United States Army Intelligence and Security Command From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Active 1977 – Present Country United States Branch United States Army Type Direct Reporting Unit Garrison/HQ Fort Belvoir, Virginia Commanders Current commander MG David Lacquement The United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), a direct reporting unit that conducts intelligence, security, and information operations for military commanders and national decision makers. INSCOM is both an organization within the United States Army and the National Security Agency, the nation’s unified Signals Intelligence Organization. Within the National Security Agency, INSCOM and its counterparts in the Navy and Air Force are known as Central Security Service. INSCOM is headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
o 2.1 66th Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.2 116th Military Intelligence Group
o 2.3 300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist)
o 2.4 470th Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.5 500th Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.6 501st Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.7 513th Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.8 704th Military Intelligence Brigade
o 2.9 902nd Military Intelligence Group
o 2.10 1st Information Operations Command (Land)
o 2.11 Army Operations Activity
o 2.12 Central Clearance Facility
o 2.13 Army Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Company (JSTARS)
o 2.14 National Ground Intelligence Center
o 3.1 Merger and Creation of INSCOM
o 3.2 Parapsychologic Methods
4 External links  Mission INSCOM collects intelligence information in all intelligence disciplines to provide unit commanders intelligence for the battlefield and the focus of combat power. The organization also conducts intelligence production activities, ranging from intelligence preparation of the battlefield to situation development, SIGINTanalysis, imagery exploitation, and science and technology intelligence production. INSCOM also has significant responsibilities in counterintelligence, force protection, electronic warfare, and information warfare. Additionally, INSCOM supports force modernization and training. INSCOM’s stated vision for operations includes (1) conducting and supporting relevant intelligence, security and information operations for Army, joint and combined forces; (2) optimizing national/theater/tactical partnerships; (3) exploiting leading edge technology, and (4) meeting the challenge of today, tomorrow and the 21st Century.  Structure  66th Military Intelligence Brigade
Conducts theater level multidiscipline intelligence and security operations and, when directed, deploys prepared forces to conduct joint/combined expeditionary and contingency operations in support of U.S. Army Europe and U.S. European Command.  116th Military Intelligence Group Located at Fort Gordon, Georgia, provides personnel, intelligence assets and technical support to conduct signals intelligence operations within the National Security Agency/Central Security Service Georgia (NSA/CSS Georgia) and worldwide.  300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist) Provides trained and ready linguist and military intelligence soldiers to commanders from brigade through Army level.  470th Military Intelligence Brigade Provides timely and fused multi-discipline intelligence in support of U.S. Army South, U.S. Southern Command and other national intelligence agencies.  500th Military Intelligence Brigade Located at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, provides multi-disciplined intelligence support for joint and coalition war fighters in the U.S. Army Pacific area of responsibility.  501st Military Intelligence Brigade Is dedicated to supporting combined forces operations upholding the armistice agreement that ended hostile action on the Korean Peninsula in 1953.  513th Military Intelligence Brigade Located at Ft. Gordon, GA, Deploys in strength or in tailored elements to conduct multidiscipline intelligence and security operations in support of Army components of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Southern Command and other theater Army commanders.  704th Military Intelligence Brigade Conducts synchronized full-spectrum signals intelligence, computer network and information assurance operations directly and through the National Security Agency to satisfy national, joint, combined and Army information superiority requirements.  902nd Military Intelligence Group Provides direct and general counterintelligence support to Army activities and major commands.
 1st Information Operations Command (Land) Is the only Army full-spectrum IO organization engaged from information operations theory development and training to operational application across the range of military operations.  Army Operations Activity Conducts human intelligence operations and provide expertise in support of ground component priority intelligence requirements using a full spectrum of human intelligence collection methods.  Central Clearance Facility Serves as the U.S. Army’s executive agency for personnel security determinations in support of Army world-wide missions.  Army Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Company (JSTARS) Provides Army aircrew members aboard JSTARS aircraft to support surveillance and targeting operations of Army land component and joint or combined task force commanders worldwide.  National Ground Intelligence Center Is the Defense Department’s primary producer of ground forces intelligence.  History  Merger and Creation of INSCOM On January 1, 1977, the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) was organized at Arlington Hall Station, Virginia, to provide the Army with a single organization for conducting multi-discipline intelligence, security operations, and electronic warfare at the level above corps. The new organization merged the former U.S. Army Security Agency, the signal intelligence and signal security organizations previously located at Arlington Hall, Virginia, the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, a counterintelligence and human intelligence agency based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and several intelligence production units formerly controlled by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence and U.S. Army Forces Command. Brigadier General (later Major General) William I. Rolya, former commanding general of the Army Security Agency, became INSCOM’s first commanding general. On October 1, 1977, the former U.S. Army Intelligence Agency headquarters was integrated into INSCOM, and the command established a unified intelligence production element, the Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, on January 1, 1978. Additionally, INSCOM assumed command of three military intelligence groups located overseas: the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Germany, the 470th Military Intelligence Group in Panama, and the 500th Military Intelligence Group in Japan. These groups were transformed into multidisciplinary units by
incorporating former Army Security Agency assets into the previously existing elements. A fourth such group, the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, was soon organized in Korea. All of these Groups were eventually reorganized and redesignated as Brigades.  Parapsychologic Methods In association with the DIA, and under the leadership of commanding general Albert Stubblebine, INSCOM attempted to use parapsychologic methods such as remote viewing in operation Center Lane. This was done as late as 1981. Other U.S. intelligence services attempted similar projects during the same period, most notably the Stargate Project by the Central Intelligence Agency. Some German services during World War II experimented in parapsychologic methods as well, without any useful results.
Archive for February, 2010
United States Army Intelligence and Security Command From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Active 1977 – Present Country United States Branch United States Army Type Direct Reporting Unit Garrison/HQ Fort Belvoir, Virginia Commanders Current commander MG David Lacquement The United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), a direct reporting unit that conducts intelligence, security, and information operations for military commanders and national decision makers. INSCOM is both an organization within the United States Army and the National Security Agency, the nation’s unified Signals Intelligence Organization. Within the National Security Agency, INSCOM and its counterparts in the Navy and Air Force are known as Central Security Service. INSCOM is headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
UN Committee on Disarmament Discussed Electromagnetic Weapons from 1979 to 1998
One excellent book is The United Nations and Disarmament: 1945-1985 by the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs. (1985) New York, UN Publication Sales No. E.85.IX.6. It describes electromagnetic weapons issues from 1975 through 1985. This East West political disagreement, as described in this excerpt from pages 114-116, continues today.
New types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons;radiological weapons
The question of new weapons of mass destruction has been under continuous consideration in the General Assembly and in the Conference on Disarmament for a number of years. The item “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons” was first included in the agenda of the General Assembly in 1975 at the initiative of the Soviet Union, which submitted a draft international agreement. The topic is at present on the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament.
The Soviet Union and other socialist States in the Conference advocate a general prohibition of the development of new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction, on the ground that it is always more difficult to eliminate weapons after they are deployed than to ban their development and manufacture. With respect to the scope of the prohibition, those States have suggested that new types of weapons of mass destruction should include any type of weapon based on qualitatively new principles of action with regard to method of use, the target to be attacked or the nature of impact. Most Western countries, while agreeing that the subject should be kept under review, have taken a different approach, namely, that new scientific developments should be dealt with individually as they arise and appear to have a weapons potential. They have also held that the various developments pointed out by the Eastern European States as potential new weapons of mass destruction fall within categories that have already been identified and should be covered in that context, rather than as new weapons of mass destruction.
The Final Document of the 1978 special session of the General Assembly stated in paragraph 77 that in order to help prevent a qualitative arms race and so that scientific and technological achievements might ultimately be used solely for peaceful purposes, effective measures should be taken to avoid the danger and prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction based on new scientific principles and achievements. The same year, the General Assembly, at its regular session, adopted two separate resolutions on the issue, one sponsored by the Western States and the other by the Eastern European States, reflecting the respective approaches.
Subsequently, the Soviet Union clarified its position by calling for a comprehensive agreement on the prohibition of new weapons of mass destruction that would be accompanied by a list of specific types to be banned, with the possibility of
adding to the list in the future and the possibility of concluding separate agreements on specific new types of weapons as they emerged. To that end, in 1979, the Soviet Union submitted a document to the Committee on Disarmament in which it listed some types of potential weapons of mass destruction, such as:
a. Radiological weapons (using radioactive materials) which could produce harmful radiation effects similar to effect of a nuclear explosion;
b. Particle-beam weapons based on the use of charged or neutral particles to affect biological targets. Sufficiently powerful bundles of particles could be produced in accelerators used for research; in some operating accelerators, the energy of accelerated particles attained hundreds of millions of electron volts. Reduction of the size and weight of accelerator systems and power sources could permit their use as weapons;
c. Infrasonic “acoustic radiation” weapons. they would utilize harmful effects of infrasonic oscillations on biocurrents of the brain and nervous system;
d. Electromagnetic weapons operating at certain radio-frequency radiations, which could have injurious effects on human organs. Within a few years, devices capable of directional transmission of electromagnetic radiation of enormous power over distances of several hundred kilometres might be developed, and radiation density in excess of safety standards could be produced over areas measuring dozens of square kilometres.
In response, the United States and other Western countries, while expressing readiness to work out agreements on specific types of weapons which might be identified, took the position that a single treaty on the subject of all potential new weapons of mass destruction would have to be so general in its scope and so vague in its definitions that it would not be effective.
Every year since 1979, the General Assembly, on the initiative of Eastern European and non-aligned States, has adopted resolutions on the issue which, in the light of the different positions held, have not received the support of Western States in the voting. In its resolutions, the Assembly, among other things, has requested the negotiating body in Geneva to conduct negotiations, with the assistance of qualified government experts, with a view to preparing a draft comprehensive agreement on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons and, where necessary, specific agreements on particular types of such weapons. Since 1981, the General Assembly has further called upon the permanent
members of the Security Council and other militarily important States to make declarations renouncing the creating of new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction, to be subsequently approved by the Security council.
In the Committee on Disarmament, the issue was discussed mainly during plenary meetings. In 1981 and 1982, periodic informal meetings were held with the participation of experts in order to identify cases which might require particular consideration and which would justify the opening of specific negotiations.
At its 1983 and 1984 sessions, that negotiating body discussed the question at plenary meetings and intends to do so in 1985. The item under which the matter is considered is entitled: “New types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons”. The Soviet Union and other socialist States have stressed the need for an ad hoc group of qualified governmental experts to elaborate both a general agreement and separate agreements on specific new weapons of mass destruction. Western States, while restating their view on the matter have pointed out anew that no such weapon has been identified so far and that the so-called nuclear neutron bomb, for example, about which concern has been expressed, could not be considered as a new weapon as is clearly a nuclear weapon and not based on new scientific principles. During the debate is has also been suggested that the more powerfully armed states should adopt unilateral measures to prevent the use of scientific and technical discoveries for military purposes. Because of these differences of approach, it has not been possible to establish an ad hoc group or other subsidiary body of governmental experts.
Toyota announces Worlds first Real-time controlled wheelchair using brain waves
Written by Administrator
Thursday, 09 July 2009 14:20
Toyota announces Worlds first Real-time controlled wheelchair using brain waves
The BSI-TOYOTA Collaboration Center has succeeded in developing a system which utilizes one of the fastest technologies in the world, controlling a wheelchair using brain waves in as little as 125 milliseconds. The new Toyota system fuses RIKEN’s blind signal separation and space-time-frequency filtering technology to allow brain-wave analysis in as little as 125 ms, as compared to several seconds required by conventional methods. Brain-wave analysis results are displayed on a panel so quickly that drivers do not sense any delay.The system has the capacity to adjust itself to the characteristics of each individual driver, and thereby is able to improve the efficiency with which it senses the driver’s commands.Thus the driver is able to get the system to learn his/her commands
(forward/right/left) quickly and efficiently.
The newly developed system allows elderly or handicapped people to interact with the world through signals from their brains, without having to give voice commands. The new system has succeeded in having drivers correctly give commands to their wheelchairs. An accuracy rate of 95% was achieved, one of the highest in the world.
―The Mind Has No Firewall‖ Army article on psychotronic weapons
Posted by sakerfa on July 1, 2009
The following article is from the US military publication Parameters, subtitled ―US Army War College Quarterly.‖ It describes itself as ―The United States Army‘s Senior Professional Journal.‖ [Click here to read a crucial excerpt.]
“The Mind Has No Firewall” by Timothy L. Thomas. Parameters, Spring 1998, pp. 84-92.
The human body, much like a computer, contains myriad data processors. They include, but are not limited to, the chemical-electrical activity of the brain, heart, and peripheral nervous system, the signals sent from the cortex region of the brain to other parts of our body, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that process auditory signals, and the light-sensitive retina and cornea of the eye that process visual activity. We are on the threshold of an era in which these data processors of the human body may be manipulated or debilitated. Examples of unplanned attacks on the body‘s data-processing capability are well-documented. Strobe lights have been known to cause epileptic seizures. Not long ago in Japan, children watching television cartoons were subjected to pulsating lights that caused seizures in some and made others very sick.
Defending friendly and targeting adversary data-processing capabilities of the body appears to be an area of weakness in the US approach to information warfare theory, a theory oriented heavily toward systems data-processing and designed to attain information dominance on the battlefield. Or so it would appear from information in the open, unclassified press. This US shortcoming may be a serious one, since the capabilities to alter the data- processing systems of the body already exist. A recent edition of U.S. News and World Report highlighted several of these ―wonder weapons‖ (acoustics, microwaves, lasers) and noted that scientists are ―searching the electromagnetic and sonic spectrums for wavelengths that can affect human behavior.‖ A recent Russian military article offered a slightly different slant to the problem, declaring that ―humanity stands on the brink of a psychotronic war‖ with the mind and body as the focus. That article discussed Russian and international attempts to control the psycho-physical condition of man and his decisionmaking processes by the use of VHF-generators, ―noiseless cassettes,‖ and other technologies.
An entirely new arsenal of weapons, based on devices designed to introduce subliminal messages or to alter the body‘s psychological and data-processing capabilities, might be used to incapacitate individuals. These weapons aim to control or alter the psyche, or to attack the various sensory and data-processing systems of the human organism. In both cases, the goal is to confuse or destroy the signals that normally keep the body in equilibrium.
