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Topic: Military Science and Military Issues (Read 68327 times)
Reply #150 on:
November 18, 2010, 08:09:31 PM »
Re: Military Science
Reply #151 on:
November 20, 2010, 08:34:44 AM »
Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 05:07:29 AM by Rarick
Now, that's a big satellite , , ,
Reply #152 on:
November 22, 2010, 08:06:24 AM »
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) released a press note saying that the Air Force has launched its spy satellite from Cape Canaveral station on Sunday at 5:58 p.m.
The satellite is being dubbed as the largest satellite in the world. More details were not given as it is a classified mission.
The unmanned 23-story rocket carried the classified spy satellite.
Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander 45th Space Wing of the Air Force, said that this mission will help them in strengthening the national defense.
“Experts believe that the secret payload is a satellite capable of listening to a variety of transmissions from around the world. Such a satellite would have giant antennas stretching up to the size of a football field.
”Rocket launch faced many delays
The satellite, called NROL-32, had to face a series of delays due to technical problems.
The latest was a fault in the pair of temperature sensors, which delayed the Nov. 19 launch.
The 235 feet Delta 4 rocket is actually made up of three boosters, providing 2 million pounds of thrust and making it the most powerful rocket in service.
The rocket is made by United Launch Alliance, which is a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed. It made its first flight in 2004.
The rocket is capable of carrying payloads up to 24 tons in to low Earth orbit and 11 tons in geosynchronous orbits, which is used by communication satellites.
Experts believe that the secret payload is a satellite capable of listening to a variety of transmissions from around the world. Such a satellite would have giant antennas stretching up to the size of a football field.
Cloudy skies denied the spectacular show to the observers that could have been made more splendid by the rising moon.
But Florida residents doesn't need to be disappointed as they may be able to see space shuttle Discovery blast off on its final flight on Dec. 3, this year.
Satellite termed crucial for national defense
NRO Director Bruce Carlson said in press release that this is the most aggressive launch NRO had in the last 20 years.
He added that the new satellites are necessary for the new missions of NRO and will replace the existing ones before they fail.
“Now when I buy something people complain about how expensive it is, but nobody ever complains when it’s time to die and keep right on ticking,” Carlson a former general of the Air Force added. “We bought most of our satellites for three, five or eight years and we keep them in orbit for ten, twelve and up to twenty years.”
LATimes: new concept for helmet design
Reply #153 on:
November 23, 2010, 10:35:57 AM »
The much-maligned combat helmet worn by U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan sustained another blow Monday as engineers from MIT reported that the headgear, as currently designed, did little to protect troops from blast-related brain injury.
But the research team identified a design change that could substantially improve the helmet's ability to reduce the risk of concussion: a face shield capable of deflecting the rippling force of an explosion away from the soft tissues of the face.
With a shield in place, "you actually do mitigate the effects of the blast quite significantly," said Raul Radovitzky, lead author of a study published Monday in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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The report is not the first to identify the shortcomings of the military's so-called advanced combat helmet. A study published in August used computer simulations to determine that when blast waves roll over the helmet, the internal pads that are designed to cushion the wearer's head actually stiffen and transfer concussive energy to the skull and brain, increasing the likelihood of injury.
The new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study contradicted those findings, reporting instead that the helmet doesn't contribute to brain injury when it is hit by the concussive blast waves of an improvised explosive device.
Radovitzky and colleagues from the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies in Cambridge, Mass., and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., also relied on computer simulations to gauge the effect of a blast directly in front of a soldier on the "intracranial contents" of a helmet-encased head.
Radovitzky said that in fashioning a computer model of the brain, his team used assumptions about the brain's structure, density and position within the skull that were more refined and realistic than those used by the authors of the August study.
One of the authors of that report, physicist Eric G. Blackman of the University of Rochester, called the new finding "important."
"I think it will turn out to be a consideration in the future redesign of helmets," Blackman said.
Traumatic brain injury, often called TBI or concussion, has become one of the most distinctive and intractable wounds sustained by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The armed services have diagnosed more than 188,000 cases among troops who have served in the Middle East.
Many experts think the true toll is far higher, because the effects of brain injury can be easy to miss. The Rand Corp. has estimated that as many as 320,000 service members may have suffered brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brain injuries from explosions during combat appear similar to those that occur in car accidents, falls and sporting events. In most cases, a soldier close to an explosion is thrown against a wall or to the floor, causing "brain whiplash," said neurosurgeon Jam Ghajar, president of the Brain Trauma Foundation.
But for many troops, brain trauma appears to occur without a direct blow to the head. That mystery has left most experts guessing how, exactly, the damage occurs.
Some speculate that concussive waves of energy pass through the skull and knock the brain around within its cavity. Others suggest an explosion hits the chest with a powerful jolt, setting off sudden changes of blood flow and pressure that harm the brain. An explosion's light, heat, chemical byproducts or even a sudden surge of electromagnetic energy could possibly disturb and damage the brain.
Running experiments on humans is impractical — hence the need for sophisticated computer simulations. Until medical experts understand how bombs hurt brains, though, the value of those simulations is limited.
"While the work of Radovitzky and others is compelling, these computational models are just that — models," said Dr. Kenneth C. Curley, director of neurotrauma research for the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Materiel Command at Ft. Detrick, Md. "Models are only as precise as the data available to drive them."
Re: Military Science
Reply #154 on:
November 23, 2010, 10:42:15 AM »
Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 05:07:03 AM by Rarick
Reply #155 on:
November 28, 2010, 10:38:20 AM »
Russia prepares capability to go after US satellites
Reply #156 on:
December 07, 2010, 10:49:28 AM »
It appears that not only the Chinese are working on this:
Worth noting is that BO has virtually eliminated our space efforts, including military. Although this has not gathered any attention, IMHO this is a huge error. We are going to wake up one morning with our satellite capabilities neutered by the Chinese, just as Iran had its nuke program disrupted by Stuxnet, and our military very seriously exposed e.g. our navy in the western Pacific.
Reply #157 on:
December 10, 2010, 10:51:20 AM »
The looming real budget cuts about to hit the Defense Department would be unfortunate in any setting but are likely to present especially acute problems for U.S. forces five or 10 years down the road due to growth in both quantity and quality of Chinese military systems over that time. While U.S. forces are looking at cuts across the board, and already find it difficult to field meaningful numbers of best-in-the-world systems such as the F-22, China is beginning to hit its stride in the production of military systems that compete with U.S. quality.
Chinese fighter aircraft in particular are beginning to encroach on the dominance of American F-15s and F-16s in technical sophistication and flight performance -- not surprising, considering the F-15 entered active service with the U.S. Air Force in 1976 and the F-16 in 1980. China's new F-11B, an improved and entirely Chinese-made upgrade of the Russian SU-27, poses a particular threat to older U.S. aircraft. With the F-22 program capped at 187 aircraft, and with any fight to defend Taiwan requiring U.S. aircraft to fly from distant bases, it is becoming a real possibility that U.S. forces could lose air superiority.
Re: Military Science
Reply #158 on:
December 10, 2010, 11:07:03 AM »
Well, we better ask China for more money so we can buy more F-22 fighters.....
Reply #159 on:
December 11, 2010, 11:31:50 AM »
Navy Sets World Record With Incredible, Sci-Fi Weapon
A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And it's quite real too, as the U.S. Navy has proven in a record-setting test today in Dahlgren, VA.
Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7.
The result: a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes.
"It's an over-used term, but it really changes several games," Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, told FoxNews.com prior to the test.
For a generation raised on shoot-'em-up video games, the word "railgun" invokes sci-fi images of an impossibly destructive weapon annihilating monsters and aliens. But the railgun is nonetheless very real.
An electromagnetic railgun offers a velocity previously unattainable in a conventional weapon, speeds that are incredibly powerful on their own. In fact, since the projectile doesn't have any explosives itself, it relies upon that kinetic energy to do damage. And at 11 a.m. today, the Navy produced a 33-megajoule firing -- more than three times the previous record set by the Navy in 2008.
"It bursts radially, but it's hard to quantify," said Roger Ellis, electromagnetic railgun program manager with the Office of Naval Research. To convey a sense of just how much damage, Ellis told FoxNews.com that the big guns on the deck of a warship are measured by their muzzle energy in megajoules. A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.
Ellis says the Navy has invested about $211 million in the program since 2005, since the railgun provides many significant advantages over convention weapons. For one thing, a railgun offers 2 to 3 times the velocity of a conventional big gun, so that it can hit its target within 6 minutes. By contrast, a guided cruise missile travels at subsonic speeds, meaning that the intended target could be gone by the time it reaches its destination.
Furthermore, current U.S. Navy guns can only reach targets about 13 miles away. The railgun being tested today could reach an enemy 100 miles away. And with current GPS guidance systems it could do so with pinpoint accuracy. The Navy hopes to eventually extend the range beyond 200 miles.
"We're also eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits," Ellis said. In other words, there is less danger of an unintended explosion onboard, particularly should such a vessel come under attack.
Indeed, a railgun could be used to inflict just such harm on another vessel.
Admiral Carr, who calls the railgun a "disruptive technology," said that not only would a railgun-equipped ship have to carry few if any large explosive warheads, but it could use its enemies own warheads against them. He envisions being able to aim a railgun directly at a magazine on an enemy ship and "let his explosives be your explosives."
There's also a cost and logistical benefit associated with railguns. For example, a single Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $600,000. A non-explosive guided railgun projectile could cost much less. And a ship could carry many more, reducing the logistical problems of delivering more weapons to a ship in battle. For these reasons, Admiral Carr sees the railgun as even changing the strategic and tactical assumptions of warfare in the future.
The Navy still has a distance to go, however, before the railgun test becomes a working onboard weapon. Technically, Ellis says they've already overcome several hurdles. The guns themselves generate a terrific amount of heat -- enough to melt the rails inside the barrel -- and power -- enough to force the rails apart, destroying the gun and the barrel in the process.
The projectile is no cannon ball, either. At speeds well above the sound barrier, aerodynamics and special materials must be considered so that it isn't destroyed coming out of the barrel or by heat as it travels at such terrific speeds.
Then there's question of electrical requirements. Up until recently, those requirements simply weren't practical. However, the naval researchers believe they can solve that issue using newer Navy ships and capacitors to build up the charge necessary to blast a railgun projectile out at supersonic speeds. Ellis says they hope to be able to shoot 6 to 12 rounds per minute, "but we're not there yet."
So when will the railgun become a working weapon? Both Ellis and Carr expect fully functional railguns on the decks of U.S. Navy ships in the 2025 time frame.
Chinese developing stealth bomber
Reply #160 on:
January 06, 2011, 08:16:32 AM »
Doubling BigDog's post from the US-China thread here so as to faciliatate research:
POTH on Gates's budget cuts
Reply #161 on:
January 07, 2011, 05:13:52 AM »
Pentagon Seeks Biggest Military Cuts Since Before 9/11
By THOM SHANKER and CHRISTOPHER DREW
Published: January 6, 2011
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that the nation’s “extreme fiscal duress” now required him to call for cuts in the size of the Army and Marine Corps, reversing the significant growth in military spending that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The White House has told the Pentagon to squeeze that growth over the next five years, Mr. Gates said, reducing by $78 billion the amount available for the Pentagon, not counting the costs of its combat operations.
The decision to go after the Pentagon budget, even while troops remain locked in combat overseas, is the clearest indication yet that President Obama will be cutting spending broadly across the government as he seeks to reduce the deficit — and stave off attacks from Republicans in Congress who want to shrink the government even more.
Republicans have for the most part resisted including military spending as they search for quick reductions in federal spending.
To make ends meet, Mr. Gates also announced that he would seek to recoup billions of dollars by increasing fees paid by retired veterans under 65 for Defense Department health insurance, even though Congress has rejected such proposals in the past. And he outlined extensive cuts in new weapons.
Cutting up to 47,000 troops from the Army and Marine Corps forces — roughly 6 percent — would be made easier by the withdrawal under way from Iraq, and the reductions would not begin until 2015, just as Afghan forces are to take over the security mission there. But Mr. Gates said the cuts in Pentagon spending were hardly a peace dividend, and were forced by a global economic recession and domestic pressures to find ways to throttle back federal spending.
“This department simply cannot risk continuing down the same path where our investment priorities, bureaucratic habits and lax attitudes toward costs are increasingly divorced from the real threats of today, the growing perils of tomorrow and the nation’s grim financial outlook,” Mr. Gates said at an afternoon news conference.
The president’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which is due by mid-February, would freeze discretionary spending, but that would not apply to military, veterans and Homeland Security programs. Last fall, a majority of the members of Mr. Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, including three Republican senators, said military spending also should be reduced as part of a long-term debt-reduction plan.
The Pentagon’s proposed operating budget for 2012 is expected to be about $553 billion, which would still reflect real growth, even though it is $13 billion less than expected. The Pentagon budget will then begin a decline in its rate of growth for two years, and stay flat — growing only to match inflation — for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. (The Pentagon operating budget is separate from a fund that finances the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.)
“This plan represents, in my view, the minimum level of defense spending that is necessary, given the complex and unpredictable array of security challenges the United States faces around the globe: global terrorist networks, rising military powers, nuclear-armed rogue states and much, much more,” Mr. Gates said.
To be sure, the actual size and shape of future military budgets will continue to be reset by annual spending proposals from the president, and those in turn will be based on shifting economic factors — decline or growth — and threats around the world, as well as by Congressional action.
But for now, the Army is expected in 2015 to begin cutting its active-duty troop levels by 27,000, and the Marine Corps by up to 20,000. Together, those force reductions would save $6 billion in 2015 and 2016.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that all four service chiefs supported the proposals, and that the military would still be able to manage global risks. “We can’t hold ourselves exempt from the belt-tightening,” he said. “Neither can we allow ourselves to contribute to the very debt that puts our long-term security at risk.”
The Army’s ranks number 569,600, and the Marine Corps has just over 202,000 members; both would remain larger than when Mr. Gates became defense secretary four years ago.
Mr. Gates already had instructed the armed services and the Pentagon bureaucracy to find ways to operate more efficiently, with the savings plowed back into the budget to make up for anticipated shortfalls; otherwise the cuts in troops and weapons would have been even steeper.
The armed services have identified about $100 billion in savings over five years.
Separately, the Defense Department bureaucracy had identified about $54 billion more, from things like reducing contractor hiring, freezing personnel rolls, reducing the number of generals and admirals and closing or consolidating headquarters.
Many of those changes can be carried out unilaterally by the Pentagon or the armed services.
But some — especially increases in fees for the military’s health-care system, called Tricare — require Congressional approval, and have been rejected before.
Proposals to increase Tricare fees will pit Mr. Gates against those in Congress — and veterans’ groups — who say retired military personnel already have paid up front with service in uniform. Ten years ago, health care cost the Pentagon $19 billion; today, it tops $50 billion; five years from now it is projected to cost $65 billion.
But Tricare fees have not increased since 1995.
Mr. Gates was expected to press for increasing the cost of health insurance premiums and spot fees only for working-age retirees and their families, not for those on active duty or those 65 and older, to save $7 billion over five years.
Mr. Gates also announced cuts in several weapons systems, led by the cancellation of the Marines’ $14.4 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a combined landing craft and tank for amphibious assaults.
Mr. Gates said the Pentagon would add $4.6 billion to the cost of developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, made by Lockheed Martin, and would cover much of that expense by delaying purchases of 124 of the planes.
He said that one of the three versions of the aircraft might need to be redesigned, and that he was placing that model, made for the Marines, “on the equivalent of a two-year probation.”
Federal officials said Mr. Gates had been seeking to increase the basic Pentagon budget, excluding war costs, to $566 billion for the 2012 fiscal year, but had to push the White House to approve $553 billion.
Gordon Adams, a Clinton administration budget official who served on Mr. Obama’s transition team, said he understood that White House budget officials initially wanted to shave the Pentagon’s original, larger request by at least $20 billion for 2012.
Mr. Adams said Mr. Gates met with Mr. Obama three times before Christmas to get at least $7 billion restored. Mr. Gates was also able to persuade the White House to reduce its demands for cuts over the next five years to $78 billion from $150 billion. Even so, Mr. Adams said, “I think the floor under defense spending has now gone soft.”
And the WSJ on the same cuts
Reply #162 on:
January 07, 2011, 05:45:31 AM »
By NATHAN HODGE And JULIAN E. BARNES
In an early salvo in Washington's battle over the deficit, the White House ordered the Pentagon to rein in its budget, a move that will force a sizable cut in overall troop numbers for the first time in two decades.
The surprise decision, which is designed to cut a total of $78 billion from the military budget in the next five years, shows how even the military isn't immune from the political heat brought on by worsening U.S. fiscal woes. It also represents a setback for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had fought to stave off such an outcome.
"We are having to tighten our belts," Mr. Gates said Thursday.
The projected five-year budget outlined by Mr. Gates doesn't include an actual decrease in the military budget. But it will stop growing by 2015. With salaries, health-care and fuel costs climbing every year, the Pentagon needs a 2% to 3% annual budget increase to avoid making cuts in programs.
