Styrofoam First, Lightning Guns Later

The line between envy and admiration can be pretty thin, when you're a freelance writer. Take, for example, Defense Tech pal Sharon Weinberger's story in today's Washington Post Magazine.stunbeam.jpgIt's genius: a heartfelt, quirky, subtly snarky profile of Pete Bitar, an Anderson, Indiana styrofoam recycling entrepreneur who's now marketing non-lethal lightning guns to the Pentagon. How, she asks, did a guy with no engineering background manage to get a million bucks from the Defense Department to develop a "StunStrike" weapon?Great question -- one I wished I had asked at the Virginia "directed energy" conference where both Weinberger and I met Bitar for this first time. Anyway, go read her piece. I'll be finished kicking myself by the time you're done.THERE'S MORE: Speaking of kicking myself, military thinkers have been telling me for months about their idea for bringing some order to Iraq. I never got around to writing about it. The New York Times' David Brooks just did.

You set up safe havens where you can establish good security. Because you don't have enough manpower to do this everywhere at once, you select a few key cities and take control. Then you slowly expand the size of your safe havens, like an oil spot spreading across the pavement.Once you've secured a town or city, you throw in all the economic and political resources you have to make that place grow. The locals see the benefits of working with you. Your own troops and the folks back home watching on TV can see concrete signs of progress in these newly regenerated neighborhoods. You mix your troops in with indigenous security forces, and through intimate contact with the locals you begin to even out the intelligence advantage that otherwise goes to the insurgents.
AND MORE: Armchair Generalist has a good round-up of the "oil spot" buzz.
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