This article examines energy-based weapons, psychotronic weapons, and other developments designed to alter the ability of the human body to process stimuli. One consequence of this assessment is that the way we commonly use the term ―information warfare‖ falls short when the individual soldier, not his equipment, becomes the target of attack.
Information Warfare Theory and the Data-Processing Element of Humans
In the United States the common conception of information warfare focuses primarily on the capabilities of hardware systems such as computers, satellites, and military equipment which process data in its various forms. According to Department of Defense Directive S-3600.1 of 9 December 1996, information warfare is defined as ―an information operation conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries.‖ An information operation is defined in the same directive as ―actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one‘s own information and information systems.‖ These ―information systems‖ lie at the heart of the modernization effort of the US armed forces and other countries, and manifest themselves as hardware, software, communications capabilities, and highly trained individuals. Recently, the US Army conducted a mock battle that tested these systems under simulated combat conditions.
US Army Field Manual 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics (released 30 September 1997), defines information warfare as ―actions taken to achieve information superiority by affecting a hostile‘s information, information based-processes, and information systems, while defending one‘s own information, information processes, and information systems.‖ The same manual defines information operations as a ―continuous military operation within the military information environment that enables, enhances, and protects friendly forces‘ ability to collect, process, and act on information to achieve an advantage across the full range of military operations. [Information operations include] interacting with the Global Information Environment . . . and exploiting or denying an adversary‘s information and decision capabilities.‖
This ―systems‖ approach to the study of information warfare emphasizes the use of data, referred to as information, to penetrate an adversary‘s physical defenses that protect data (information) in order to obtain operational or strategic advantage. It has tended to ignore the role of the human body as an information- or data-processor in this quest for dominance except in those cases where an individual‘s logic or rational thought may be upset via disinformation or deception. As a consequence little attention is directed toward protecting the mind and body with a firewall as we have done with hardware systems. Nor have any techniques for doing so been prescribed. Yet the body is capable not only of being deceived, manipulated, or misinformed but also shut down or destroyed–just as any other data-processing system. The ―data‖ the body receives from external sources–such as electromagnetic, vortex, or acoustic energy waves–or creates through its own electrical or chemical stimuli can be manipulated or changed just as the data (information) in any hardware system can be altered.
The only body-related information warfare element considered by the United States is psychological operations (PSYOP). In Joint Publication 3-13.1, for example, PSYOP is listed as one of the elements of command and control warfare. The publication notes that ―the ultimate target of [information warfare] is the information dependent process, whether human or automated . . . . Command and control warfare (C2W) is an application of information warfare in military operations. . . . C2W is the integrated use of PSYOP, military deception, operations security, electronic warfare and physical destruction.‖
One source defines information as a ―nonaccidental signal used as an input to a computer or communications system.‖ The human body is a complex communication system constantly receiving nonaccidental and accidental signal inputs, both external and internal. If the ultimate target of information warfare is the information-dependent process, ―whether human or automated,‖ then the definition in the joint publication implies that human data-processing of internal and external signals can clearly be considered an aspect of information warfare. Foreign researchers have noted the link between humans as data processors and the conduct of information warfare. While some study only the PSYOP link, others go beyond it. As an example of the former, one recent Russian article described offensive information warfare as designed to ―use the Internet channels for the purpose of organizing PSYOP as well as for `early political warning‘ of threats to American interests.‖ The author‘s assertion was based on the fact that ―all mass media are used for PSYOP . . . [and] today this must include the Internet.‖ The author asserted that the Pentagon wanted to use the Internet to ―reinforce psychological influences‖ during special operations conducted outside of US borders to enlist sympathizers, who would accomplish many of the tasks previously entrusted to special units of the US armed forces.
Others, however, look beyond simple PSYOP ties to consider other aspects of the body‘s data-processing capability. One of the principal open source researchers on the relationship of information warfare to the body‘s data-processing capability is Russian Dr. Victor Solntsev of the Baumann Technical Institute in Moscow. Solntsev is a young, well-intentioned researcher striving to point out to the world the potential dangers of the computer operator interface. Supported by a network of institutes and academies, Solntsev has produced some interesting concepts. He insists that man must be viewed as an open system instead of simply as an organism or closed system. As an open system, man communicates with his environment through information flows and communications media. One‘s physical environment, whether through electromagnetic, gravitational, acoustic, or other effects, can cause a change in the psycho-physiological condition of an organism, in Solntsev‘s opinion. Change of this sort could directly affect the mental state and consciousness of a computer operator. This would not be electronic war or information warfare in the traditional sense, but rather in a nontraditional and non-US sense. It might encompass, for example, a computer modified to become a weapon by using its energy output to emit acoustics that debilitate the operator. It also might encompass, as indicated below, futuristic weapons aimed against man‘s ―open system.‖
Solntsev also examined the problem of ―information noise,‖ which creates a dense shield between a person and external reality. This noise may manifest itself in the form of signals, messages, images, or other items of information. The main target of this noise would be the
consciousness of a person or a group of people. Behavior modification could be one objective of information noise; another could be to upset an individual‘s mental capacity to such an extent as to prevent reaction to any stimulus. Solntsev concludes that all levels of a person‘s psyche (subconscious, conscious, and ―superconscious‖) are potential targets for destabilization.
According to Solntsev, one computer virus capable of affecting a person‘s psyche is Russian Virus 666. It manifests itself in every 25th frame of a visual display, where it produces a combination of colors that allegedly put computer operators into a trance. The subconscious perception of the new pattern eventually results in arrhythmia of the heart. Other Russian computer specialists, not just Solntsev, talk openly about this ―25th frame effect‖ and its ability to subtly manage a computer user‘s perceptions. The purpose of this technique is to inject a thought into the viewer‘s subconscious. It may remind some of the subliminal advertising controversy in the United States in the late 1950s.
US Views on ―Wonder Weapons‖: Altering the Data-Processing Ability of the Body
What technologies have been examined by the United States that possess the potential to disrupt the data-processing capabilities of the human organism? The 7 July 1997 issue of U.S. News and World Report described several of them designed, among other things, to vibrate the insides of humans, stun or nauseate them, put them to sleep, heat them up, or knock them down with a shock wave. The technologies include dazzling lasers that can force the pupils to close; acoustic or sonic frequencies that cause the hair cells in the inner ear to vibrate and cause motion sickness, vertigo, and nausea, or frequencies that resonate the internal organs causing pain and spasms; and shock waves with the potential to knock down humans or airplanes and which can be mixed with pepper spray or chemicals.
With modification, these technological applications can have many uses. Acoustic weapons, for example, could be adapted for use as acoustic rifles or as acoustic fields that, once established, might protect facilities, assist in hostage rescues, control riots, or clear paths for convoys. These waves, which can penetrate buildings, offer a host of opportunities for military and law enforcement officials. Microwave weapons, by stimulating the peripheral nervous system, can heat up the body, induce epileptic-like seizures, or cause cardiac arrest. Low-frequency radiation affects the electrical activity of the brain and can cause flu-like symptoms and nausea. Other projects sought to induce or prevent sleep, or to affect the signal from the motor cortex portion of the brain, overriding voluntary muscle movements. The latter are referred to as pulse wave weapons, and the Russian government has reportedly bought over 100,000 copies of the ―Black Widow‖ version of them.
However, this view of ―wonder weapons‖ was contested by someone who should understand them. Brigadier General Larry Dodgen, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, wrote a letter to the editor about the ―numerous inaccuracies‖ in the U.S. News and World Report article that ―misrepresent the Department of Defense‘s views.‖ Dodgen‘s primary complaint seemed to have been that the magazine misrepresented the use of these technologies and their value to the armed forces. He also underscored the US intent to work within the scope of any international
treaty concerning their application, as well as plans to abandon (or at least redesign) any weapon for which countermeasures are known. One is left with the feeling, however, that research in this area is intense. A concern not mentioned by Dodgen is that other countries or non-state actors may not be bound by the same constraints. It is hard to imagine someone with a greater desire than terrorists to get their hands on these technologies. ―Psycho-terrorism‖ could be the next buzzword.
Russian Views on ―Psychotronic War‖
The term ―psycho-terrorism‖ was coined by Russian writer N. Anisimov of the Moscow Anti-Psychotronic Center. According to Anisimov, psychotronic weapons are those that act to ―take away a part of the information which is stored in a man‘s brain. It is sent to a computer, which reworks it to the level needed for those who need to control the man, and the modified information is then reinserted into the brain.‖ These weapons are used against the mind to induce hallucinations, sickness, mutations in human cells, ―zombification,‖ or even death. Included in the arsenal are VHF generators, X-rays, ultrasound, and radio waves. Russian army Major I. Chernishev, writing in the military journal Orienteer in February 1997, asserted that ―psy‖ weapons are under development all over the globe. Specific types of weapons noted by Chernishev (not all of which have prototypes) were:
A psychotronic generator, which produces a powerful electromagnetic emanation capable of being sent through telephone lines, TV, radio networks, supply pipes, and incandescent lamps.
An autonomous generator, a device that operates in the 10-150 Hertz band, which at the 10-20 Hertz band forms an infrasonic oscillation that is destructive to all living creatures.
A nervous system generator, designed to paralyze the central nervous systems of insects, which could have the same applicability to humans.
Ultrasound emanations, which one institute claims to have developed. Devices using ultrasound emanations are supposedly capable of carrying out bloodless internal operations without leaving a mark on the skin. They can also, according to Chernishev, be used to kill.
Noiseless cassettes. Chernishev claims that the Japanese have developed the ability to place infra-low frequency voice patterns over music, patterns that are detected by the subconscious. Russians claim to be using similar ―bombardments‖ with computer programming to treat alcoholism or smoking.
The 25th-frame effect, alluded to above, a technique wherein each 25th frame of a movie reel or film footage contains a message that is picked up by the subconscious. This technique, if it works, could possibly be used to curb smoking and alcoholism, but it has wider, more sinister applications if used on a TV audience or a computer operator.
Psychotropics, defined as medical preparations used to induce a trance, euphoria, or depression. Referred to as ―slow-acting mines,‖ they could be slipped into the food of a politician or into the water supply of an entire city. Symptoms include headaches, noises, voices or commands in the brain, dizziness, pain in the abdominal cavities, cardiac arrhythmia, or even the destruction of the cardiovascular system.
There is confirmation from US researchers that this type of study is going on. Dr. Janet Morris, coauthor of The Warrior‘s Edge, reportedly went to the Moscow Institute of Psychocorrelations in 1991. There she was shown a technique pioneered by the Russian Department of Psycho-Correction at Moscow Medical Academy in which researchers electronically analyze the human mind in order to influence it. They input subliminal command messages, using key words transmitted in ―white noise‖ or music. Using an infra-sound, very low frequency transmission, the acoustic psycho-correction message is transmitted via bone conduction.
In summary, Chernishev noted that some of the militarily significant aspects of the ―psy‖ weaponry deserve closer research, including the following nontraditional methods for disrupting the psyche of an individual:
ESP research: determining the properties and condition of objects without ever making contact with them and ―reading‖ peoples‘ thoughts
Clairvoyance research: observing objects that are located just beyond the world of the visible–used for intelligence purposes
Telepathy research: transmitting thoughts over a distance–used for covert operations
Telekinesis research: actions involving the manipulation of physical objects using thought power, causing them to move or break apart–used against command and control systems, or to disrupt the functioning of weapons of mass destruction
Psychokinesis research: interfering with the thoughts of individuals, on either the strategic or tactical level
While many US scientists undoubtedly question this research, it receives strong support in Moscow. The point to underscore is that individuals in Russia (and other countries as well) believe these means can be used to attack or steal from the data-processing unit of the human body.
Solntsev‘s research, mentioned above, differs slightly from that of Chernishev. For example, Solntsev is more interested in hardware capabilities, specifically the study of the information-energy source associated with the computer-operator interface. He stresses that if these energy sources can be captured and integrated into the modern computer, the result will be a network worth more than ―a simple sum of its components.‖ Other researchers are studying high-frequency generators (those designed to stun the psyche with high frequency waves such as electromagnetic, acoustic, and gravitational); the
manipulation or reconstruction of someone‘s thinking through planned measures such as reflexive control processes; the use of psychotronics, parapsychology, bioenergy, bio fields, and psychoenergy; and unspecified ―special operations‖ or anti-ESP training.
The last item is of particular interest. According to a Russian TV broadcast, the strategic rocket forces have begun anti-ESP training to ensure that no outside force can take over command and control functions of the force. That is, they are trying to construct a firewall around the heads of the operators.
At the end of July 1997, planners for Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration ‗97 ―focused on technologies that enhance real-time collaborative planning in a multinational task force of the type used in Bosnia and in Operation Desert Storm. The JWID ‗97 network, called the Coalition Wide-Area Network (CWAN), is the first military network that allows allied nations to participate as full and equal partners.‖ The demonstration in effect was a trade fair for private companies to demonstrate their goods; defense ministries got to decide where and how to spend their money wiser, in many cases without incurring the cost of prototypes. It is a good example of doing business better with less. Technologies demonstrated included:
Soldiers using laptop computers to drag cross-hairs over maps to call in airstrikes
Soldiers carrying beepers and mobile phones rather than guns
Generals tracking movements of every unit, counting the precise number of shells fired around the globe, and inspecting real-time damage inflicted on an enemy, all with multicolored graphics
Every account of this exercise emphasized the ability of systems to process data and provide information feedback via the power invested in their microprocessors. The ability to affect or defend the data-processing capability of the human operators of these systems was never mentioned during the exercise; it has received only slight attention during countless exercises over the past several years. The time has come to ask why we appear to be ignoring the operators of our systems. Clearly the information operator, exposed before a vast array of potentially immobilizing weapons, is the weak spot in any nation‘s military assets. There are few international agreements protecting the individual soldier, and these rely on the good will of the combatants. Some nations, and terrorists of every stripe, don‘t care about such agreements.
This article has used the term data-processing to demonstrate its importance to ascertaining what so-called information warfare and information operations are all about. Data-processing is the action this nation and others need to protect. Information is nothing more than the output of this activity. As a result, the emphasis on information-related warfare terminology (‖information dominance,‖ ―information carousel‖) that has proliferated for a decade does not seem to fit the situation before us. In some cases the
battle to affect or protect data-processing elements pits one mechanical system against another. In other cases, mechanical systems may be confronted by the human organism, or vice versa, since humans can usually shut down any mechanical system with the flip of a switch. In reality, the game is about protecting or affecting signals, waves, and impulses that can influence the data-processing elements of systems, computers, or people. We are potentially the biggest victims of information warfare, because we have neglected to protect ourselves.
