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Current Topic: Military Technology

Space Wars - Coming to the Sky Near You?
Topic: Military Technology 5:56 am EST, Feb 23, 2008

Scientific American is apparently not afraid of a little bombast:

Space warfare is not inevitable. But the recent policy shift in the US and China’s provocative actions have highlighted the fact that the world is approaching a crossroads. Countries must come to grips with their strong self-interest in preventing the testing and use of orbital weapons. The nations of Earth must soon decide whether it is possible to sustain the predominantly peaceful human space exploration that has already lasted half a century. The likely alternative would be unacceptable to all.

See also, The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:

Herman Kahn was the only nuclear strategist in America who might have made a living as a standup comedian. Indeed, galumphing around stages across the country, joking his way through one grotesque thermonuclear scenario after another, he came frighteningly close. In telling the story of Herman Kahn, whose 1960 book "On Thermonuclear War" catapulted him into celebrity, Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi captures an era that is still very much with us--a time whose innocence, gruesome nuclear humor, and outrageous but deadly serious visions of annihilation have their echoes in the "known unknowns and unknown unknowns" that guide policymakers in our own embattled world. Portraying a life that combined aspects of Lenny Bruce, Hitchcock, and Kubrick, Ghamari-Tabrizi presents not one Herman Kahn, but many--one who spoke the suffocatingly dry argot of the nuclear experts, another whose buffoonery conveyed the ingenious absurdity of it all, and countless others who capered before the public, ambiguous, baffling, always open to interpretation. This, then, is a story of one thoroughly strange and captivating man as well as a cultural history of our moment. In Herman Kahn's world is a critical lesson about how Cold War analysts learned to fill in the ciphers of strategic uncertainty, and thus how we as a nation learned to live with the peculiarly inventive quality of strategy, in which uncertainty generates extravagant threat scenarios. Revealing the metaphysical behind the dryly deliberate, apparently practical discussion of nuclear strategy, this book depicts the creation of a world where clever men fashion Something out of Nothing--and establishes Herman Kahn as our first virtuoso of the unknown unknowns.

Space Wars - Coming to the Sky Near You?

Inside the Multimillion-Dollar Battle to Host the Air Force's New 'Cyber Command'
Topic: Military Technology 7:33 am EST, Feb 12, 2008

"We have to change the way we think about warriors of the future," says Lord. "So if they can't run three miles with a pack on their backs but they can shut down a SCADA system, we need to have a culture where they fit in."

Inside the Multimillion-Dollar Battle to Host the Air Force's New 'Cyber Command'

Command Shapes Tomorrow’s Cyberwarriors
Topic: Military Technology 7:33 am EST, Feb 12, 2008

The US Air Force is laying both physical and virtual groundwork for its newest warfighting organization, the Air Force Cyberspace Command. This unique group will have a physical headquarters, but it will be virtual in nature, with most of its personnel distributed across several bases.

"What has driven this whole business is speed. We’ve gone from the pony express to train mail, to Federal Express to e-mail."

These rapid changes not only affect how the Air Force fights wars, but also how commands such as AFCYBER conduct their daily business. Because of the rapid nature of threats in cyberspace, the Air Force must respond to worms and other types of cyberattacks almost instantaneously. Gen. Lord notes that the Air Force cannot hope to respond by developing a software patch and distributing it across the entire organization in several days because an enemy can take control of an entire network within two or three minutes. “You need the ability to be very agile,” he emphasizes.

This agility will require establishing rules of engagement for defensive and for counter-cyber operations. "You’ll have to fight in the network while an adversary is potentially in it."

Command Shapes Tomorrow’s Cyberwarriors

The Complex Crux Of Wireless Warfare
Topic: Military Technology 7:07 am EST, Feb  7, 2008

The warriors of the future: software developers, one with spiked hair, another who looks too young to vote. They are working on the largest software program in Defense Department history, a project that the military says dwarfs Microsoft's Windows. The project is the heart of Future Combat Systems, the Army's most expensive weapons program.

"There's nothing like it, ever," said Loren B. Thompson, a defense consultant at the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank. "Nobody has ever before attempted to integrate a software system as remotely complicated as FCS is going to be. It is many times more complicated than any other defense program."

"Magic under the hood" is what Boeing engineer Paul D. Schoen, one of the project leaders, calls the software. Others in the military call it Windows on steroids. John Williams, a chisel-jawed sergeant stationed at the Boeing plant who has served in both wars with Iraq, isn't interested in what it's called.

Military experts question the ability of the code to withstand an onslaught of attacks -- from hackers, worms and Trojan horses -- that could leave soldiers vulnerable.

The Complex Crux Of Wireless Warfare

Proposed Military Spending Is Highest Since WWII
Topic: Military Technology 10:01 pm EST, Feb  4, 2008

The Pentagon on Monday will unveil its proposed 2009 budget of $515.4 billion. If it is approved in full, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.

This is in absolute dollars; measured as a percentage of GDP, the current figure is much smaller.

Budget of the United States Government, FY09

Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President’s budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. Other related and supporting budget publications, such as the Economic Report of the President, are included, which may vary from year to year.

Proposed Military Spending Is Highest Since WWII

The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive
Topic: Military Technology 11:55 am EST, Feb  2, 2008

On Dec. 12, the Air Force announced with considerable fanfare at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia that its F-22 fighter had reached "full operational capability." Air Combat Command commander Gen. John Corley called it a "key milestone."