Under Mr. Gates's proposal, the Army and Marine Corps will shrink by up to 47,000 people, a reduction that comes on top of a 22,000 decrease already planned for the Army. Currently, the two services have about 772,000 members, with the last cuts to the Army and Marines coming after the 1991 Gulf War.
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The Slamraam surface-to-air missile
.No new head-count cuts are planned for the Navy or Air Force, which recently underwent reductions.
By seeking long-term cuts in the Pentagon budget, the White House is taking on a Republican bastion and hoping to put the GOP on the defensive, especially tea-party-backed lawmakers who campaigned on slashing government spending.
Republicans reacted negatively to Mr. Gates's proposals. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was unhappy with the proposed $78 billion in cuts.
At the same time, the relatively modest nature of the White House proposal irked liberals, some of whom said Thursday the cuts didn't go far enough. The proposal could backfire more broadly if it feeds the notion that Democrats are weak on defense.
Pentagon officials outlined measures proposed for the next five years. The Pentagon had previously called for $100 billion in cuts over five years, hoping to fend off further trims. Instead, Mr. Gates was required to find the additional $78 billion.
The White House announced Thursday evening that President Barack Obama accepted Mr. Gates' recommendation to shut down Joint Forces Command, an organization charged with fostering closer cooperation between the various military services, based in Norfolk, Va. Mr. Gates made the recommendation last year as part of his cost-saving initiative.
Mr. Gates's proposed base defense budget for next year is $553 billion, a modest increase over the Pentagon's budget request for the current fiscal year of $549 billion. The new proposal is smaller than the Pentagon had planned for. In February, the administration projected it would be $566 billion.
Since taking office in 2006, the defense secretary has spoken many times about the problems caused by seeking a "peace dividend" after wars end. Substantial cuts during the 1990s saved money initially, but the Pentagon had to spend billions to rapidly build up the Army and Marine Corps when commanders realized they lacked enough forces to effectively fight the Iraq war.
Mr. Gates said the troop cuts proposed Thursday were modest, and that the overall size of the armed forces would still be bigger than when he had taken office. He emphasized the troop cuts wouldn't occur until 2015, when a withdrawal from Afghanistan is expected to be well under way.
Tightening the Belt
The Pentagon's ﬁve-year plan includes a new set of cuts to the Pentagon's forecasted budget totaling $78 billion, and about $100 billion in already announced 'efﬁciency savings,' most of which will be reinvested in the military.
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..Nevertheless, Mr. Gates's proposals are likely to be attacked by some as too timid, and by others as irresponsible, an outcome the secretary himself predicted.
"No doubt these budget forecasts and related program decisions will provoke criticism on two fronts—that we are either gutting defenses or we have not cut nearly enough," Mr. Gates said.
The GOP's Mr. McKeon said, "These cuts are being made without any commitment to restore modest future growth, which is the only way to prevent deep reductions in force structure that will leave our military less capable and less ready to fight." He added: "This is a dramatic shift for a nation at war and a dangerous signal from the commander in chief."
The openness of some GOP lawmakers to military cuts in the campaign suggested the White House might have a chance to divide the party on an issue central to its identity, defense.
Moira Bagley, a spokeswoman for Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), said he would consider Mr. Gates's proposed cuts. "As Sen. Paul has said repeatedly, everything is on the table when it comes to spending cuts—including defense," she said. "It's good to see Secretary Gates take the initiative to suggest certain defense programs don't need funding."
Critics of defense spending said Thursday that Mr. Gates's cuts were illusory and didn't go far enough. "What Secretary Gates is really saying is that to exist in peacetime, the Pentagon requires ever-growing amounts of money—forever," said Winslow Wheeler, a former congressional budget aide and defense analyst at the left-leaning Center for Defense Information.
Some of the cuts proposed by Mr. Gates will face particular scrutiny on Capitol Hill and from veterans groups. He seeks to increase health-care fees for some working-age military retirees, a potential savings of nearly $7 billion over five years. Earlier proposals to raise such fees have been rejected by Congress.
Defense contractors will likely feel the pain from the procurement cuts unveiled by Mr. Gates. The Pentagon intends to cut some troubled programs like the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Mr. Gates also said he intended to restructure the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, delaying production of one variant of the plane and saving $3.8 billion.
Nevertheless, stocks of defense companies rose in trading Thursday, after the news appeared to end uncertainty over future spending levels.
Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress who served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, said the procurement cuts were a step toward greater fiscal responsibility, but showed a reluctance to tackle hard issues like skyrocketing military pay and health care.
"Gates is trying to get ahead of what he thinks will be cuts by saying, 'I'm cutting,' but he's not," Mr. Korb said. "He wants to take it from one area and give it to another. And I think he feels it will provide some political cover."
It is unclear how long Mr. Gates will be around to fight for his proposed budget. He has indicated he intends to leave office this year. On Thursday, he said he hadn't altered his plans.
POTH: Mullen calls for taking stock
Reply #163 on:
January 09, 2011, 03:53:26 PM »
January 8, 2011
After Decade of War, Top Officer Directs the Military to Take Stock of Itself
By THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON — Adm. Mike Mullen, who will almost certainly be the final chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to have served in the Vietnam War, still carries the scars of how that polarizing era damaged the military and its relationship with the American people.
As he enters his last year as the nation’s top-ranking officer and as the military enters its 10th year of war since the Sept. 11 attacks, Admiral Mullen is openly voicing concerns that professionalism and ethical standards across the armed forces are being severely challenged by the longest period of sustained combat in the nation’s history.
He is responsible for convening a National Defense University conference here on Monday that will open an intensive assessment by the military of its professional behavior.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last decade; some of it’s been pretty unpleasant stuff,” Admiral Mullen said in an interview. “I want us to understand what we’ve seen, to a depth that we can ensure that our moral compass stays true, our ethical compass stays true.”
The conference is the first such introspective session into “military ethos” organized specifically at the request of a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It will examine a subtle set of political and social challenges to military integrity, like a potential slide toward partisanship among the officer corps, especially retired generals and admirals acting as television commentators, and whether the behavior of up-and-coming leaders fits with the image the military as an institution wants to exhibit to the nation.
A particularly relevant topic on the agenda is how the next generation’s generals and admirals should express their best, unvarnished military advice to the nation’s civilian leadership, and what to do when they disagree with the eventual policy. Admiral Mullen has said there are just two choices: an officer obeys the policy and follows it with enthusiasm or resigns.
Hovering over that discussion will be memories of the bruising, closed-door debate about shaping a strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that many at the Pentagon and the White House said soured civilian-military relations.
But other issues are expected to include an assessment of the retired generals who openly called for Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, to resign, as well as of retired admirals and generals who endorse political candidates or appear at party conventions.
The discussion is also expected to touch on whether service members have the right to a different persona online, like on Facebook or in a blog, than they do in uniform.
Admiral Mullen, who is scheduled to retire on Oct. 1, acknowledged that his motivations for the conference dated to his service in a war that ended more than three decades ago. “These are Vietnam scars for me,” he said.
And just as the Vietnam War shaped his professional outlook, Admiral Mullen said, the intense combat experiences during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will shape the military for decades to come. “How they lead, how they retain, how they recruit, what they talk about — I want to examine as much of that as we can, in stride, to prepare for the future,” he said.
A conscious decision was made not to focus at this session on the most egregious acts of military misconduct that seized global attention and prompted worldwide outrage, like detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, because such actions are clearly prohibited by long-standing laws of armed conflict and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Admiral Mullen noted that the Army, in particular, was moving ahead with its own effort to evaluate military professionalism, and he cited the work done by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who leads the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
General Dempsey said his efforts had been inspired by two trends since the Sept. 11 attacks: how counterinsurgency warfare and efforts to create more deployable brigade combat teams had placed increasing responsibilities in the hands of junior leaders, and how the Army’s system for generating forces created a deliberate cycle in which combat units were built, trained, deployed — and then brought home to be rebuilt with fresh troops.
“This is very different from an Army that had been relatively stable, relatively hierarchical, relatively centralized,” General Dempsey said in a telephone interview.
General Dempsey, who is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s candidate to be the next Army chief of staff, said the Army had not paused for an institutional, top-to-bottom review of its professional conduct in two decades.
“This is another one of those times in our history when we want to encourage ourselves to look at ourselves as professionals and ask whether we are living up to our standards — and where our policies for training, education and promotion enhance these standards or rub against them,” General Dempsey said.
To manage the conference, National Defense University turned to Albert C. Pierce, director of the Institute for National Security Ethics and Leadership, which examines and teaches professional behavior in the national security arena.
“Our distinctive concept of operations,” Mr. Pierce said, “comes from the chairman, introspection and reflection by the members of the profession on what its basic principles and touchstones are, and how to apply them to specific issues such as providing professional military advice and handling disagreements over policy.”
He added, “More broadly, we hope our deliberations that day will help define or describe where and how to draw the lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior by military professionals, active-duty and retired.”
Admiral Mullen will give the keynote address, and all of the panelists are active-duty or retired military personnel, with one exception; John J. Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary who is president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan policy institute here, will offer perspectives on how senior civilian policy makers view the behavior of military professionals.
Patriot Post: China's not so stealthy move
Reply #164 on:
January 14, 2011, 10:43:11 AM »
Department of Military Readiness: China's Not-So-Stealthy Move
This week China unveiled its version of the F-22 Raptor -- America's stealthy front-line air superiority fighter -- via "leaked" (i.e., well-staged) Internet releases. Designated the J-20, the aircraft completed its first test flight only hours before U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The purpose of the meeting was supposedly to mend frayed relations between the two nations, but the test flight didn't help further that end much.
The calculated disclosure of the J-20 also is not the big news. Nor is the news that the J-20 looks a lot like the F-22. Nor even that China has apparently been "mining" data from super-secret U.S. computers to be able to build a "J-20" in the first place. No, the news is that President Hu and the rest of China's civilian leadership apparently had no clue about the J-20 and its test program. This revelation comes from senior U.S. defense sources in the wake of the meeting, noting Hu's reactions to Gates' questions about the new weapon system.
Those reactions highlight the growing disconnect between China's military and its civilian leadership. In a nation comprising roughly one-fifth of the world's population, the issue has at least regional, if not global, implications. Although China's civilian leadership ostensibly has control over its military, this event and others like it -- including China's anti-satellite test -- call into question the practical application of China's claim that its civilian leadership controls its military arm.
It's also a wake-up call to America's Pollyanna doves, who believe the U.S. no longer needs a strong force-on-force defense and that all future wars will simply be door-to-door counterinsurgency operations. Among this group, sadly, is the SecDef himself, who advocated vehemently for limiting F-22s and against fighting "tomorrow's wars."
The U.S. has only 187 F-22s in total to replace roughly 650 aging F-15s. With the makings of "tomorrow's wars" now on America's doorstep courtesy of the J-20, Russia's T-50 and other as-yet-to-be-announced fifth-generation weapons systems, we invite Secretary Gates to reconsider his position -- especially in light of the looming numbers-fight over the F-35 Lightning II, the fifth-generation replacement for the venerable-but-aging F-16.
Finally, with respect to U.S. national defense concerns, we believe: Yes the Army is important. Yes the Navy is important. Yes the Marines are important. But give up air superiority, and in any war -- let alone "tomorrow's war" -- you've just given up the ballgame.
Re: Military Science and Military Issues
Reply #165 on:
January 14, 2011, 10:45:59 AM »
A PLA that has so little control over it is a scary thing indeed.
Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving
Reply #166 on:
January 19, 2011, 08:32:42 AM »
Re: Military Science and Military Issues
Reply #167 on:
January 19, 2011, 12:45:51 PM »
Bigdog, Excellent article with specific and realistic recommendations/solutions. (Same type of thinking at a much simpler level could be applied to education.)
A German internet friend reports
Reply #168 on:
January 29, 2011, 11:58:38 AM »
Last night I visited the UPS central hub for
Europe in Cologne. On the tour through the huge
distributen complex I spotted 3 packages with a
FOR US MILITARY USE ONLY
On the paperboard container itself I read the
Made in China
Re: Military Science and Military Issues
Reply #169 on:
January 29, 2011, 12:55:34 PM »
[US military instructions, paperboard made in China]
Labeling on China's newest SuperComputer: Intel Inside
Re: Military Science and Military Issues
Reply #170 on:
January 29, 2011, 02:49:33 PM »
WSJ: New army rifle?
Reply #171 on:
February 03, 2011, 08:27:38 AM »
By NATHAN HODGE
For the first time in almost 50 years, the U.S. Army wants to replace the
standard rifle shouldered by hundreds of thousands of frontline troops
around the world.
The service this week advertised its interest in a new weapon that would
incorporate futuristic sights and other advances in rifle design and be able
to handle improved ammunition.
The gun would potentially supplant the M4 carbine, a shorter-barrel version
of the M16, the Army's main infantry weapon for decades.
View Full Image
A soldier with an XM25 weapon system, an advanced grenade launcher being
tested by the Army.
Operations in Afghanistan—where troops often engage the enemy over long
distances—have rekindled debate over the quality of the Army's
standard-issue rifles and their reliability in dusty, primitive conditions.
An Army report on a 2008 battle in Wanat, Afghanistan, cited soldier
complaints about jamming and overheating M4s, in particular. Nine servicemen
died in that fight.
Critics have also raised concerns about the range and lethality of the 5.56
mm cartridge of the M16/M4.
Col. Doug Tamilio, the service's project manager for soldier weapons, said
in a statement the Army sought to find "the most effective, accurate, and
reliable" weapon for its soldiers. "We're challenging industry to develop
the next-generation carbine and we're looking forward to the results."
An "industry day" for small-arms manufacturers is planned for March 30. The
Army said it would pick a winner after two years of rigorous evaluation.
Gerald Dinkel, the president and CEO of Colt Defense LLC, said the Army has
"held out the M4 as a high standard, and somebody is going have to come out
and really beat it."
The M16, made by both Colt and FN Manufacturing LLC, a unit of FN Herstal SA
of Belgium, along with the M4, have long enjoyed the loyalty of Army leaders
who say the weapons are "combat proven." The M4 has slightly less range than
the M16, but is easier to handle, particularly in urban combat.
View Full Image
The M1 Garand entered service in the 1930s. The .30-calibre rifle weighed
about 10 pounds and had a range of around 500 meters.
View Full Image
The M16 Rifle entered service in the 1960s. The 5.56-mm rifle weighed about
8.8 pounds and had a range of approximately 550-800 meters.
View Full Image
The M4 Carbine entered service in the 1990s. The 5.56-mm rifle weighs about
7.5 pounds and has a range of 500-600 meters.
But Army commanders have also long faced questions about the rifles' design:
Both are built around a gas-operated system that cuts down on moving parts,
but requires consistent cleaning.
Experts have often noted that the M16/M4 also fares poorly in terms of
ruggedness and reliability compared with Soviet-designed Kalashnikov assault
rifles, which are a favorite weapon of insurgents around the world.
In 2007, the M4 fared worse than three other weapons—the Heckler & Koch
HK416, the FN Herstal Mk16 Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle and the
Heckler & Koch XM8—in comparative reliability testing conducted by the Army.
The current M16 and M4 in many respects bear little resemblance to
Vietnam-era antecedents: They are usually have advanced optics, and can be
fitted with accessories such as flashlights. But critics on Capitol Hill,
including Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), have in the past questioned why the
service chose to stick with upgrades instead of seeking a replacement.
In Afghanistan, the Army has introduced the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, an
upgraded version of the M14 rifle, which is chambered for a full-power rifle
round that has a longer effective range than the M4 or M16. The Army is also
experimenting with more futuristic infantry weapons in Afghanistan.
In parallel with the contest for a new rifles, the Army is considering
additional improvements to the M4, including ambidextrous controls. The Army
may also study alternatives to the rifle's gas operating system, according
to an official fact sheet.
Last year, the service began field trials of the XM25 Counter Defilade
Target Engagement System, an advanced grenade launcher equipped with a laser
range finder and onboard computer.
It fires a programmable 25mm round that is designed to go off just above—or
just behind — its target. The concept is to create a lethal weapon that can
hit enemies behind cover.
James Carafano, a retired Army officer who is a senior fellow at the
Heritage Foundation, predicted in a recent interview that more of these
weapons would soon be in the hands of the individual soldier.
"Precision weaponry is going to get really personal," Mr. Carafano said.
"You're eventually going to see an individual soldier dropping a round down
Write to Nathan Hodge at
Carrier-capable killer drones
Reply #172 on:
February 09, 2011, 06:59:03 AM »
America’s fleet of 11 big-deck aircraft carriers just got a lot closer to becoming a lot more dangerous. On Friday afternoon, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, a prototype for the Navy’s first carrier-capable killer drone, flew for the first time from Edwards Air Force Base in California.
“Taking off under hazy skies, the X-47B climbed to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack-type patterns, and landed safely at 2:38 PM PST,” Northrop crowed in a press release. “The flight provided test data to verify and validate system software for guidance and navigation, and the aerodynamic control of the tailless design.”
“Designing a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft from a clean sheet is no small feat,” Northrop veep Janis Pamiljans added. While omitting a plane’s tail makes it way more stealthy, it also makes it harder to control.