Our obsession with a ―system of systems,‖ ―information dominance,‖ and other such terminology is most likely a leading cause of our neglect of the human factor in our theories of information warfare. It is time to change our terminology and our conceptual paradigm. Our terminology is confusing us and sending us in directions that deal primarily with the hardware, software, and communications components of the data-processing spectrum. We need to spend more time researching how to protect the humans in our data management structures. Nothing in those structures can be sustained if our operators have been debilitated by potential adversaries or terrorists who–right now–may be designing the means to disrupt the human component of our carefully constructed notion of a system of systems.
1. I. Chernishev, ―Can Rulers Make `Zombies‘ and Control the World?‖ Orienteer, February 1997, pp. 58-62.
2. Douglas Pasternak, ―Wonder Weapons,‖ U.S. News and World Report, 7 July 1997, pp. 38-46.
3. Ibid., p. 38.
4. FM 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics, 30 September 1997, p. 1-82.
5. Joint Pub 3-13.1, Joint Doctrine for Command and Control Warfare (C2W), 7 February 1996, p. v.
6. The American Heritage Dictionary (2d College Ed.; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), p. 660, definition 4.
7. Denis Snezhnyy, ―Cybernetic Battlefield & National Security,‖ Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, No. 10, 15-21 March 1997, p. 2.
8. Victor I. Solntsev, ―Information War and Some Aspects of a Computer Operator‘s Defense,‖ talk given at an Infowar Conference in Washington, D.C., September 1996, sponsored by the National Computer Security Association. Information in this section is based on notes from Dr. Solntsev‘s talk.
9. Pasternak, p. 40.
10. Ibid., pp. 40-46.
12. Larry Dodgen, ―Nonlethal Weapons,‖ U.S. News and World Report, 4 August 1997, p. 5.
13. ―Background on the Aviary,‖ Nexus Magazine, downloaded from the Internet on 13 July 1997 from http://www.execpc.com/vjentpr/nexusavi.html, p.7.
14. Aleksandr Cherkasov, ―The Front Where Shots Aren‘t Fired,‖ Orienteer, May 1995, p. 45. This article was based on information in the foreign and Russian press, according to the author, making it impossible to pinpoint what his source was for this reference.
15. Bob Brewin, ―DOD looks for IT `golden nuggets,‘‖ Federal Computer Week, 28 July 1997, p. 31, as taken from the Earlybird Supplement, 4 August 1997, p. B 17.
16. Oliver August, ―Zap! Hard day at the office for NATO‘s laptop warriors,‖ The Times, 28 July 1997, as taken from the Earlybird Supplement, 4 August 1997, p. B 16.
Lieutenant Colonel Timothy L. Thomas (USA Ret.) is an analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Recently he has written extensively on the Russian view of information operations and on current Russian military-political issues. During his military career he served in the 82d Airborne Division and was the Department Head of Soviet Military-Political Affairs at the US Army‘s Russian Institute in Garmisch
At a “Great Conversations” event (MP3) at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.”
Hersh spoke with great confidence about these findings from his current reporting, which he hasn‟t written about yet.
In an email exchange afterward, Hersh said that his statements were “an honest response to a question” from the event‟s moderator, U of M Political Scientist Larry Jacobs and “not something I wanted to dwell about in public.”
Hersh didn‟t take back the statements, which he said arise from reporting he is doing for a book, but that it might be a year or two before he has what he needs on the topic to be “effective…that is, empirical, for even the most skeptical.”
The evening of great conversation, featuring Walter Mondale and Hersh, moderated by Jacobs and titled “America‟s Constitutional Crisis,” looked to be a mostly historical review of events that have tested our Constitution, by a journalist and a high government official who had experience with many of the crises.
And it was mostly historical, and a great conversation, in which Hersh and Mondale talked about the patterns by which presidents seem to get intoxicated by executive power, frustrated by the limitations on that power from Congress and the public, drawn into improper covert actions that exceed their constitutional powers, in the belief that they can get results and will never be found out. Despite a few references to the Founding Fathers, the history was mostly recent, starting with the Vietnam War with much of it arising from the George W. Bush administration, which both men roundly denounced.
At the end of one answer by Hersh about how these things tend to happen, Jacobs asked: “And do they continue to happen to this day?”
“Yuh. After 9/11, I haven‟t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven‟t been called on it yet. That does happen.
“Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it‟s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. …
“Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been
going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star
admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral
“Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the
ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and
leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.
“It‟s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we
would normally call murder. It‟s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went
into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you‟ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized.
“In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that
went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then
they find themselves torturing people.
“I‟ve had people say to me — five years ago, I had one say: „What do you call it when you interrogate
somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don‟t get any medical committee and two days
later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?‟
“But they‟re not gonna get before a committee.”
Hersh, the best-known investigative reporter of his generation, writes about these kinds of issues for
The New Yorker. He has written often about JSOC, including, last July that:
“Under the Bush Administration‟s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike
covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a
constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference.”
(“Finding” refers to a special document that a president must issue, although not make public, to
authorize covert CIA actions.)
Here is a tape of the full Mondale-Hersh-Jacobs colloquy, a little over an hour, without the audience
Q and A. If you want to look for the Hersh statement quoted above, it‟s about at the 7:30 mark.
The rest of the evening was, as expected, full of worry and wisdom and quite a bit of Bush-bashing.
Jacobs walked the two elder statesmen through their experiences of:
The My Lai massacre, which Hersh first revealed publicly and which he last night called “the
end of innocence about us and war.”
The Pentagon Papers case, which Mondale called the best example of the “government‟s
potential for vast public deception.”
Henry Kissinger’s secret dealings, mostly relating to the Vietnam War. (Hersh, who has written volumes about Kissinger, said that he will always believe that whereas ordinary people count sheep to fall asleep, Kissinger “has to count burned and maimed Cambodian babies.”)
The Church Committee investigation of CIA and FBI abuses, in which Mondale played a major role. (He talked about the fact that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover not only spied on Martin Luther King but literally tried to drive him to suicide.)
The Iran Contra scandal. (Hersh said the Reagan administration came to office with a clear goal of finding a way to finance covert actions, such as the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, without appropriations so that Congress wouldn’t know about them. Mondale noted that Reagan had signed a law barring further aid to the Contras, then participated in a scheme to keep the aid flowing. Hersh said that two key veterans of Iran-Contra, Dick Cheney and national security official Elliot Abrams, were reunited in the George W. Bush White House and decided that the key lesson from Iran-Contra was that too many people in the administration knew about it.)
And the Bush-Cheney years. (Said Hersh: “The contempt for Congress in the Bush-Cheney White House was extaordinary.” Said Mondale of his successor, Cheney, and his inner circle: “they ran a government within the government.” Hersh added: “Eight or nine neoconservatives took over our country.” Mondale said that the precedents of abuse of vice presidential power by Cheney would remain “like a loaded pistol that you leave on the dining room table.”)
Jacobs pressed both men on the question of whether the frequent abuses of power show that the Constitution fails, because these things keep happening, or whether it works, because these things keep coming to light.
Mondale stuck with the happy answer. “The system has come through again and again,” he said. Presidents always think they will get away with it, but eventually reporters like Hersh bring things to light, the public “starts smelling this stuff,” the courts and the Congress get involved. Presidents “always, in the long run, find out that the system is stronger than they are.”
Hersh seemed more troubled by the repetitions of the pattern. The “beautiful thing about our system” is that eventually we get new leaders, he said. “The evil twosome, Cheney and Bush, left,” Hersh said. But he also said “it‟s really amazing to me that we manage to get such bad leadership, so consistently.”
And he added that both the press and the public let down their guard in the aftermath of 9/11.
“The major newspapers joined the [Bush] team,” Hersh said. Top editors passed the message to investigative reporters not to “pick holes” in what Bush was doing. Violations of the Bill of Rights happened in the plain sight of the public. It was not only tolerated, but Bush was re-elected.
And even Mondale admitted that one of his greatest successes, laws reforming the FBI and CIA in the aftermath of the Church Committee, were supposed to fix the problem so that “we would never have these problems again in the lifetime of anyone alive at the time, but of course we did.”
Nowhere To HideKiller drones that can see through walls. By William SaletanPosted Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008, at 11:49 AM ET Display from an unmanned aerial vehicleFor the last couple of days, in the Human Nature blog, I’ve been looking into a breakthrough cryptically reported in Iraq and Afghanistan: the ability of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles to identify and track human targets “even when they are inside buildings.” Several recently reported technologies might account for it, but Slate reader fozzy suggests looking for the answer in a military research field called STTW, usually translated as “sense-through-the-wall.” Has this ability been extended to a distance that allows it to be used by aerial drones? PRINTDISCUSSE-MAILRSSRECOMMEND…SINGLE PAGE YAHOO! BUZZ FACEBOOKMYSPACE MIXX DIGG REDDIT DEL.ICIO.US FURL MA.GNOLIA SPHERESTUMBLEUPONCLOSEFozzy cites a March 2008 Army technical report on the latest progress in STTW radar methods. (Warning: Most of the documents I’m linking to here are PDFs, and some take a long time to open.) With a few more clicks, I pulled up an April 2008 report from the same research team. Both reports focus on “detecting and identifying humans enclosed in building structures.” “Through-the-wall sensing is currently a topic of great interest to defense agencies both in the U.S. and abroad,” says the April report. “The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has been active in all these fields of investigation, approaching these issues both through hardware design and radar measurements and through computer simulation of various STTW scenarios.” STTW has been around for a while. A 2006 report from the National Defense University mentions a DARPA system that can “detect the presence of personnel within rooms (stated to be successful through 12 inches of concrete),” as well as a commercially developed system with a “30-foot standoff capability.” The next step, to protect U.S. personnel, is to put the technology on “unattended” mobile devices. Since the initial context is urban warfare, the pioneering client is the Army, and the introductory platform is unmanned ground vehicles. But the goal is to increase “standoff distance” and spread the technology to other platforms.
Set phasers to shock . . .
01 November 1997 by Paul Guinnessy
Magazine issue 2106
REAL life is catching up with Star Trek. Hans Eric Herr from San Diego, California, has been granted a patent for a “phaser” that uses laser light to stun or kill.
Crude stun weapons called tasers are already available in the US. The weapons fire two small darts attached to a wire. A pulsing electrical current passes down the wire and stuns the victim by “tetanisation”. The pulses make the muscles of the victim contract in unison, rendering them helpless.
The disadvantages of tasers are that they can only be fired once before they have to be reloaded. They are also classified as firearms because they fire projectiles.
One attempt to overcome the limitations of tasers uses a stream of liquid that hits a victim with a 10 000-volt charge. This causes painful muscle spasms in the victim. But the liquid can split into droplets, breaking the electrical connection,
Star wars hits the streets
12 October 2002 by David Hambling
Magazine issue 2364. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
For similar stories, visit the Weapons Technology Topic Guide
EVER watched Star Trek and wondered what it must feel like to be hit by a phaser set to “stun”? If you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in a riot in the future, you may well find out. Because the latest idea in non-lethal weapons is a laser that can knock you off your feet.
If it works, it could change the way the military and law enforcement authorities deal with civil disturbances. They claim that this laser is more accurate than plastic bullets, more controllable than tear gas and more flexible than either, and it can be fired accurately from up to 2 kilometres away.
It sounds like a triumph of innovation, yet no one wants to talk about it. Its developer, Mission Research of California, will not comment. The Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies is silent on the matter. A leading scientist in the field says he is “not at liberty” to discuss the topic. And he can’t even tell me why.
The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) at Pennsylvania State University is the driving force behind the project, yet it took five months to deliver a statement answering my questions. And it could hardly have been less informative.
But the existence of the Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP), as this weapon is called, is scarcely a secret. In the last financial year, US government budgets show that it received $3,173,000 in research funding.
Maybe no one wants to comment because of the way it works: the PEP will be a tough sell for any public relations team. If it’s fired at you, the laser vaporises the first thing it hits. That could be your shirt – or your skin. This creates a plasma that heats the surrounding air so fast that, basically, the air explodes. The resulting shock wave will knock you to the floor.
If it sounds like just another crazy military concept, it’s not. The PEP is now in the late stages of development and, judging from JNLWD documents, should hit the streets by 2006. The current plan is to mount the laser on a truck, plane or helicopter, fire it from a safe distance, and stop rioters, snipers or soldiers without risking harm to military personnel. In June, USAF Special Operations Command proposed converting a B-2 bomber so that it could perform vertical take-off and carry, among other things, non-lethal lasers to blast people, such as gunmen in crowds, from a couple of kilometres away. This airborne capability is something the US military has been seeking since the ugly scenes in Somalia in 1993 (see “Fire on the madding crowd”).
Information about the PEP is extremely hard to come by. Halfway through researching this article, someone shut down the JNLWD’s online library. All US military websites are undergoing a “detailed security review” at the moment. But some clues come from the accountants’ trail (see “Show me the money”) and if you look hard enough, you can glean some technical details.
The best source seems to be a report written by Harry Moore of the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Picatinny, New Jersey. In 2000, Moore presented the PEP concept to a joint services meeting on small arms. His presentation is still available on the Internet (www.dtic.mil/ndia/smallarms/Moore.pdf).
Moore’s report shows that the PEP wasn’t always so politically correct. It started out 10 years ago as the Pulsed Impulsive Kill Laser (PIKL) and came into being as a result of a stubborn problem encountered during the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) “Star Wars” programme. Part of the SDI plan was to use lasers to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles. But tests showed that, when a high-powered laser is fired at a metal target, the target absorbs far less energy from the laser than expected. The reason for this is the inverse Brehmsstrahlung effect.
Brehmsstrahlung – German for “slowing down radiation” – occurs when a moving electron is slowed down; part of its energy is emitted as a photon. The opposite, inverse Bremsstrahlung, happens when an electron absorbs a photon and speeds up.
When the laser first strikes the target it causes intense heating, vaporising the surface and creating a plasma, essentially a cloud of charged particles. This then absorbs the rest of the incoming laser light. The plasma gets hotter, but the target remains intact.
