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24/7/365 - Drone War Changed America

by Magnifico Sun Nov 27th, 2011 at 04:02:52 PM EST

The way in which the United States wages war has dramatically changed in the past decade. America is now "protected" by drones that fly all over the world, around the clock, every day of the year. Ten years ago, the U.S. Air Force had only a single MQ-1 Predator drone.

"We've now got 57 Predators up, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, looking at different target points around the world," says Air Force Maj. Gen. James Poss. Poss helps oversee the Air Force's surveillance programs, which mostly revolve around drones.

The quote comes from an 11-minute news segment, "War By Remote Control: Drones Make It Easy", broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.

Poss says the Air Force now recruits more pilots for unmanned aircraft than fighter and bomber pilots combined. A lot of the skills pilots need are the same -- spatial awareness, quick critical thinking skills -- but unlike pilots for manned aircraft, remote pilots don't need perfect vision. They don't need to worry about getting airsick. And combat can bring different strains, too.

"Unlike a person that deploys to combat, our remotely piloted aircraft force never leave combat," Poss says. Also, "you do leave your ground control station and drive home and you have to mow the lawn."



While the timing of the piece coincided with the NATO helicopter and fighter jet attack along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that ended with 25 Pakistani soldiers dead, the piece ultimately asks us to the think about what it means for Americans that we now have the ability to fight wars without risking American lives.


The image of America in the air...

Drone aircraft technology has proven so revolutionary that the western Military-Industrial Complex has ceased research and development on manned combat aircraft, according to Peter Singer, a technological warfare expert and author of the book Wired for War. Singer argues that America's use of drone aircraft is changing "how we define war."

He points out that Obama skirted congressional authorization for military action in Libya, arguing that air support for the European effort did not risk U.S. forces. Yet, he says, the U.S. carried out 146 airstrikes in Libya -- including a final strike that may have contributed to the capture of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that CIA had ordered drone strikes that killed large groups of people without knowing who they were. The CIA calls them "signature" strikes, opposed to "personality" strikes, where the target is a known terrorist leader.

Signature strikes target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren't always known. The bulk of CIA's drone strikes are signature strikes.

The CIA has license to kill, the Wall Street Journal reported:

Mr. Obama was an early convert to drones. The CIA has had freedom to decide who to target and when to strike. The White House usually is notified immediately after signature strikes take place, not beforehand, a senior U.S. official said.

Military drones have also fired missiles on unidentified targets with deadly consequences. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that miscommunication and multiple missteps led to a U.S. Air Force drone pilot launching a missile strike that killed two U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. This is the "first friendly-fire deaths known to have been caused by a drone attack" according to the Pentagon.

After the Predator pilot learned of the fatal mistake, he asked to be relieved at the controls. "The gravity of the matter overcame my ability to continue focusing on the task at hand," he explained.

Replaying the video and voice communications, he was stunned to see that the muzzle flashes were aimed away from the road. He was "completely confused as to how I saw exactly the opposite sitting in the seat."

He asked for the video to be stopped and left the building. An Air Force chaplain was waiting outside.

Security of the U.S. drone fleet has been lacking. In 2009, Iraqi insurgents were able to intercept live video feeds from Predator drones. No special skills were used, since the drones used an unencrypted satellite video feed. Commercial satellite television has more security than U.S. drones.

Then earlier this year, the "cockpits" for the U.S. drone fleet were infected by a computer virus and the military was 'not quite sure' how it happened, Noah Shachtman reported last month in Danger Room at Wired.

"We're not quite sure how that happened yet," General Robert Kehler told reporters Tuesday. Kehler is the head of U.S. Strategic Command, which is nominally in charge of the military's Cyber Command and all other online activities.

"It was a virus that we believe at this point entered from the wild, if you will, not specifically targeted at the RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) activities but entered through some other process," he added.

An investigation by AlterNet's Nick Turse found that U.S. military drones have flown close to 3 million hours over the past decade. A number of flown hours that is "is far greater than is generally acknowledged. According to statistics provided by the Army, Navy and Air Force, remotely piloted aircraft have logged around 2.7 million flight hours during the current era of drone warfare. More than 87 percent of the time, these drones have been involved in combat."


