot of 'What were they thinking' as we look back into that time-frame.  The purpose of ARM was not what you stated though. The process and instrumentation, good bad or otherwise, was to help estimate the radiation on the ground to determine where the most dangerous hot spots/areas were, not flying into clouds of fallout to say 'Yep, that's hot'.  There was a lot of math involved back then and most probably fruitless, but as I recall, everyone took the job very seriously.

I'm sure the reality is correct though, totally useless in the long run.

I completed ARM training back in 1983, the same year 'The Day After' came out, ironically.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/05/12/on_the_americans_the_jennings_just_watched_the_80s_nuclear_war_movie_the.html
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Donald A. Beckett, Lt Col, CAP
Commander
MER-NC-143
Gill Rob Wilson #1891
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: How hard would it be to reactivate our radiological monitoring mission?
 


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