Lucian Randolph
A more effective and less costly way to seal the border against illegal incursions.
by Lucian Randolph G+ Link:

Updated June 27, 2013

I developed this project in 2008, and the current government has been aware of it, from the VP's office down, since they took office. The greatest concern from a porous south border has nothing to do with immigration, and it has nothing to do with the population centers along its almost two-thousand mile length. It's about the possibility of a military-trained operative using the unmanned wilderness portions of the border for the delivery of other types of payloads such as WMD. But because of the political posturing associated with the immigration problems, no one in the government is really interested in actually sealing the border. Contrary to what they are trying to make the public believe, the current plan of fences and increased Border Patrol Agents will not be able to effectively stop a trained operative from crossing the wilderness portions of the border. They will not effectively cut down on the immigration problem, either. What it will do is spend a lot of money and make a big symbolic spectacle.

K9 Forces Border Patrol
TM Mobile Detection and Tele-presence Reconnaissance System

(2008 - DHS Proposal)

It’s a dark and moonless night on the remote high plains of the U.S. / Mexico border. The terrain is barren, as well as deserted, with dozens of deep ravines cutting across the open plains and foothills toward mountains in the north. At the bottom of one of these deep ravines, a highly-trained operative is making his way north using night-vision equipment under the stars. The ravine is covered with scrub brush, small craggy trees and thick cactus offering plenty of hiding places against the rocky sides. There are no roads anywhere around and off-road travel by vehicle is too easy to spot. However, travel by foot is almost undetectable under the right conditions – like tonight. The intruder believes regular helicopter thermal surveillance is the only real method of detection out here, but he knows in this terrain a helicopter can be heard approaching from miles away. Without knowing exactly where to look, a helicopter won’t have a chance of finding him in the rocks of the ravine, which is why this area was chosen for his mission. The intruder is already in the United States. He’s spent days slowly moving north on foot carrying his precious but deadly payload. He only has to go a few more miles to a waiting checkpoint and then he’ll have safe passage beyond the border. And once he’s delivered his payload...

Not far away, a pack of five large German Shepherds silently trot along an invisible path paralleling the border in the desert sand. The dogs are wearing custom fit body harnesses that hold a saddle with satellite and video communication gear. At a Command Station miles away, we see several handlers viewing live video feeds from the dogs and communicating individually with each member of the pack by radio headset on each dog’s head. The handlers can see an overhead shot of the terrain with live GPS coordinates from each dog in the pack as the dogs cross down into a large ravine.

Suddenly, several dogs stop and silently give a trigger signal. They have detected the fresh smell of a human. The handlers watch through night-vision cameras mounted on each dog’s head as they move forward and confirm the smell by triggering again. Then the handlers order the five dogs to turn north to follow the scent trail along the ravine. Within minutes the pack has silently approached the intruder from the rear where they stop and silently trigger again. Now the handlers need to determine the size of this incursion. Ordering the pack to spread out and stand in position, the handlers deploy thermal vision hi-def cameras mounted on the electronics bundle on each dog. By using multiple camera angles from several dogs, the handlers determine that only one intruder has crossed the border. Once the handlers have confirmed the presence and size of the incursion, they dispatch two helicopters and several land vehicles carrying a 24-man military team from the Command Station. The operative attempts to hide among the rocks when he hears the sound of approaching helicopters, but neither his training nor his hiding place will help him. The first pack of five dogs is now joined by another nearby patrol pack, bringing the total number to ten dogs on location. The handlers order the huge pack to surround the intruder who is hiding in the ravine, but they keep the dogs far enough away to remain unseen. The dogs prevent the operative from escaping with growls from the darkness around his hiding place. Even a trained and armed commando has a primal wariness of a large pack of wolf-like animals growling from the darkness around him. Lesser trained men will cower in fear without moving a muscle. GPS leads the military teams directly to the trespasser, who is quickly captured by overwhelming force and without incident. But when he is processed, his payload is discovered, followed by his true identity and purpose...

At one time, this scenario would have only been possible in the realm of Hollywood science fiction. But the need for a tool like the one described above is real. Today, as part of homeland security, the United States has a need to ensure that no illegal intruders cross the wilderness and uninhabited portions of our southern border. In order to achieve that, the Department of Homeland Security decided a few years ago to build a fence along the border between Mexico and the United States – a distance of almost 2000 miles.
15 Although originally estimated at only $1 million per mile, construction of the first section of the high-tech barricade begun a couple of years ago along the U.S. / Mexican border south of San Diego has actually cost $3.8 million per mile (about $720 per foot). The newer sections are expected to cost even more because they will be crossing more difficult terrain. Some estimates put these difficult or remote sections at $10-14 million per mile.11 Constructing a fence/wall of that type (at those prices) over the entire 2000 mile border would cost $8-10 billion and possibly up to $20 billion (or more) because of remote or difficult terrain. And it could take a decade to complete. Both Arizona and California have mountains across much of their southern borders. It will not be easy to build a barricade across a mountain – or even most foothills. It took about 1400 years to build the Great Wall of China – and it was designed with manned military Forts every few thousand meters to actively defend it.