... and on the ground

Some of the countries U.S. drones have flown over include Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya. America has also sent unarmed drones over Mexico as part of the drug war being fought there.

Turse "identified at least 60 bases integral to U.S. military and CIA drone operations" in an article last month, "America's Secret Empire of Drone Bases", posted at TomDispatch. "There may, however, be more, since a cloak of secrecy about drone warfare leaves the full size and scope of these bases distinctly in the shadows," Turse wrote.

Even if the Pentagon budget were to begin to shrink, expansion of America's empire of drone bases is a sure thing in the years to come.  Drones are now the bedrock of Washington's future military planning and -- with counterinsurgency out of favor -- the preferred way of carrying out wars abroad...

According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office published earlier this year, "the Department of Defense plans to purchase about 730 new medium-sized and large unmanned aircraft systems" over the next decade.

This is the new reality of America's war machine. The United States will increase use of remote-controlled warfare to protect Americans from combat. The LA Times reported last year in "Drone pilots have a front-row seat on war, from half a world away" that some drone pilots would prefer to be stationed in combat rather than fight stateside.

"On the drive out here, you get yourself ready to enter the compartment of your life that is flying combat," said retired Col. Chris Chambliss, who until last summer commanded drone operations at Creech Air Force Base, the command center for seven Air Force bases in the continental U.S. where crews fly drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. "And on the drive home, you get ready for that part of your life that's going to be the soccer game."

[...]

The psychological challenges are unique: Pilots say that despite the distance, the video feed gives them a more intimate feel for the ground than they would have from a speeding warplane. Some say they would prefer to be in Afghanistan or Iraq to avoid the daily adjustment from the soccer field to the battlefield.

In the last half of the 20th century, America transitioned from declared wars to undeclared wars. Now after the first first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. has increasingly moved to fighting its undeclared wars remotely by wire. Wars that make involvement so "limited" that the administration asserts they do not require Congressional approval. But, while the drones may be fighting in some remote part of the world, the soldiers operating them may be living next door to civilians. Drones have brought America's wars even closer to home, while distancing U.S. soldiers and American society from them. The drone war has changed America.

 

Cross-posted from Daily Kos.

Display:
As is usual, the US is so blinded to the technology of force projection that they do not hesitate to consider the possible drawbacks to such a policy.

I like the calm way in which we see signature strikes becoming the preferred methodology. What a signature strike pretends to be is a precisely targeted warning to others. But strip away the fancy technobabble and it's really just another version of the payload from a B-52. And politically far more dubious, simply because the US tend not to send a B-52 halfway around the world to destroy a village, but seem to think it's okay if a predator does it. This is sloppy thinking and seems entirely typical of the way policy proceeds in DC these days.

And the largest flaw is information. they admit this policy is a substitute to counter insurgency rather than an adjunct. So they take away the people on the ground who could tell them who to hit. So they're either firing blind or relying on local people providing information and, given the experience of how this has worked up to now in Afghanistan and Iraq, I'd be amazed if the system isn't being used by the Taliban as much as at them.

And given that this is just a variation on a dumb policy, rather than an entirely new idea, we are looking at the same major weakness of the policy; blowback. And the more the US throws its weight around the world, the more certain that blowback will be.

And the US is so terribly vulnerable to such things.

If it weren't that people will die, this would be funny. But they will, it isn't and I draw no pleasure from the prospect whatsoever.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 27th, 2011 at 06:35:30 PM EST
As I see it, it justifies1 al Qa'ida bombing of USA embassies2, after all they are part and parcel of attacks on civilians, because embassies collaborate with spies, which are not civilians in any meaningful sense3. An eye for an eye and everybody ends blind.

1)Remember the Maine, and the Tonkin attack that wasn't.
2)Remember those wikileaks cables?
3) And much less to people who have lived in wars stoked by the USA, US citizens elect their chiefs, so they must bear the responsibilities.

res humà m'és aliè

by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you' can go home to mow the lawn after a day flying a drone, does this extend the legal theatre of operations to include your house?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As per the observed behavior of the US which makes attacks in countries were they are not at war, Pakistan in particular, but I think Yemen too, it seems so.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 03:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I'm not sure that the drone war capability has changed America.