If Northrop and the Navy can prove the X-47 works over the planned, three-year demonstration program, combat-ready X-47s could begin flying off carrier decks before the end of the decade.
The benefits are clear. With far greater range than the Navy’s existing F/A-18 strike fighters, the X-47 would allow Navy carrier groups to sail farther from shore when launching air strikes, helping protect the priceless vessels from the increasingly dangerous anti-ship missiles being fielded by nations such as China. The X-47 would also be able to sneak through the defensive umbrella of today’s “Triple-Digit” anti-aircraft missiles.
For these reasons, the X-47 could prove “among the most fungible and useful platforms in America’s future defense portfolio,” Navy undersecretary Bob Work wrote in 2007, back when he was still a lowly analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C.
Despite its enormous potential, the X-47 almost didn’t make it this far. The triangular drone was originally designed back in the early 2000s for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System competition, which pitted the Northrop bot versus Boeing’s similar X-45. The winner would have joined the Navy and the Air Force. But in 2005, the Air Force abandoned the contest, and the X-47 and X-45 both wound up orphaned.
Thanks in part to Work’s lobbying, the Navy agreed to continue work on the X-47. (The X-45 survived, too, as a Boeing-funded effort.) As confidence in the new killer drone increased, so did the scope of — and funding for — its test program. In January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates singled out the X-47 and other Navy drones as beneficiaries of billions of dollars in budgetary shifts.
Which isn’t to say the whole Navy is on board. Last month, Navy Vice Adm. Mark Fox told reporters he was skeptical that drones would be ready for carrier operations anytime soon. “Anything that takes off and lands on an aircraft carrier has to be pretty robust,” he said. “You test something in the desert and it works great. But the maritime world is a harsh and unforgiving environment.”
Plus, Fox added, “there’s still an enormous amount of merit in having somebody in the cockpit making decisions about whether you employ ordnance or not.”
But Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Fox’s boss, calls the shots — and he said last fall that he wanted the X-47 or a similar drone on carriers before 2018. That’s probably just do-able under the current schedule, which sees the X-47 fly off a carrier and refuel mid-air by 2013.
Even so, Roughead agrees with Fox on one key point: the Navy still needs old-school manned fighters, too — specifically, the F-35C variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. “As rapidly as we want to engage with the unmanned system on carriers,” Roughead said, “we’re also moving forward with JSF.”
German company in disturbing deal with Russia
Reply #173 on:
February 16, 2011, 05:26:03 PM »
The Russian Defense Ministry made a deal with German private defense company Rheinmetall for the construction of a combat training center for Russian troops. The deal does not necessarily indicate further military cooperation between Germany and Russia, though it does highlight the existing close ties between Berlin and Moscow. Although few concrete details of the deal are known, it is likely to draw close scrutiny from several of Germany’s NATO allies, particularly those that lie between Germany and Russia.
German private defense company Rheinmetall signed a deal Feb. 9 with the Russian Defense Ministry to build a combat training center for the Russian military. The center, which would be built at an existing Russian military installation at Mulino, near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, is designed for the comprehensive training of brigade-size units (thousands of soldiers) and would improve modeling and simulation of tactical combat situations. Russia’s Defense Ministry has also invited Rheinmetall to handle the “support, repair and modernization of military equipment,” and Rheinmetall’s mobile ammunition disposal systems would be available for Russia to buy.
It remains unclear what the exact financial and technical aspects of the deal will be, such as the specific costs of the project or the extent to which German expertise and personnel will be involved in the center’s training functions. However, the agreement reflects the value Russia sees in more closely understanding and potentially learning from Western military training methodologies. Also, the Russian military’s preferring to sign such a deal with a German defense company is another example of increasingly robust ties between Berlin and Moscow. Regardless of the specific details, this agreement will be cause for concern to Germany’s NATO allies, particularly the Central Europeans and the Baltic states.
It is important to note that Rheinmetall is not an arm of the German government; it is a private defense and automotive company. The defense arm of the company is, however, Europe’s top supplier of defense technology and security equipment for ground forces. It specializes in armor, gunnery, propellants and munitions manufacturing but has a fairly broad defense portfolio comprising training and simulation solutions as well as command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, target acquisition and reconnaissance (C4ISTAR) — all of which are of particular interest for Moscow. Rheinmetall training systems reportedly are used across the world, with countries like India and Norway employing naval and armored vehicle simulators. Rheinmetall is the first foreign firm to build such a training center in Russia.
From a technical standpoint, a training facility designed and built by Germany could, in and of itself, be an important improvement for Russian ground combat training, simulations and exercises. Also, any additional or more advanced and expanded partnerships with Rheinmetall could be a significant boost to Russia’s ongoing military reform and modernization efforts. While Russia swiftly defeated Georgian forces in the August 2008 war, it did so with notable tactical and operational shortcomings and deficiencies. Improving training regimes and technology, particularly with an emphasis on more modern Western simulators, information technology and updated approaches to training, could be significant in the long run. For the Germans, it is an opportunity to profit from Russia’s modernization drive and to potentially lay the groundwork for further military or political deals.
From a political standpoint, the deal does not necessarily indicate growing military ties between Berlin and Moscow. In order to infuse some fresh thinking, specifically a Western military perspective, into its own armed forces, Russia chose to go with a German company. The choice therefore indicates already close ties. Also, there are other areas in which Russian-German military cooperation is evident; according to STRATFOR sources, the Germans are going to help the Russians train border guards in Tajikistan on the Tajik-Uzbek border.
Furthermore, the Russian military could be using the training center, for which Rhienmetall’s training and simulation expertise will be potentially significant in their own right, both to test-drive broader doctrinal experimentation and integration of foreign concepts and to lay the foundation for future ties and exchanges with the German defense industry. The scope of and intent for the training center remain unclear, as precious few details of the agreement have been announced. It is possible that this is a generic training center through which troops from all over the country will pass, but it is also possible that the center and its training will be tailored for a more specific unit, operating environment or mission.
Either way, this deal is bound to make the states located between Russia and Germany — particularly Poland and the Baltic states — nervous. To these countries, Russian-German military cooperation of any kind will have the undertones of inter-war cooperation between the German Weimar Republic and the Soviet Union, which allowed Germany to secretly build up its military despite limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. These sort of deals are not forgotten in Central Europe, and any deal — no matter how profit-driven or innocuous it may be — will invite careful scrutiny from Germany’s eastern NATO allies and could further weaken the binds holding the alliance together.
Read more: The Significance of Russia's Deal with Germany's Rheinmetall | STRATFOR
Aircraft Detection Before Radar
Reply #174 on:
February 26, 2011, 05:38:01 AM »
Posted on behalf of Crafty Dog...
How air attacks were detected before radar...Old time acoustic hearing aids
ACOUSTIC "EARS" BEFORE RADAR - ON A SWIVEL
ACOUSTIC "EARS" BEFORE RADAR - GERMAN
ACOUSTIC "EARS" BEFORE RADAR - ON WHEELS
ACOUSTIC "EARS" BEFORE RADAR - ENGLAND
Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 05:06:56 AM by Kostas
Kostas "Spartan Dog" Tountas
DBMA Training Group, Athens, Greece
Stratfor: Land War in Asia
Reply #175 on:
March 01, 2011, 08:14:03 AM »
Never Fight a Land War in Asia
March 1, 2011
By George Friedman
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?
The Hindrances of Overseas Wars
Let’s begin with the first question, the answer to which is rooted in demographics and space. The population of Iraq is currently about 32 million. Afghanistan has a population of less than 30 million. The U.S. military, all told, consists of about 1.5 million active-duty personnel (plus 980,000 in the reserves), of whom more than 550,000 belong to the Army and about 200,000 are part of the Marine Corps. Given this, it is important to note that the United States strains to deploy about 200,000 troops at any one time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that many of these troops are in support rather than combat roles. The same was true in Vietnam, where the United States was challenged to field a maximum of about 550,000 troops (in a country much more populous than Iraq or Afghanistan) despite conscription and a larger standing army. Indeed, the same problem existed in World War II.
When the United States fights in the Eastern Hemisphere, it fights at great distances, and the greater the distance, the greater the logistical cost. More ships are needed to deliver the same amount of materiel, for example. That absorbs many troops. The logistical cost of fighting at a distance is that it diverts numbers of troops (or requires numbers of civilian personnel) disproportionate to the size of the combat force.
Regardless of the number of troops deployed, the U.S. military is always vastly outnumbered by the populations of the countries to which it is deployed. If parts of these populations resist as light-infantry guerrilla forces or employ terrorist tactics, the enemy rapidly swells to a size that can outnumber U.S. forces, as in Vietnam and Korea. At the same time, the enemy adopts strategies to take advantage of the core weakness of the United States — tactical intelligence. The resistance is fighting at home. It understands the terrain and the culture. The United States is fighting in an alien environment. It is constantly at an intelligence disadvantage. That means that the effectiveness of the native forces is multiplied by excellent intelligence, while the effectiveness of U.S. forces is divided by lack of intelligence.
The United States compensates with technology, from space-based reconnaissance and air power to counter-battery systems and advanced communications. This can make up the deficit but only by massive diversions of manpower from ground-combat operations. Maintaining a helicopter requires dozens of ground-crew personnel. Where the enemy operates with minimal technology multiplied by intelligence, the United States compensates for lack of intelligence with massive technology that further reduces available combat personnel. Between logistics and technological force multipliers, the U.S. “point of the spear” shrinks. If you add the need to train, relieve, rest and recuperate the ground-combat forces, you are left with a small percentage available to fight.
The paradox of this is that American forces will win the engagements but may still lose the war. Having identified the enemy, the United States can overwhelm it with firepower. The problem the United States has is finding the enemy and distinguishing it from the general population. As a result, the United States is well-suited for the initial phases of combat, when the task is to defeat a conventional force. But after the conventional force has been defeated, the resistance can switch to methods difficult for American intelligence to deal with. The enemy can then control the tempo of operations by declining combat where it is at a disadvantage and initiating combat when it chooses.
The example of the capitulation of Germany and Japan in World War II is frequently cited as a model of U.S. forces defeating and pacifying an opposing nation. But the Germans were not defeated primarily by U.S. ground troops. The back of the Wehrmacht was broken by the Soviets on their own soil with the logistical advantages of short supply lines. And, of course, Britain and numerous other countries were involved. It is doubtful that the Germans would have capitulated to the Americans alone. The force the United States deployed was insufficient to defeat Germany. The Germans had no appetite for continuing a resistance against the Russians and saw surrendering to the Americans and British as sanctuary from the Russians. They weren’t going to resist them. As for Japan, it was not ground forces but air power, submarine warfare and atomic bombs that finished them — and the emperor’s willingness to order a surrender. It was not land power that prevented resistance but air and sea power, plus a political compromise by MacArthur in retaining and using the emperor. Had the Japanese emperor been removed, I suspect that the occupation of Japan would have been much more costly. Neither Germany nor Japan are examples in which U.S. land forces compelled capitulation and suppressed resistance.
The problem the United States has in the Eastern Hemisphere is that the size of the force needed to occupy a country initially is much smaller than the force needed to pacify the country. The force available for pacification is much smaller than needed because the force the United States can deploy demographically without committing to total war is simply too small to do the job — and the size needed to do the job is unknown.
U.S. Global Interests
The deeper problem is this: The United States has global interests. While the Soviet Union was the primary focus of the United States during the Cold War, no power threatens to dominate Eurasia now, and therefore no threat justifies the singular focus of the United States. In time of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States must still retain a strategic reserve for other unanticipated contingencies. This further reduces the available force for combat.
Some people argue that the United States is insufficiently ruthless in prosecuting war, as if it would be more successful without political restraints at home. The Soviets and the Nazis, neither noted for gentleness, were unable to destroy the partisans behind German lines or the Yugoslav resistance, in spite of brutal tactics. The guerrilla has built-in advantages in warfare for which brutality cannot compensate.
Given all this, the question is why the United States has gotten involved in wars in Eurasia four times since World War II. In each case it is obvious: for political reasons. In Korea and Vietnam, it was to demonstrate to doubting allies that the United States had the will to resist the Soviets. In Afghanistan, it was to uproot al Qaeda. In Iraq, the reasons are murkier, more complex and less convincing, but the United States ultimately went in, in my opinion, to convince the Islamic world of American will.
The United States has tried to shape events in the Eastern Hemisphere by the direct application of land power. In Korea and Vietnam, it was trying to demonstrate resolve against Soviet and Chinese power. In Afghanistan and Iraq, it was trying to shape the politics of the Muslim world. The goal was understandable but the amount of ground force available was not. In Korea, it resulted in stalemate; in Vietnam, defeat. We await the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan, but given Gates’ statement, the situation for the United States is not necessarily hopeful.
In each case, the military was given an ambiguous mission. This was because a clear outcome — defeating the enemy — was unattainable. At the same time, there were political interests in each. Having engaged, simply leaving did not seem an option. Therefore, Korea turned into an extended presence in a near-combat posture, Vietnam ended in defeat for the American side, and Iraq and Afghanistan have turned, for the time being, into an uncertain muddle that no reasonable person expects to end with the declared goals of a freed and democratic pair of countries.
Problems of Strategy
There are two problems with American strategy. The first is using the appropriate force for the political mission. This is not a question so much of the force as it is of the mission. The use of military force requires clarity of purpose; otherwise, a coherent strategy cannot emerge. Moreover, it requires an offensive mission. Defensive missions (such as Vietnam and Korea) by definition have no terminal point or any criteria for victory. Given the limited availability of ground combat forces, defensive missions allow the enemy’s level of effort to determine the size of the force inserted, and if the force is insufficient to achieve the mission, the result is indefinite deployment of scarce forces.
Then there are missions with clear goals initially but without an understanding of how to deal with Act II. Iraq suffered from an offensive intention ill suited to the enemy’s response. Having destroyed the conventional forces of Iraq, the United States was unprepared for the Iraqi response, which was guerrilla resistance on a wide scale. The same was true in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency is occupation warfare. It is the need to render a population — rather than an army — unwilling and incapable of resisting. It requires vast resources and large numbers of troops that outstrip the interest. Low-cost counter-insurgency with insufficient forces will always fail. Since the United States uses limited forces because it has to, counterinsurgency is the most dangerous kind of war for the United States. The idea has always been that the people prefer the U.S. occupation to the threats posed by their fellow countrymen and that the United States can protect those who genuinely do prefer the former. That may be the idea, but there is never enough U.S. force available.
Another model for dealing with the problem of shaping political realities can be seen in the Iran-Iraq war. In that war, the United States allowed the mutual distrust of the two countries to eliminate the threats posed by both. When the Iraqis responded by invading Kuwait, the United States responded with a massive counter with very limited ends — the reconquest of Kuwait and the withdrawal of forces. It was a land war in Asia designed to defeat a known and finite enemy army without any attempt at occupation.
The problem with all four wars is that they were not wars in a conventional sense and did not use the military as militaries are supposed to be used. The purpose of a military is to defeat enemy conventional forces. As an army of occupation against a hostile population, military forces are relatively weak. The problem for the United States is that such an army must occupy a country for a long time, and the U.S. military simply lacks the ground forces needed to occupy countries and still be available to deal with other threats.
By having an unclear mission, you have an uncertain terminal point. When does it end? You then wind up with a political problem internationally — having engaged in the war, you have allies inside and outside of the country that have fought with you and taken risks with you. Withdrawal leaves them exposed, and potential allies will be cautious in joining with you in another war. The political costs spiral and the decision to disengage is postponed. The United States winds up in the worst of all worlds. It terminates not on its own but when its position becomes untenable, as in Vietnam. This pyramids the political costs dramatically.
Wars need to be fought with ends that can be achieved by the forces available. Donald Rumsfeld once said, “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of war. You do not engage in war if the army you have is insufficient. When you understand the foundations of American military capability and its limits in Eurasia, Gates’ view on war in the Eastern Hemisphere is far more sound than Rumsfeld’s.
The Diplomatic Alternative
The alternative is diplomacy, not understood as an alternative to war but as another tool in statecraft alongside war. Diplomacy can find the common ground between nations. It can also be used to identify the hostility of nations and use that hostility to insulate the United States by diverting the attention of other nations from challenging the United States. That is what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. It wasn’t pretty, but neither was the alternative.
Diplomacy for the United States is about maintaining the balance of power and using and diverting conflict to manage the international system. Force is the last resort, and when it is used, it must be devastating. The argument I have made, and which I think Gates is asserting, is that at a distance, the United States cannot be devastating in wars dependent on land power. That is the weakest aspect of American international power and the one the United States has resorted to all too often since World War II, with unacceptable results. Using U.S. land power as part of a combined arms strategy is occasionally effective in defeating conventional forces, as it was with North Korea (and not China) but is inadequate to the demands of occupation warfare. It makes too few troops available for success, and it does not know how many troops might be needed.
This is not a policy failure of any particular U.S. president. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have encountered precisely the same problem, which is that the forces that have existed in Eurasia, from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Korea to the Taliban in Afghanistan, have either been too numerous or too agile (or both) for U.S. ground forces to deal with. In any war, the primary goal is not to be defeated. An elective war in which the criteria for success are unclear and for which the amount of land force is insufficient must be avoided. That is Gates’ message. It is the same one MacArthur delivered, and the one Dwight Eisenhower exercised when he refused to intervene in Vietnam on France’s behalf. As with the Monroe Doctrine, it should be elevated to a principle of U.S. foreign policy, not because it is a moral principle but because it is a very practical one.