Brimming with pride, a spokesman for the manufacturer, Lockheed, stated: "The F-22 is ready for world-wide operations" -- and then added, "... should it be called upon."

His afterthought makes the point: There are, of course, two wars going on, and the F-22 has yet to fly a single sortie over the skies of Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor has the Air Force announced any intention of sending the F-22 to either theater.

The Air Force is quite right to keep the F-22 as far as possible from either conflict. The airplane is irrelevant to both, and were it to appear in those skies, it almost certainly would set U.S. and allied forces back.

See the counterpoint:

One of my favorite sayings is, "If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck." The F-22 ensures that America's fight against any hostile air power will be very one-sided.

Consider, as well, one of Rumsfeld's Rules:

If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.

The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive

Navy/OSD Collaborative Review of Acquisition Policy for DoD C3I and Weapon Programs
Topic: Military Technology 11:54 am EST, Feb  2, 2008

This briefing reviews current U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) policy for ensuring interoperability and information assurance of command, control, communication, intelligence, and weapon systems. DoD interoperability, information assurance, acquisition, and joint requirement policy are reviewed. This review identifies ambiguities, conflicts, overlaps, and shortfalls in DoD policy and recommends solutions for clarifying policy and remedying other shortcomings. The authors found that interoperability-related policy issuance has sharply increased in recent years and includes conflicts and redundancies. They also found that global information grid (GIG) technical guidance is still evolving because of continuing advances and change in networking and software technologies. The authors recommend reducing the number of policies and increasing their actionability and traceability. They also recommend that technology risk levels be developed for GIG functional areas, that these be used to track GIG programs during development, and that net-centric implementation documents more carefully define the capabilities for core GIG enterprise services and specify the technical standards with which GIG programs will have to comply for interoperability.

Navy/OSD Collaborative Review of Acquisition Policy for DoD C3I and Weapon Programs

The State of Space Security
Topic: Military Technology 11:41 am EST, Feb  2, 2008

U.S. national security space policy is best characterized by continuity across many years and Presidential administrations. Continuity includes the U.S. commitment to basic principles first advanced by the United States at the outset of the Space Age, including our support for the Outer Space Treaty and other elements of international law, which we believe provide the legal authority to respond to the emerging challenges of the Twenty-First Century.

Although the United States is determined to keep sufficient flexibility for its national security interests, we also recognize that some emerging external challenges require new forms of international cooperation with allies, friends and other responsible spacefaring nations to protect the free access to, and operations through, space.

The State of Space Security

Increased Focus on Requirements and Oversight Needed to Improve DOD’s Acquisition Environment and Weapon System Quality
Topic: Military Technology 11:12 am EST, Feb  2, 2008

It's all about the incentives ...

Quality problems have caused cost overruns, schedule delays, and reduced weapon system availability on the 11 DOD weapon systems we reviewed. ... the Wideband Global SATCOM communications satellite’s initial operating capability date was delayed by 18 months because a supplier had installed some fasteners incorrectly and 1,500 fasteners on each of the first three satellites had to be reinspected. ... Prime contractors’ poor practices related to systems engineering, manufacturing, and supplier quality contributed to these problems.

... leading commercial companies ... apply more discipline and ... set well-defined product requirements and performed appropriate testing, which are critical systems engineering practices.

DOD’s acquisition environment does not provide incentives to prime contractors to use best practices to efficiently build high-quality weapon systems. The department faces challenges setting achievable requirements for systems development and providing effective oversight during the development process. In conducting systems development, DOD generally pays the allowable costs incurred for the contractor’s best efforts and accepts most of the financial risks associated with development because of technical uncertainties. However, DOD and its contractors often enter into development contracts before requirements have been analyzed with disciplined systems engineering practices. This introduces significant cost and schedule risk to a development program, risk that is not borne by the prime contractor, but by DOD. Contractors have little incentive to utilize the best systems engineering, manufacturing, and supplier quality practices to control costs ...

The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics has identified several initiatives DOD recently started that might eventually help improve weapon system quality. Some of its new initiatives address problems we noted in this report, such as placing greater emphasis on setting achievable requirements before starting development. However, DOD has not taken actions that would address problems related to prime contractor systems engineering, manufacturing, and supplier quality practices we found in our review of the 11 weapon systems.

We are making recommendations that the Secretary of Defense improve weapons system quality by setting achievable requirements at the start of weapon system development, overseeing and expanding initiatives that could improve quality, and using data to assess prime contractor performance and weapon system quality.

Increased Focus on Requirements and Oversight Needed to Improve DOD’s Acquisition Environment and Weapon System Quality

Defense Science Board Task Force on Directed Energy Weapons
Topic: Military Technology 11:12 am EST, Feb  2, 2008

"Don't Lase Me, Bro!"

While the task force heard descriptions of dozens of technically feasible and operationally relevant directed energy programs and activities, the report focuses on a smaller number of the most promising applications. Applications with potential to provide superior capabilities include long-range strategic missions such as space control and force protection, and tactical missions such as ground-based defense against rockets, artillery, and mortars and defense against man portable air defense systems. For some applications directed energy has the potential to compete favorably with kinetic solutions; for others, no adequate kinetics approach currently exists.

Defense Science Board Task Force on Directed Energy Weapons

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