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Thursday, April 05, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future: Part III: Stealth Fires and Nano-weapons

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

Part III: Stealth Fires and Nano-weapons

In the first two installments of this series, we examined the Next Frontier of Warfare model, specifically the Informed Command and Smart Base functions, as trends coming in armed conflict. As the model and these articles suggest, the Next Frontier will significantly alter the human, and very social, phenomenon of warfare. In this third part, the study undertakes the function of Stealth Fires, and we will discuss how the evolution of weapons in the short- and long-term future endangers civilian populations.

Increasing scientific and engineering breakthroughs rapidly change the means of warfare. Stealth Fires in the forms adapted from nanotechnology will increase war's unpredictable destructiveness. The effects of “Nano-weapons,” as we term them, may even change the way humans live on earth, in war or in peace. As with all weaponry, opponents will also try to develop counter-measures to them or to deter their use. But, as with near-open-ended investments in nuclear weapons and their accessories, the cure to nano-weapons may become as deadly as the disease.

Understanding that the fundamentals and principles of war remain the same throughout most of history (e.g. “unity of command,” “concentration,” “surprise,” etc. or “war is a political act”), a brief survey of firepower, called Stealth Fires in the model, will assist the evaluation of the Dark Frontier of nano-weapons. We will use the same criteria here as in parts one and two: 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 dawn of the world, animals including early hominids did not use weapons, but had to grab and grapple with opponents in brute physical survival. From primitive weapons like sticks and stones, to sharpened spears and flint knifes, humanity's understanding and exploitation of nature always increased the range and types of weapons used. From Neolithic Age to Bronze Age, and Iron Age to Nuclear Age, the secrets of the universe found by the human mind created more precise and more lethal weapons. Ways of killing people multiplied. No progress either, humanity's reasons for armed conflict kept apace with the growth of human fear and greed.

At the level of warfare known as tactics, the goal became victory when meeting the enemy in battle, whether killing him or disconnecting his will to resist force. Tactics came at the tip of the spear, like the Macedonian sarissa or the Roman short stabbing sword, the gladius. Killing or wounding the enemy, or deterring or demoralizing him into submission, meant the difference between winning or losing. Whether for conquest or plunder, the methods have remained consistent. Only the means have changed, from rough rocks to ballistic nuclear-tipped missiles.

To place Stealth Fires in Next Frontier context, the phrase means using a protected “weapon” for delivering a lethal “blow” to the enemy. This same definition applies to armored knights to a hardened missile silo or to a hidden foxhole, all which served their purposes in history. Whether done with layers of physical protection or through deception as protection, the method of using the tactics directly to kill an enemy has also always remained the same. “Hurt the other guy and don't get hurt yourself.”

The means have changed, even within the indirect means of what history calls “missile” weapons. Ancient people made composite materials into bows that shot arrows with such force as to penetrate armor. The Roman Legions used their ballistae, or catapult-type weapons, to great affect to weaken their enemy from a distance before closing in cohorts with the pilum (a type of javelin) and gladius to bloodily cut up their enemy. Impairing and attriting an enemy from a distance with missile weapons before a decisive, full attack remains the norm through history.

Science and engineering advanced. With gun powder came some truly devastating weapons, like cannons shooting cannonballs, also know as artillery (a ballistics, “missile” weapon). The master of war and politics, Napoleon of France, studied as an artillery officer before the Revolution and his ascent to power. He kept large reserves of artillery under his central command in his battles, employing them at decisive points to weaken his enemies, and then launching crushing assaults of infantry and cavalry at those vulnerable spots at precise moments. He called his 12-pounder cannon his “pretty girls,” and he understood cannon artillery in his age as the “god of the battlefield.” He conquered Europe with it, only to lose it for the political failure of not having reliable allies in the end, inside or outside France.

Nothing has really changed about the tactical application of firepower, that means of killing or disabling an enemy and reducing his powers of resistance. Improvised explosives used by terrorist, carpet bombing of cities, or Viet Cong assassinations of school teachers, all use the Stealth Fires definition we describe. Only the extent of those people exposed to the gruesomeness of war has expanded, moving from soldiers to civilians. In the world, whether done legitimately or not, collateral destruction of enemy resistance remains the basis of tactics in warfare. The point remains, whether with limits or without, to put the spear to the enemy to end the war and end the killing. On the other hand, in the political act of war (the social phenomenon), the ends of the goal sought have to match the means used. Otherwise, as with any mass use of nuclear weapons if deterrence fails, no one will survive to claim a victory and everyone ends up exhausted, defeated or dead.

In the 21st Century, science has developed a new form of technology, one just as easily converted into weapons with how the research has progressed. Nanotechnology (“nano” meaning small) uses atoms, molecules, and possibly cellular tissue, to create working machines. The principles, understood and adaptable to weapons, will introduce the new Dark Frontier of nano-weapons.

These weapons can take many forms. From select viruses that kill certain enemies with particular genetic codings, to small explosives that can lethally attack parts of the human body (arteries, etc.), to small surveillance devices that guide precision guided munitions from a safe and hidden distance on target, nanoweapons open possibilities as wide as science fiction describes. The real problem with nano-weapons comes in their use under command, whether directed or assisted by humans in remote or close positions, or by “independent intelligence,” as scientists develop the artificial intelligence systems striving to get born.

Nanoweapons can sound like the spear tips of the Theban Sacred Band in ancient Greece or take the expanse of ground zero in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. They can make killing or even deterring the enemy as selective or broadly undiscriminating as desired by political authorities and military commanders. Beyond the preemptive control of nano-weapons before deployment or full-scale manufacture, counter-measures will also get great attention at the same time. If civilization can find no personally moral or politically ethical means to restrain the development and use nano-weapons, it behooves human kind to explore ways to deter or defeat them. Such counter-measures might include electro-magnetic fields to disrupt them, lights and energy weapons within or outside the visible spectrum, or the use of aerosols and particles in the atmospheres (interiors or exteriors), or anti-nano-weapon-nano-weapons (the most likely)--all and anything that can disable or destroy nano-weapons. Whatever the counter-measures eventually developed, the weapons themselves and the means of stopping them will affect the human life and the world's environment in some way, depending on the scale or degree of use.

Taken as a whole, the Stealth Fires function and the nano-weapons division of the present and future must come with solutions to their use, in the scientific and political field. In the Second World War, the Allies developed the atomic bomb, and the world still does not know what to do with them or how to get rid of them. Wither will we go with nano-weapons? Unless the discussion and debate begins now on preventing their manufacture, their use, or humanity's tendency to kill for greed or fear by means of war, the dark frontiers of human history need the light of day to understand them. Let us talk about the future.


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