Israel's Iron Dome
Reply #176 on:
April 12, 2011, 07:48:12 PM »
Dispatch: Israel's Iron Dome
April 12, 2011 | 1923 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:
Military analyst Nathan Hughes examines Israel’s new defense against rockets fired from Gaza and its political significance for both the Israelis and Palestinians.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Iron Dome is a new evolving dynamic in the struggle between Hamas, other Palestinian militant factions and Israel in the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome is intended to intercept and shoot down Palestinian rockets — larger, longer-range rockets, from the Qassam to the larger Grad and Fajr threats. Though it is only a preliminary, essentially preoperational deployment, it is already taking on both current and future potential significance.
Currently, two Iron Dome batteries are deployed near larger population centers in southern Israel. But as currently conceived, it would take over 20 batteries to defend against rockets fired from the Gaza Strip alone. Offensive rockets tend to be inherently cheaper than more sophisticated defensive interceptors to protect against them. And this is certainly the case in Gaza, where on the lower end of the spectrum Qassam rockets that are essentially homemade in garages can cost as little as several hundred dollars to assemble, while the new interceptors used with Iron Dome are thought to cost as much as $50,000 apiece. This sort of dynamic allows for cheaper rockets fired in mass to overwhelm the limited magazines of defensive batteries, though this is not traditionally how Hamas or Hezbollah have deployed their artillery rockets, and there’s not a whole lot of sign yet that Hamas is adjusting its tactics accordingly.
The precise details of Iron Dome’s recent performance and its engagement parameters are unlikely to be discussed in the public domain in too much detail. But the bottom line is that any weapon system, when it’s first deployed on the battlefield, is confronted almost invariably with operational realities and unforeseen circumstances for which it wasn’t originally designed. So while you’re unlikely to see perfect or even near-perfect performance out of a weapon system, these are exactly the experiences that allow engineers to further refine and improve the weapon system as its deployed more fully. In the meantime, Israel certainly has an incentive to talk up the effectiveness and performance of the limited Iron Dome batteries that are currently deployed, while Hamas at the same time has the opposite incentive — to reject its performance, and as we’ve already seen out of Hamas, to sort of mock the price disparity between the rockets that Hamas fires and what Israel is spending to attempt to defend against them.
Ultimately, Hamas continues to fear ongoing isolation behind an Israeli blockade supported by an Egyptian regime in Cairo. The prospect of that continued isolation combined with an even moderately effective system to defend against Hamas’ larger, longer-range rockets, which remain its most effective way to continue to hit back at the Israelis, has got to be a matter of concern for Hamas, even if the prospect for more full fielding of the system is still years down the road.
The Stealth Helicopter that crashed in Afpakia
Reply #177 on:
May 11, 2011, 10:14:42 AM »
Hi, I’m Fred Burton with STRATFOR, and in this week’s Above the Tearline we are going to take a look at the stealth helicopter that crashed at the safe house hiding Osama bin Laden.
Numerous media sources have reported that the stealth helicopter was a modified Blackhawk. Having said that, we have no independent confirmation as to whether or not it was a Blackhawk. Our sources are indicating that the stealth helicopter has been operational for a good four years, predominantly flying special operations missions only at night.
In looking at the design of the helicopter wreckage from the bin Laden safe house, it carries many of the characteristics that you would typically see on the stealth bomber and aircraft that is flying today. The design of the helicopter is one that is masked to reduce its radar signature as well as dampen the noise from the rotors. And it’s our understanding that the aircraft was designed for that specific purpose, meaning special operations missions to be handled at night behind enemy lines for the sole purpose of masking its approach to an attack site. From a person I talked to who has flown in one of these stealth helicopters, the helicopter has been described as amazingly quiet in the air, and the noise is much like an outdoor air conditioner next to your house in the dead of the summer.
The helicopter was flown out of the 160th at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and certainly explains why President Obama made the visit to personally recognize the flight crews.
Our aviation sources close to the operation advise that the stealth helicopter crashed due to a brown out. In essence, as the helicopter approached, with the pilot utilizing night vision goggles, the dust and the dirt of the compound created an atmosphere which caused the pilot to set down the helicopter on the wall. After the helicopter crashed, a front portion, the cockpit area, was blown up by special operations SEALS while they were departing with bin Laden’s body.
Having done a lot of aircraft investigations in my past, one of the things you will notice is, the Pakistanis lost control of the crash site. At this point it’s unclear how much of the wreckage has already been lost that potentially could show up on the black market or in the hands of a nation-state that would be fascinated to learn the technology used in order to enter and exit Pakistani airspace without getting caught.
The “Above the Tearline” aspect of this video is the fact that we have been flying this stealth helicopter for four years is a remarkable achievement, and the fact that there had been no leaks until the pictures of the helicopter next to safe house surfaced.
Reply #178 on:
May 30, 2011, 01:59:33 PM »
Robert Gates, who steps down next month after four-plus years at the Pentagon, is making his retirement lap a tutorial on America's defense spending and security needs. His message is welcome, especially on Memorial Day, and even if he couldn't always heed it in his time as Secretary of Defense.
In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels that would make America vulnerable in "a complex and unpredictable security environment," as he said Sunday at Notre Dame. On Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Gates noted that the U.S. went on "a procurement holiday" in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration decided to cash in the Cold War peace dividend. The past decade showed that history (and war) didn't end in 1989.
"It is vitally important to protect the military modernization accounts," he said, and push ahead with new capabilities, from an air refueling tanker fleet to ballistic missile submarines.
America's role as a global leader depends on its ability to project power. In historical terms, the U.S. spends relatively little on defense today, even after the post-9/11 buildup. This year's $530 billion budget accounts for 3.5% of GDP, 4.5% when the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars are included. The U.S. spent, on average, 7.5% of GDP on defense throughout the Cold War, and 6.2% at the height of the Reagan buildup in 1986.
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In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels.
.But on coming into office, the Obama Administration put the Pentagon on a fiscal diet—even as it foisted new European-sized entitlements on America, starting with $2.6 trillion for ObamaCare. The White House proposed a $553 billion defense budget for 2012, $13 billion below what it projected last year. Through 2016, the Pentagon will see virtually zero growth in spending and will have to whittle down the Army and Marine Corps by 47,000 troops. The White House originally wanted deeper savings of up to $150 billion.
Mr. Gates deserves credit for fighting off the worst White House instincts, but his biggest defeat was not getting a share of the stimulus. Instead he has cut or killed some $350 billion worth of weapon programs. He told his four service chiefs last August to find $100 billion in savings. The White House pocketed that and asked for another $78 billion. Last year, Mr. Gates said that the Pentagon needs 2%-3% real budget growth merely to sustain what it's doing now, but it could make do with 1%. The White House gave him 0%.
In the Gates term, resources were focused on the demands of today's wars over hypothetical conflicts of tomorrow. This approach made sense at the start of his tenure in 2007, when the U.S. was in a hard fight in Iraq. Yet this has distracted from budgeting to address the rise of China and perhaps of regional powers like a nuclear Iran that will shape the security future. The decision to stop producing the F-22 fighter and to kill several promising missile defense programs may come back to haunt the U.S.
Mr. Gates knows well that America won't balance its budget by squeezing the Pentagon. "If you cut the defense budget by 10%, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that's $55 billion out of a $1.4 trillion deficit," he told the Journal's CEO Council conference last November. "We are not the problem."
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...So what is? Mr. Gates acknowledged it only in passing this week, but the reality is that the entitlement state is crowding out national defense. Over two decades ago, liberal historian Paul Kennedy claimed that "imperial overstretch" had brought first the Romans, then the British and now Americans down to size. He was wrong then, but what's really happening now is "entitlement overstretch," to quote military analyst Andrew Krepinevich.
The American entitlement state was born with the New Deal, got fat with the Great Society of the 1960s and hit another growth spurt in the first two years of the Obama era. The big three entitlements—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, plus other retirement and disability expenses—accounted for 4.9% of GDP by 1970, eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and stood at 9.8% as of last year. Under current projections, entitlements will eat up 10.8% of GDP by 2020, while defense spending goes down to 2.7%. On current trends, those entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, estimates Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation.
Europe went down this yellow brick road decades ago and today spends just 1.7% of GDP on defense. The Europeans get a free security ride from America, but who will the U.S. turn to for protection—China?
As Reagan knew, America's global power begins at home, with a strong economy able to generate wealth. The push for defense cuts reflects the reality of a weak recovery and a national debt that has doubled in the last two years. But the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to squeeze defense while pouring money on everything else.
"More perhaps than any other Secretary of Defense, I have been a strong advocate of soft power—of the critical importance of diplomacy and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and national security," Mr. Gates said at Notre Dame. "But make no mistake, the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength and global reach of the United States military."
That's a crucial message for Republican deficit hawks, and especially for a Commander in Chief who inherited the capability to capture Osama bin Laden half way around the world but is on track to leave America militarily weaker than he found it.
New firearms training methodology
Reply #179 on:
June 01, 2011, 10:32:34 AM »
Mila Kunis and a U.S. Marine
Reply #180 on:
July 11, 2011, 06:59:51 PM »
Another reason to see every movie Mila Kunis makes:
Re: Mila Kunis and a U.S. Marine
Reply #181 on:
July 11, 2011, 07:09:34 PM »
Quote from: bigdog on July 11, 2011, 06:59:51 PM
Another reason to see every movie Mila Kunis makes:
Very cool! I kind of knew who she was, now I'm a fan.
Reply #182 on:
September 01, 2011, 04:53:57 PM »
Friedberg: China's challenge at sea
Reply #183 on:
September 05, 2011, 10:22:58 AM »
AMERICA’S fiscal woes are placing the country on a path of growing strategic risk in Asia.
With Democrats eager to protect social spending and Republicans anxious to avoid tax hikes, and both saying the national debt must be brought under control, we can expect sustained efforts to slash the defense budget. Over the next 10 years, cuts in planned spending could total half a trillion dollars. Even as the Pentagon saves money by pulling back from Afghanistan and Iraq, there will be fewer dollars with which to buy weapons or develop new ones.
Unfortunately, those constraints are being imposed just as America faces a growing strategic challenge. Fueled by economic growth of nearly 10 percent a year, China has been engaged for nearly two decades in a rapid and wide-ranging military buildup. China is secretive about its intentions, and American strategists have had to focus on other concerns since 9/11. Still, the dimensions, direction and likely implications of China’s buildup have become increasingly clear.
When the cold war ended, the Pacific Ocean became, in effect, an American lake. With its air and naval forces operating through bases in friendly countries like Japan and South Korea, the United States could defend and reassure its allies, deter potential aggressors and insure safe passage for commercial shipping throughout the Western Pacific and into the Indian Ocean. Its forces could operate everywhere with impunity.
But that has begun to change. In the mid-1990s, China started to put into place the pieces of what Pentagon planners refer to as an “anti-access capability.” In other words, rather than trying to match American power plane for plane and ship for ship, Beijing has sought more cost-effective ways to neutralize it. It has been building large numbers of relatively inexpensive but highly accurate non-nuclear ballistic missiles, as well as sea- and air-launched cruise missiles. Those weapons could destroy or disable the handful of ports and airfields from which American air and naval forces operate in the Western Pacific and sink warships whose weapons could reach the area from hundreds of miles out to sea, including American aircraft carriers.
The Chinese military has also been testing techniques for disabling American satellites and cybernetworks, and it is adding to its small arsenal of long-range nuclear missiles that can reach the United States.
Although a direct confrontation seems unlikely, China appears to seek the option of dealing a knockout blow to America’s forward forces, leaving Washington with difficult choices about how to respond.
Those preparations do not mean that China wants war with the United States. To the contrary, they seem intended mostly to overawe its neighbors while dissuading Washington from coming to their aid if there is ever a clash. Uncertain of whether they can rely on American support, and unable to match China’s power on their own, other countries may decide they must accommodate China’s wishes.
In the words of the ancient military theorist Sun Tzu, China is acquiring the means to “win without fighting” — to establish itself as Asia’s dominant power by eroding the credibility of America’s security guarantees, hollowing out its alliances and eventually easing it out of the region.
If the United States and its Asian friends look to their own defenses and coordinate their efforts, there is no reason they cannot maintain a favorable balance of power, even as China’s strength grows. But if they fail to respond to China’s buildup, there is a danger that Beijing could miscalculate, throw its weight around and increase the risk of confrontation and even armed conflict. Indeed, China’s recent behavior in disputes over resources and maritime boundaries with Japan and the smaller states that ring the South China Sea suggest that this already may be starting to happen.
This is a problem that cannot simply be smoothed away by dialogue. China’s military policies are not the product of a misunderstanding; they are part of a deliberate strategy that other nations must now find ways to meet. Strength deters aggression; weakness tempts it. Beijing will denounce such moves as provocative, but it is China’s actions that currently threaten to upset the stability of Asia.
Many of China’s neighbors are more willing than they were in the past to ignore Beijing’s complaints, increase their own defense spending and work more closely with one another and the United States.
They are unlikely, however, to do those things unless they are convinced that America remains committed. Washington does not have to shoulder the entire burden of preserving the Asian power balance, but it must lead.
The Pentagon needs to put a top priority on finding ways to counter China’s burgeoning anti-access capabilities, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will ever be used. This will cost money. To justify the necessary spending in an era of austerity, our leaders will have to be clearer in explaining the nation’s interests and commitments in Asia and blunter in describing the challenge posed by China’s relentless military buildup.
Aaron L. Friedberg, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, is the author of “A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia.”
WH pressuered general to change testimony to benefit Dem. donor
Reply #184 on:
September 15, 2011, 05:47:20 PM »
Pay-for-Play: WH pressured general to change testimony to benefit Democrat donor
Posted by The Right Scoop on Sep 15, 2011 in Politics | 14 Comments
With the Solyndra scandal just getting going, a new pay-for-play scandal is breaking today that involves the White House pressuring an Air Force general to change his testimony to the benefit of a Democrat donor about a wireless project (owned by Democrat donor) interfering with the military’s GPS system:
DAILY BEAST – The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.
The episode—confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee—is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. …
Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. Gen. Shelton was originally scheduled to testify Aug. 3 to a House committee that the project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities, which control automated driving directions and missile targeting, among other things.
According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, the officials said.
“There was an attempt to influence the text of the testimony and to engage LightSquared in the process in order to bias his testimony,” Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said in an interview. “The only people who were involved in the process in preparation for the hearing included the Department of Defense, the White House, and the Office Management and Budget.”
VDH on Drones
Reply #185 on:
October 13, 2011, 12:43:32 PM »
We are in a long war against radical Islamic terrorism. The struggle seems almost similar to the on-again/off-again ordeals of the past -- like the French-English Hundred Years War of the 14th and 15th centuries, or the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants in the 17th century.
In these kinds of drawn-out conflicts, victory finally goes to the side that responds best to constant new challenges. And we've seen a lot of those since 9/11, when the United States was caught unaware and apparently ill-equipped to face the threat of radical Islamic terrorists hijacking our passenger jets.
But even when we adjusted well to the 9/11 tactics, there were new threats like suicide bombers and roadside improvised explosive devices that seemed to nullify American technology and material advantages.
But now America is once again getting the upper hand in this long war against Middle Eastern terrorists with the use of Predator drone targeted assassinations that the terrorists have not yet an answer to. In systematically deadly fashion, Predators are picking off the top echelon of al-Qaeda and its affiliates from the Hindu Kush to Yemen to the Horn of Africa.
New models of drones seem almost unstoppable. They are uncannily accurate in delivering missiles in a way even precision aircraft bombing cannot. Compared to the cost of a new jet or infantry division, Predators are incredibly cheap. And they do not endanger American lives -- at least as long as terrorists cannot get at hidden runaways abroad or video control consoles at home.
The pilotless aircraft are nearly invisible and without warning can deliver instant death from thousands of feet away in the airspace above. Foreign governments often give us permission to cross borders with Predators in a way they would not with loud, manned aircraft.
Moreover, drones are constantly evolving. They now stay in the air far longer and are far more accurate and far more deadly than when they first appeared in force shortly after 9/11. Suddenly it is a lot harder for a terrorist to bomb a train station in the West than it is for a Predator to target that same would-be terrorist's home in South Waziristan.
All those advantages explain why President Obama has exponentially expanded the program. After five years of use under George W. Bush, such drones had killed around 400 suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, under President Obama, Predators have taken out more than 2,200 in less than three years.
The program apparently is uniquely suited for the Obama "leading from behind" way of war: killing far out of sight, and therefore out of mind -- and the news. Indeed, so comfortable is Obama with this new way of war that at a White House correspondents dinner, the president joked about using Predators on would-be suitors of his daughters: "But boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming."
