The Primacy of Passive Air Defense

On a distant Pacific Island battlefield, a section of U.S. Army air defenders mans its perimeter on a relatively quiet night. The war, if you could call it that, had carried on for years. The US government continued to slog through painful negotiations with an adversary determined to leverage the American public’s growing disdain for the conflict against the diplomats and senior military officers. The air defenders, observing no threats on their state-of-the-art radar, turn their conversation to the upcoming baseball season. One soldier, tired of the banter, turns the radio to his favorite broadcast for a moment of solitude. Like the rest of his section, he is entirely unaware that a cheap, low-tech biplane is rumbling toward the air defenders’ position, flying so low that the highly advanced American radars cannot distinguish the enemy plane from the surrounding ground clutter. Without warning, a tremendous blast throws him across his entrenchment—his right side numb and seemingly dysfunctional—but he is the lucky one. On the other side of their firing position, his fellow soldiers lie dead, with their gun emplacement twisted, disfigured, and completely destroyed.

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