As you point out, the US has been involved in various forms of shooting wars on pretty much a perpetual basis for at least the last 60 years. Not just the hot wars of WWII, Korea etc, but also the dirty wars where "advisers", both official and shadowy, would find themselves involved at the sharp end.

The British call it "gunboat diplomacy", but I think everyone knows that the 800-odd military bases scattered around the globe aren't just for sightseeing.

The US is, to outside eyes at least, an excessively militarised society. It may not rise to the laughably homo-erotic military fetishism of a N Korea or Soviet Union, but rather assigns to itself a "duty" of protecting the world from threats to the peaceful status quo. A status quo which has evolved over time to align with the economic well being of Corporate America. It is impossible now to imagine the US going to war where Government policy and Corporate advantage are not inextricably interdependent.

This has lead to it throwing its weight around the world on a perpetual basis. And those soldiers involved go home on leave, or finish their tour and head back to civvie street.

From all these wars there must now be an accumulation of tens of millions of people walking around with various levels of PTSD; some diagnosed but most are not. And all of them projecting their damage onto the society around them. Relatively few end up in homeless shelters while, conversely, one or two make it to the Senate. But they are there all the same.

A few drone pilots won't make any material difference to the carnage already in existence. It isn't the method of war that creates the harm, it's the belief that war is justifiable.

War isn't an extension of foreign policy, it's a failure of foreign policy. War shouldn't be easy, it shouldn't be painless. it's supposed to be hard and it's supposed to hurt to remind us why we shouldn't do it. The drones are just another step to making war easy, but the more the hurt is hidden, the deeper the wound

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 09:22:49 AM EST
One of the bigger changes is that the Obama administration's position is that Congress does not need to be notified under the War Powers act about the remote-controlled wars America is involved in because no one is in immediate danger of being harmed or killed on the battlefield. Granted this is only moderately different than previous covert wars, but still Congress (and thus the people) had token oversight authority. The new position is that they (we Americans) have none.

The other significant change is for American civilians. In the past, the soldiers actively engaged in combat were in theater. Now, they can be stateside.

Perhaps these changes are too subtle to make any real difference. They are, of course, a progression of the larger militarization transformation that has been happening in the United States since the country's entry into the WW2 at the end of 1941.

by Magnifico on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 01:04:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Congress does not need to be notified under the War Powers act about the remote-controlled wars America is involved in because no one is in immediate danger of being harmed or killed on the battlefield.

I love this 'no one', as it implies at a minimum that non US citizen people are no one.


res humà m'és aliè

by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And on Monday, the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that the US faces more military threats worldwide than ever before: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/28/us-more-threats-military-dempsey

Really, General? What a surprise.

by Mnemosyne on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, the general wasn't speaking to the Congress, which is much too busy these days trying to pass legislation to subvert the Constitution.

He was, instead, in London, where the Guardian says he

told an audience . . . on Monday that meeting the new challenges in a time of austerity would require a transformation in military thinking.

Riiiight.

by Mnemosyne on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:47:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US appears to be an excessively militarized society to some Americans.  We seem to be in the minority.

Military technology is causing a shift from mass armies, which must be "civilian based," to smaller, highly trained, and more lethal "professional" - which includes mercenaries - armies.  In the past this shift has led to the rise of authoritarian regimes dominating and controlling Empires.  This process can be observed in the US as secret police powers and the militarization of the "cop on the street" have grown.  

The "Pepper-Spray Cop" is more than an Internet meme.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 01:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Following just after the pepper spray cop, James Fallows, writing at The Atlantic, is shocked to find the police have been militarized — Turning Patrolmen Into Soldiers: How Did We Let This Happen?. It points to the article from early November, How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police:

Ever since September 14, 2001, when President Bush declared war on terrorism, there has been a crucial, yet often unrecognized, shift in United States policy. Before 9/11, law enforcement possessed the primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the United States. Today, the military is at the tip of the anti-terrorism spear. This shift appears to be permanent...

In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a "soldier's mentality" among their ranks.

Fallows has a brief follow up too, Tanks in Small Towns, where he adds "the militarization of the police perversely ignores the way the real military is evolving".

by Magnifico on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You butchered the author's name.  Emphasis added to indicate full, and proper, credit:

Following just after the pepper spray cop, James (Oblivious) Fallows, writing at The Atlantic, is shocked to find the police have been militarized ...