For President Barack Obama, the Predator drone avoids former candidate Obama's past legal objections by simply blowing apart suspected terrorists without having to capture them -- and then ponder how and where they should be tried. With a dead, rather than a detained, terrorist, civil libertarians cannot demand that Obama honor his campaign pledge to treat suspects like American criminals, while conservatives cannot pounce on any perceived softness in extending Miranda rights to captured al-Qaeda killers.
Antiwar protestors demonstrate in response to American soldiers getting killed, but rarely about robotic aircraft quietly obliterating distant terrorists. American fatalities can make war unpopular; a crashed drone is a "who cares?" statistic.
Still, there are lots of questions that arise from this latest American advantage. Waterboarding, which once sparked liberal furor, is now a dead issue. How can anyone object to harshly interrogating a few known terrorists when routinely blowing apart more that 2,000 suspected ones -- and anyone in their vicinity?
Predators both depersonalize and personalize war in a fashion quite unknown in the past. In one sense, killing a terrorist is akin to playing an amoral video game thousands of miles away. But in another, we often know the name and even recognize the face of each victim, in a way unknown in the anonymous carnage of, for example, the battles of Verdun and Hue. Does that make war more or less humane?
Once the most prominent critic of the war on terror, Obama has now become its greatest adherent -- and in the process is turning the tide against al-Qaeda. And so far, the American people of all political stripes -- for vastly different reasons -- seem more relieved than worried over Obama's most unexpected incarnation as Predator in Chief.
WSJ: Why defense
Reply #186 on:
October 14, 2011, 06:12:17 AM »
By BUCK MCKEON
What principles should guide the congressional super committee as it prepares to cut over $1 trillion from the federal budget by Thanksgiving? Priority No. 1 should be: not a penny more out of defense. A staggering level of defense spending is already on the butcher's block.
Since then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates launched an "efficiency" campaign in 2009, we have cut over half a trillion dollars from our armed forces. Although defense spending accounts for less than 20% of our federal budget, it has absorbed approximately half of our deficit-reduction efforts since 2009.
Now the super committee is operating under a mandate that holds our military hostage. If the 12 members don't agree on $1 trillion in cuts from the vast federal budget, an automatic "trigger" will cut $500 million from defense along with $500 million from elsewhere.
Such a drastic cut would force the Navy to mothball over 60 ships, including two of our precious 11 carrier battle groups, according to analysis by the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee. It would also force us to shed one-third of our Army maneuver battalions and Air Force fighter jets.
.The Marine Corps, meanwhile, would have to rewrite its warfighting doctrine and re-evaluate its core mission. The Corps already has too few ships to keep Marines at sea. Cuts would likely cancel production of several Marine aircraft lines and prevent the long-overdue replacement of the Marine amphibious assault vehicle. In short, the Marines would no longer be the service that is "most ready when the nation is least ready."
These radical changes would significantly degrade, if not eliminate, our ability to fulfill our commitments to allies like Taiwan and Israel. When asked by a Senate committee if the super committee's trigger would be "shooting ourselves in the foot," newly minted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta quipped: "We'd be shooting ourselves in the head."
What's more, cutting our military—either by eliminating programs or laying off soldiers—brings grave economic costs. The U.S. military is the principal guardian of our globalized economy's avenues of commerce. We protect the realms where business occurs and prosperity is born, including space, the skies, cyberspace and the world's oceans.
We live in a world where violence on the Korean peninsula, or in the South China Sea, or around the Mediterranean can ripple across the world economy, damaging markets that have a historically low tolerance for uncertainty and doubt. The U.S. military is the benevolent power jealously guarding the stability that makes global, and domestic, fiscal health possible.
And on the economic front, if the super committee fails to reach an agreement, its automatic cuts would kill upwards of 800,000 active-duty, civilian and industrial American jobs. This would inflate our unemployment rate by a full percentage point, close shipyards and assembly lines, and damage the industrial base that our warfighters need to stay fully supplied and equipped.
Armchair budgeteers often point out that the U.S. spends more on defense than the next several nations combined. This clumsy argument lacks critical nuance. It costs exponentially more money to sustain a U.S. service member than to keep a Chinese, Iranian or North Korean soldier under arms. And it costs money to sustain an all-volunteer force, which must compete with the private sector to attract quality recruits.
We rightly insist that our armed forces have the best training, equipment and leadership in the world. This is why personnel costs account for over half of our overall defense budget.
Other nations that can simply press their citizens into service have no such fiscal or moral obligations to their force, nor do they share America's unique role in sustaining global stability.
This highlights the real danger inherent in the temptation to target the Pentagon for even more cuts: If we violate the sacred trust of our service members—some on their sixth and seventh war zone deployments—we risk breaking the back of our all-volunteer force. Who then, will have our backs?
American safety and economic security rest on the shoulders of the U.S. military. Lately it seems we have taken their sacrifices for granted. From here forward, Washington—the super committee, Congress generally, and the president—must focus on the real drivers of our debt, namely entitlements and social welfare, not on the protector of our prosperity.
Mr. McKeon, a California Republican, is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
BEATING DECLINE: Miltech and the Survival of the U.S.
Reply #187 on:
October 16, 2011, 07:53:12 PM »
BEATING DECLINE: Miltech and the Survival of the U.S.
by J.R. Dunn
Dangerous times await the United States in the international arena. We are facing a period of relative decline in respect to other nations and the global community as a whole. Many are aggressive states with little reason to be friendly to us or to defer to our interests. Our status as leading nation will be challenged, imperiled, and disregarded. This circumstance is locked in and we cannot avoid it. Debt, inflation, overextension, and defense cuts, not to mention a strange national diffidence toward acting as world leader, guarantee this state of affairs.
On the occasion of his retirement in June, defense secretary Robert Gates warned against further defense cuts. “Frankly,” he was quoted as saying, ”I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.” Extraordinary words from a man who initiated more cuts than any previous secretary: over 30 programs, including the F-22 Raptor, the Army's Future Combat System, and the AF-1 airborne laser. In other words, some of the programs most crucial to maintaining American military capability in the 21st century.
Even as Gates made his departure, the Obama administration was ordering cuts of $400 billion over a period of twelve years. Leading liberal politicians such as Rep. Barney Frank have gone even further, calling for up to $1 trillion in cuts. And this is not to overlook the recent debt ceiling deal, in which automatic cuts to defense, amounting to $500 billion over and above the amounts already mentioned, will occur if a formal bipartisan budget agreement is not achieved.
At risk is the USAF’s B-3 bomber, the Navy's CG(X) cruiser and EPX intelligence plane, the Marine’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle, and the Navy’s new TAOX tanker and the next generation ballistic missile submarine. Talk has also been heard of cutting Army battalions, reducing the number of fleet aircraft carriers, basing fleet units in the continental U.S. rather than at forward bases, dismantling most of our nuclear arsenal, and axing that perennial target, abandoning U.S. Marine Corps aviation.
The reasons for this impasse, while interesting in themselves, do not really concern us as much as the simple reality of what we face. It’s in the cards and we will have to deal with it. How do we go about doing that?
Other dominant states have undergone the same ordeal. The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union can serve as examples. Following its magnificent WW II stand against fascism, the UK suffered a lengthy period of political decline in which its global empire, one of the best-ordered and in many ways admirable of all imperial systems, was stripped away in less than twenty years. The Soviet Union, a much less admirable state, suffered an explosive collapse in the early 1990s following its failure to implement socialism on a national scale while simultaneously challenging the West in the Cold War. Both nations benefited from the existence of an even more powerful national entity that ensured global stability while they adapted to their new status—the United States itself. Countries that might have contemplated taking advantage of the suddenly weakened superstates were held off by the American presence, allowing the UK and USSR to make their transition in relative security. (Only one nation attempted to throw the dice—Argentina in the 1983 Falklands conflict A shrunken Royal Navy succeeded in straightening out the Argentines with assistance from the U.S.)
No guarantor of international stability exists today. The United States will go through its period of readjustment very much on its own. As for challenges from lawless and predatory powers, the question is not if but when. What is in store for us is not conquest, not humiliation, not even necessarily defeat, but a slow erosion of influence and power that will limit our ability to meet crises and make our national will felt. We are already experiencing that erosion, and it will continue for some time to come.
Expansionist states on the cusp of becoming major regional powers will wish to exercise their newfound capabilities. Most see the U.S. as an obstacle. There can be little doubt that each of them views America’s current difficulties as a clear opportunity.
•China—Looks forward to taking back the rogue “province” of Taiwan while at the same time extending its control over the Western Pacific. An internal faction of unknown size and influence involving senior officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would not at all mind giving the U.S. a black eye in the process.
•Iran—Wishes to gain control over the Persian Gulf and the surrounding states in hopes of establishing something on the order of a Shi’ite caliphate. Its current nuclear weapons program is troubled (it suffered a serious setback as the target of the first tailored cyberweapon), but continuing. Further concern arises over extensive governmental influence from a Shi’ite apocalyptic cult comprised of believers in the imminent return of an Islamic messiah, the Twelfth Imam.
•North Korea—After nearly seventy years, still the personal domain of the world’s sole communist dynasty. Unstable and run by a family of doubtful sanity, North Korea is a perpetual irritant. With its arsenal of crude atomic weapons, it is in the peculiar position of being too weak to fully assert itself yet too well-armed to be ignored. Eventually this conundrum will be resolved through some kind of action.
•Russia—Interested in reestablishing military dominance over Eurasia while also clawing back a few strayed remnants of the old USSR. Important sections of the military and security organs are subject to feelings of anti-American revanchism over the results of the Cold War.
•Venezuela—Has eagerly adapted the mantle of spearhead of Latin Marxism from Cuba, with some success among neighboring states. Has also established close military ties with China and Iran, which include agreements for basing rights and emplacement of advanced strategic weapons systems.
•Pakistan—About to explode thanks to an evil synergy involving a totally corrupt military, an effectively unrestrained Islamist element, and seething ethnic rivalries. The problem lies in its possession of up to 110 nuclear weapons. (Nearly as many as the UK.) 1
•There also exist wild cards—threats that while perhaps unlikely, are within the realm of possibility.
•Europe—Union has not proven as easy or as popular as anticipated. It has long been pointed out that the EU has all the trappings of a neofascist state without the controlling ideology. That could change, and not necessarily for the better. Consider the UK or Ireland attempting to secede from the EU under such circumstances. The technical name for this is “civil war.” (Interestingly, one of the few novels to deal with the concept of European union, Angus Wilson’s satirical SF novel The Old Men at the Zoo, climaxes with exactly such a scenario.)
•Mexico—A potential government takeover by one of the cartels, or alternately a front politician under their control, would turn our southern border into even more of a war zone than it is already. We have been ignoring the Mexican drug war for several years now. We may not have this luxury for much longer.
•A Revived United Arab Republic—The “Arab Spring” has not turned out to be as happy an event as many of us hoped. The most powerful political group in the Arab states is the Muslim Brotherhood, a secret society with fascist antecedents considered to be the grandfather of all Islamic terrorist and Jihadi organizations. Any or all of the “liberated” Arab nations could fall prey to this outfit. (It appears that Egypt is doing so now.) The ramifications will be nothing but ugly.
•And let’s not forget the jihadis while we’re at it. That’s a fifty-year war and we are only one-fifth of the way through it.
Beyond these, we have the “unknown unknowns”—potential threats that we simply cannot foresee. An informed European of 1910 would never have guessed at fascism, Nazism, or communism, which dominated much of the 20th century and came close to destroying Europe. What awaits us in the next half-century is anybody’s guess. (How about a combination of the Singularity and neofascism?) Keeping in mind the words of a great statesman (Calvin Coolidge): “If you see ten troubles comin’ down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into a ditch before they get to you,” one or more of these will confront the U.S. while we are at the same time repairing the ravages of recent excesses, maintaining our standing in the international community, and fulfilling our obligations to our allies and treaty partners. There have been easier periods for this country.
We are no longer a hyperpower, and the status of superpower is slipping from our grasp. Within a decade, the U.S. will be merely one great power among a rising cohort of powers. We no longer possess the forces that defeated the Soviet Union, twice humiliated the armies of Saddam Hussein, and that for decades have guaranteed peaceful commerce across the oceans of the world. While much can be accomplished through diplomacy and alliances with other powers, situations will arise in which military force is the sole option. We must find alternatives to the vast resources that are no longer available to us.
We will not, for the foreseeable future, have access to the traditional American method of spending more money to buy more guns than anyone else on earth can afford. What does that leave us? With yet another traditional American method, one that used to be called “Yankee ingenuity”: using technology to solve problems that cannot be addressed in any other way.
The RMA and the American Dilemma
The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)2 is the formal name for changes in warfare brought about by technological innovation in the post-Vietnam period. Originally a Soviet concept, the RMA involves advances in such fields as computers, sensor technology, guidance systems, and communications which together hold the potential to increase the destructive capabilities of weaponry by an order of magnitude. Examples include precision-guided munitions (PGMs), stealth aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Considerable debate has occurred concerning the RMA’s effect on operations, strategy, tactics, and doctrine.
The RMA fell into disrepute after defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld utilized it as the basis of his “transformational” doctrine for the U.S. military. It was the source of the infamous “light footprint,” in which small, technologically advanced forces would destroy much larger conventional armies, requireing reduced outlay in time, resources, and finances. Rumsfeld was not completely mistaken—the forces that defeated Saddam Hussein in 2003 were much smaller than those dispatched to the Gulf in 1990. Technology made up the difference. What Rumsfeld overlooked was the fact that occupation and combat are two different things. Occupation requires large numbers of boots on the ground to assure security, control, and a smooth transition of power. The failure to meet those requirements in the wake of the Second Gulf War resulted in a lengthy guerilla conflict which sapped American resolve and nearly cost us the victory.
Over the past few years, military thinkers have begun to acknowledge that the RMA, far from being discredited, will continue to influence military affairs for the foreseeable future. Technology remains a major driver of military innovation and despite everything the United States remains the forerunner in technology. A 2008 RAND study, “U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology”3 found that the U.S. spends 40 percent of the world’s budget for research, produces 38 percent of new patents, and 63 percent of cited research papers. We also lead in application. The U.S. is the sole nation to have fielded a fleet of stealth fighters and bombers, the sole nation to have made the transition to combat drones, the first adaptor of battlefield robotics, and is very likely the first nation (along with its junior partner Israel) to have created and utilized a cyberwarhead. Technology will enable the United States to endure the challenges to come, and to put the fear of Uncle Sam anew into the world’s bandits, fanatics, and would-be Napoleons.
Naval power is the most important aspect of American military strength. The seapower thesis of Alfred Thayer Mahan4— that the United States comprises a “continental island” closer in nature to maritime states such as Japan and the UK than to the continental powers of Eurasia—has proven far more durable than most 19th-century geopolitical theories.
Since the destruction of the Japanese Imperial Fleet in 1944, the U.S. Navy has had no serious rival for control of the seas. For a short period in the 1980s the development of a Soviet blue-water navy caused some worries, but those ended along with the USSR. It is no coincidence that international trade based on maritime shipping underwent a boom during the postwar period. Security provided by U.S. naval dominance of the world’s oceans was a major factor in economic globalization. The vast amounts spent on America’s fleets have repaid themselves many times over.
In the early 21st century, U.S. maritime power faces its first major challenge in nearly seventy years. The fleet is steadily shrinking. In August 2011 it stood at 284 ships, less than half the 575 in commission twenty years ago. At the same time, several foreign fleets are in the process of establishing themselves as serious competitors. The Indian Navy is friendly. The Chinese and Iranian navies, not so much. In addition, piracy has undergone a dramatic rebirth, in Somalia in particular but also in areas such as the Indonesian archipelago. The 21st century sailor will have his hands full.
The Navy’s plan to meet these challenges is embodied in a doctrine called “AirSea Battle.” While little is known about this new strategy, it can be assumed to be a maritime version of AirLand Battle, the U.S. Army’s extremely effective late 20th century ground-combat strategy. AirLand Battle was based on the theories of the eccentric but brilliant USAF officer Col. John Boyd5, who spent a lifetime attempting to create a universal theory of warfare. AirLand Battle is a complex strategy of maneuver utilizing Boyd’s “decision cycle” (also known as the “OODA Cycle”)6, in which actions carried out at an accelerated pace deny the enemy any opportunity to respond. Large-scale disruptive aerial attacks are followed with swift flank attacks by mechanized units, assaulting not fixed geographic targets such as cities or bases, or even distinct military formations, but any enemy force within reach. The goal is to confuse and disrupt the enemy until utter collapse ensues. AirLand Battle is a strategy by which small, outnumbered forces can defeat much larger opponents through speed, maneuver, and initiative.
AirLand Battle never saw action against the Warsaw Pact, its original target, but found its moment in the two campaigns against the Iraqi Army. These were virtual textbook operations, with the U.S.-led Coalition dominating the battlespace from the start and swiftly subduing the Iraqis with very few direct engagements.
AirSea Battle7 is a combined-services strategy in which the USAF and Navy will act as a single offensive force. Working from the AirLand Battle template, we can assume that USAF long-range air assets will strike first, disrupting and demoralizing enemy maritime forces. They will be followed by naval air, surface, and submarine elements, striking with PGMs, cruise missiles, and long-range torpedoes. If carried out with the same ferocity as AirLand Battle, this strategy would climax with surviving enemy units fleeing the battlespace, leaving it dominated by U.S. naval forces.
