Medal for ending phone bombs


Verified SOF
Jan 15, 2008

MICHAEL Steer feels rightly pleased that he has saved the lives of thousands of allied soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq after his work stopped the use of mobile phones to trigger roadside bombs.
The US military establishment feels the same way about the Australian, who often spent up to 90 hours a week for several years in his laboratory to pinpoint the vulnerability.

Professor Steer, an expert on electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, has received a special civilian medal for his efforts.

Major General Nick Justice, head of the US Army's research and development command, described his work as a "game-changer of modern warfare" when he handed him the US Army Commander's Award for Public Service last week.

Much of Professor Steer's work remains classified but he told The Weekend Australian yesterday that his invention combined abstract communications theory and basic physics to prevent mobile phones being used to trigger explosives.

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Military vehicles now carry a device that is the direct result of his work.

When it became widely known a decade ago that the frequency fields from mobile phones could be used to set off bombs, it made the efforts of militant groups quicker, cheaper and more lethal.

Ending the use of mobile phones forced them to return to detonators such as tripwires and pressure plates that take time to set up and are easier to detect.

"Professors are good for something. They have a long-term body of knowledge that can be drawn in time of need," Professor Steer told The Weekend Australian. Professor Steer, 54, moved from Brisbane to North Carolina in 1983. He has since become a US citizen. He received an army grant in 2002 to develop technology to stop wireless devices being used as detonators.
Very cool.

I do have a question though, the British Army has been using electronic jamming devices for decades to stop remotely controlled bombs, what is different?
Not knowing cuz, but if you're thinking of the Brits in Northern Ireland did the IRA use mobiles to detonate? I thought they used timers. I could be way off with that but it's just a thought.
I think this is a well deserved medal.

If it is in theater, then it has already saved lives, and that is something that is worth honoring. I am glad to have him on our side.

As for the jamming, I do not know the answer to my own question, but did jammers have adverse effects on our own comms or electronic intelligence? Maybe, and maybe this Dr's tool eliminates that. I am glad it is classified, and I hope it stays that way.

Well done sir
While his work has certainly made a great contribution to the Counter IED efforts the fact remains that the "BoogerEaters" are highly adaptive and able to work around our countermeasures with low metal content devices such as victim-operated pressure plates and/or command pull wires/strings that are extremely difficult to detect. We can spend millions/billions of dollars to produce a technological countermeasure and the "BoogerEaters" can do a work around in a matter of hours/days for pennies. The real defeat is to remove the planners, builders and emplacers if we are to ever get ahead of the curve.
Not knowing cuz, but if you're thinking of the Brits in Northern Ireland did the IRA use mobiles to detonate? I thought they used timers. I could be way off with that but it's just a thought.

I don't know if they used cell phones (prob not due to the time frame) but I do know they used remote controlled devices to set bombs off.
A guy in my section was an ex Para, told me about it.
ECM's are not new, but the mobility, reduced size and select freaq jamming is... The ECM's we are using now are light years a head of what was available 5 years ago.