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it seems, the UK applied laws against terrorism to Iceland to extort them the payments to British citizen due to Icesave, and others, bankruptcy.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:41:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of Ender's Game.

No spoilers :)

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 09:26:36 AM EST
Well, when you remember the Orson Scott Card is a Mormon whose themes as a writer often include affectionate pictures of militarised societies, I'm not surprised.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 10:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you think Ender's Game paints an affectionate picture of what the Battle School and his role in the war do to him, maybe we've read a different book.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 10:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, i just read the wiki synopsis and I suppose I filtered it through my memory of previous books of his that I have read. Although, the memory cannot be strong as, looking through the bibliography, not a single title rings any bells.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scott Card has a web site. I didn't subscribe to his online SF magazine because some of I thought some of his views were offensive.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeez, I'm sorry I mentioned the obvious parallel with an award-winning novel in which a genocidal war is fought through remote control by operators unaware that they're not playing in a simulator.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no, not at all. It's useful to see some of the issues played out in fiction, even if I have reservations as to the extent OSC allows his characters to show human empathy as anything more than a plot device.

Especially as the wiki doesn't seem to focus on the idea that Ender has problems with what he has done, either in the simulator or in his real life, up till the point where he finds the survivor.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 12:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He has moral problems from the moment that he finds out what happened. "Finding the survivor" smacks of Deus ex Machina to allow a "happy" ending and an opportunity for the character to redeem himself.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 12:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having read OSC's Maps in a Mirror short-story collection I have to say if his characters display empathy just as plot devices he's very good at it. An entire section of the collection is stories about religion (or, rather, about transcendence - not much particularly Christian about the stories) and that's particularly good. Mayeb it's because OSC is actually deeply religious or because I was young and impressionable when I read that, but I find the way he handles religious themes rather more convincing than the way an atheist such as Arthur C. Clarke does in, say, the Rama series.

To err is of course human. But to mess things up spectacularly, we need an elite — Yanis Varoufakis
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 01:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one book that is resolutely anti-war, (Which may be one reason why it's not been made as a film) :)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 03:00:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drones and Stealth Technology are 'escaping' from the US.  The People's Republic of China are actively working on both and have, in fact, started to offer Drones on the international arms market.  As these proliferate the current structure, tactics, strategy, and material of a nation-state's armed forces is obsolete.  

As an example:

Near the top of the line, the Predator B, or MQ9-Reaper, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, costs about $10.5 million. By comparison, a single F-22 fighter jet costs about $150 million.

Further it costs around $2.6 million to train a fighter pilot versus $135 thousand to train a UAV pilot.  Thus, for the cost of one plane a nation-state can acquire a squadron of UAVs carrying the same combat payload.

Fact:  high value ground forces: armor, artillery, aircraft carriers, etc., are highly vulnerable to air attack.  

The World War II Battle of Midway effectively ended Japan's capability to win the Pacific War when they lost three aircraft carriers in six minutes.  It's not only the loss of "force projection" the financial costs are staggering.  The approximate cost of a carrier fleet is around $14.5 billion and another $9 billion - or so - for the aircraft the carrier carts around.    The approximate cost of turning that fleet into fish habitat is $750 million.

Roughly the same 'cost of force' to 'cost of destruction' for armor, artillery, etc.

Thus, high-tech warfare is ruinously expensive to nation-states operating medium-tech forces.  Which means current US military forces are, to all intents and purposes, so much scrap.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:15:50 PM EST
Yes, but they'll keep churning out 20th century toys for a few decades yet. soldiers still carried swords into battle long after the bullet replaced the musket ball

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:44:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They still have bayonets. Probably it had to do with the fact that guns were not that easy to load in the middle of battlefight. I'm under the impression that until handguns could be reloaded with preloaded cartridges soldiers kept sabers.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 02:59:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Time more than difficulty.  Takes an expert - which most soldiers weren't - a minimum of 15 seconds to reload a unrifled musket, call it 3 rounds a minute for the experienced, average soldier.  (A rifled musket takes longer so call it 1.5 rounds/minute on average.)