Two major questions arise: can such a strategy be carried out by a steadily shrinking Navy? And can a strategy so dependent on the ever more vulnerable aircraft carrier remain viable into the 21st century?
Fleet carriers are among the most impressive warships ever to take to sea. But all things move toward their end, and carriers of the Nimitz and Ford class may have seen their day. The Chinese, the most serious maritime challenge facing our Navy, are doing their best to make the carrier obsolete. China considers the South China Sea as its territory, going so far as to refer to it as “blue soil,” an inherent part of the Chinese heritage. It has laid claim to the Spratleys, the Paracels, and other small island chains in defiance of Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. It has never given up its claim to Taiwan. It has suggested that other states—specifically the U.S.—abandon all interest in the area, in clear disregard of current treaties and the traditional law of the sea. (The U.S. is responding by sending its first three operational Littoral Combat Ships8 into the South China Sea. This is a carefully calibrated riposte: while not strategic assets, these shallow-water vessels—which the media have taken to calling “stealth ships”—are capable of a variety of missions including shore assault, reconnaissance and surveillance, special warfare, and deep-water combat. The message is easily read: we’re ready for anything.)
Whatever Chinese plans may be, one element that can upset them is the aircraft carrier. Each possesses the combat power of a medium-sized nation, unmatched versatility, and the moral force of a weapon that has never been adequately countered. The Chinese have worried about them for a long time, and have put a lot of work into countermeasures. These include:
•Cruise Missiles—Entire families of sea-launched cruise missiles are deployed on both surface ships—including fast patrol craft—and submarines.
•Song Class Diesel Submarines, —quite capable and very difficult to detect9. In 2006, a Song-class sub surfaced without warning only a short distance from the USS Kitty Hawk.
•The J-20 Stealth Fighter——from its size clearly not an air-superiority aircraft, but most likely intended as a strike aircraft10. It would be surprising if it wasn’t used against carriers.
•The DF-21D Ballistic Missile—over the past year, a new version of the DF-21 MRBM with anti-ship capabilities has been fielded11. The Chinese can deploy hundreds of these missiles in a short time frame.
•Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons (EMP)—China has apparently modified a number of nuclear warheads to trigger a high-altitude EMP pulse capable of damaging or destroying nearby electronic equipment12. While some are intended for use against Taiwan, others may target aircraft carriers. The code names of these weapons are “Assassin’s Mace” for older warheads and “Trump Card” for warheads using newer technology. (This is a good opportunity to kill the “EMP as national threat” myth. There’s been a lot of rhetoric expended claiming that the pulse from a single nuclear warhead set off 200 miles above the U.S. could fry all electronics gear across the country and plunge us into a new dark age. Well maybe, under perfect laboratory conditions, but even that’s doubtful. As a physicist pointed out to me, for this to work, you need to have more energy coming out than the original explosion put in. A little thing called the First Law of Thermodynamics forbids this.)
It would be a difficult trick to carry out a warfighting strategy with one of its central elements at the bottom of the briny deep. Potential defenses exist, chief among them directed-energy weapons. High-energy lasers would defeat most anti-ship threats, in particular missiles of all varieties. Unfortunately, the free-electron laser (FEL), the most well-adapted for naval use (FELs are tunable and can be fired at the best wavelengths to cut through sea haze, salt spray, fog, and other maritime commonplaces), was canceled by Congress last June13. (The Navy’s primary new offensive weapon, the electromagnetic railgun, was canceled at the same time.) Nothing less than such a universal defense will do. The Kamikaze campaign of 1945 clearly demonstrated how difficult it is to defend ships from determined attack. It won’t require the loss of very many $15 billion carriers along with their air wings to drive the U.S. out of the South China Sea or the Persian Gulf more or less permanently.
While the Chinese launched their first carrier—formerly the Ukrainian Varyag—this past summer, and are constructing at least two domestic carriers, they possess no support craft or escorts to sail with them. They’re unlikely to play a major role in the time-span we’re considering here.
But the fleet carrier is by no means the ultimate evolution of the aircraft carrier. The Navy has already studied the feasibility of smaller carriers14. In fact, future carriers may not resemble our current models, with their vast and crowded flight decks, in any fashion at all.
The key to this development is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle—the combat drone. The Navy came late to the drone revolution, but in recent years has gone all out to catch up. Last February marked the debut of the Northrop Grumman X-47B, a drone designed to take off and land on a carrier15. The Navy wants drones operating with carrier forces by 2018. Subsequent development of drones is likely to transform the carrier itself. There is no reason why drones need to operate exactly like manned aircraft, requiring a flight deck, arrestor gear, and the entire panoply of traditional naval aviation. Properly designed drones could be launched from any type of surface ship, or, for that matter, from submarines running underwater. It’s possible to foresee a time when every naval vessel, including support ships, operates a unit of drones, from a dozen aboard a support vessel such as a tanker to fifty or more aboard a guided missile cruiser.
Such drones would be very different birds from today’s pioneer models—nearly autonomous, cheap, and far more capable. They could well be expendable, with no recovery necessary. (The USAF has already fielded such a design, the MALD. See below.) It’s possible that they wouldn’t even be armed, instead destroying their targets by kinetic kill. Consider a swarm of hundreds of small, fast, maneuverable drones suddenly appearing out of nowhere, with no obvious source (and target) like a conventional aircraft carrier in sight. Such a capability would complicate enemy strategy immeasurably. It would also go a long way toward lowering the cost of a fleet and increasing the number of available combat vessels.
The drone revolution is by no means limited to aerial platforms. Application of drone technology to both surface and submersible craft is in process. Former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead initiated development of a long-range UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle), a robot submarine capable of operating independently for long periods on missions covering thousands of miles16. Roughead envisioned a basic guidance system and power plant module that can be reconfigured with weapon and sensor suites tailored for each particular mission. Such UUVs would patrol independently, report in by satellite linkage, and return to port on their own. Smaller versions could act as drone torpedoes, maintaining station on a semi-permanent basis and launching themselves at enemy shipping when the war signal arrives.
Necessary technology such as advanced AI algorithms and compact power plants remains enticingly out of reach. But less complex versions of such UUVs could very likely be launched today. These drones could accompany a fleet, acting as a first line of defense against enemy subs, be monitored constantly and rendezvous with surface vessels for maintenance and refueling. Such drones would be relatively cheap and expendable where manned submarines would not be.
Preliminary work has also been done on surface drones by the Navy in cooperation with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the DoD’s in-house research department, particularly involving an unmanned frigate, the Anti-submarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV)17. An ACTUV could patrol vast areas of ocean for months with no human input. On encountering a sub, it would notify its naval HQ, and perhaps also latch onto the sub’s signal and follow it wherever it went, rendering the crew’s life incredibly nerve-wracking. One interesting development involves the Navy’s creation of an online game, ACTUV Tactics, where outside players compete as ACTUV’s or sub skippers, in order to work out the best tactics to encode as operational algorithms18. (What’s that you say? Potential enemy sub skippers can log on too, and learn all the tricks? I guess nothing’s perfect.)
Another weapon overdue for technological enhancement is the sea mine, an often underrated asset. During the last months of WW II, mines dropped from USAAF B-29 Superfortresses into the Inland Sea and coastal areas brought Japanese maritime activity to a standstill, completely isolating the Home Islands.
The 21st century mine will be a far cry from the anchored “dumb” mines of WW II. They will have limited autonomous capability, be able to detect and target individual ships, avoid minesweepers, and maneuver into optimal attack positions. Several warheads could be fitted with programmable fuses to suit the targets. Networks of these mines would communicate and coordinate their attacks. Enemy fleets and merchant marine vessels might well be locked into their ports, unable to emerge for fear of hordes of “smart mines.” When hostilities end, the mines would be signaled to surface and wait for pickup.
A picture of the fleet to come begins to take form, surrounded by a cloud of undetectable drones, preceded by a shield of small unmanned submarines, with robot frigates patrolling the fringes, and the manned ships on the center. Small in numbers, and nowhere near as impressive as a Nimitz-class carrier and its escorts, but with a potential combat power orders of magnitude greater than any current fleet. Stealthed, laser and railgun armed (we can assume that these programs are on “zombie” status, with current work carefully preserved and waiting for funding), integrated into satellite weather, detection, and communication systems, capable of tracking targets at the other side of the ocean and engaging them at half that distance. Such a fleet would possess capabilities unknown up to this point in time, and perhaps unguessable even today.
Maintaining Air Superiority
For several decades, the U.S. Air Force has carried the banner of military technological innovation. Working with DARPA, the “Pentagon’s mad scientists,” the USAF has been responsible for the most spectacular and effective technological breakthroughs of recent years, including stealth aircraft and the combat drone. Can this partnership prevail into the 21st century?
Since WW II, the U.S. has possessed effective air superiority over other combatants. Except for short periods over Korea in 1950-51 and Vietnam in 1966-67, American superiority was so overwhelming that at times opponents didn’t even dare challenge it. During the First Gulf War (1991), Iraqi Air Force units defected en masse to Iran to avoid destruction by Coalition air assets. After the Hussein regime was overthrown in 2003, pathetic little monuments were found in the desert where Iraqi MiGs had been buried in sand to protect them.
Technology was the leading reason for American superiority in the air. Following the Korean War, John Boyd discovered that the USAF had gained ascendancy over Communist air forces when the F-86E Sabre was introduced to combat in 1952. Unlike earlier models, the E Sabre featured hydraulic controls, enabling it to shift from one maneuver to the next before enemy MiG-15s could react. This created an extraordinary situation in which the USAF was provided with the winning edge without even realizing it. (This insight formed the basis of Boyd’s “decision cycle” thesis.)
While the U.S. currently retains this edge, there’s no guarantee it will keep it. Aviation technology is a fast-changing field, sensitive to breakthroughs in many technical disciplines. Both Russia and China have tested stealth fighters, with the Russians claiming their Sukhoi PAK TA T-50 as fully equal to the USAF’s F-22 Raptor, the premier U.S. air superiority aircraft19. Production of the Raptor was capped at 187 planes by Secretary Gates over the protests of Air Force staff. While Gates claimed that the less-capable F-35 Lightning II would take up the slack, questions about program costs and delays have arisen over the past year. (Both the F-22 and F-35 have experienced serious systemic flaws over the past year that led to some aircraft being grounded. These should be viewed as shakedown problems not uncommon among new high-performance aircraft. The B-29, the bomber that defeated Japan, had numerous failings including uncontrollable engine fires and windows popping out at high altitude. The F-86 killed so many pilots that it was called the “lieutenant eater.” The B-47, the first strategic jet bomber, had a particularly stark drawback—in the early models, the wings tended to fall off during sharp turns.) The Marine Corps S/VTOL version is currently “on probation” and may well be cancelled. We could end up with far fewer than the 2,400 F-35s planned.
Another threat lies in advances in radar. It is possible to design a radar system that can detect, if not track, stealth aircraft. Australia’s JORN (Jindalee Operational Radar Network) system detects the turbulence created by an aircraft’s passage and is claimed to have a range of several thousand miles20. The Chinese are known to be working on an ultra-high frequency radar for the purpose of defeating stealth. It is easily possible that further advances could negate the stealth advantage, leaving the U.S. without air superiority for the first time since 1944.
The answer to this dilemma may well lie in the UAV. It’s remarkable to consider that the drone revolution that has transformed so many aspects of warfare was a matter of pure inadvertence. The original MQ-1 Predator drones were unarmed and were retrofitted with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles only after it was realized that the time lag between drones detecting a target and a fighter-bomber response was unnecessary. Since that time, drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper have been designed for weapons carriage from the first. We can assume that all drones from this point on will possess at least the capability of being armed.
It has been understood since 1972, when a Ryan Firebee operated by remote control easily outmaneuvered an F-4 Phantom in a series of dogfights, that drones could operate in the air-superiority role. It would be a simple matter to fit Predators or Reapers with AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-120 AMRAAM missile kits to enable them to operate as fighters. But both lack necessary speed and maneuverability, although the RQ-170 “Beast of Kandahar” drone, with its stealthy features and swept wings, appears to be approaching that level.
There’s little reason to doubt that DARPA, in its thorough way, is working on such aircraft and that prototypes may be flying at this moment at Groom Lake or a similar test base.
On the other hand, the future may already have arrived in the form of the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD), a small, expendable drone designed to confuse and overwhelm air defense radars21. MALDs can be programmed to maneuver precisely like manned aircraft, and can be launched by the hundreds from transports, hopelessly saturating any current air-defense system. Raytheon has begun developing versions of the MALD fitted with sensors and warheads, transforming them into armed fighter drones.
A MALD air-superiority system could be deployed in a number of ways. They could be launched from transports or AWACs (launch racks have been developed for this purpose), goading an opponent into sending up his aircraft, which would then be downed en masse by the drones. Range could be extended by shutting off the engine and gliding, or alternately by zooming up to high altitude, deploying a balloon or parachute, and drifting until a threat appears. (A USAF anti-radiation missile, the AGM-136 Tacit Rainbow, operates on this principle.)
Manned fighters carrying MALDs in lieu of bombs or external fuel tanks could launch them just before coming into enemy radar range. After the first wave of drones engaged the enemy, the F-15s and F-22s would fly in to mop up.
Whatever the technique (and experienced pilots and weapons officers will no doubt come up with far more intricate and effective tactics), it is clear that cheap drones can make up for shortfalls in manned air-superiority aircraft. With its current head start in UAV technology, the U.S. need not drop into second place (and in air combat, anything below number one is the loser) anytime soon. It’s also clear that drones will not “replace” so much as supplement manned fighter aircraft for the foreseeable future. There will always be a need for conscious mentalities, if only to figure out when the battle’s over.
A Bomber Revival?
The USAF has traditionally been a bomber service, its major mission that of strategic bombing, its legendary figures—Mitchell, Arnold, Spaatz, LeMay—bomber pilots and commanders. It was only in recent years that fighter pilots were granted the same lofty status as the bomber aristocracy.
But the manned bomber has had a rough time in recent decades, squeezed between improved air defenses and the titanic expense required to overcome them. Of the last three proposed strategic bombers, the B-70 Valkyrie was cancelled outright in the early 1960s, the B-1 Lancer was cancelled and then resurrected in the 1980s, and the B-2 Spirit, the storied “stealth bomber,” was limited by its cost of over $1 billion apiece to only 21 aircraft (20 of which are still flying, one having crashed at Guam in February 2008). The Air Force currently possesses under 200 strategic bombers, a derisory number compared the thousands deployed during the Cold War, much less the tens of thousands that fought WW II.
But drone technology may, paradoxically, rescue the manned bomber. Secretary Gates cancelled a bomber scheduled to be fielded by 2018. Apparently having second thoughts, Gates green-lighted a new bomber project just before his retirement. This Deep Strike Aircraft will be a stealth model that can fly either manned or unmanned, depending on mission requirements. While little is known about the B-3’s actual configuration, the bomber would possess both conventional and nuclear capability, carrying PGMs, bunker-busters, or air-to-ground rockets. Defense could be provided by high-energy lasers and also by versions of the MALD with the B-3 in effect carrying its own escort force, deployed upon entering hostile airspace and accompanying the bomber on its run against a target. (Aviation buffs will recognize this as the millennial version of the XF-85 Goblin, a late 1940s fighter designed for carriage by the B-36 as an escort plane. If you wait long enough, every technical gimmick comes around for a second run.) Over $4 billion has been budgeted for strike aircraft development. If all goes according to schedule, 80 to 100 B-3s will join the inventory sometime in the mid 2020s22.
Another revival is the Prompt Global Strike system, a weapon that could hit targets at intercontinental distances from CONUS (the Continental United States) within two hours. This weapon could strike high-value targets of temporary nature (say, a conference of terrorist leaders) without the diplomatic complications that might arise from launching an attack from a third-party state.
Several attempts have been made to develop such an asset, including a proposal to utilize surplus ICBMs or submarine-launched missiles in the role that was abandoned after it became apparent that there was no plausible way to assure bystander nations that they weren’t packed full of nuclear warheads. Attention shifted to hypersonic aircraft, with several projects initiated, including the Falcon (Force Application and Launch from CONUS), a reusable hypersonic cruise vehicle launched by rocket and capable of carrying a 12,000 lb. payload up to 9,000 miles, and the Blackswift, a Mach 6 multimission aircraft developed by DARPA for use as a spy plane, bomber, or satellite launcher23. Although funding of $1 billion was authorized, the Blackswift was cancelled in 2009.
But the hypersonic aircraft concept proved too tough to kill. The past year has seen some promising developments, including a successful test of the USAF’s X-51 hypersonic missile and flights by the Falcon HTV-2 which, though not flawless (the Falcons lost telemetry links with the ground and shut themselves down), produced valuable data. It was further revealed that yet another hypersonic bomber project, dubbed “Son of Blackswift” is under development. It appears that the U.S. will have an intercontinental fist to add to its conventional arsenal.