Private landholders and volunteer border watchers have proposed a similar but less complex barrier near Naco in Arizona that promoters say they can get for the bargain price of $250 per foot or 1.32 million per mile. Using privately donated funds, about 4.9 miles of this type fencing have been completed.
12 Even at $250 per foot, it would cost over 2.5 billion dollars to complete the entire 2000 mile Mexican border and could take the same ten year time-span. There are other private groups erecting fences in the $5 to $100 per foot range,13 but these fences vary widely in design from:

  • livestock grade 3-5 strand barbed-wire fences,
  • chain-link fences with barbed or razor wire across the top,
  • sheet-metal walls or metal covered panels,
  • low concrete, wood or metal barriers for autos,
  • concrete bollards (posts) buried vertically in the ground with only a few inches of spacing in between them.

The result is that a hodge-podge of different fence and barricade styles intermittently cover the border from Texas to California but very few of the fences actually connect together.
14 Neither the price of the high-tech barricade in San Diego nor any of the other fence estimates or construction prices include maintenance costs. By the time any fence across the entire border could be completed, enough time will have past since beginning construction that normal maintenance on the first sections will have to begin immediately after actually completing the final section. This would continue for the life of the fence – at which time the process will have to begin again to replace the fence. Also, that is not considering the maintenance that will occur from intentional damage to the fence by intruders, which along currently constructed sections of fence is both considerable and constant. Around 20% of the cost of constructing the fence is spent repairing the fence each year in some cases.16,18

The barricade fence outside San Diego was actually designed to be a wall that prevents humans from crossing. However, as any prison warden will tell you, neither a fence nor a wall is active defense against border incursions (or excursions/escapes) unless you intend to;

  • electrify it (or mine it) and/or,
  • light it and overlap patrol it 24/7 (with live constant surveillance by guard or video and an onsite response ability for any breaches).

Electrifying / mining the fence is not currently considered an option and Border Patrol does not have the manpower to patrol the entire fence 24/7 in any capacity even with video cameras (which means they cannot use military style overlap patrols). As a result, unattended sections of the high-tech barricade are easily circumvented. Various methods from simply cutting through it to digging under the foundations holding the fence are regularly used to get through the barrier.
12,14 Since the fence can’t stop intruders, the Border Patrol still has to find and capture any trespassers. This manpower requirement significantly increases the actual cost of the fence in total yearly expenditures. The prices spent on the San Diego fence do not include the cost of lighting or patrolling by Border Patrol. None of the other fence quotes or prices include the cost of lighting or patrolling the fence, either. Over a billion dollars per year has been spent over the last two years on fence construction,3,4,8,10,16 but it takes multiple billions per year to patrol it part-time with Border Patrol Agents.5,6,7,9 And it will take tens of billions more (per year) to patrol a fence along the entire border – and it won’t be 24/7 or overlap patrols. By contrast, none of the privately designed fences are actually intended to stop intruders from entering the United States.16,18 Even the fence near Naco (the most high-tech of the privately designed barriers) is meant only to delay an intruder and is designed to rely on volunteers to watch webcams mounted on the fence to catch intruders.13

Ultimately, none of the currently built fences have actually worked as a barrier to stop illegal immigrants or intruders entering the country from Mexico on foot or by vehicle.
1,2,14,17,18 Even the $20
million “Virtual Fence” built by Boeing as part of its recently awarded $860 million Homeland Security SBI-Net contract does not prevent intrusions – or have a very high success rate in leading to the capture of trespassers. The general concept of the Boeing system relies on 9 towers (spread along a 28 mile segment of border near Naco) which are used to deploy a wide range of sensors and transmitters. Using radar, motion detection and video, intruders are detected remotely (from a mile and a half away or more) and the information is then automatically sent to the nearest Border Patrol Agents (who are also located automatically by computer). Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well. It has a lower detection and capture rate than a real fence – and that isn’t very good. After recent performance review, the GAO announced that the “Virtual Fence” program failed to meet mission criteria and would not be expanded.