Although the effect scotched the original aim of burning a hole in the target, SDI researchers reasoned that it could still be put to good use. At high energy levels, you get the shock wave effect generated by the PEP.
The discovery set off the PIKL programme to see whether this laser-created shock wave could do real damage. In 1992, the Los Alamos National Laboratory began developing a prototype laser, while the Air Force’s Armstrong Labs investigated the biological effects of infrared laser pulses.
The Los Alamos team built a deuterium fluoride chemical laser, firing pulses 3 to 5 microseconds long with an energy of more than 300 joules. It had a range of about 2 kilometres, and produced a detonation with two effects: mechanical shock and ablation (erosion of a layer) of the target surface. The target ablation was considerable. The laser produced a rapid series of pulses that could “literally chew through target material”, according to the Moore report. So in 1998 Mission Research started work on the PEP’s precursor, the Pulsed Chemical Laser, the idea being to build a practical weapon for both lethal and non-lethal use.
The project was renamed the PEP in 2000, and it seems that the proof-of-principle chemical laser was good enough to make it worth developing an operational system. Again, details are hard to come by, but in the same year John B. Alexander, chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association Non-Lethal Defense Conference, gave an insight into its performance. Writing in National Defense magazine, he said the PEP’s effects include “a dramatic flash, nearly deafening sound, and substantial kinetic impact”. That impact, Alexander adds, is well above that of any beanbag round or plastic bullet. And in case one hit isn’t enough, Mission Research is developing a quick-fire “Gatling gun” version.
Alexander also mentions some of the PEP’s effects on a target’s body. They include pain, susceptibility to chemical agents (if skin is destroyed), lesions, temporary paralysis, choking, fibrillation and disorientation. According to Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at the University of Dortmund and a specialist in the effects of non-lethal weapons, such effects would require 20 to 100 kilojoules per pulse. That’s a far higher energy than was used for the original bioeffects test. Whatever the energy of the current prototype, Altmann says, such a system must be assessed independently before it’s rolled out. He believes there’s nothing sci-fi about the PEP – he used to work with deuterium fluoride lasers and says the weapon is technically plausible. Whether it’s non-lethal, however, is another matter.
He speculates that the blast pressure from a hit in the mouth or nose, for example, could rupture a lung if the laser’s energy were set too high. An impact on the chest could damage internal organs. Of course, someone hit in the eye could be blinded, either with this or most of the existing laser weapons (New Scientist, 7 September, p 5). But the PEP would be particularly vicious: the shock wave would be like having a grenade go off in your eye socket.
Altmann points out, however, that it’s impossible to make an intelligent judgement of the risks, or to find out what really happens if you are hit by this laser, as there’s simply not enough information in the public domain. The JNLWD didn’t answer my questions about the PEP’s effects on the body, and the Armstrong reports on the biological effects of the PIKL have never been circulated outside the military community. In the past, Leik Myrabo of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, has helped journalists with this kind of enquiry. He has done a lot of work in the field of laser propulsion and I thought he’d be sure to know the kind of power needed for such a project. But he says he is no longer in a position to talk about military impulsive lasers and would not be quoted.
As a classified programme, the PEP has been subject to a high level of security, ostensibly to stop potential enemies from developing countermeasures. But it has also shielded the weapon from public scrutiny and the potential embarrassment of public testing. After all, it may not work in the field.
Don Walters of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey has carried out research into laser propagation and points out that dust or smoke could hinder the PEP. Pulsed lasers produce a very high electric field that can ionise the atmosphere along their path, particularly when the air contains particles such as dust. “The intense field near the particle surface ionises the air, producing a plasma that absorbs and stops the laser energy,” Walters explains. This has been a problem for high-powered pulsed lasers almost from the outset, and it is not clear how the PEP will overcome it. The JNLWD pointedly didn’t answer my question on this either.
So the PEP remains an enigma, barely visible behind its veil of secrecy. It exists, certainly, but can it work as a non-lethal weapon? We may not know if it’s ready, safe or in service until the first hapless soul is struck down in the street. If that’s you, do let us know how it feels – if you can.
Fire on the madding crowd
The US military feel they have good reason to develop something like PEP. They think it is just the kind of weapon that could have saved lives in situations such as the riots in Somalia in 1993.
A mob attacked UN troops in the capital Mogadishu, so US helicopters were sent in to help. Lacking a non-lethal option, they opened fire with 20-millimetre cannon, killing a number of women and children. Not long after, the Somalis were dragging dead US servicemen around the streets. The tragedy spurred the US drive for the ultimate non-lethal weapon.
Many existing non-lethal options for crowd control have inherent problems. Chemical weapons such as CS and CN gas and OC pepper sprays are indiscriminate and can be carried off on the wind. Also, their effects vary – some people are unaffected by them, while others suffer severe adverse reactions. And it’s difficult to guarantee that kinetic-energy weapons such as baton rounds or plastic bullets, rubber stingballs and bean-bag rounds won’t kill. To keep them non-lethal, baton rounds must have a low velocity and a large diameter – preferably large enough to prevent them penetrating an eye socket – to spread their impact over a greater area. But this gives a projectile with poor ballistic performance, increasing the chance of hitting an innocent person.
The US military now have more exotic options in development. One is the Active Denial System (ADS), basically a dish that fires a beam of 95 GHz microwaves at a crowd, heating people’s skin and forcing them to move away. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in New Mexico tested it on human volunteers last year (New Scientist, 27 October 2001, p 26) and plan to fit it to trucks or low-flying aircraft for use in peacekeeping situations or to control riots.
But the AFRL says the ADS won’t be used until its legality as a weapon has been reviewed. There’s also fierce opposition to the system: critics say the ADS could cause cancers, for instance, or blind anyone hit in the eye by it. Tests for such problems are being carried out on rats, and the AFRL is not expecting the ADS to be cleared for use before 2006. The PEP, an equally radical and controversial solution to crowd control, is likely to face the same hurdles.
Show me the money
The war against terror may have closed the door on many technological details of the non-lethal weapons programme, but published government accounts can still tell us a thing or two.
In the financial year 2002, the PEP project spent $3 million on developing hardware and assessing its effects on a likely target. Another $2 million is planned for next year. But this may be only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the war on terror, Special Operations forces received a lot of extra cash for technology development this year, up from $11 million last year to $62 million, with $55 million earmarked for a tactical lethal/non-lethal airborne laser to be ready for production by 2005.
Such a laser could be a device like the PEP, which can be used at low power to stun or at high power to kill. There are also proposals to harness the accuracy of high-powered lasers and use them as non-lethal weapons. The idea is that they could destroy weapons, tyres, communications aerials and so on without harming enemy personnel.
Some programmes, such as the Agile Target Effects programme, are funded by the US Army’s Classified R&D budget of $200 million. And airborne lasers could draw on the US Air Force’s more generous “black budget”, estimated at $6.7 billion
Machines That Read Minds
Science Digest, October 1981
Electrodes pressed to your scalp, you sit down while scientists watch your thoughts as waves on a screen.
When I was a kid dreaming about time warps and antigrav belts, one of the gadgets I wanted most was a tape recorder I could plug into my brain. The idea was to “write down” somehow the orchestrated chemoelectromagnetic music of mentation, to photograph the evanescent threads of thought so they could be played later at a convenient time. With such a machine we could save forever those rushes of joy that bring coherence to life; we could listen abstractedly to the Muse, knowing that we could remember all that she said.
I still don’t own a thought recorder, but in scores of laboratories throughout the world researchers *are* using a new computer technology to read and record portions of the brain’s vast internal hubbub. From this electronic mind reading they are beginning to learn which brainwaves appear consistently with which sights, sounds and other stimuli.
The waveform that the brain characteristically emits after absorbing an external event is called an *evoked potential* or an *event-related potential*. (Following current scientific language, I will use the former term and the latter’s abbreviation — ERP — interchangeably.) Evoked potentials may constitute one of the most complex languages humans have ever tried to decipher, but even the limited vocabulary we already have is a versatile diagnostic tool and a guide to formerly uncharted aspects of the brain’s activity. No one knows where a complete dictionary of the mind could take us.
An English physiologist, Richard Caton, first observed the brain’s electrical field — in lower animals — in 1875. It was not until 50 years later, however, that Hans Berger, a German psychiatrist, recorded the first human electroencephalogram from platinum wires he had pushed into his young son’s scalp. Berger thought the whole brain emitted only one wave, but soon it was found that when electrodes were placed at several points on the scalp, they recorded different patterns, indicating various waves. Today as many as 32 separate leads and channels are used to record and trace brain waves; the tracing is called an electroencephalogram, or EEG.
By reading an EEG, we can know when large parts of the brain are actively working. Smooth, evenly rounded waves appearing in long “trains” or short “bursts” indicate that the cells recorded are all firing rhythmically in unison — in effect, “idling.” This phenomenon is called coherence or synchrony. When part of the brain takes up some chore, the pattern becomes choppy, the waves irregular and smaller, indicating that a particular cell or group of cells is going about its business relatively independently, no longer synchronized with the others. Alpha waves (8-14 cycles per second) are most
often synchronous when your eyes are closed but you are awake; they go their own way, at least briefly, when you open your eyes. The regular idling pattern of alpha waves in synchrony is a rough measure of activation or involvement in a task. So consistent are these and other patterns that they have become the basis of the science of biofeedback.
COMPUTERS TO THE RESCUE
But the EEG is a crude tool. Nearly all of the waves are composites from many different structures, whose functions at any given moment may be unrelated to each other. Computers have recently made it possible, however, to draw out specific wave components, in response to stimuli whose meanings may differ among individuals, from the “noise” of the EEG’s composite line — noise being whatever the researcher is not interested in at the moment. When a researcher presents a single, rigorously controlled stimulus — one flash of light, one click, one letter of the alphabet, one word — the segment of EEG roughly half a second thereafter will contain a wave in response to that stimulus, although it is invisible because of the noise. However, when the same stimulus is repeated 50 or 100 times and those EEG segments are averaged, the noise, being so complex as to be almost random, cancels itself out, leaving the investigator with a specific waveform that has been *evoked* by that particular stimulus.
Responses to some stimuli will be straightforward. A click evokes from the auditory cortex a wave that first descends far below the cortical baseline, rises steeply to just above it, then slowly dies out. A tap on the hand produces two downward peaks, the second deeper than the first. ERPs can be roughly classified by the length of time they take to appear — their *latency*. Sensory stimuli (lights, sounds) get to the cortex by simple pathways with few synapses (gaps between neurons) and generally evoke their responses within two-tenths of a second. Many short-latency ERPs are fairly easy to interpret and can be used as diagnostic tests to see whether sensory pathways are working properly.
Complex processes that use many synapses produce longer-latency waves, and therefore are harder to interpret. Some long-latency waves *have* been interpreted, however. In 1964 W. Grey Walter and associates at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, England, described the contingent negative variation, or CNV. It is now becoming known as the “expectancy wave” because it occurs whenever a subject anticipates something pleasurable or at least nonthreatening. The CNV definitely indicates immediate anticipation, and it becomes larger the more pleasant the expectation. A small wave appears when a subject has learned to expect a light after a buzzer. Large CNVs appeared in an experiment when heterosexual men were about to see photos of nude women or when homosexual men were about to see photos of nude men. The CNVs disappeared or got very small when the slides went against the subjects’ sexual preferences.
The P300 (named, as all ERPs are, by its polarity — in this case, P for positive — and its latency — in this case 300 milliseconds) is sometimes called the “surprise wave.” Discovered in 1964 by Samuel Sutton, of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the P300 occurs in response to any stimulus that is important and must be dealt with. Though
it is more complicated than this, basically you put out a P300 in everyday life when, for instance, the doorbell rings; in the taking of an EEG, a P300 would result when the experimenter suddenly inserted a buzz into a series of clicks.
Since the brain is organized to pay most attention to surprising stimuli (they might be dangerous), P300 is probably related to the process of deciding what the stimulus is and how seriously to take it. If an uninteresting stimulus is repeated, the evoked P300 gets smaller. On the other hand, if a flying saucer landed in your backyard, it would produce a very large P300 in your brain, and the subsequent waves would not be much smaller if a few more happened to land.
Even the absence of an expected stimulus will elicit a P300 wave. For example, Dr. Sutton found that the P300 appears 300 milliseconds after the point in time that subjects listening to a series of regularly spaced clicks noticed that one of the clicks was missing — as if a subject were saying, “I distinctly heard that clock not strike.”
The N100, also called the “cocktail party wave” or, more properly, the selective attention wave, shows up whenever you pay attention to one stimulus out of many. Steven Hillyard of the University of California, San Diego, who did much of the original work on this wave, expects N100 research to yield important clues to several types of mental illness and disorder. It has long been postulated that schizophrenics and autistic persons, for example, are overwhelmed by a cascade of stimuli gushing through a mental filter that doesn’t work right.
Recording from subjects who were willing to take a few stiff drinks in the name of science, Helen Neville of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, found that the N100 diminishes — and that there is an associated loss of attention — as the level of alcohol in the blood increases. Diminution of N100 when people get drunk explains why it’s so much harder to hear what someone is saying at a booze bash than on an equally noisy subway platform. Neville also found that the P300 wave was markedly smaller in anyone who had imbibed alcohol and who also had an alcoholic in the immediate family. When the implications of that finding are understood, she believes, we may be close to having a test that can predict who is in metabolic danger of becoming an alcoholic.
An intriguing recent discovery, the N400 brain wave, shows how ERP analysis can focus on one kind of thought at a time. The N400, for example, seems to mean “Huh? What was that again?” according to Marta Kutas, of the University of California, San Diego, and Steven Hillyard, who discovered this “double-take wave” last year. Their subjects saw a series of seven-word sentences flashed on screens at one-second intervals; the ERPs were recorded after each word. A normal recognition pattern of brain waves followed each word in such ordinary sentences as “It was his first day at school.” But when the experimenters threw in a zinger such as “She took a drink from the radio,” they saw a big negative peak after the last word. Kutas and Hillyard think they have caught the
brain in the act of reprocessing, trying to make sense out of nonsense. N400 does not seem to appear in response to grammatical mistakes, but it does seem to show up when an incongruous mental picture of a radio substitutes for the word *radio*, suggesting the wave’s relationship to the *meaning* rather than the sound or form of the word.
