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Monday, February 05, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future: Part I Introduction & Informed Command

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future
By Tim Krenz
December 7, 2017
For Hometown Gazette

Part I


Wars have always had direct cost, deadly costs, on peoples in the zones of conflict. Where wars once could limit themselves in their damage within a geographic area, in the zones of conflict that political choices declared as combat areas or theaters of war, wars in the 21st Century will make a massive expansion in their affects, both in terms of geographic range and direct impact on non-combatants.

Since the invention of nuclear weapons married to long-range delivery systems, the entire globe became a potential war zone in a general war involving such weapons systems. Beneath the specter of nuclear Armageddon, people everywhere remain under the implied threat of total and unrestrained destruction. A mix of diplomacy, economics, geography, and culture, combined with fear, threat and deterrence, thus far has saved humanity from drowning and choking in the sour milk and bitter honey of its harvest of science for war.

Now, in the era of a new, dark frontier of potential conflict, with yet another technical level of weaponry in development and early deployments, even in a so-called conventional war without nuclear-derived explosives, people everywhere stand in even more risk from modern war. While the technology advances, the zones of conflict have not necessarily expanded by political choices. Yet, the dark frontier of war in the new era of weapons casts its shadow over those directly within and those far removed from the active theaters of war or even lesser, ill-defined conflicts.

How the near-term conflicts play themselves out put everyone, everywhere at risk as potential casualties and victims of policies that start, fight, and finish war as a political choice. What does the new Dark Frontier of warfare mean? How does it compare with the old? What counter-measures can stop these new weapons of today and tomorrow? How does it affect non-combatants?

To describe these new technical additions to the old problems of arms, one can look at them within the framework of model based on four concurrent levels or divisions of war fighting: Informed Command, Smart Base, Stealth Fires, and Connected Maneuver.

The first division in the model, Informed Command, represents the deciding brain, the moral willpower, and the intellectual gifts that fight a conflict to its inevitable conclusion. In the past, one supreme person gave the motive and intelligent purpose to their army. Kings like Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, the Emperor Napoleon, or a constituted and commissioned commander like General Washington, could use their singular abilities to directly command and control their army. At those relatively primitive times with the available technology, one person could exercise such authority and genius to command their forces and direct them to the objective of a victory.

With the rise of national armies, the staff system of technicians and specialists, beyond the assistants of the kings and supreme commanders, gave the single power of a commander greater scope to exercise their decisions, their moral willpower, and the intellectual plan over larger and larger forces using more complex technology. And this command and control spread over greater geographic areas, with all efforts engaged in operations and local combat, all still working toward the singular overriding aim in war—the victory over the enemy's powers of resistance.

Currently, the Informed Command model uses a staffing system, but utilizing even greater advances in technology to do so. The command functions of modern armed forces have moved even beyond the simple technicians of war, like a Ludendorff using the analog systems of war to direct operations. Command has become digitized. In networks of systems that still rely on the single will of power as its guiding light, and a staff to implement plans and execute actions, the Informed Command has morphed to include remote sensors, near-instaneous communications, and technical, even social means of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

For lack of a more precise term, the current command system gets labeled here by the acronym “C4ISR” (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance). Its purpose remains the same as with a single king or officer and the analog staff of technicians directing operations. However, now that new levels of technology have expanded beyond the limits of simply digitizing an analog war of fighting and killing enemies, the next dark frontier of war makes it both logical and feasible to proceed.

The next step in Informed Command will come in the form of Cyber-Bionics, a union of soldier and higher authorities, where machines that enhance physical human capacities combine with near artificial intelligence interfacing for increasing the combatants ability to achieve objectives. With quicker thinking and action and much greater tempo of both understanding situations and exploiting opportunities, the advantages clearly points the way ahead. In a way, generals become grunts and vice versa. As a practical union of man and machine for making more effective war, but absolutely not as some sci-fi robot zombie, humans harnessing machines and nuanced digital thought-enhancing awareness pose all manners of moral and ethical, and legal, and even health questions, in their creation and employment. If it helps to win wars, it has a logic for proceeding. Hence, comes the danger with this particular dark frontier of warfare in the near future.

As a counter-measure, a physical and intellectual way of defeating cyber-bionics, bio-viruses and network viruses both represent feasible means of defense. Such counter-measures allow a defender, or an attacker, to disable the Informed Command function of the enemy, which can lead to the opponents overthrow. A series of viral attacks that could infect larger populations or networks, while winning a war, definitely pose serious problems.

Some questions, in terms of international and domestic law and even public health, arise in the use of such counter-measures. Also, game theory of the type developed for nuclear operations come into play. A pre-emptive use of a viral counter-measure reflects a counter-force nuclear strike to disable, or deter a larger retaliation by, enemies. Also, a second strike retaliation, again as in nuclear game theory, on a scale of massive destruction to populations or networks, also comes into the mix of deterring the use of Cyber-bionics in modern war. Whether it involves such complex rationalized thinking or international treaties on the use of biological or cyber weapons (the latter sure to come in the future), the effects on populations of such counter-measures to destroy an enemy pose the greatest dangers of all in the new Informed Command structures of armed forces.

(End Part I: Next Up—Smart Base and Orbital Dominance)


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