It is perhaps serendipity that Boeing’s contract to be the organization that builds and manages the SBI-Net project (including the southern border fence) runs out in 2009,
16,53,54 because in the final analysis, all efforts to put a physical human barricade across the southern border of our country have been a disappointing failure and an escalating ongoing expense. No one knows for sure, but some estimates place the total cost of building, maintaining and patrolling a barricade fence along the entire Mexico / U.S. border at $10-20 billion per year (or more) and the cost would continue indefinitely.16 Nor does this include the cost to the environment. Putting a fence along some sections of the border would lead to an ecological disaster as prime natural habitat is destroyed to construct a barrier. Also, there may be legal problems with putting fences across some areas that cut across tribal Indian territories as these are sovereign nations.18 Despite all of this, due to pressure to secure the border from immigrants, drug runners and possibly terrorists, the government has already allotted nearly $3 billion earmarked for building a Border Fence (or some type of barricade) under Homeland Security and they have promised to continue funding the physical closing of our borders.8,10

However, the current reality is this: only about 600 miles of our southern border have some sort of “fence” erected across it
16 – and most of that is only a low divider meant to stop autos or some other type of barricade that is easily capable of being crossed by humans.18 None of our remote southern border is patrolled 24/7 and ALL of the wilderness and rough terrain sections of the Mexican border are wide open at all times. Fence construction by all groups public and private continues, yet the problem of detecting and catching illegal intruders remains. Even Border Patrol admits, we apprehend only a fraction of the intruders who illegally enter our country every year from Mexico.1,2,7,14,17

Here’s one last thing to consider. Our nation is currently at war against an enemy whose favorite tactic is sneaking weapons into a country and then using those weapons against it’s enemy. Until now, no one has developed a system that is capable of detecting a single, highly trained individual set on entering the country over uninhabited remote wilderness sections of our southern border.
16 In today’s world, a single individual carrying the wrong payload is all that is needed for mass destruction.

Introducing the K9 Forces Border Patrol System

We are proposing to build a Pilot Program to demonstrate a new proprietary system as an alternative to constructing an actual barricade across the wilderness and uninhabited portions of the border with Mexico. Except psychologically, the K9 Forces Border Patrol system is not a barrier. It’s a mobile detection and tele-presence reconnaissance system designed to rapidly find and apprehend all ground-based intruders across a protected section of border. And unlike any type of fence, this system works best in rough wilderness and remote uninhabited areas that have limited or no accessibility. Like the old Pony Express, a self-contained Command Station and kennel are positioned every 40 miles along the border with an overnight Central Kennel Station positioned at 20 miles in between both Command Stations. A new pack of five dogs are sent out east and west from each Command Station and the Central Kennel every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day creating a constantly rotating dragnet across the entire patrolled border. Small (lipstick-sized) optically stabilized cameras with night-vision, attached directly to the head of the dogs, allow handlers in the Command Station to see from each animal’s perspective (or POV). On the back of each dog is a small electronics bundle with a deployable gyroscopically stabilized infrared/thermal hi-res video camera, along with a high visibility laser pointer, all of which can be remotely aimed by the handlers. In addition to the onboard electronic equipment, which provides visual and audio data to the handlers, dogs have built-in sensory abilities that provide far greater capabilities than humans and with much greater consistency and accuracy.
26,28,30,31,32 Dogs can smell the scent trail of a human left outdoors weeks earlier.29 They can hear your heartbeat from ten feet away and they can smell the pheromones secreted by fear.27 Dogs can interpret human facial expressions better than any other animal on Earth (even better than many humans).35,36 Plus, dogs can be trained to detect explosives, firearms or virtually anything else they can smell, hear or see. They are regularly trained to detect suspicious behavior, something that humans have a very hard time doing alone. As a general sensor platform to detect the presence of humans, nothing man-made even comes close.25,26,29,33,34

As designed for maximum effectiveness, the system uses 5 dogs in every pack with packs spread evenly 1.67 miles apart heading east and the same going west 24 hours a day. This is also the maximum gap distance on the dragnet and only occurs for an instant when each of the Eastbound and Westbound packs are aligned next to each other. At all other times, the maximum gap distance is between 1.67 miles and the minimum of 0.84 miles. Five dogs in a pack (spread laterally) with opposite packs patrolling in the other direction mean that the maximum time an intruder has between any two packs is less than 15 minutes. It will not be possible to traverse patrolled terrain on the ground, either by vehicle or on foot, without leaving a scent trail that the dogs will detect.
24,34 Even a single commando attempting breach any point on the border would have to perpendicularly cross the path of ten dogs moving in opposite directions (who at the maximum gap distance are only about 3/4 mile away and heading toward him) in under 15 minutes. This is difficult to do without being physically caught by the dogs – it’s an impossible feat to accomplish without leaving a detectable scent trail.24,33,34 K9 Forces dogs are trained using TTD (tracking through drive) techniques. This method was developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has a 90% tracking-find-ratio per dog in rural areas. (A tracking-find is done on a fleeing subject

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