The double-take wave promises, among other uses, to improve the teaching of reading. “After all,” Hillyard reasons, “when you’re first learning to read, nearly all of the words look out of place and the the mind is continually backtracking to reanalyze the meaning.
Every thought, like any outside stimulus, also triggers a complex series of brain waves. For example, in the early 1970s, John Hanley, of the Brain Research Institute of UCLA, taught a chimpanzee to play ticktacktoe. While recording from the chimp’s brain, Hanley noticed a wave that regularly appeared just as the ape was about to make a winning move. The wave was entirely different from waves that appeared before moves that lost the game.
A human subject’s decision to move a given set of muscles also produces a wave in the region of the brain that controls those muscles. This wave can be averaged out of the EEG record just *before* the movement. A decision to wiggle all the fingers, for instance, makes waves in the supplemental motor area where this “simple” movement seems to be programmed and sent to the finger-control area for execution.
Many scientists have long assumed that the speaking of a word must be preceded by a program, not unlike a computer program, as reflected by brain waves that are word-specific. They have spent fruitless hours looking for such language waves, which would be the heart of any putative thought scanner. Now, at the University of Missouri, two researchers say they’ve found “motor template waves” associated with about 20 different syllables, although just how they are associated remains unknown. Neurophysiologist Donald York and speech pathologist Thomas Jensen are now trying to separate a sound-forming component from a meaning component by comparing the ERP differences between homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings — for example *ate* and *eight*).
A Russian scientist has reportedly isolated specific waves for specific meanings, claiming to have found, for example, that waves for concepts such as *chair*, *desk*, and *table* are all overlapped by another wave that corresponds to the word *furniture*. Most Western scientists, however, remain skeptical about this work.
York and Jensen are interested not in building a thought recorder but in trying to help brain-damaged people speak and walk again. By comparing brain waves from injured brains to normal ones, they think they can give a patient feedback as his brain gets closer to or farther from the proper pattern during rehabilitation.
With a device called a phase-lock loop, paraplegics may one day be able to use their own brain waves to walk again. A phase-lock loop permits a satellite tracking antenna to lock into an orbiter’s signal and pull telemetered information down to earth. Using a complex computer simulation, John Hanley has demonstrated the possibility of similarly locking into and tracking specific human brain waves. If it works, the tracking procedure would open the way to artificial joints, each with its own phase-lock loop tuned to the specific brain waves related to the movement of that joint. Using the signals received from the brain, the device would then either stimulate the appropriate muscles to perform the appropriate movements or activate an electric motor that would make a pulley perform the movements. Either method would bypass the severed nerve connections and enable a paralyzed person to move a limb, perhaps even to walk down the street, as other people do — by willing it. Hanley remains hopeful in the pursuit of this dream, even though he has not yet been able to get funding for it.
Uninjured people might also benefit if Hanley is ever able to make his idea work. One of the problems in operating many complicated machines is work overload on the brain. In flying a modern jet plane, for example, the number of dials to be watched and interpreted, the number of controls to be moved and the number of factors to be balanced in mind comes close to the mind’s limit for simultaneous processing. Many investigators of plane crashes think that accidents happen when this limit is exceeded.
The P300 surprise wave could be the key to connecting mind and machine, because changes in its latency shape and size may reflect how efficiently the brain is evaluating stimuli and making decisions. Emanuel Donchin and his co-workers at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have developed methods using the ERP for measuring mental workload in pilots. And several ERP researchers believe it might eventually be possible for an overworked pilot to fly a plane with only his brain.
WHAT WAVES MEAN
Evoked-potential research is at the exciting, chaotic stage that comes when new instruments yield new discoveries almost every time they’re switched on. The result is great confusion. While some short-latency ERPs translate into reliable clinical results, the waves that accompany more complex mental acts have raised more questions than they have answered.
Take the matter of lateralization. Hardly anyone doubts that the brain’s two hemispheres process information differently. Using newly developed pattern-recognition programs, however, Alan Gevins, of the EEG Systems Laboratory at UCSF Medical School, recently discovered that instead of being confined exclusively to the left or right hemisphere, very simple numeric and spatial judgments actually involve many areas on both sides of the brain. Complex patterns of brain electricity associated with these judgments changed very rapidly; each sixth of a second, a totally different set of complex patterns was seen. These previously unseen patterns were not apparent in the average evoked potential.
Under the increasingly close scrutiny of brain scientists, some of the familiar waves, longtime guideposts in the murk, are beginning to dissolve. Good old P300, the surprise wave, often appears to overlap with one or more positive waves that probably have different functions. N100 may also be a composite wave, reflecting other mental processes besides selective attention, according to recent work both at UCLA and in Finland. The expectancy wave and several others have also been resolved into several components.
It is now unclear just what waves were evoked in many earlier experiments. “We are in a hell of a mess,” says P300’s discoverer Samuel Sutton. “We have opened up several cans of worms, and I think we had better watch them wriggle for a while.” On the other hand, he adds, “The new findings really are telling us that things were always more complicated than we thought they were. We now have more adequate directions … so we can begin to move toward a greater clarity.”
To produce that clarity, several baffling questions must be answered:
*Where are the waves coming from?* The skull and scalp are a “smoky window,” as Robert Thatcher, of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, put it. It’s tempting to assume that the current is generated underneath the point where the signal is strongest, but this isn’t always the case, and there’s seldom any way of knowing how far down the current originates. Now two mathematical techniques — current density source analysis and equipotential mapping analysis — are being developed to try to “triangulate” the brain-wave generators from a rosette pattern of ten or more electrodes.
*What are the other cells saying?* Most of the brain’s recordable electricity comes from 3 to 7 percent of its cells. These are the large pyramid-shaped cells with long dendrites and axons (nerve fibers) that make up most of the cortex and the pathways between many other structures. But most of the brain is composed of small cells with spherical dendritic fields whose contribution to brain waves is not yet fully understood.
*Where are the emotions?* No waveform reflections of the feelings or drives that color all sensory input have yet been identified by researchers.
*What is the role of magnetism in the brain?* Wherever electrons flow, whether through a copper wire or through a nerve cell, an electromagnetic field is born. According to W. Ross Adey, professor of physiology and surgery at Loma Linda University in California, electromagnetic fields applied to the brain can alter reaction times.
Among ERP researchers the hope of a “thought dictionary” has faded before the unforeseen complexities they have found in our heads. “I’d never say it’s impossible,” muses Helen Neville, “but I don’t think we’ll know nearly enough for at least twenty years.” Alan Gevins is more skeptical: “I think you can have the same electrical pattern a dozen times without necessarily having the same thought twice.”
The data on electromagnetism are grounds for speculation, though. Based on Adey’s work, Robert Thatcher suggested placing around the skull a set of microwave generators that would transmit at an energy low enough not to cook the brain. The interference patterns produced as these beams interact with the brain’s electromagnetic activity could then be built up by computer into a three-dimensional moving picture of mental processes. If we could learn to interpret that picture, we’d have a true thought scanner.
With remote monitors, such an instrument would be a spy’s dream. Indeed, CIA spokespeople have admitted “following” ERP research, perhaps the way the agency followed LSD research in the 1950s. It’s all too easy to imagine CIA-KGB brain-picking capers, scanning of Cabinet member’s minds after closed-door meetings and “internal surveillance” of dissidents.
Of course, quite a bit can be done right now. A foolproof truth detector, for example, could be built today — if it hasn’t already been. Helen Neville demonstrated a few years ago that when you show a person a photo of someone he or she knows, an ERP called the “recognition wave” is markedly enhanced. This raises the possibility that if a prisoner you were interrogating wouldn’t say whether Joe Blow was his accomplice, all you’d have to do is show him a picture of Joe, and the brain wave would tell you.
MONEY FROM THE CIA
“We were amazed when we found the implications of our results,” Neville remembers. “But then, the same wave is useful in studying preverbal infants, stroke patients, memory loss in Korsakoff’s syndrome and so on.” The CIA is also well aware of the implications and has funded scholarly work on the recognition wave.
Of course, the bright side of the thought scanner is just as plausible as the dark side. By allowing the faintest glimmer of intuition to be played back before it faded, a thought recorder might accelerate the process of problem solving in all endeavors, even brain research. And you might no longer need to rely on a daisy to tell you whether your beloved loves you or loves you not.
In *The Natural History of the Mind*, Gordon Rattray Taylor elegantly compared monitoring the EEG to listening to the noise from a party from outside the house. We know only that there is a gathering, he said; we don’t know who’s there or what kind of games they’re playing. With the help of ERP technology, the door to our minds has begun to open. No matter how far the research takes us toward good or evil, its greatest reward will be the knowledge it gives us about that magnificently complex party in our heads, knowledge that will remain with us when the monitor is switched off.
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Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow
Mega-contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel supply the government with brawn. But the biggest, most powerful of the “body shops”—SAIC, which employs 44,000 people and took in $8 billion last year—sells brainpower, including a lot of the “expertise” behind the Iraq war.
BY DONALD L. BARLETT AND JAMES B. STEELE March 2007
The McLean, Virginia, offices of Science Applications International Corporation, a “stealth company” with 9,000 government contracts, many of which involve secret intelligence work. Photograph by Coral von Zumwalt.
One of the great staples of the modern Washington movie is the dark and ruthless corporation whose power extends into every cranny around the globe, whose technological expertise is without peer, whose secrets are unfathomable, whose riches defy calculation, and whose network of allies, in and out of
government, is held together by webs of money, ambition, and fear. You’ve seen this movie a dozen times. Men in black coats step from limousines on wintry days and refer guardedly to unspeakable things. Surveillance cameras and eavesdropping devices are everywhere. Data scrolls across the movie screen in digital fonts. Computer keyboards clack softly. Seemingly honorable people at the summit of power—Cabinet secretaries, war heroes, presidents—turn out to be pathetic pawns of forces greater than anyone can imagine. And at the pinnacle of this dark and ruthless corporation is a relentless and well-tailored titan—omniscient, ironic, merciless—played by someone like Christopher Walken or Jon Voight.
To be sure, there isn’t really such a corporation: the Omnivore Group, as it might be called. But if there were such a company—and, mind you, there isn’t—it might look a lot like the largest government contractor you’ve never heard of: a company known simply by the nondescript initials SAIC (for Science Applications International Corporation), initials that are always spoken letter by letter rather than formed into a pronounceable acronym. SAIC maintains its headquarters in San Diego, but its center of gravity is in Washington, D.C. With a workforce of 44,000, it is the size of a full-fledged government agency—in fact, it is larger than the departments of Labor, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Its anonymous glass-and-steel Washington office—a gleaming corporate box like any other—lies in northern Virginia, not far from the headquarters of the C.I.A., whose byways it knows quite well. (More than half of SAIC’s employees have security clearances.) SAIC has been awarded more individual government contracts than any other private company in America. The contracts number not in the dozens or scores or hundreds but in the thousands: SAIC currently holds some 9,000 active federal contracts in all. More than a hundred of them are worth upwards of $10 million apiece. Two of them are worth more than $1 billion. The company’s annual revenues, almost all of which come from the federal government, approached $8 billion in the 2006 fiscal year, and they are continuing to climb. SAIC’s goal is to reach as much as $12 billion in revenues by 2008. As for the financial yardstick that really gets Wall Street’s attention—profitability—SAIC beats the S&P 500 average. Last year ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, posted a return on revenue of 11 percent. For SAIC the figure was 11.9 percent. If “contract backlog” is any measure—that is, contracts negotiated and pending—the future seems assured. The backlog stands at $13.6 billion. That’s one and a half times more than the backlog at KBR Inc., a subsidiary of the far better known government contractor once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Halliburton Company.
It is a simple fact of life these days that, owing to a deliberate decision to downsize government, Washington can operate only by paying private companies to perform a wide range of functions. To get some idea of the scale: contractors absorb the taxes paid by everyone in America with incomes under $100,000. In other words, more than 90 percent of all taxpayers might as well remit everything they owe directly to SAIC or some other contractor rather than to the IRS. In Washington these companies go by
the generic name “body shops”—they supply flesh-and-blood human beings to do the specialized work that government agencies no longer can. Often they do this work outside the public eye, and with little official oversight—even if it involves the most sensitive matters of national security. The Founding Fathers may have argued eloquently for a government of laws, not of men, but what we’ve got instead is a government of body shops.
The unhappy business practices of the past few years in Iraq—cost overruns, incompetence, and corruption on a pharaonic scale—have made the American public keenly aware of the activities of mega-contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel. Although SAIC takes on government projects such as those pursued by contractors like these, it does not belong in exactly the same category. Halliburton and Bechtel supply the government’s brawn. They pour concrete, roll out concertina wire, build infrastructure. They call on bullnecked men to provide protection.
In contrast, SAIC is a body shop in the brain business. It sells human beings who have a particular expertise—expertise about weapons, about homeland security, about surveillance, about computer systems, about “information dominance” and “information warfare.” If the C.I.A. needs an outside expert to quietly check whether its employees are using their computers for personal business, it calls on SAIC. If the Immigration and Naturalization Service needs new record-keeping software, it calls on SAIC. Indeed, SAIC is willing to provide expertise about almost anything at all, if there happens to be a government contract out there to pay for it—as there almost always is. Whether SAIC actually possesses all the expertise that it sells is another story.
What everyone agrees on is this: No Washington contractor pursues government money with more ingenuity and perseverance than SAIC. No contractor seems to exploit conflicts of interest in Washington with more zeal. And no contractor cloaks its operations in greater secrecy. SAIC almost never touts its activities in public, preferring to stay well below the radar. An SAIC executive once gave a press interview and referred to the enterprise as a “stealth company,” a characterization that is accurate and that has stuck. “Nobody knows who they are,” says Glenn Grossenbacher, a Texas lawyer who has battled SAIC in court on a whistle-blowing case. “Everybody knows Northrop Grumman and G.E., but if you went out on the street and asked who the top 10 [defense] contractors are, I can guarantee you that SAIC would not be one of them.”
Which is all the more remarkable in light of two developments. The first is a mounting collection of government audits and lawsuits brought by former employees for a variety of reasons, some of them personal and some coming under federal whistle-blower statutes. In a response to written queries, SAIC
characterized itself as a “highly ethical company and responsible government contractor, committed to doing the right thing.” But a review by Vanity Fair of thousands of pages of documents, including corporate e-mail messages, offers disturbing revelations about the company’s inner workings, its culture, and its leadership.
