New War Plans, New Weapons Systems

Not a walk in the park. Defense One; Foreign Affairs; TomDispatch. A taste of things to come as war plans shift to visions of full-spectrum conflict, strategic and tactical, cyber war, space war, AI war… China, Russia, the U.S. in a 21st century geo-political Great Game, all-too-real moves with new war systems, new nukes…

 

Weapons Wishlist for War with China & Russia

Defense One

U.S. Army leaders revealed Tuesday (April 16) that they are briefing top military commanders about new weapons being built specifically for “high-intensity conflict” against China and Russia, in a new effort to assure that they could provide vital firepower for those potential battlefields of the future.

Army Secretary Mark Esper said he wants to shift some money away from vehicles and aircraft more suited for conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and into “what I need to penetrate Russian or Chinese air defenses.”

Among the new weapons and technologies he said are critical: long-range artillery, attack and reconnaissance aircraft, air and missile defenses, and command-and-control networks. Esper said the artillery — known as Long-Range Precision Fires — could be used “to hold at bay Chinese ships.”

Army officials recently briefed Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, who oversees all U.S. military personnel in the Asia-Pacific region. This comes as the Army plans to rotate thousands of soldiers on expeditionary deployments throughout the Pacific — an expansive region often associated with Navy and Air Force military operations.

“We want to talk to [U.S. European Command] as well,” Esper said. “What we’re trying to do is go out and tell them what we’re doing.”

“What I don’t have right now is an attack/reconnaissance aircraft,” Esper said during a briefing at the Pentagon. “That’s what I need to penetrate Russian or Chinese air defenses… my emphasis has to be on rebuilding my armor, rebuilding my fighting vehicles, having aircraft that can penetrate Russia and Chinese air defenses, that can shoot down Russian and Chinese drones and missiles and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. We’re in this transition period…”

 

The New Revolution in Military Affairs

Via Foreign Affairs

War’s Sci-Fi Future

If ever there were a time to get serious about the coming revolution in military affairs, it is now. There is an emerging consensus that the United States’ top defense-planning priority should be contending with great powers with advanced militaries, primarily China, and that new technologies, once intriguing but speculative, are now both real and essential to future military advantage. Senior military leaders and defense experts are also starting to agree, albeit belatedly, that when it comes to these threats, the United States is falling dangerously behind.

This reality demands more than a revolution in technology; it requires a revolution in thinking. And that thinking must focus more on how the U.S. military fights than with what it fights. The problem is not insufficient spending on defense; it is that the U.S. military is being countered by rivals with superior strategies.

It is still possible for the United States to adapt and succeed, but the scale of change required is enormous. The traditional model of U.S. military power is being disrupted, the way Blockbuster’s business model was amid the rise of Amazon and Netflix. A military made up of small numbers of large, expensive, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace systems will not survive on future battlefields, where swarms of intelligent machines will deliver violence at a greater volume and higher velocity than ever before. Success will require a different kind of military, one built around large numbers of small, inexpensive, expendable, and highly autonomous systems. The United States has the money, human capital, and technology to assemble that kind of military. The question is whether it has the imagination and the resolve…

Artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies will change the way war is fought…

Technology will radically alter how militaries shoot, both literally and figuratively. Cyberattacks, communication jamming, electronic warfare, and other attacks on a system’s software will become as important as those that target a system’s hardware, if not more so. The rate of fire, or how fast weapons can shoot, will accelerate rapidly thanks to new technologies such as lasers, high-powered microwaves, and other directed-energy weapons…

The militaries of the future will also be able to shoot farther than those of today. Eventually, hypersonic munitions (weapons that travel at more than five times the speed of sound) and space-based weapons will be able to strike targets anywhere in the world nearly instantly. Militaries will be able to attack domains once assumed to be sanctuaries, such as space and logistics networks. There will be no rear areas or safe havens anymore. Swarms of autonomous systems will not only be able to find targets everywhere; they will also be able to shoot them accurately. The ability to have both quantity and quality in military systems will have devastating effects, especially as technology makes lethal payloads smaller.

The way militaries communicate will change drastically. Traditional communications networks—hub-and-spoke structures with vulnerable single points of failure—will not survive. Instead, technology will push vital communications functions to the edge of the network. Every autonomous system will be able to process and make sense of the information it gathers on its own, without relying on a command hub. This will enable the creation of radically distributed networks that are resilient and reconfigurable… inverting the current paradigm of command and control.

 

The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since WWII

Via TomDispatch / Nation Books

The Violent American Century addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized hostilities, proxy wars, and the nuclear terror of the Cold War, and ending with the asymmetrical conflicts of the present day. The military playbook now meshes brute force with a focus on non-state terrorism, counterinsurgency, clandestine operations, a vast web of overseas American military bases, and—most touted of all—a revolutionary new era of computerized “precision” warfare. In contrast to World War II, postwar death and destruction has been comparatively small. By any other measure, it has been appalling—and shows no sign of abating.

“John Dower ends this grim recounting of 75 years of constant war, intervention, assassination and other crimes by calling for “serious consideration” of why the most powerful nation in world history is so dedicated to these practices while ignoring the nature of its actions and their consequences – an injunction that could hardly be more timely or necessary as the Pentagon’s “arc of instability” expands to an “ocean of instability” and even an ‘atomic arc of instability’ in Dower’s perceptive reflections on today’s frightening world.” — NC

 

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization

Via the Los Alamos Study Group

The expected overall 30-year cost of US nuclear weapons now exceeds $2 trillion, if Department of Energy (DOE) estimates of its environmental liabilities and updated weapon costs are used, without however including the proposed intermediate-range missiles and their warheads. This year’s DOE budget request for nuclear warheads is 12% greater than FY2019’s in constant dollars – the 7th year of cost escalation in this work and another all-time US warhead spending record…

 

 

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