Economic warfare by forest fire

“America, I think, is under attack by terrorists waging economic warfare by fire.”

In this important and compelling video William Scott talks about how terrorists could, and perhaps already are waging economic war inside the United State by starting wildfires which can cost the government and residents billions of dollars. He also refers to the al Qaeda magazine article which encouraged Western Muslims to wage war within the United States by engaging in lone wolf attacks, including setting forest fires.

Economic terrorism was one of the desired effects of the 9/11 attacks, to force the United States to spend billions of dollars beefing up our security infrastructure. The terrorists succeeded in meeting that objective.

Mr. Scott worked on the 2002 Blue Ribbon Panel that studied and made recommendations about the air tanker fleet after the mid-air wing failures of two air tankers that year. He also is a former editor of Aviation Week, former official of the National Security Agency, and the author of Space Wars.

In the video, Mr. Scott does not just complain and rant like some politicians, he actually has some constructive suggestions, including:

  • Using NASA and military assets, 24/7, to patrol fire-prone forests, using “fire combat air patrols” to quickly detect new fires and to track suspects leaving the scene;
  • Stop narrowly thinking of fires as a land management issue, and begin treating them as a national security issue;
  • “Finally it’s time. We have to develop and field a robust large air tanker fleet of firefighting aircraft. The Forest Service has made a good start, but it still suffers from a culture and attitude of what firefighters call ‘cheapism’, the idea that we can fight wildland fire on the cheap. And that’s no longer acceptable.”


Thanks go out to Walt

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Economic warfare by forest fire”

  1. Good way to get funding for the Tanker fleet. How
    about using what is out there as a stopgap.?
    Think Aero Union’s P3’s and Butler’s DC7’s
    Need to be a bit creative here, folks…

  2. TG

    Creativity?? The creativity left when the silliness began when they grounded AUC. Creativity only begins when some of the culture and attitude is eliminated and the program is actually handed off to some agency(ies) who really care for the program and REALLY understand the TRUE costs of aviation.

    EVERYONE else here and in the professional aviation world “gets it” the folks currently running FAM into the ground with their agendas do not!

  3. Former Smokejumper Tom “Troop” Emonds has be trying to sound the alarm about this for years to no avail.

  4. Treat these like a national security issue? LOL. Here we go back to snuffing out all these fires quickly and allowing the fuels to build up again to create even bigger fires.

  5. I can see it now: a huge fleet of Predator drones patrolling the wild lands. If an arsonist is spotted, the drone can drop of 500 lbs of retardant on him and his fire. . Do you think they’ll try to accuse AQ of causing lightning strikes and Santana winds, too?

    Of all the things terrorists could do, wildfires seem low on the list, and preventing them not cost effective. I’d rather see 100% inspection of imports – paid by the importers.

  6. The way the place (natural resources) is burning up this season there won’t be much left for the terrorist or tourist. “Without a large fleet of intial attack air tankers we see no big change in our average acres burned”. (June ’12) Check out those numbers today. Is it too early to order the special Christmas edition of the Rand report?

  7. They don’t listen to smokejumpers or tanker pilots, the industry professionals. I will never understand this.

Comments are closed.