The second development is that several of SAIC’s biggest projects have turned out to be colossal failures, failures that have occurred very much in public.
One involves the National Security Agency, America’s intelligence-gathering “electronic ear” and for many years SAIC’s biggest customer. The volume of telephone, e-mail, and other electronic communications that the N.S.A. intercepts worldwide is so massive that the agency urgently needs a new computer system to store it, sort it, and give it meaning—otherwise it will keep missing clues like the Arabic message “Tomorrow is zero hour,” intercepted the day before 9/11 but not translated until the day after. SAIC won the initial $280 million, 26-month contract to design and create this system, called Trailblazer. Four years and more than a billion dollars later, the effort has been abandoned. General Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the N.S.A. and now the director of the C.I.A., blamed the failure on “the fact we were trying to overachieve, we were throwing deep and we should have been throwing short passes.” Happily for SAIC, it will get the chance for a comeback in the second half. The company has been awarded the contract for a revised Trailblazer program called ExecuteLocus. The contract is worth $361 million.
Another failed effort involves the F.B.I., which paid SAIC $124 million to bring the bureau, whose computer systems are among the most primitive in American law enforcement, into at least the late 20th century. The lack of information-sharing is one reason why the F.B.I. failed to realize that in the year leading up to 9/11 two of the future hijackers—including one with known “jihadist connections”—were actually living in the San Diego home of an F.B.I. informant. SAIC set to work on a system called the Virtual Case File. V.C.F. was supposed to become a central repository of data (wiretap transcripts, criminal records, financial transactions) from which all F.B.I. agents could draw. Three years and a million lines of garbled computer code later, V.C.F. has been written off by a global publication for technology professionals as “the most highly publicized software failure in history.” The failure was due in part to the bureau’s ever shifting directives, which points up the perverse nature of government-by-contract. When the government makes unrealistic demands, the contractors go along anyway: they are being paid not to resist but to comply. If it turns out they can’t deliver, new contracts will simply be drawn up. Responding to questions about the F.B.I. project, the company conceded that “there were areas in
which SAIC made mistakes, particularly where we failed to adequately communicate our concerns about the way the contract was being managed.”
These and other SAIC activities would seem to be ripe targets for scrutiny by the new Democratic Congress. But don’t be surprised if you hear nothing at all: SAIC’s friends in Washington are everywhere, and play on all sides; the connections are tightly interlocked. To cite just one example: Robert M. Gates, the new secretary of defense, whose confirmation hearings lasted all of a day, is a former member of SAIC’s board of directors. In recent years the company has obviously made many missteps, and yet SAIC’s influence in Washington seems only to grow, impervious to business setbacks or even to a stunning breach of security.
Much to the embarrassment of a company entrusted with some of the nation’s most precious secrets, its San Diego offices were mysteriously burgled in January of 2005. A censored San Diego police-department report reveals the basic outline. The report notes that the building “is patrolled by DOD certified security” and that “the interior lights are on motion sensors and would have been activated by the suspects.” Nevertheless, burglars managed to break into SAIC’s headquarters, pry open 13 private offices, and walk out with one desktop-computer hard drive and four laptops. By SAIC’s account, the computers contained personal data on thousands of present and past employees, presumably including the company’s many former C.I.A. operatives, N.S.A. executives, and Pentagon officials. To date, the burglary remains unsolved.
SAIC has displayed an uncanny ability to thrive in every conceivable political climate. It is the invisible hand behind a huge portion of the national-security state—the one sector of the government whose funds are limitless and whose continued growth is assured every time a politician utters the word “terrorism.”
SAIC represents, in other words, a private business that has become a form of permanent government.
A Plain Brown Envelope
On the evening of January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower came down from the White House living quarters to the Oval Office and delivered his last address to the American people as president. This was the famous speech in which he warned against the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” in the hands of what he called “the military-industrial complex”—the sturdy hybrid formed by crossbreeding American corporate interests with those of the Pentagon and the intelligence community.
As Eisenhower spoke, a quietly ambitious man on the other side of the country, John Robert Beyster, was going about his business as head of the accelerator-physics department at the General Atomic
corporation, in La Jolla, California, one of many secretive companies that sprouted early in the atomic era. Beyster had grown up outside of Detroit, served in the navy during World War II, and earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Michigan before migrating to Southern California in the 1950s. He was a lanky and nerdy-looking technocrat, but the tortoiseshell glasses concealed a driven personality. Beyster believed that General Atomic didn’t appreciate his ideas, and he began to lay plans. Within a decade of Eisenhower’s farewell speech, Beyster would create an enterprise epitomizing the military-industrial complex that caused Eisenhower such dismay. Now, four decades later, that company epitomizes something beyond Eisenhower’s worst nightmare—the “military-industrial-counterterrorism complex.”
Science Applications International Corporation was born in February of 1969 in a stucco office building in La Jolla next to a ballet studio overlooking the Pacific. “I was not the brilliant, flash-of-inspiration type of entrepreneur,” Beyster would later recall; rather, he was more a “persistent builder type.” The name he decided on for his company, though brilliantly opaque, reflected an assumption that the real future of national defense—or, at any rate, the real future profits to be had from national defense—lay in science and technology, not in boots on the ground. And a lot of that scientific work would necessarily be analytical; it would be about thinking as much as about making. Beyster’s very first government contract came from the Defense Atomic Support Agency: he was given the task of calculating “the output of nuclear devices.”
Beyster understood that this particular moment of the American Century was the perfect time for shrewd consultants to get into the war business. The conflict in Vietnam was still raging, and the Cold War seemed to have become a permanent fixture of the geopolitical landscape. The Nixon administration was promoting a missile-defense system to protect its ICBM installations. Scientists were hard at work on a host of nuclear projects, including the fabled neutron bomb. Although computers had yet to revolutionize government and business, visionaries like Beyster could see that eventually they would, and so, for SAIC, computer systems represented another target of opportunity.
Joined by research scientists from General Atomic and elsewhere, Beyster developed a straightforward business plan. As he later explained it, “People who came into the company went out and got contracts.” Everyone who worked for SAIC had to carry his own weight. You might have a Ph.D. in physics or applied mathematics, but at SAIC your job fundamentally was to sell your high-tech ideas and blue-chip expertise to the army, navy, air force, C.I.A., N.S.A., Atomic Energy Commission, and any other government agency with money to spend and an impulse to buy. Contracts were everything. There is much to be said for SAIC’s approach: in its four decades of existence, the company has turned a profit every single year.
Beyster aggressively packed his company with former generals, admirals, diplomats, spies, and Cabinet officers of every kind to fill the company’s board of directors and the upper echelons of its staff. These were the kinds of people who would always have easy access to the agencies they had left behind—and who someday might even go back into government. To be sure, every Beltway defense contractor tries to bring retired generals and admirals into the fold, but Beyster offered an incentive that others couldn’t match: an internal stock-ownership program, which promised to make government officials rich after they left public service. The stock-ownership program would eventually be expanded to include everyone on the company’s payroll, but it began as Beyster’s way of rewarding favored executives and board members, whose identities were kept secret. A lucky recipient would learn of his good fortune when a messenger appeared in his office carrying a plain brown envelope containing a newly minted stock certificate.
SAIC had its own brokerage subsidiary, licensed by the S.E.C., a kind of in-house Merrill Lynch called Bull, Inc. The name accurately predicted the stock’s vitality. Beyster and his board managed every aspect of the stock—the number of shares, who received them, and, most important, the price. Unlike on Wall Street, where individual stock prices go up and down, the SAIC stock price, controlled by Beyster and his board, usually moved in one direction only: up. The more contracts you landed, the more stock you received. Even if you stayed at SAIC for only a short time, you could in the long run earn a lot of money. And if you left SAIC to go back into government service, you had considerable incentive to keep SAIC’s continuing good fortunes in mind.
SAIC’s internal stock market was instrumental in the company’s early success. Peter Friesen, a San Diego attorney who has represented former SAIC employees in civil complaints against the company, says, “If you find somebody [in government] who wants a job with SAIC later, and he sees the steady rise in the stock price over the years and knows he can get a job with stock options and stock bonuses, then he’s going to be sending business over to SAIC. And it worked.”
SAIC opened its Washington office in 1970. Although San Diego would remain SAIC’s home base, the workforce in the Washington area soon eclipsed the workforce everywhere else. To ensure support on Capitol Hill, corporate outposts were prominently set up in key congressional districts. Meanwhile, scores of influential members of the national-security establishment clambered onto SAIC’s payroll, among them John M. Deutch, undersecretary of energy under President Jimmy Carter and C.I.A. director under President Bill Clinton; Rear Admiral William F. Raborn, who headed development of the Polaris submarine; and Rear Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who served variously as director of the National Security Agency, deputy director of the C.I.A., and vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
SAIC’s relative anonymity has allowed large numbers of its executives to circulate freely between the company and the dozen or so government agencies it cares about. William B. Black Jr., who retired from the N.S.A. in 1997 after a 38-year career to become a vice president at SAIC, returned to the N.S.A. in 2000. Two years later the agency awarded the Trailblazer contract to SAIC. Black managed the program. Donald Foley, a current SAIC director, came out of a top position at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon group responsible for developing new military technology. SAIC might as well operate an executive shuttle service between its McLean, Virginia, offices and the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Pentagon, and the Department of Energy. Technically, federal ethics rules stipulate that former government officials must wait one year before contacting anyone in their former agencies. Sometimes they can’t wait: Mark A. Boster left his job as a deputy assistant attorney general in 1999 to join SAIC, and was already calling Justice three months later on behalf of his new employers—a violation of federal law. Boster paid $30,000 in a civil settlement.
The Young-Boy Network
The driving force behind SAIC, the man who shaped its personality and culture across nearly four decades, until he was forced out in 2004, was of course Bob Beyster. From the beginning Beyster was indefatigable, constantly on the road, promoting SAIC to any government official who would listen. On a 10-day trip, he’d jam in as many as 80 appointments. If he had an hour between planes, he’d order his secretary to jam in one more. Beyster may have been a scientist by training, but he was a salesman at heart. He described himself as a “marketeer.”
Although he could be an engaging companion when dealing with military brass and agency heads, around the office Beyster could also be distant and imperious, an autocrat who ruled with an iron hand. SAIC presented itself as a friendly “employee owned” company. Inside, everyone understood how the stock program was really used—to punish and reward. No one harbored any illusions about whose company it was. “In Bob Beyster’s mind, that company was not the shareholders’ company, it was Bob Beyster’s company,” said Gerald Pomraning, a nuclear physicist who helped Beyster set up SAIC, in a legal proceeding. “When I was on the board of directors, he told us many times that the board of directors was simply a legal entity that was required, but it was his company.”
Beyster advocated a form of internal entrepreneurship that led to cutthroat competition for contracts. Operations were chaotic because divisions independent of one another frequently fought for the same business. Glenn Grossenbacher, the Texas lawyer, describes the dynamic as “eat what you kill.” Chief financial officers, frustrated by Beyster’s exacting and sometimes mercurial demands, came and went. The company’s organizational chart was often in flux. According to one former executive, Beyster was known
around the office as a “control freak” who undermined managers by going around them and dealing directly with their staffs. Bernice Stanfill King, a former SAIC executive who managed the company’s internal stock program, says that Beyster would often assign a single job to two executives. “He would call in one high-level guy and put him on a project,” she explains. “Then he would call another guy in a totally different part of the company and put him on the project. Then these guys would bump into each other and [wonder], ‘What’s he doing?’ You never honestly knew what was going on inside. Nothing was ever in the open.”
As befits a company with deep ties to the intelligence and national-security community, SAIC’s culture has always had a military cast to it. Employees are expected to follow orders. Even former employees are wary of discussing SAIC. One former manager who has worked on sensitive, even dangerous assignments abroad spoke about SAIC only after receiving assurances of anonymity, saying, “This is a very powerful company.”
In the years when most corporations had glass ceilings for women, few were lower or thicker than the one at SAIC. Although Beyster was married (and the father of three children), his behavior toward women often ranged from coolness to open hostility. His former secretary, Linda Anderson, once testified that Beyster was “uncomfortable with women.” She recalled that when a woman came into a meeting Beyster’s manner became stilted. “Even his posture changed,” she said. King, who sued the company for sex discrimination and won, said in an interview with Vanity Fair that when passing Beyster in the hall she was not to speak to him or even to look at him. Women were made to address the boss as “Dr. Beyster”; men called him “Bob.” When a woman made a mistake, Beyster typically called her on it, using words like “stupid” or “incompetent.” When a man made a mistake—well, it was just that, a mistake. Beyster’s former secretary testified that he once instructed her, on the eve of a major corporate function, to make sure he wasn’t seated next to SAIC’s one female board member, “because all women talked about was where they got their hair done.”
Beyster’s close associates within SAIC were a succession of young men. Known as aides-de-camp, they were usually handsome, well educated, and intelligent, with a facility for numbers and a willingness to perform personal tasks for their boss. Beyster was an ardent sailor, and in the summertime he liked to spend afternoons cruising the waters off San Diego aboard his yacht in the company of these young men. George Wilson, who once headed SAIC’s public-relations operation, has stated in a legal proceeding that the young men provided a variety of personal services for Beyster, including using SAIC equipment to make copies of pornographic movies that Beyster would watch aboard his boat.
When Beyster traveled on business, he often took one of the aides-de-camp with him, and asked his secretary to arrange for them to stay in the same hotel room—this according to the secretary’s courtroom testimony. Wilson said in a deposition that one of the young men he knew who slept in the same room with Beyster on these trips told him that he didn’t like doing it, but that “it was part of traveling with Beyster.” Some of the young aides-de-camp went on to become executives at SAIC. Bernice King testified that Beyster had a name for his young assistants: he called them his “baby boys.” When asked about these assertions, which surfaced in a sex-discrimination case, Beyster declined to comment on any particulars, saying, “Although I cannot address the specific points you raise from court testimony, I will say that during this trial a number of very personal accusations were leveled against me that are not accurate.”
Klondike on the Euphrates
Civilians at SAIC used to joke that the company had so many admirals and generals in its ranks it could start its own war. Some might argue that, in the case of Iraq, it did.
