Congress and President Say Nyet to Russian Navigation System

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-12-31 Print this article Print

But the fact is that the big concerns of the authors of this last-minute amendment to the NDAA are misplaced. As the U.S. clearly demonstrated in the First Gulf War, you don't need GPS to give weapons extreme accuracy. If you saw the videos of that conflict, you'll recall the uncanny ability of cruise missiles to find, and then fly through, specific windows in government buildings. This took place before GPS was fully operational, so the navigation took place using something called a "map."

The surveillance concern is even more bogus because it assumes that the proposed monitoring stations are somehow unique in their ability to house spying equipment. In reality, you can put surveillance equipment anywhere—from a hotel in the suburbs to an office building downtown to the back of a pickup truck disguised as landscaping equipment. Gathering radio signals is no longer a secret to any intelligence service.

What's really going on here is something else entirely. First, Congress can't resist the opportunity to tweak Russian President Vladimir Putin, and since they know that GLONASS is a priority for Putin, this is the Washington version of "Nyah, Nyah, Nyah" that you might have heard in grade school.

The fear that GLONASS might somehow diminish the prestige of the United States by diminishing GPS is simply not supported by reality. In the long run, better positioning for everyone is the tide that raises all boats. It's good for business and thus good for the economy.

And besides, if you want to screw up any plans by the Russians, all you need to do is make GPS less accurate on a random basis. It'll drive everyone nuts trying to figure out what service they can trust. If you're lucky, people depending on both services will assume that it's GLONASS that just made them go the wrong way on the interstate and will start blaming the Russians for their troubles.


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