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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future--Part II: The Smart Base of Orbital Dominance

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future
By Tim Krenz
February 5, 2018
For Hometown Gazette

Part II: The Smart Base of Orbital Dominance

In part one of this series we examined the changes for waging war due to scientific development and technical advances. The first article introduced the four concurrent levels or divisions of war fighting in the Next Frontiers model: Informed Command, Smart Base, Stealth Fires, and Connected Maneuver. Specifically, we surveyed the Informed Command through history, and also that level's dark frontier in the union of cyber-bionics, and the implications of that union and its counter-measures.

In this part, we will survey the history of another division, the Smart Base, and the dark frontier of Orbital Dominance. We will do so according to the same criteria as the previous article. What does the Dark Frontier mean? How does it compare with the old? What counter-measures can stop these new weapons of today and tomorrow? And how does it affect non-combatants.

In the dark frontier model, Smart Base gets defined as getting weapons systems and their operating personnel to the decisive points in the battle space, and to sustain them there, and move them forward until enemy resistance ceases. When it comes down to an understanding of a smart base function, “strategy equals (=) logistics.”

People may often forget the proper departure point where leaders choose a political policy and make a decision to wage war. Policy then should never separate itself physically or morally from the actual the battle space. For at that point, the other webs of strategy (like the Smart Base concept), and the tactical and operation functions all join toward the success or failure that political policy decision by military acts. Nothing happens in warfare without extreme physical cost and a high moral-intellectual effort

Supreme physical-logistic efforts cost premium prices. And to avoid intellectual or moral bankruptcy in the types of warfare that we will discuss, political policy has to successfully terminate in victory, and has to do so by putting all elements of power together and in the places they will serve most efficiently. That applied power, theoretically, achieves the objective sought in the political decision, but on the other hand, nothing ever occurs according to plan.

Nations implementing a “strategy=logistics” approach use a Smart Base concept traditionally in direct or indirect avenues to achieve political objectives. A maritime strategy—using the world's oceans, with fleets of warships and support ships, seaborne commerce, and the ability to sustain these assets both from and onto land peripheries—made up one kind of Smart Base concept. The best examples of maritime strategy included: ancient Athens, the Roman Empire, and later the Venetian Republic, the British Empire, and the United States throughout most of its history.

Conversely, a Continental “strategy=logistics” approach involved raw land power, armies (and later air forces) designed to dominate neighbors and distant areas accessible to such power. In this example, we see ancient Sparta, the Persian empire, the Byzantine empire, Napoleonic France, Germany after its unification, and the Eurasian colossus of Russia throughout the latter's entire history. All used a predominantly Continental strategy to pursue political objectives in war and peace.

Another Smart Base approach comes from the use of a People's Liberation struggle. Although ancient in its form, dating back to before Roman times, it has a particularly 20th Century flair. The Arab revolt in World War I, led by T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia), who invented its modern potential, and other low intensity conflicts of the past 100 years have used it. However, the modern master of People's Liberation struggle, Mao Zedong, gave it its firm philosophical and intellectual underpinnings as applied to the realm of modern politics. Using the nationalist mass of people as its material support and mobilized resource, other practitioners like the team of Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap in Southeast Asia used it, brutally, to tame giants.

And oddly, although it involved far less bloodshed than full-scale war, the mahatma Gandhi used the material and manpower mobilization of People's Liberation struggle. As deftly as any general in his non-violent and non-cooperative resistance to free India from British colonialism, Gandhi nonetheless used similar strategic patterns in peace as Mao used in war. It gives truth to the idea that not all wars get hot or and not all political conflict gets overly violent.

Presently, the United States uses a hybrid strategy, one we may call Global Positioning, composed of elements of the maritime and Continental “strategy=logistics” system of achieving political goals. As both an active means of war fighting and a deterrent to it, Global Positioning lets the United States' armed forces strike any spot of the globe with relentless power from weapons platforms placed in all areas of the world. Global Positioning has the advantage of deeply impacting nations removed from lesser forms of coercion, and only the United States currently possesses such power to strike anyone, anywhere. Russia, with its nuclear weapons, though not with its conventional arsenal, comes as a close and second rank as the strategic competitor on that level.

The United States controls all battle spaces, outer space, air, land, and sea against any individual nation or small coalition. Only a vulnerability in cyberspace, where weaponized software and hardware remain available to any state and even non-state actors, does United States remain at risk of not achieving political objectives by warfare or peaceful (read: deterrent) means.

Hence, we arrive at the dark frontier of the future: Orbital Dominance, an area now open to any country that can willfully implement the financial or intellectual effort to challenge all others. Orbital Dominance, the Smart Base that uses the ultimate high ground for armed force to control politics on the earth, transcends the current capabilities of nations in low and high earth orbit. Space-based military platforms of the past 60 years got used for defense communications, planetary-wide intelligence gathering, and targeting assistance. They, including nuclear energy, its by products, and other derived weapons applications as both sources of sustainment and counter-measures, will only get improved over time.

At the moment, the United States and Russia lead other nations in using the orbits to enhance terrestrial weapons. However, the Smart Base approach to the militarization of space remains wide open, to nation-states who can make the commitment to challenge U.S. and Russia superiority. The race to get there first with more, in the “strategy=logistics” construct, and to sustain the effort to keep the systems there and battle worthy has only really begun. The race for Space Supremacy only now begins.

The immense expense of researching and building this Smart Base space system creates prohibitive costs for most countries. And not only the weapons systems themselves, but the personnel and earth-bound industrial and military infrastructure to support them, make the project feasible and only a matter of political willpower to invest in it. While treaties make it unlawful for consenting nations to use space as a military zone of conflict, when national survival on earth or a chance to conquer any nation presents itself to radical political actors, consent to treaties means nothing. We see this already in China's development of non-territorial waters in the western Pacific for military uses in its national defense strategy. In this instance, China clearly ignores international legal rulings. Why could not or would not a nation ignore treaty law over militarizing space?

Space development as an industry does indeed contribute to commercial uses, but does that matter? While one can believe that space research and development can enhance an economy, the earth's people could better use the resources soon devoted to Orbital Dominance for more earthly, more vital and practical investments in humanity's future. And then beyond that, if space-based exploration and exploitation remain in humanity's future, how would one country, or a small group countries controlling the orbit, prove a detriment to humanity's access and use of space to enhance life for people on this planet? These questions clearly point out to themselves the answers we need. In the Orbital Dominance manner of a Smart Base, this division of the dark future of warfare will cast shadows over the future of Earth.


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