Saturday, June 20, 2009

Satellite Phone GPS

Assumption to date is Kirk von Ackermann's vehicle developed tire trouble on the road between Tikrit and Kirkuk. He then used his satellite phone to call the cell phone of an Iraqi employee, reported he had trouble with a tire and to bring a jack. Von Ackermann was never heard from again.

Stuck with a disabled vehicle on an isolated road between Tikrit and Kirkuk, did von Ackermann activate the GPS tracking device on his satellite phone?

Seems like the kind of thing that a former counterterrorism officer would have done just by instinct - depending on the technology available, of course.

There's a very good chance that Ultra Services' personnel, including Kirk von Ackermann, were using Thuraya satellite phones. A distinct feature of the Thuraya sat phone is the accuracy of its GPS tracker. But the tracker must be activated by the operator in order to function. Once activated, a GPS location can be sent via SMS or text messaging [ref]. And according to statements made by the Chairman of Thuraya back in 2003, the GPS tracking device is accurate to within 100 yards.
Iraqi Satellite Phone Use May Spike
By Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press, March 21, 2003

Thuraya's phones are tied to global positioning technology and accurate to within 100 yards. But company chairman Mohammad Omran said subscribers must activate the GPS function on their phones in order to be tracked.
Activating the locating device seems like it would have been consistent with von Ackermann's background and training as described in the blog entry at Missing in Iraq: No One Left Behind
There was a bit of shouting, but Kirk stuck to his point and finally the commander jabbed at him with a finger.

'Son, we got maybe five minutes to get this thing off the ground. We miss this kid and that's it. How sure are you?'

'Sir, I went hunting in the arctic circle, I based my life on a GPS reading. I was right then sir, and I'm right now. He's here.'

They sent the rescue mission out, and picked up the pilot within yards of where Kirk had located him.
What does activating or not activating the GPS locating feature on a satellite phone say about what happened to Kirk von Ackermann? What does sending or not sending that location on to another party say?

Just more questions.

By the way, still no word from the NSA on the FOIA appeal for the audio recording of Kirk von Ackermann's satellite call to the Iraqi employee.

Related Posts

The Bridge Theory (graphic, decision chart)
March 25, 2008

Kirk's Car
December 4, 2007

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