There isn’t a politically correct way to put it, but this is what needs to be said: 9/11 was a personal tragedy for thousands of families and a national tragedy for all of America, but it was very, very good for SAIC. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, whose chief consequence has been to channel money by the tens of billions into companies promising they could do something—anything—to help. SAIC was ready. Four years earlier, anticipating the next big source of government revenue, SAIC had established the Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis. According to SAIC, the purpose of the new unit was to take “a comprehensive view of terrorist threats, including the full range of weapons of mass destruction, more traditional high explosives, and cyber-threats to the national infrastructure.” In October of 2006 the company told would-be investors flatly that the war on terror would continue to be a lucrative growth industry.
SAIC executives have been involved at every stage of the life cycle of the war in Iraq. SAIC personnel were instrumental in pressing the case that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the first place, and that war was the only way to get rid of them. Then, as war became inevitable, SAIC secured contracts for a broad range of operations in soon-to-be-occupied Iraq. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, SAIC personnel staffed the commission that was set up to investigate how American intelligence could have been so disastrously wrong.
It is Wednesday afternoon, March 25, 1998, and David A. Kay, who had been a U.N. official in Iraq in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, is on Capitol Hill testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Americans generally remember Kay as the head of the Iraq Survey Group, the man who
showed that Saddam Hussein didn’t possess W.M.D. when America invaded in 2003, and that the war was launched under false pretenses. But today, in 1998, he is not David Kay, weapons inspector, but David Kay, director of SAIC’s Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis. He is a stockholder in a company known to cognoscenti in the hearing room as a fraternal twin of the intelligence establishment. With great authority, Kay tells the committee that Saddam Hussein “remains in power with weapons of mass destruction” and that “military action is needed.” He warns that unless America acts now “we’re going to find the world’s greatest military with its hands tied.”
Over the next four years, Kay and others associated with SAIC hammered away at the threat posed by Iraq. Wayne Downing, a retired general and a close associate of Ahmad Chalabi, proselytized hard for an invasion of Iraq, stating that the Iraqis “are ready to take the war … overseas. They would use whatever means they have to attack us.” In many of his appearances on network and cable television leading up to the war, Downing was identified simply as a “military analyst.” It would have been just as accurate to note that he was a member of SAIC’s board of directors and a company stockholder. (Downing was also the chief proponent of a weapons system called Metal Storm, capable of firing a million rounds of ammunition a minute; SAIC received $10 million from the Pentagon to develop prototypes, but in the last two years the Metal Storm company has lost millions.) In the run-up to the war, David Kay remained outspoken. He told NBC News in October of 2002, “I don’t think it’s possible to disarm Iraq as long as Saddam is in power and desires to maintain weapons of mass destruction.”
On all these points Kay and Downing were buttressing the views of Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and others in the Bush administration. They were also echoing the assertions of Iraqi exiles living in the United States, who had been trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein for years. Many of those exiles—people like Khidhir Hamza, a onetime atomic-energy official in Iraq, who insisted that Saddam posed an imminent nuclear danger to the United States—would in time receive paychecks from SAIC. Although his evidence had long been discredited by weapons experts, Hamza was among about 150 Iraqi exiles designated by the Pentagon as members of the newly chartered Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council. The plan was that, once American troops secured Iraq, the I.R.D.C. recruits would move into influential positions in a rebuilt Iraqi government.
SAIC served as the paymaster for the Iraqi exiles under a $33 million government contract. It brought them all together in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, rented apartments for them, paid their living expenses, provided various support services, and, later, after the invasion and occupation, flew them to their jobs in the new, democratic Iraq. This SAIC operation reported to Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon, a key assistant to Rumsfeld, and one of the architects of the Iraq
invasion and occupation. Feith’s deputy was Christopher “Ryan” Henry, a former SAIC senior vice president.
It was understood in Washington, long before the actual onset of “shock and awe,” that the Iraq war would be a Klondike gold rush for contractors. Prior to the war, SAIC was awarded seven contracts, together worth more than $100 million, without competitive bidding. The Defense Department’s justification for the no-bid contracts: “We need the immediate services of a fully qualified contractor who has the unqualified support and confidence of the Pentagon leadership.” SAIC’s personnel, designated “subject-matter experts,” were expected to lend a hand on such matters as “business development, international and regional political relations, the role of women in government, and government reform.” Among SAIC’s subject-matter experts was Shaha Riza, an Arab feminist and communications adviser at the World Bank. Riza also happened to be the girlfriend of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense.
One week before the invasion, SAIC was awarded yet another no-bid contract, this one for $15 million, which within a year would balloon to $82 million. The contract gave SAIC the responsibility for establishing a “free and independent indigenous media network” in Iraq, and for training a cadre of independent Iraqi journalists to go with it. The selection of SAIC for this job may have seemed counter-intuitive. A year earlier, SAIC had been involved in a Pentagon program designed to feed disinformation to the foreign press. The program was overseen by a Pentagon entity with the Orwellian name of Office of Strategic Influence, and its aims proved sufficiently odious that someone inside the Pentagon leaked its existence to The New York Times. An unrepentant Donald Rumsfeld stated that he would shut down the Office of Strategic Influence—but in name only: “There’s the name. You can have the name, but I’m going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done.”
To create its Iraqi Media Network, SAIC hired professional newsmen from the United States as consultants. One of them was a former NBC News staff member, Don North, who had launched his career as a cameraman in Vietnam and eventually rose to become the NBC News bureau chief in Cairo. North began with high expectations. Once Saddam Hussein was ousted, he and his colleagues hoped to create a BBC-like news operation, instilling “standards of international broadcasting and news reporting” that Iraqis had never known before. It soon became clear that the Pentagon and the Coalition Provisional Authority had other ideas. To them, the Iraqi Media Network represented an opportunity to push the U.S. agenda in Iraq in the most simplistic sort of way. With SAIC’s cooperation, the network quickly devolved into a mouthpiece for the Pentagon—”a little Voice of America,” as North would put it. Iraqis openly
snickered at the programming. Every time North protested, he recalls, he was rebuffed by SAIC executives. “Here I was going around quoting Edward R. Murrow,” North says, “and the people who were running me were manipulating and controlling a very undemocratic press and media that was every bit as bad as what Saddam had established.” In the end the network was turned over to Iraqi control. Today it is a tool of Iraq’s Shiite majority and spews out virulently anti-American messages day and night. “And to think we started it,” says North. The SAIC-created television network may be the only functioning weapon of mass destruction in today’s Iraq.
As everyone now acknowledges, no other such weapons have ever been found, although search teams ran through more than $1 billion looking for them. The closest they came was the discovery, in May of 2003, of a “mobile bioweapons lab” in the form of a tractor-trailer whose interior configuration looked suspicious. David Kay was on hand to lend credence to the notion that the trailer was a weapons lab. “This is where the biological process took place,” he explained in one NBC News broadcast. “You took the nutrients. Think of it sort of as a chicken soup for biological weapons. You mixed it with the seed stock, which came from this gravity-flow tank up here into the fermenter, and under pressure with heat, it fermented.” Kay outlined the process step by step. The discovery of the trailer was, as the NBC News interviewer allowed, “very close to that elusive smoking gun.”
It turned out, however, that the mobile weapons lab was nothing of the kind. To be sure, the military, back in the United States, did have in its possession something that looked a lot like the Iraqi trailer. In advance of the invasion, SAIC had built its own version of a mobile bioweapons lab, intended to help U.S. troops recognize such a facility if they ever came across one. SAIC had built, in effect, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
After failing to find the W.M.D., Kay told Congress in January of 2004: “Let me begin by saying we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.” The next month President Bush appointed a commission to look at how American intelligence managed to miss the truth about Iraq’s weapons programs. The commission delivered its report one year later, and although it sternly pointed to obvious intelligence failures, it kept its gaze, as it had been told to do, at a very low level—and far away from the issue of whether senior policymakers had deliberately manipulated intelligence findings: “The Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” the report concluded.
Three of the commission’s staff members had direct ties to SAIC. One was Gordon Oehler, the commission’s deputy director for review. When Oehler left the C.I.A., in October of 1997, after a 25-year
career, he in essence walked down the street and into the McLean offices of SAIC to become a vice president for corporate development. A second commission staff member with ties to the company was Jeffrey R. Cooper, vice president for technology and chief science officer in one of SAIC’s major sub-units. The third member was Samuel S. Visner, who holds a graduate degree in Washington’s revolving-door system. From 1997 to 2001, Visner was an SAIC vice president for corporate development, and also a business-development manager. Next, he moved into a government spymaster job, becoming chief of signals-intelligence programs for the National Security Agency. During this time SAIC was one of several firms to receive a $280 million contract from the N.S.A. to develop one of its secret eavesdropping systems. In 2003, Visner returned to SAIC to become a senior vice president and the director of strategic planning and business development of the company’s intelligence group.
As for General Downing, he has become a regular contributor on television as a military expert on the war in Iraq and America’s options. Everyone seems to have forgotten his earlier bellicosity.
The Flying Hummer
SAIC’s ability to prosper is all the more remarkable given its record of lawsuits, charges brought by whistle-blowers, allegations of profiteering, fines assessed by federal judges, and repeated investigations and government audits. According to one former executive, in a sworn deposition in 1992, the practice of “mischarging” became “institutionalized within the company.” (SAIC denies such allegations.)
The job of establishing the Iraqi Media Network’s infrastructure—cables, transmitters, dishes—was rife with corruption and waste. In one instance, government auditors questioned an SAIC invoice for approximately $10 million. (SAIC says it is unaware of the auditors’ report.) In March of 2004 the Pentagon’s inspector general found widespread violations of normal contracting procedures: improper payments to subcontractors, unsubstantiated equipment purchases, unauthorized personnel on the payroll. One of the more blatant transgressions concerned SAIC’s overall manager of the media effort in Iraq. The investigators discovered that he had bought a Hummer and a pickup truck in the United States and then chartered a DC-10 cargo jet to fly them to Iraq. When a Pentagon official refused to allow the charge, the inspector general reported, “SAIC then went around the authority of this acquisition specialist to a different office within the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to gain approval and succeeded.” SAIC’s performance on the Iraqi Media Network contract is now, indirectly, at issue in a lawsuit brought by an employee who alleges that she was fired after she tried to draw the attention of SAIC executives to what she described in the suit as “unethical, illegal, and unsafe practices” by the company in Iraq. Because of the pending legal action, this employee declined to be interviewed, but considerable documentation is already part of the public record, including portions of her personnel file. SAIC’s corporate priorities are suggested by one commendation the employee received, for her “excellent billing credentials.”
This way of doing business has been an SAIC character trait for years. In 1991, SAIC was charged with falsifying data submitted to the E.P.A. on soil samples from Superfund toxic-waste sites. The law required the E.P.A. to identify toxic dumps and determine which ones posed the gravest risks. To perform the analysis, the E.P.A. contracted with independent labs, including SAIC’s Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, in La Jolla. The lab was supposed to test soil and water samples within a certain number of days of their being received “to ensure the chemicals being tested for would not have dissipated in the interim.” But technicians at SAIC’s lab tested some samples after the deadline and then backdated the results. SAIC mounted a high-powered behind-the-scenes campaign to escape prosecution. A member of SAIC’s board of directors, former secretary of defense Melvin R. Laird, wrote a personal letter to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. “I can assure you there was no wrongdoing on the part of the corporation,” Laird stated. Criminal prosecution of SAIC, he went on, would be “entirely inappropriate.” Ultimately the company was accused by the government of making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements,” and pleaded guilty to 10 counts of making false statements or claims. SAIC paid $1.3 million in fines and restitution.
A few years later SAIC was in trouble again, this time over its efforts to design a flat-panel liquid-crystal-display screen to be used as a navigational device in the cockpits of air-force fighter jets. The initial contract had been awarded in 1987, but SAIC kept going back for more money. The government would shell out millions—even as SAIC assured the air force that steady progress was being made. And in fact air-force officials had no reason to believe otherwise: they had seen what they thought was a demonstration model when SAIC officials unveiled a slick-looking compact box with a backlit screen. SAIC officials traveled to military bases around the country to show off the prototype. A respected magazine, Engineering Design News, published a photograph of the display screen on its cover.
But the box was a fake. SAIC had been unable to develop the actual technology. The prototype—in effect, nothing more than a cheap video game—had been cobbled together with components taken from TV sets, computers, and everyday consumer appliances. When two SAIC employees complained to their superiors, both were fired. Two employees later filed whistle-blower lawsuits charging SAIC with defrauding the government. While denying any wrongdoing, in 1995 SAIC settled the suit with the government and paid a fine of $2.5 million.
The ill-fated cockpit-display project was hardly an isolated case. A recent case revealed one method SAIC employed to increase the profits on a contract. In San Antonio, the air force awarded SAIC a $24 million contract to clean up contaminated-waste sites at Kelly Air Force Base. Once the project was under way, the SAIC manager overseeing the job realized that the work would cost much less than the amount SAIC
had negotiated. “It was massively overstaffed,” Michael Woodlee, the former manager, said in an interview. “I didn’t need that many [people].” Woodlee said he told one of his superiors that “there was no way under the moon we could spend all this money.”
This is not what SAIC wanted to hear. Woodlee said that, because he couldn’t spend everything in his budget, his SAIC superiors suggested that he “harvest money out of [his] project and send it up the corporate ladder.” After he resisted, Woodlee contended, the project was taken away from him, and he was laid off.
In 2002, Woodlee filed a whistle-blower lawsuit charging SAIC with fraud under the federal False Claims Act. Working with air-force investigators, the U.S. attorney in San Antonio concluded that SAIC had in fact grossly understated profits on the contract: rather than the 8 to 10 percent profit the contract allowed, SAIC had, “unbeknownst to the Air Force,” realized profits of three times that amount, and had submitted “false and fraudulent statements of its expected costs and profits.”
SAIC’s response was audacious. It told federal officials, in effect, that the government was right: the company does increase the profit margin beyond the terms of the contract. But there’s a reason: risk is involved, and the additional profit is compensation for that risk. According to documents in the case, SAIC explained that it employs something called “Quantitative Risk Analysis” to identify potential business risks, and that it factors those costs into its contracts, although without ever mentioning the fact to customers. In a written response, the company stated that this kind of risk analysis is “commonly used throughout industry” and “such purely judgmental information was not required to be disclosed under [federal law] based on longstanding legal principles.” But by failing to disclose that information to federal negotiators, the air force maintained, SAIC induced it “to agree to much higher prices than [the air force] would have agreed to had SAIC truthfully disclosed its cost and pricing data.” After SAIC’s “risk defense” surfaced, the air force issued a written alert to warn other agencies about SAIC’s business methods, which it said SAIC “intends to continue using.”