The United States need not relinquish its superiority as regards air power. The crucial question involves funding. Aerospace technology is expensive and often the first to be cut, as shown by the B-70, the B-1, and the Blackswift. But such cuts often represent false economies. Early in WW II, American pilots were forced to fight in sturdy but obsolescent aircraft such as the Bell P-39 and the Curtiss P-40 that simply could not stand up to the Luftwaffe’s Me-109s and Fw-190s, much less the superb Mitsubishi A6M Zero. It required two years for adequate American designs to appear. It would take far longer today, and wars in the millennial era simply don’t last that long. (The UK, on the other hand, spent large amounts during the mid-1930s developing fast, maneuverable eight-gun fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. These aircraft saved the country during the Battle of Britain.)
End Notes for Part One:
Calling all Seals!
Economist on electro-magnetic weapons
Reply #188 on:
October 16, 2011, 08:06:54 PM »
From the Economist - war without blood shed?
Warfare is changing as weapons that destroy electronics, not people, are deployed on the field of battle
Oct 15th 2011 | from the print edition
BULLETS and bombs are so 20th-century. The wars of the 21st will be dominated by ray guns. That, at least, is the vision of a band of military technologists who are building weapons that work by zapping the enemy’s electronics, rather than blowing him to bits. The result could be conflict that is less bloody, yet more effective, than what is now seen as conventional battle.
Electromagnetic weapons, to give these ray guns their proper name, are inspired by the cold-war idea of using the radio-frequency energy released by an atom bomb exploded high in the atmosphere to burn out an enemy’s electrical grid, telephone network and possibly even the wiring of his motor vehicles, by inducing a sudden surge of electricity in the cables that run these things.
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That idea, fortunately, was never tried in earnest (though some tests were carried out). But, by thinking smaller, military planners have developed weapons that use a similar principle, without the need for a nuclear explosion. Instead, they create their electromagnetic pulses with magnetrons, the microwave generators at the hearts of radar sets (and also of microwave ovens). The result is kit that can take down enemy missiles and aircraft, stop tanks in their tracks and bring speedboats to a halt. It can also scare away soldiers without actually killing them.
Many electromagnetic weapons do, indeed, look like radars, at least to non-expert eyes. America’s air force is developing a range of them based on a type of radar called an active electronically scanned array (AESA). When acting as a normal radar, an AESA broadcasts its microwaves over a wide area. At the touch of a button, however, all of its energy can be focused onto a single point. If that point coincides with an incoming missile or aircraft, the target’s electronics will be zapped.
Small AESAs—those light enough to fit on a plane such as a joint strike fighter (F-35)—are probably restricted to zapping air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles (the air force is understandably reticent about supplying details of their capabilities). Ground- or ship-based kit can draw more power. This will be able to attack both ballistic missiles and aircraft, whose electronics tend to be better shielded.
In the case of the F-35, then, this sort of electromagnetic artillery is mainly defensive. But another plane, the Boeing Growler, uses electromagnetics as offensive weapons. The Growler, which first saw action in Iraq in 2010 and has been extensively (though discreetly) deployed during the NATO air war against Colonel Qaddafi’s forces in Libya, is a souped-up version of the Super Hornet. It is fitted with five pods: two under each wing and one under the fuselage. Some pods contain AESAs or similar electromagnetic weapons. Others have eavesdropping equipment inside them. In combination, the pods can be used either to spy on enemy communications or to destroy them; to suppress anti-aircraft fire; to disable the electronics of ground vehicles; and to make life so hazardous for enemy aircraft that they dare not fly (and probably to shoot them down electronically, too, though no one will confirm this). The Growler is able to keep its weapons charged up and humming by lowering special turbines into the airstream that rushes past the plane when it is flying. America has ordered 114 of the planes, and has taken delivery of 53.
By land, sea and air
Nor are aircraft the only vehicles from which destructive electromagnetic pulses can be launched. BAE Systems, a British defence firm, is building a ship-mounted electromagnetic gun. The High-Powered Microwave, as it is called, is reported by Aviation Week to be powerful enough to disable all of the motors in a swarm of up to 30 speedboats. Ships fitted with such devices would never be subject to the sort of attack that damaged USS Cole in 2000, when an al-Qaeda boat loaded with explosives rammed it. A gun like this would also be useful for stopping pirate attacks against commercial shipping.
Land vehicles, too, will soon be fitted with electromagnetic cannon. In 2013 America hopes to deploy the Radio-Frequency Vehicle Stopper. This device, developed at the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Virginia, is a microwave transmitter the size and shape of a small satellite dish that pivots on top of an armoured car. When aimed at another vehicle, it causes that vehicle’s engine to stall.
This gentle way of handling the enemy—stopping his speedboats, stalling his tanks—has surprising advantages. For example, it expands the range of targets that can be attacked. Some favourite tricks of modern warfare, such as building communications centres in hospitals, or protecting sites with civilian “human shields”, cease to be effective if it is simply the electronics of the equipment being attacked that are destroyed. Though disabling an aircraft’s avionics will obviously cause it to crash, in many other cases, no direct harm is done to people at all.
The logical conclusion of all this is a so-called “human-safe” missile, which carries an electromagnetic gun instead of an explosive warhead. Such a missile is being developed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and will soon be tested at the White Sands Missile Range.
There is, however, at least one electromagnetic weapon that is designed to attack enemy soldiers directly—though with the intention of driving them off, rather than killing them. This weapon, which is called the Active Denial System, has been developed by the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, in collaboration with Raytheon. It works by heating the moisture in a person’s skin to the point where it feels, according to Kelley Hughes, an official at the directorate who volunteered to act as a guinea pig, like opening a hot oven. People’s reaction, when hit by the beam, is usually to flee. The beam’s range is several hundred metres.
Such anti-personnel weapons are controversial. Tests on monkeys, including ones in which the animals’ eyes were held open to check that the beam does not blind, suggest it causes no permanent damage. But when a vehicle-mounted Active Denial System was sent to Afghanistan in May 2010, it was eventually shipped back home without being used. The defence department will not say exactly why. The suspicion, though, is that weapons like the Active Denial System really are reminiscent in many minds of the ray guns of science fiction, and that using them in combat would be a PR mistake. Disabling communications and destroying missiles is one thing. Using heat-rays on the enemy might look bad in the newspapers, and put civilians off their breakfast.
Cold showers are good for you
To every action there is, of course, an equal and opposite reaction, and researchers are just as busy designing ways of foiling electromagnetic weapons as they are developing them. Most such foils are types of Faraday cage—named after the 19th-century investigator who did much of the fundamental research on electromagnetism.
A Faraday cage is a shield of conductive material that stops electromagnetic radiation penetrating. Such shields need not be heavy. Nickel- and copper-coated polyester mesh is a good starting point. Metallised textiles—chemically treated for greater conductivity—are also used. But Faraday cages can be costly. EMP-tronic, a firm based in Morarp, Sweden, has developed such shielding, initially for the Gripen, a Swedish fighter jet. It will shield buildings too, though, for a suitable consideration. To cover one a mere 20 metres square with a copper-mesh Faraday cage the firm charges €300,000 ($400,000).
Shielding buildings may soon become less expensive than that. At least two groups of scientists—one at the National Research Council Canada and the other at Global Contour, a firm in Texas—are developing electrically conductive cement that will block electromagnetic pulses. Global Contour’s mixture, which includes fibres of steel and carbon, as well as a special ingredient that the firm will not disclose, would add only $20 to the $150 per cubic metre, or thereabouts, which ordinary concrete costs.
The arms race to protect small vehicles and buildings against electromagnetic warfare, then, has already begun. Protecting ships, however, requires lateral thinking. For obvious reasons, they cannot be encased in concrete. And building a conventional Faraday cage round a naval vessel would be horribly expensive.
Daniel Tam, of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, thinks he has a way to get round that. He proposes to use the electrical conductivity of the sodium and chloride ions in seawater to create a novel type of Faraday cage. A shroud of seawater around a ship, thrown up by special pumps and hoses if the vessel came under electromagnetic attack, would do the trick, he reckons.
It is an ambitious idea. Whether it works or not, it shows how much the nature of modern belligerency is changing. Bombs and bullets will always have their place, of course. But the thought that a cold shower could protect a ship from attack is almost surreal.
from the print edition | Science and technology
Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 06:58:34 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #189 on:
October 27, 2011, 08:03:55 PM »
"We had been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization.
We were able to verify that all this was true, and, because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and vilify our action.
I cannot believe that all this is true and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead.
Make haste to reassure me, I beg you, and tell me that our fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the Republic.
If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones in these desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the Legions."
Not enough to worry about? That's just fg great
Reply #190 on:
November 02, 2011, 05:55:42 PM »
I'm not real wild about the WSJ putting this out there for millions of eyeballs , , ,
By ANDREW F. KREPINEVICH
Nearly 60 years ago the classic television documentary series "Victory at Sea" first recounted the U.S. Navy's exploits during World War II. Several episodes highlighted the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines that were waging guerrilla war at sea. Their objective: destroy allied cargo ships providing an economic lifeline from America to Britain.
The German submarines pursued a form of warfare known as commerce raiding, attacking the enemy's economic assets at sea. The U.S., British and Canadian navies won the Battle of the Atlantic, thanks to their use of convoys and exploitation of advances in antisubmarine warfare technology and tactics—but only after suffering horrendous losses in blood and treasure.
At war's end, the United States emerged as far and away the world's predominant naval power. Since then the U.S. commitment to providing unfettered access to the world's seas to all nations has enabled an era of economic globalization and growth.
Memories of a time when access to the seas was not guaranteed have faded. Yet much has changed in the past 60 years. Two developments in particular suggest a growing need for the United States and other peaceful nations to begin thinking anew about how to defend their maritime commerce, albeit under very different circumstances.
The first development is the emergence of an undersea economy. Two years after World War II, in 1947, the first offshore discovery of oil out of sight of land occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Today nearly 30% of U.S. oil production and 15% of gas production is produced from wells on the Outer Continental Shelf. Globally, some 30% of the world's oil output comes from offshore production.
An enormous amount of capital investment has gone into creating this undersea energy infrastructure. This includes the oil platforms that drill, extract and temporarily store oil and gas, as well as the oil and gas wellheads, pipelines and pumps required to transfer the product from its undersea location to shore.
This vast infrastructure was built with the assumption that while it would have to weather natural disasters, it would not be a target in war. In military parlance, much of the infrastructure comprises "soft" targets that would not require much in the way of explosives to cause significant, and perhaps catastrophic, damage. Fortunately many of these targets have not been easy to reach—until now.
This brings us to the second development: the diffusion of military technology and weaponry that can threaten the undersea economy with a new form of commerce raiding.
In recent years, Latin-American narco-cartels have begun moving their cargo by submarine. While not even remotely in a class with the U.S. Navy's submarines, these simple boats are nevertheless capable of operating undersea in littoral waters while moving tons of cocaine. They have a range of up to 2,000 miles and cost but a few million dollars to build. These submarines can submerge to depths of a few dozen feet, which is sufficient to make detection difficult, allowing them to approach offshore oil platforms with little or no warning.
Even more disturbing is the proliferation of unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, which were once almost exclusively operated by Western militaries. With the growth of the undersea economy, civilian development and production took off in the 1980s. UUVs are now widely used for a variety of commercial and scientific purposes.
These UUVs are perhaps best known for their role in locating sunken ships. Unlike the small submarines operated by narco-cartels, UUVs can descend to the ocean floor. If adapted for military purposes, they could carry mines and other explosives, as well as cameras and electronic sensors. They are also becoming cheaper, with a wide variety of systems available for sale in the private sector.
Then there are naval mines, now manufactured in more than 30 countries. Some producers, like Russia, are developing mines with better sensors, target-recognition systems, stealthy coatings, and self-propulsion systems to enable them to move about. But mines don't need to be sophisticated to be effective, especially against the thousands of soft targets populating the continental shelf.
While narco-cartels are interested in making money, not war, this is not the case with radical nonstate entities or their state sponsors. Some groups, including al Qaeda, seek to achieve victory not by defeating their enemies on the battlefield but by inflicting unacceptable pain or damage, either against defenseless civilians or economic infrastructure. Toward this end, radical Islamists have undertaken attacks, employing far less sophisticated means and with minimal success, on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden in October 2002 and Saudi oil production facilities in February 2006. Should the U.S. find itself in a confrontation with Iran, it might employ proxies to achieve similar ends.
For a relatively small effort on their part, in short, America's enemies could potentially impose enormous costs on its undersea economy, including loss of energy resources, damaged infrastructure and environmental degradation.
This nascent threat to America's undersea energy assets demands attention before it arrives on the nation's doorstep. The Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Defense Department, should explore the cost and feasibility of options for defending the undersea energy economy, so they can move quickly to build a defensive shield if the need arises. The intelligence community should monitor the threat by focusing on the proliferation of undersea means of attack, especially as it pertains to radical nonstate entities. On the diplomatic front, efforts should be made to engage in this effort friendly states that have significant undersea energy assets of their own, such as Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Given the stakes involved, just as the U.S. and its allies developed the forces, capabilities and methods needed to defend their economic assets at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic, a similar effort is needed now with respect to America's undersea economic interests. The alternative is to hope for the best—and hope is not a strategy.
Mr. Krepinevich is president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Chinese TV Host Says Regime Nearly Bankrupt
Reply #191 on:
November 16, 2011, 04:28:19 PM »
GM, the article I meant was the one about the stuff visible from outer space-Marc
Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 05:49:03 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Chinese TV Host Says Regime Nearly Bankrupt
Reply #192 on:
November 16, 2011, 05:58:16 PM »
Quote from: G M on November 16, 2011, 04:28:19 PM
GM, the article I meant was the one about the stuff visible from outer space-Marc
I thought that was a strange place for the economic article.....
China 'hiding up to 3,000 nuclear warheads in secret tunnels'
Reply #193 on:
December 01, 2011, 08:43:11 PM »
China 'hiding up to 3,000 nuclear warheads in secret tunnels'
An unconventional project by US university students has concluded that China's nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than current estimates, drawing the attention of Pentagon analysts.
9:23AM GMT 01 Dec 2011
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Georgetown University students under the instruction of a former Pentagon official have assembled the largest body of public knowledge yet about a vast network of secret tunnels dug by China's secretive Second Artillery Corps, responsible for nuclear warheads.
The 363-page study has not yet been published, but has already sparked a congressional hearing and been circulated among top US defence officials, including the Air Force vice chief of staff, the Post reported.
"It's not quite a bombshell, but those thoughts and estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information," it quoted an unnamed Defense Department strategist as saying.
The newspaper said critics of the report had questioned the students methods, which included using internet-based sources like Google Earth, blogs, military journals and even a fictionalised Chinese TV show.
But the Post also said the students were able to obtain a 400-page manual produced by the Second Artillery and usually only available to Chinese military personnel.
The students' professor, Phillip Karber, 65, spent the Cold War as a top strategist reporting directly to the secretary of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Post said.
Karber said that – based on the study of the tunnels – China could have up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, far higher than the current estimates, which range from 80 to 400, according to the Post.
US officials could not immediately be reached to comment on the report.
Iran captures our drone
Reply #194 on:
December 08, 2011, 11:33:37 AM »
I'm sure we've all seen the reports about one of our very best drones being captured by Iran. Apparently this is VERY bad, the reverse engineering possibilities (to be shared with the Chinese no doubt and perhaps the Russians too) are terrible.
Chinese possible Port of Call in Seychelles
Reply #195 on:
December 12, 2011, 08:26:04 PM »
Dispatch: The Chinese Navy's Possible Port of Call in the Seychelles
December 12, 2011 | 2304 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:
Vice President of Strategic Analysis Rodger Baker discusses the Chinese dilemma over the use of a port in the Seychelles.
• China Prepares for the U.S. Re-Engagement in Asia
China’s Ministry of National Defense said Dec. 12 that the Chinese navy may use ports in the Seychelles, or other countries, as ports of call for ongoing counter-piracy missions and for future deployments. The comments follow an invitation from the Seychelles for China to use the island nation’s ports and to establish a military presence on the main island of Mahe, already a regular port of call for the United States and other nation’s warships and military aircraft such as U.S. UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and French maritime surveillance aircraft.
China’s response highlights a continuing debate inside the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] regarding overseas basing. The PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] has been participating in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Africa since December 2008. Supplying and maintaining these ships at a distance has been a test of the Chinese navy’s capacity for extended deployment. As part of the resupply, China has used several ports in the region, primarily Salalah in Oman, but also Aden, Djibouti and Karachi. Resupplying from the Seychelles would mark a further expansion of the range of China’s PLAN deployments, and would be the furthest of the resupply ports from the current anti-piracy operations.
Beijing arranges what are essentially ad hoc agreements to use friendly ports and facilities, avoiding the diplomatic agreements necessary to allow more established and enduring access to the facilities for the Chinese navy. This is largely due to the Chinese government’s stated non-interference policies and its attempts to shape the international image of Chinese overseas military operations as purely defensive and cooperative and thus non-threatening.
But this can bring China’s public image in contention with military necessity. The ad hoc arrangements have been effective thus far, but it leaves Chinese long-distance maritime operations without the means to establish more robust and reliable access and facilities, particularly in terms of forward maintenance and rearmament. For now, this appears to be a risk China is willing to take, using its political and economic leverage to ensure basic access for refueling without the formal diplomatic agreements for extended port use by the PLAN and particularly the facilities that a sustained forward presence requires. But as China continues to expand the range and role of its naval forces, this question of overseas basing agreements will intensify.
