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Frank Gaffney Wants Our Troops To Get The Jake

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

HH: That music means we’re joined by the inimitable Frank Gaffney, president of the Center For Security Policy, Frank, I want to talk to you about Admiral Fallon, but first, because I don’t want to get past this, I read your column about the Jake, and I want you to tell people about that. That’s a very interesting device.

FG: Yeah, it’s potentially transformative for the guys in the military who in many ways have the hardest job of all, and who have really benefited least from all of the amazing breakthroughs in technology that have made so many of our military missions more effective and safer for the troops, and namely, the guys on the ground, the infantrymen in the Army and Marine Corps. What this is, is basically, I like to think of it as a Segue on steroids. It’s a sort of zero turn tractor as a platform on which troops can move with great speed or great agility. They can bring all kinds of sensors and communications capabilities and weapons to bear, but they can operate as more or less an individual soldier does. And I think it will revolutionize the job of the infantry, if we can simply get past the current attitude of the United States military, which is that it wasn’t invented by them, and they’ve been doing this job all this time, and they really don’t need any help, thank you very much. And there’s a website called, where the inventor of this thing called the Jake has basically laid out what this capability could be, and what it could mean to make our job, our guys’ jobs both easier and safer. And it’s an opportunity for people to contribute, to help get these Jakes into prototypes, and then into the field so our guys could start to experiment with them. And I think then, the military will make them widely available, and it will make a real difference, both in real military actions, especially in urban settings, and also the sort of peacetime, or peacekeeping functions that so many of our military forces are engaging in now.

HH: Is he doing a private placement, Frank? Or is he just doing donations?

FG: Well, he’s basically been working at this for six years. It’s a terrific story. This is a guy who set out initially to use his expertise as an industrial engineer in the agriculture sector to make a sort of souped-up wheelchair for handicapped people. It just turned out that one of the handicapped people who tried it out was a veteran of Somalia. And he said boy, I could sure have used something like this in Mogadishu. And about six years ago, on his own dime, Russell Strong just started trying to put something together that would really do the job for our guys in uniform, as well as in a variant, obviously be useful for handicapped people who are trying to get more mobility to be in the outdoors and so on. And just about everybody who has seen it, military guys who have seen it and gotten it actually out and kicked the tires of the prototypes, have said gosh, this is terrific, we need these things. It’s just that the institutional bureaucracy is so, so burdened, and so constipated, frankly, that it may be another twenty years before something like this gets out through the normal channels. So we’re trying to sort of jump start it, make prototypes available to the guys who actually need them, whether it’s in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere, and see if they can’t innovate, as I’m sure they will, in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine, but that will make a real difference to the folks on the battlefield.


FG: That’s it.

HH: All right, thank you, Frank.

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