Infantry were rigorously trained to hold their fire until there was a high chance of inflicting damage - with a smooth bore if a soldier actually hit what he was actually aiming at it was Pure Luck - with volley fire (throw enough lead downrange and you are sure to hit ... something?) and by that time they were too close to try and reload ... so it was on-in with the bayonet¹.  The Brits got so good at this they kept trying it up through World War One.  (Against machine guns and barbed wire.  (It didn't work so good.))

The usual canard bayonets were used to repel cavalry is nonsense.  To repel a frontal cavalry charge all infantry has to do is stand there.  Horses don't like running into a solid mass and will shy away.  Flank attacks can work which is why they were put on the flanks during a battle.  And which is why the British developed the British Square as a battle formation, if you don't have flanks they can't be attacked.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

¹  Despite what you see in movies most of the time the infantry on the defense heroically ran away when faced with a determined bayonet charge from close range.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 05:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have read somewhere that bayonet training is an important tool in breaking down the very common impulse not to harm a common human that you can see and identify with. Might be why they still have them.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 07:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bayonets are used both because of tradition and because soldiers need to lug around utility knives in any case. You might then just as well make it possible to mount them as bayonets.

::
::

For a completely different and unrelated idea, maybe you could use bayonets when boar hunting? In Sweden we have just recently started using boar spears as a complement to knives/hunting machetes (while spears have been the modus operandi in France and Germany for like forever). But why lug around a spear when you can just mount bayonets? Many Swedish hunters use surplus military Mauser rifles anyway which readily accept bayonets.

The entire idea of using cold steel when hunting boar is that as boars are very tough, a badly aimed shot might just wound the boar instead of killing it more or less instantly. This makes the boar very angry and aggressive, and with barking dogs circling it at a short distance you don't dare fire again as the round might well hit a bone and ricochet, killing a dog. The thing to do then is to slit the boars throat with your knife while at the same time avoiding being disemboweled by the razor-sharp tusks. Our continental neighbors (who unlike us have hunted boars for more than the two decades they've existed in our fauna) long ago figured out that was very stupid, and as I said, use spears instead. But as most people around here don't have boar spears lying around, bayonets might well have a role to play.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 11:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more than boys need their toys.  It comes down to those who achieved their high rank and position in any system are highly resistant to drastically changing the system that gave them their position.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 04:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, of course.

But this era cannot last, what happens when the oil runs out, or at least China is able to outbid them for it ? And that day is foreseeable to those willing to look.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:54:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're never going to "run out of oil." We're going to get to a condition where oil is scarce and expensive.  Oil can be diverted from civilian to military use with alternative fuels and fuel additives stretching the supply.  How much and at what cost ain't my gig, hopefully someone who knows will jump in.  :-)

The US government has never been shy about grabbing natural resources and given the fact China has to import oil using the sea lanes I think it's reasonable to assume the US Navy would interdict and confiscate, i.e., steal, oil shipments in a shooting war.  In "peace" (ha-ha-ha) China depends on US and, increasingly, European consumers to buy their Junk and, increasingly, US and European consumers cannot afford to.  

I wholeheartedly agree "this era cannot last."  Reality will, in the long run, Win.  I'll guess there are discussions happening in the Pentagon and other country's military planning departments but I'm not privy to those discussions, so ... what do I know? How TPTB and their armed thugs will respond remains to be seen.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 01:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree with the "never gonna run out of oil" statement, I was using that as a shorthand for becoming economically unattractive which is a looser concept.

I believe that the Chinese are building their railway link to Pakistan and on to Iran specifically to deal with the "sea lane"  problem, especially as it's quicker and more productive. However, I think the idea of the US playing pirate in the Indian Ocean with such a flammable product is somewhat unlikely.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact the tankers are flammable cuts both ways.  If a crew has a choice between halting or burning to death (or drowning) I'd bet they'd halt.

Maybe I'm more cynical than you?  I have no problem thinking the US Navy "playing pirate in the Indian Ocean."

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:54:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can offer no excuse as a born here, raised here native American other than to say "my" government has been taken over by sociopathic parasites.  Most of the useless eaters here are completely absorbed now with the corporate media propaganda surrounding what is called Black Friday, that once was a Christian celebration of the birth of the son of God has now turned into shopaholics on steroids for the profit margins of Chinese, et al sweatshops of the upcoming profit centers of the world(if western civilization lasts the next few months).

