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May 18, 2005

Close Encounters
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

So Derek is writing about a bi-partisan Congressional group's call to add 100,000 troops to the U.S. army and Lorelei is arguing that we need to reallocate funds to beef up up other agencies to help shoulder pressing challenges now shouldered by the military.  Meanwhile the Pentagon is spending untold billions - and proposing to appropriate far more - on offensive and defensive weapons in space.  The NY Times reports:

The Air Force believes "we must establish and maintain space superiority," Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. "Simply put, it's the American way of fighting." Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as "freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack" in space.

Never mind that no one has ever attacked us from space, nor has or is building the means to do so.  Never mind that the $100 billion already spent on a "Star Wars" missile shield has failed to yield a functioning technology.  Never mind that, based on my confessedly limited knowledge of the Judeo-Christian tradition, space was supposed to be god's realm, not man's.

Some of the proposed programs to be developed include:

Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.

A third program would bounce laser beams off mirrors hung from space satellites or huge high-altitude blimps, redirecting the lethal rays down to targets around the world. A fourth seeks to turn radio waves into weapons whose powers could range "from tap on the shoulder to toast," in the words of an Air Force plan.

Speaking of Star Wars, can it really be coincidence that this is being pushed to coincide with the final Star Wars Revenge of the Sith release?  Having learned what to expect from Karl Rove, I doubt it.

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Comments

Wouldn't it make more sense to have some kind of multilateral treaty barring the militarization of space? Or is it too late for that sort of thing?

This isn't "Star Wars", it's something from Austin Powers.

Can we call this Bush's "Sharks with Friggin' Laser Beams" program?

You know, I have one simple request, and that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now, evidently, my cycloptic colleague informs me that that can't be done. Can you remind me what I pay you people for? Honestly, throw me a bone here!

Suzanne- if Karl Rove really *does* plan that far in advance, it's clear you can't beat him, so you might as well join him. ;-)

ps: the idea isn't all that new- it's been floating around since the 90s, at least.

"Never mind that no one has ever attacked us from space, nor has or is building the means to do so. Never mind that the $100 billion already spent on a "Star Wars" missile shield has failed to yield a functioning technology. Never mind that, based on my confessedly limited knowledge of the Judeo-Christian tradition, space was supposed to be god's realm, not man's."

Yeah, Suzanne, that's the spirit! Use that blind emotional reaction instead of examining the issue in an impartial frame of mind.

As rosignol notes (and I note in my blog post [http://armchairgeneralist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/05/
space_wars.html]), this is not news. The Air Force has had an "Air and Space Operations" focus for some time. Some of their concepts are off the wall, but the intent is to get there first, gain the high ground, and ensure that we don't get flanked. It's not a horrible godless idea, they have a plan and Congress gave them money to pursue concepts and make plans. It's our job as moderates to guide their plans and ensure that our national security is not compromised because some other nation gets up there first. So calm down and relax, study the issue, and reassess.

Actually the rods thing is an excellent idea. Using mass-driver type objects as non-nuclear weapons is definitely feasible.

...c'mon: space is already militarized, from the cameras that can read your license plate number to the satillites...c'mon: space is already militarized; from the cameras that can read your license plate number, to the overhead GPS systems that will be able to locate nearly everything electronic in a few years, to the satellites that knock each other out of orbit, to the warheads hiding in geosynchronous satellites above each and every continent, space is literally cluttered with weapons.

you don’t need billions of dollars to rain sci-fi havoc from the heavens, just will and the tech savvy that now exists.

J. is exactly right. The "transformation of the military" (however you care to define it) increasingly depends on space for C4I; in fact, that may become our center of gravity as doctrine and training catch up with evolving TTP, so efforts to secure it are critical.


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