Drone, tricked into landing
Reply #196 on:
December 16, 2011, 07:16:03 PM »
Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer
In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran.
By Scott Peterson, Payam Faramarzi* | Christian Science Monitor – 11 hrs agoEmail
Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran.
Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.
Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
"The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain."
The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control center, says the engineer.
The revelations about Iran's apparent electronic prowess come as the US, Israel, and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iran's missile and industrial facilities, and the Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.
Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.
Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible.
"Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation, says former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding that it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it flies on a different course. “I wouldn't say it's easy, but the technology is there.”
In 2009, Iran-backed Shiite militants in Iraq were found to have downloaded live, unencrypted video streams from American Predator drones with inexpensive, off-the-shelf software. But Iran’s apparent ability now to actually take control of a drone is far more significant.
Iran asserted its ability to do this in September, as pressure mounted over its nuclear program.
Gen. Moharam Gholizadeh, the deputy for electronic warfare at the air defense headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), described to Fars News how Iran could alter the path of a GPS-guided missile – a tactic more easily applied to a slower-moving drone.
“We have a project on hand that is one step ahead of jamming, meaning ‘deception’ of the aggressive systems,” said Gholizadeh, such that “we can define our own desired information for it so the path of the missile would change to our desired destination.”
Gholizadeh said that “all the movements of these [enemy drones]” were being watched, and “obstructing” their work was “always on our agenda.”
That interview has since been pulled from Fars’ Persian-language website. And last month, the relatively young Gholizadeh died of a heart attack, which some Iranian news sites called suspicious – suggesting the electronic warfare expert may have been a casualty in the covert war against Iran.
Iran's growing electronic capabilities
Iranian lawmakers say the drone capture is a "great epic" and claim to be "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News on Dec. 13 that the US will "absolutely" continue the drone campaign over Iran, looking for evidence of any nuclear weapons work. But the stakes are higher for such surveillance, now that Iran can apparently disrupt the work of US drones.
US officials skeptical of Iran’s capabilities blame a malfunction, but so far can't explain how Iran acquired the drone intact. One American analyst ridiculed Iran’s capability, telling Defense News that the loss was “like dropping a Ferrari into an ox-cart technology culture.”
Yet Iran’s claims to the contrary resonate more in light of new details about how it brought down the drone – and other markers that signal growing electronic expertise.
A former senior Iranian official who asked not to be named said: "There are a lot of human resources in Iran.... Iran is not like Pakistan."
“Technologically, our distance from the Americans, the Zionists, and other advanced countries is not so far to make the downing of this plane seem like a dream for us … but it could be amazing for others,” deputy IRGC commander Gen. Hossein Salami said this week.
According to a European intelligence source, Iran shocked Western intelligence agencies in a previously unreported incident that took place sometime in the past two years, when it managed to “blind” a CIA spy satellite by “aiming a laser burst quite accurately.”
More recently, Iran was able to hack Google security certificates, says the engineer. In September, the Google accounts of 300,000 Iranians were made accessible by hackers. The targeted company said "circumstantial evidence" pointed to a "state-driven attack" coming from Iran, meant to snoop on users.
Cracking the protected GPS coordinates on the Sentinel drone was no more difficult, asserts the engineer.
US knew of GPS systems' vulnerability
Use of drones has become more risky as adversaries like Iran hone countermeasures. The US military has reportedly been aware of vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.
Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were "subject to listening and exploitation."
Perhaps as easily exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern military depends.
"GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by poorly controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3 players, or even mobile satellite services," Andrew Dempster, a professor from the University of New South Wales School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, told a March conference on GPS vulnerability in Australia.
"This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked out how they can jam GPS," he says.
The US military has sought for years to fortify or find alternatives to the GPS system of satellites, which are used for both military and civilian purposes. In 2003, a “Vulnerability Assessment Team” at Los Alamos National Laboratory published research explaining how weak GPS signals were easily overwhelmed with a stronger local signal.
“A more pernicious attack involves feeding the GPS receiver fake GPS signals so that it believes it is located somewhere in space and time that it is not,” reads the Los Alamos report. “In a sophisticated spoofing attack, the adversary would send a false signal reporting the moving target’s true position and then gradually walk the target to a false position.”
The vulnerability remains unresolved, and a paper presented at a Chicago communications security conference in October laid out parameters for successful spoofing of both civilian and military GPS units to allow a "seamless takeover" of drones or other targets.
To “better cope with hostile electronic attacks,” the US Air Force in late September awarded two $47 million contracts to develop a "navigation warfare" system to replace GPS on aircraft and missiles, according to the Defense Update website.
Official US data on GPS describes "the ongoing GPS modernization program" for the Air Force, which "will enhance the jam resistance of the military GPS service, making it more robust."
Why the drone's underbelly was damaged
Iran's drone-watching project began in 2007, says the Iranian engineer, and then was stepped up and became public in 2009 – the same year that the RQ-170 was first deployed in Afghanistan with what were then state-of-the-art surveillance systems.
In January, Iran said it had shot down two conventional (nonstealth) drones, and in July, Iran showed Russian experts several US drones – including one that had been watching over the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.
In capturing the stealth drone this month at Kashmar, 140 miles inside northeast Iran, the Islamic Republic appears to have learned from two years of close observation.
Iran displayed the drone on state-run TV last week, with a dent in the left wing and the undercarriage and landing gear hidden by anti-American banners.
The Iranian engineer explains why: "If you look at the location where we made it land and the bird's home base, they both have [almost] the same altitude," says the Iranian engineer. "There was a problem [of a few meters] with the exact altitude so the bird's underbelly was damaged in landing; that's why it was covered in the broadcast footage."
Prior to the disappearance of the stealth drone earlier this month, Iran’s electronic warfare capabilities were largely unknown – and often dismissed.
"We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. "Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold." When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it might be rigged to self-destruct, but they "were so excited they could not stay away."
* Scott Peterson, the Monitor's Middle East correspondent, wrote this story with an Iranian journalist who publishes under the pen name Payam Faramarzi and cannot be further identified for security reasons.
Re: Military Science and Military Issues
Reply #197 on:
December 17, 2011, 11:45:35 AM »
I repeat my accusation of vaginitis in the Commander in Chief's failure to destroy or retrieve the drone.
The Square Axis
Reply #198 on:
December 18, 2011, 03:40:16 AM »
THE SQUARE AXIS: CUBA//IRAN/IRAQ/CHINA
By Manuel Cereijo
Dr. Miyar Barruecos, El Chomi. Dr. Luis Herrera. Cuba and Iran.
Since 1990, Cuba and Iran have cooperated in the development of weapons of massive destruction. Dr. Miyar Barruecos, physician, very close to Castro, has been the force behind the throne in this alliance. Dr. Luis Herrera, from the CIGB, and one of the main scientists in the development of the CIGB and the biological weapon programs in Cuba, has been the operator, the facilitator, in the massive and huge cooperation between Cuba and Iran.
Cuba just finished, May 2001, the construction of a Biotechnology Center in Teheran. Cuba served as the source of technology, selling of equipment, and project management for the Center.
Iran has bought the best fruits of the CIGB, recombinant protein production technologies in yeast and Escherichia coli, as well as the large scale purification protocols for both soluble and insoluble proteins synthesized in or excreted by them.Iran can use these technologies to create bioweapons of massive destruction.
Iran, with Cuba's assistance, is capable of producing the bacteria known as Pseudomonas. The pathogen is not usually lethal to humans, however, produces partial paralysis for a period of time, and therefore but is an excellent battlefield weapon.
Sprayed from a single airplane flying over enemy lines, it can immobilized an entire division or incapacitate special forces hiding in rugged terrain otherwise inaccessible to regular army troops-precisely the kind of terrain in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and similar terrorist regions.
Besides Cuban scientists, at least there are about ten scientists from the Biopreparat Russian Center working in Iran. The New York Times reported in December 1998 that the Iranian government dispatched a few scientific advisors attached to the office of the presidency in Moscow to recruit former scientists from the Russian program.
In May, 1997, more than one hundred scientists from Russian laboratories, including Vector and Obolensk, attended a Biotechnology Trade Fair in Teheran. Iranians visited Vector, In Russia, a number of times, and had been actively promoting exchanges. A vial of freeze-dried powder takes up less space than a pack of cigarettes and is easy to smuggle past an inattentive security guard.
The Soviet Union spent decades building institutes and training centers in Iran and Cuba. For many years, the Soviet Union organized courses in genetic engineering and molecular biology for scientists from Cuba and Iran. Some forty scientists from both countries were trained annually.
In 1997 Russia was reported to be negotiating a lucrative deal with Iran and Cuba for the sale of cultivation equipment including fermenters, reactors, and air purifying machinery.
A report submitted by the U.S. Office of Technological Assessment to hearings at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in late 1995 identified 17 countries believed to possess biological weapons. Among them: Cuba and Iran.
The Cuba/Iran alliance posses a real threat to the national security of the United States.
Dr. Rodrigo Alvarez Cambra. The main coordinator of the alliance.
Viruses and bacteria can be obtained from more than fifteen hundred microbe banks around the world. The international scientific community depends on this network for medical research and for the exchange of information vital to the fight against disease.
According to American biowarfare experts, Iraq obtained some of its most lethal strains of anthrax from the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Maryland, one of the world's largest libraries of microorganisms. For $35 they also pick up strains of tularemia and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, once targeted for weaponization at Fort Detrick, United States.
Iraq was also given by the CDC the West Nile virus in the late 1980s. At the same type, the CDC gave Cuba the St. Louis encephalitis virus, very similar to the West Nile virus. Since the 1980s, Cuba and Iraq established very close relations. This was partially due to Dr. Rodrigo Alvarez Cambra, a well known orthopedic surgeon, who has operated on Hussein's knee, and also has treated other members of his family, including one of his sons.
By early 1990s, Iraq had provided Cuba with anthrax, for its further development. A report submitted by the U.S. Office of Technological Assessment to hearings at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in late 1995 identified seventeen countries believed to posses biological weapons-Libya, North Korea, South Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Syria, Israel, China, Egypt, Vietnam, Laos Bulgaria, India, South Africa, Russia, and Cuba.
At the time Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected in 1995, he not only denounced Iraq activities in these weapons of massive destruction, but also the close relationship of Iraq, first with the former Soviet Union, and presently with Cuba. Yury Kalinin , one of the most important persons in Russia's biological development, visited Cuba in 1990 to establish in Cuba the Biocen, a Center very similar to Russia's Biopreparat. He acknowledged at the time, the involvement of Cuba in biological weapon development. Some 25 Cuban scientists were periodically trained in the Soviet Union from 1986 to 1992.
Furthermore, Cuba has advanced tremendously in the area of nano-technology, an essential tool in the development of bio-weapons, and computer related technology. Fidel Castro Diaz Balart, Castro's oldest son, and former head of Cuba's nuclear program, visited India and Iraq to strengthen collaboration on this vital area.
Castro visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASSR) in October, 2000. Cuba and India agreed in collaboration on areas like biotechnology, tropical medicine, nano technology and computational technology.
Prof. V. Krishnan, JNCASR President said Cuba had tremendous advancement in biotechnology and nanotechnology. After his visit to India. Castro Diaz Balart visited Iraq and Iran.
The Cuba/Iraq cooperation is the most important threat faced by the United States in this fight against terrorism.
The fall of communism has not reduced the level or amount of espionage and other serious intelligence activity conducted against the United States. The targets have not changed at all: there is still a deadly serious foreign interest, and mainly from the new China/Cuba consortium, in traditional intelligence activities such as penetrating the U.S. intelligence community, collecting classified information on U.S. military defense systems, and purloining the latest advances in the nation's science and technology sector.
There is also a growing importance in maintaining the integrity of the country;s information infrastructure. Our growing dependence on computer networks and telecommunications has made the U.S. increasingly vulnerable to possible cyber attacks against such targets as military war rooms, power plants, telephone networks, air traffic control centers and banks. China and Cuba have increased their cooperation in this area through the Bejucal base in Cuba, as well as in Wajay (near Bejucal), and Santiago de Cuba. On these bases they use technologically sophisticated equipment, as well as new intelligence methodologies that makes it more difficult, or impossible for U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor or detect.
The international terrorism threat can be divided into three general categories. Each poses a serious and distinct threat, and each has a presence already in the United States. The most important category is the state sponsored threat. This category, according to the FBI, includes the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Lybia, Cuba, North Korea. Put simply, these nations view terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. In view of this list, we need to evaluate the recent trip made by Fidel Castro.
There are three main areas of concern for us in the new and dangerous axis formed by China and Cuba: radio frequency weapons, computer technology, missile capabilities. The problem with the Chinese Cuban rapprochement is that it is driven by by mutual hostility towards the United States.
Radio frequency weapons are a new radical class of weapons. Radio frequency weapons can utilize either high energy radio frequency (HERF), or low energy radio frequency(LERF) technology. HERF is advanced technology. It is based on concentrating large amounts of RF EM energy in within a small space, narrow frequency range, and a very short period of time. The result is an overpowering RF EM impulse capable of causing substantial damage to electronic components.
LERF utilizes relatively low energy, which is spread over a wide frequency spectrum. It can be no less effective in disrupting normal functioning of computers as HERF due to the wider range of frequencies it occupies. LERF does not require time compression neither high tech components. LERF impact on computers and computer networks could be devastating. The computer would go into a random output mode, that is, it is impossible to predict what the computer would do. A back up computer will not solve the problem either. One example of LERF use was the KGB's manipulation of the United States Embassy security system in Moscow in the late 80s.
Worldwide proliferation in RF weapons has increased dramatically in the last five years. The collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the most significant factor contributing to this increase in attention and concern about proliferation. The KGB has split into independent parts. One of them is referred to as FAPSI. It has been partially privatized. Spin-off companies have been created, with very attractive golden parachutes for the high officers. FAPSI, or its spin-off companies have been heavily involved in China and Cuba in RF technology, as well as computer technology.
China, PRC, has stolen design information on the United States most advanced thermonuclear weapons. The stolen information includes classified information on:
Seven U.S. thermonuclear warheads, including every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal
Classified design information for an enhanced radiation weapon (neutron bomb), which neither the USA , nor any other country has yet deployed
Classified information on state of the art reentry vehicles, and warheads, such as the W-88, a miniaturized, tapered warhead, which is the most sophisticated nuclear weapon the United States has ever built.
These and other classified information have been obtained in the last 20 years. However, the now presence in Cuba, with the use of the Bejucal base, and the proximity to the United States, makes the China/Cuba new axis a very serious threat to this nation. In 1993, a Cuban nuclear engineer, and high officer of the Cuban Intelligence military apparatus, was awarded a one year stance at Sandia National Labs, Albuquerque, doing research on Physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials. The officer is, since 1999, in exile in the United States.
The PRC has acquired also technology on high performance computers(HPC). HPCs are needed for the design and testing of advanced nuclear weapons. The PRC has targeted the U.S. nuclear test data for espionage collection. This can be accomplished through the facilities in Cuba.
China'new venture in Cuba will:
Enhance China's military capability
Jeopardize U.S. national security interests
Pose a direct threat to the United States
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WSJ on Newt on EMP
Reply #199 on:
December 18, 2011, 06:44:24 PM »
Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls has brought attention to his various "big ideas," and plenty of derision from other GOP Presidential hopefuls and the media. Among the most undeserved targets is the former Speaker's concern about an electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) attack.
In speeches and articles over many years, Mr. Gingrich has sounded the alarm about this vulnerability. A single nuclear explosion high in the Earth's atmosphere would create an electromagnetic pulse that could do enormous harm by destroying electronic circuits on the ground. "Such an event would destroy our complex, delicate high tech digital society in an instant and throw all our lives back to an existence equal to that of the Middle Ages," he wrote in an introduction to "One Second After," a 2009 science-fiction novel by William Forstchen. He has returned to this theme during the campaign.
The usual media suspects have recently run skeptical stories on his "doomsday vision" and "silly science." They claim that terrorists aren't close to getting a nuclear weapon and that no country would dare try an EMP attack. But then few imagined a terror attack using airplanes against the twin towers or anthrax in letters.
A single nuclear weapon detonated above the U.S. might not kill anyone immediately. But in the worst case millions could subsequently die from a lack of modern medical care or possibly food, since farmers couldn't harvest crops nor distributors get food to market. Access to drinking water could be cut if many of America's dams, reservoirs and water-treatment facilities were shut down. The U.S. would also then be more exposed to a secondary attack by conventional weapons.
These scenarios aren't Mr. Gingrich's inventions. They come from a commission created by Congress in 2000. In a 2008 report, the commission called EMP "one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences."
Mr. Gingrich deserves credit for bringing EMP to public attention. The commission recommended better intelligence, especially in coastal waters from which a Scud missile with a nuke could be launched, robust missile defenses, and hardened protection for the civilian electrical power grid. Denial of EMP, or scorn for the messenger, offers no protection.
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