This much has been documented.
Americans questioned on the street pointed to Austrailia and said "we" should bomb Iran next.

by Lasthorseman on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 09:21:05 PM EST
Preaching to the choir, innit?

Looking at some of the massive basic change elements in the whole world, such as population, starvation, mass emigrations, or their attempts, from climate change floods and drought, nationalism in the face of falling living standards in First world countries, sheer hatred and envy of First Worlders as millions of children starve, the drug cartels taking over governments, armaments cartels taking over other ones, religious insanity, well...

What political strategist wouldn't want global drone bases all over?

I just get tired of foolish hoping in the face of ninety foot breaking waves of nationalism, religious fanaticism, all the irrational ways of avoiding the mental pain of acknowledging how we're torturing the large mass of humanity.

Physical comfort is very, very nice. It won't be given up without a comfortable fight, which is what drones are.

Until pilotless drone killers are deployed. They're already in the design and test stage. Of course. Ground-based ten-watt green lasers, anyone?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 04:24:56 AM EST
to shoot down a drone?

How high do they fly, how fast? What's the best anti-drone weapon? Will a jump in anti-drone tech make them suddenly obsolete?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 08:49:23 AM EST
The MQ1 Predator drone flight at a maximum of 7629m or 25000ft at a speed of 217km/h (135mph). A roughly standard ground-air missile is the FIM92 Stinger which weights 10kg (22lbs) and has a range of 8km (26000 ft) and can speed at 700m/s (2520km/h, 1600mph). If you have them, then the predator is a sitting duck. I suppose the difficulty is spotting them, present models are rather silent.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Operating characteristics of the next generation of drones are classified but it appears they will have an operating ceiling of 70,000 feet, stealthed, and carry a fighter/bomber-equivalent weapon payload.

There's no technical reason they can't meet those design specifications and there's good operational reasons for the Air Force, etc., to issue them.  So I expect a "jump" in capability within the next 4 years.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, still the faster they go the harder it is for them to observe the territory, which is, at least for now the main point. They may be the substitute of bombers and cruise missils.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:24:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as happened with the "aeroplanes" in WW One it seems the drones are being split between intelligence/surveillance craft and fighter/interdiction craft.  The next step is high-payload bombers, and I'll bet someone, somewhere, is already working on them.

With the US B-52 fleet of heavy bombers becoming overworked and tired I that "somewhere" is "here."

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 03:00:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very hard to shoot these things down because it's almost impossible to detect them and air-to-air missiles aren't designed to operate at 70,000 feet.  

Flight speed is anywhere from "loiter" to over Mach 5.  

A reliable anti-drone weapon system hasn't been specified, designed, tested, and deployed.  

Given the low cost of drones, to purchase and to operate, versus other "force projection" weapon systems I doubt they will become obsolete in our lifetime.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:04:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the Mach 5 are operative for now. Mach 5 as a lot of constraints, even if you can save the pilot.

Mach 5 is conservatively 6000km/h or 3750mph.

res humà m'és aliè

by Antoni Jaume on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:18:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fighter aircraft technology has, for decades, been design-limited to the low-tech specifications of a human.  The airframes, etc., can withstand 12 g maneuvers.  Do that to a pilot and you've got strawberry jam in the cockpit.

Also the reaction times and experience of a human pilot are (1) bad compared to cybernetic decision speed and (2) 1:1, with a cybernetic, expert system, in control every "pilot" would have the ability and experience of a Top-Gun pilot instructor.  No more steep learning curve for new pilots: the operator hits the "evade" or "attack" button and Bob's your uncle.

Given the fuel requirements for Mach 5+ I think that would be the top speed, used during transition from base to patrol/combat area.  In those areas "loiter" would be the normal flight speed, only going higher during actual combat, as a predictive guess.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 03:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no reason to go fast at all during that transition from base to patrol area ; actually you want maximum fuel economy for that part.

And without the need to maintain a pilot awake in the cockpit, nothing prevents, say, a 30 hours flight from US to anywhere in the world at best fuel economy speed...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 05:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that they communicate with their handlers with wireless communication I think the relevant question is how hard it is to hack and/or scramble the communication. From the diary it appears it is not that hard.

So rather then shooting down hostile drones, seize them in midair and send them back.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:10:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bet you a euro the US military is working on securing the Command-and-Control communication links even as I type this.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:12:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tapping their communications is significantly different from taking them over.

Still, the fact that they didn't slap a standard commercial-grade crypto the things boggles the mind.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 02:14:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking more about the virus, though I admit that was not very clear.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 03:50:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protecting a communications channel from being hacked is a simple process IF you implement hardware security and adequate software handshaking protocols, e.g., 'offset' the data within the binary word by some number of bits and AND off the NULL ones.

(Naturally you'll have to know assembler language to do this ... which you young uns generally don't :-p)

(lol)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 04:21:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Won't (always) work if your hacker has identical hardware and knows your algorithms.

Absolute security is a Very Hard Problem. Real security is always an affordable trade-off between absolute security and cash.

And didja know that some IBM (and likely other) mainframes include built-in encryption hardware?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 05:53:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The hardware can be protected if they are kept physically safe and the schematics and assembly procedures are burned after the production run.

There's all kinds of games you can play with the software: data binary word length, binary word placement, algorithm cycling, synch/desynch on the transmissions, burst/stream transmissions, wide band/narrow band, etc. etc. etc.  

I wouldn't trust any generally available encryption programs.  If they are a usual part of the IBM software then they can be cracked if enough resources are thrown at the problem.  

Despite everything, above, One Time Pads are the only way to go if you want to ensure security.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 06:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming no one steals your OTP...
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 06:25:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They'd have to steal them, copy them and reinsert them into your logistics before you notice they're gone.

Possible, in theory, but if the other guys can pull that stunt then your organisation is either so hopelessly compromised or crushingly incompetent that somebody stealing your bombs mid-flight is not the greatest of your concerns.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 06:55:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Keeping stuff physically safe is pretty hard in a combat environment. See how the Soviets got hold of the Sidewinder technology...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 05:04:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meteor Scatter Telemetry is harder to intercept, works even if satcoms get busted, and is way way cheaper.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Dec 1st, 2011 at 01:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously you use an anti-drone drone. Question is, who in the long run can make them cheapest?
by asdf on Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 07:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 11:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one questions jets can shoot down unarmed surveillance drones operating in the jet's flight parameters when using an AtA missile operating within it's design specifications.

Georgia operates 10 year old Hermes 450 drones

with a primary mission of reconnaissance, surveillance and communications relay

The craft has an 18,000 foot ceiling and has a 52 horsepower Wankel, internal combustion, engine.

Hardly front-line, high-tech, equipment.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Dec 1st, 2011 at 12:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran says it downed U.S. stealth drone; Pentagon acknowledges aircraft downing - The Washington Post

The Iranian government has not released any pictures of the recovered aircraft, which they said was downed by defense forces after it flew across the border and into the country's airspace. An unnamed Iranian defense official said in one report that a cyber­attack caused the drone to crash.

U.S. officials cast doubt on this and other Iranian assertions. "We have no indication that it was brought down by hostile fire," said a senior Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive surveillance activity.

So it was not shot down but brought down by cyberattack... Someone might have predicted that...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 07:37:03 AM EST
I wouldn't necessarily buy that the Iranians didn't shoot it down. As the War Nerd quibbed about the downed F15E in Libya:

If [the DoD] had their way there'd be no aces in the history of air combat. Baron von Richthofen would just be this German guy who happened to be around a lot of the time when "equipment malfunctions" happened. But it's funny how those malfunctions seem to happen in places where the skies are full of those cool tracer tracks,

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2011 at 06:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could be.

But now there is video out, which I found over at Moon of Alabama

Here Is The Drone

I am certainly no expert, and they are hiding the bottom of the drone, but I would have thought that it would be much more broken if it had been shot down.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 11th, 2011 at 01:28:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree it wasn't shot down but hijacked by cyberattack.  And it didn't crash but was landed, although there may be damage to the bottom of the airframe.

Just gotta laugh.  One half of doing stuff is knowing it can be done the other half is knowing how to do it.  Appears the Iranians have solved both in one fell swoop.  

Just gotta laugh.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 11th, 2011 at 01:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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