Although the amount of money in contention was relatively small, the principle involved was large, and it had potentially national implications. Was SAIC using the same formula in thousands upon thousands of other contracts it had with the government? We’ll never know. For reasons that remain unclear, the Justice Department decided against expanding the probe beyond San Antonio. Is it possible that a call was made from one well-placed individual to another? In April of 2005, SAIC, while denying wrongdoing, settled the San Antonio lawsuit by paying a fine of $2.5 million.
More important, the company had forestalled a wider investigation. One of Woodlee’s lawyers, Glenn Grossenbacher, who has represented other whistle-blowers against other companies, describes SAIC as unlike any other company he has ever confronted. “These guys handle things very differently than other people,” he said. “They had better access to the Pentagon than the government’s own attorneys. They are so well connected they were able to isolate this one case. This should have been a [national] case. The reason it wasn’t was because of their political clout to shut it down and localize it.”
Not every SAIC client is as forgiving as the United States government. When SAIC failed to deliver a highly touted security system for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Greek government refused to make a final payment. SAIC had proposed the most extensive security shield in Olympic history: more than 100 command posts, vehicle-tracking devices and sensors everywhere, 1,600 video cameras, and a blimp loaded with “sensitive equipment” floating “silently overhead acting as an airborne surveillance center.” As video feeds flowed to a central command post, SAIC’s state-of-the-art software would link all these capabilities. The system was to remain in place as an anti-terrorism tool in Athens for years to come. But turmoil within SAIC plagued the effort from the start. Project managers came and went. On the eve of the games a source close to the Olympic planners stated that “the entire Committee without exception believe that the … system doesn’t work.”
The Olympics started up on schedule. SAIC’s security system did not. A newspaper in Athens described the system as “operationally useless,” and Greek officials improvised simply by adding more guards. Before the games began, SAIC and the Greek government had quietly come to an agreement that called for continued testing of the system and “final acceptance to occur no later than October 1, ”—one month after the games ended. A payment of $23 million would follow. SAIC missed this deadline, too. After more wrangling the two sides, according to an Athens newspaper, reached an understanding that calls for SAIC to complete work by May 2008, almost four years after the Olympics. As of last fall, SAIC’s losses on the project totaled a staggering $123 million, and the company acknowledges “our poor performance on the Greek Olympics contract.” SAIC is trying to recoup some of its losses in an arbitration and so far has managed to keep the lid on potentially embarrassing revelations about the competence of a company whose operations are built on claims of technical expertise.
Given that its founder came from a company called General Atomic it is hardly surprising that SAIC has been heavily involved in the nuclear business. One early project came in the 1970s and 80s, when SAIC received Pentagon contracts to reconstruct the amount of radiation absorbed by military personnel during atomic-bomb tests and other service-related exposures. The government’s bookkeeping was so erratic from the early days of the Cold War that it was often difficult to tell how much radiation soldiers had
received and whether it might have been responsible for their various cancers. When SAIC did the numbers, few veterans qualified for compensation. The Pentagon’s nuclear testing was in effect off the hook, and ailing veterans were out of luck. After years of hearings, Congress in 1988 passed the Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act, which gave veterans the benefit of the doubt. It was presumed that their cancer was attributable to nuclear exposure without considering the radiation dose. By then many of the veterans were dead. A health physicist who testified later on behalf of the veterans spoke unkindly of the original SAIC work: “Atomic veterans have been deprived of benefits intended by Congress through [SAIC’s] deceptive internal dose reconstructions and poor understanding of radioactive material distribution in the body.” SAIC disagrees, saying that it “continues to work with the government to apply the best science to performing dose reconstruction for atomic veterans.”
Periodically over the years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy, prodded by executives in the nuclear industry, have sought to ease the rules against re-using “lightly” contaminated radioactive waste. The impetus has been the inexorably growing stockpile of nuclear debris—much of it lethal—that has been accumulating at weapons sites and power plants in America for decades. One way to draw down the stockpile would be to recycle large volumes of discarded nickel, aluminum, copper, steel, and other irradiated metals into usable products. If slightly radioactive metal were combined with other metals, the resulting material could be made into all kinds of consumer items—knives and forks, baby strollers, chairs, rings, eyeglass frames, bicycles, reclining rockers, earrings, frying pans. It also could be used in construction.
Lest any of this sound improbable, in the 1980s radioactive table legs began turning up in the United States everywhere from restaurants to nursing homes. A radioactive gold ring cost a Pennsylvania man his arm. The public outcry was so great that in 1992 Congress set out to ban this form of recycling. The N.R.C., D.O.E., and nuclear industry saw the ban coming and were not happy about it, but they also saw a way out: maybe it would be possible to develop broad guidelines that would allow the contaminated waste to be recycled based on what were deemed “safe” exposure levels. Never mind that there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation. Two months before the ban was signed into law, the N.R.C. gave the multi-million-dollar job of formulating the guidelines to an outside contractor. The contractor was SAIC.
As the years slipped by, across town, another federal agency, the Department of Energy, was handing out a $238 million contract to B.N.F.L. Inc., at that time the U.S. subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels, “to clean up and reindustrialize three massive uranium enrichment facilities” at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee. The agreement called for B.N.F.L. to recycle “hundreds of thousands of tons of metals.” British Nuclear Fuels had a questionable track record in the nuclear industry. For decades it had dumped
plutonium and other radioactive waste into the Irish Sea and the North Atlantic. Its workers had falsified critical quality-control data. When the D.O.E. announced the contract, SAIC was identified as a major subcontractor in the recycling of radioactive scrap metal.
Because the N.R.C. and the D.O.E. for some reason weren’t talking to each other, the elegance of this arrangement escaped everyone’s attention. To connect the dots: SAIC was writing the regulations for one government agency, the N.R.C., which would set the permissible limits of radioactive contamination for recycling, even as it partnered with another company, under contract to a different federal agency, the D.O.E., to recycle the radioactive metal for which it was drafting the regulations.
The synergy of this arrangement was discovered accidentally by a Washington lawyer, Daniel Guttman, whose longtime passion has been conflicts of interest that inevitably—purposefully—arise from government outsourcing. Guttman called attention in public hearings to what was happening, thoroughly embarrassing officials at the N.R.C. and the D.O.E. and stirring the ire of public-interest groups. The N.R.C. killed its contract with SAIC. The recycling project was put on hold. And the N.R.C. filed suit against SAIC, alleging “false and/or fraudulent representations to the effect that [SAIC] was providing services to the NRC which were free from bias.” SAIC has denied the conflict-of-interest claims, and the suit is still pending.
But SAIC is by no means out of the nuclear business. It may be under a cloud at the N.R.C., but it’s still a partner, with the construction giant Bechtel, in the largest nuclear project of all—the $3.1 billion effort to build a repository for America’s high-level radioactive waste. The firm Bechtel SAIC is constructing the repository deep under Yucca Mountain, Nevada, where the buried waste will remain lethal for at least 10,000 years. It could provide a revenue stream for SAIC as far into the future as one can imagine.
The Permanent Government
Bob Beyster turned 79 in 2003. He was in his 34th year with the company. A writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune, granted a rare interview around this time, observed that Beyster was a “little more stooped now,” but still vigorous. He continued to run three or four miles almost every day. Over the years numerous executives rumored to be his successor had come and gone as it became apparent that Beyster had no intention of relinquishing power. But the sheer size of the company and its aggressive, internally competitive style were catching up to Beyster. Even Pentagon officials had begun to complain that SAIC’s overlapping divisions were creating confusion. When the Pentagon talks, contractors listen. In 2003, the SAIC board forced him out. By 2004, SAIC had a new chairman, Kenneth Dahlberg, a top executive at General Dynamics with long experience in the defense industry.
In October of 2006, SAIC carried out a long-anticipated I.P.O., selling 86 million shares at $15 a share in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $1.2 billion. Reflecting investor bullishness, shares rose to $21 in a matter of days. Its prospects have never looked brighter.
Unlike traditional wars, which eventually come to an end, the Global War on Terror as defined by the Bush administration can have no end: it is a permanent war—the perfect war for a company that has become an essential component of the permanent government. Political change causes scarcely a ripple. As one former SAIC manager observed in a recent blog posting: “My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington.”
And the revolving door never stops spinning. One of the biggest contracts ever for SAIC is in the works right now. It’s for a Pentagon program called Future Combat Systems, which is described as “a complex plan to turn the U.S. Army into a lighter, more lethal, more mobile force” and also as “the most difficult integration program ever undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense.” The contract runs into the billions of dollars. The man who helped craft this program at the Pentagon was Lieutenant General Daniel R. Zanini. Zanini recently retired from the army, and he now has a new job. Can you guess where it might be?
Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele are Vanity Fair contributing editors.
THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS AND
CONFLICT SHORT OF WAR
July 25, 1994
The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the
Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This report is
approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
For ideas, comments, and background material, the authors would like to
thank Rudolph C. Barnes Jr., Rod Paschall, William W. Mendel, Charles F.
Swett, Jeffrey Cooper, Stefan Antonmattei III, Gary Guertner, Douglas V.
Johnson, and, especially William T. Johnsen.
Comments pertaining to this report are invited and should be forwarded
to: Director, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle
Barracks, PA 17013-5050. Comments also may be conveyed directly to the
authors by calling commercial (717) 245-3822 or DSN 242-3822, FAX (717) 245-
3820, DSN 242-3820.
For many experts on U.S. national security, the combination of emerging
technology and innovative ideas seen in the Gulf War seem to herald a genuine
revolution in military affairs. The victory of coalition forces demonstrated
the technology and seemed to suggest that the revolution in military affairs
can solve many of the strategic problems faced by the United States in the
post-Cold War security environment.
In this study, the authors concede that the revolution in military
affairs holds great promise for conventional, combined-arms warfare, but
conclude that its potential value in conflict short of war, whether terrorism,
insurgency, or violence associated with narcotrafficking, is not so clear-cut.
Given this, national leaders and strategists should proceed cautiously and
only after a full exploration of the ethical, political, and social
implications of their decisions. To illustrate this, the authors develop a
hypothetical future scenario–a “history” of U.S. efforts in conflict short of
war during the first decade of the 21st century.
It is too early to offer concrete policy prescriptions for adapting many
aspects of the revolution in military affairs to conflict short of war, but
the authors do suggest an array of questions that should be debated. In order
to decide whether to apply new technology and emerging concepts or how to
employ them, the United States must first reach consensus on ultimate
objectives and acceptable costs. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased
to offer this study as a first step in this process.
JOHN W. MOUNTCASTLE
Colonel, U.S. Army
Director, Strategic Studies Institute
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE AUTHORS
STEVEN METZ is Associate Research Professor of National Security Affairs at
the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. His specialties are
transregional security issues and military operations other than war. Dr.
Metz has taught at the Air War College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff
College, and several universities. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in international
studies from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. in political
science from the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Metz has published many
monographs and articles on world politics, military strategy, and national
JAMES KIEVIT is a Strategic Research Analyst at the Strategic Studies
Institute, U.S. Army War College. His specialties are operational art,
military engineering, and U.S. Army force structure issues. Commissioned in
the Corps of Engineers, LTC Kievit has served in a variety of troop leading,
command, and staff assignments in the 1st Cavalry Division, the 7th Engineer
Brigade, and the 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized). He has also served as
Assistant Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy, and as a force
structure analyst and study director at the U.S. Army Concepts Analysis
Agency. LTC Kievit holds a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy, a M.M.A.S.
from the School of Advanced Military Studies of the U.S. Army Command and
General Staff College, and a M.A. in history and M.S.E. in construction
management from the University of Michigan.
Many American strategic thinkers believe that we are in the beginning
stages of a historical revolution in military affairs (RMA). This will not
only change the nature of warfare, but also alter the global geopolitical
To date, most attention has fallen on the opportunities provided by the
RMA rather than its risks, costs, and unintended consequences. In the arena
of conflict short of war, these risks, costs, and unintended consequences may
outweigh the potential benefits.
The Strategic Context.
The Cold War notion of conflict short of war is obsolete. Politically
and militarily, the Third World of the future will be full of danger. The
future will most likely be dominated by peace enforcement in failed states,
new forms of insurgency and terrorism, and “gray area phenomena.” Many if not
most Third World states will fragment into smaller units. Ungovernability and
instability will be the norm with power dispersed among warlords, primal
militias, and well-organized politico-criminal organizations. U.S. policy in
the Third World is likely to be more selective and the U.S. homeland may no
longer provide sanctuary. Renewed external support will restore the lagging
proficiency of insurgents and terrorists.
The Application of Emerging Technology.
Emerging technology will have less impact on conflict short of war than
on conventional, combined-arms warfare. It will, however, have some role. In
noncombatant evacuation operations, new technology can assist with
identification and notification of evacuees. Sensor technology, robotics,
nonlethal weapons, and intelligence meshes will be used in combatting
terrorism, countering narcotrafficking, and peace operations. These
technologies, along with simulator training and unmanned aerial vehicles, will
also be useful in insurgency and counterinsurgency.
Constraints and Countermeasures.
There are a number of constraints on applying the RMA to conflict short
of war. These include the lack of a powerful institutional advocate for this
process, a shortage of money for the development of technology specifically
for conflict short of war, and the possibility that new technology may run
counter to American values.
Enemies may also develop countermeasures to RMA innovations. Rather
than attempt to match the technological prowess of U.S. forces, future enemies
will probably seek asymmetrical countermeasures designed to strike at U.S.
public support for engagement in conflict short of war, at the will of our
friends and allies, or, in some cases, at deployed U.S. forces.
Rather than simply graft emerging technology to existing strategy,
doctrine, organization, force structure, objectives, concepts, attitudes, and
norms, the United States could pursue a full revolution in the way we approach
conflict short of war. This is rife with hidden dangers and unintended
consequences. A hypothetical future scenario illustrates some of these.
Conclusions and Recommendations.
In the near future, change will occur in the American approach to
conflict short of war. To understand and control ongoing change, research,
analysis, and debate is needed on a number of topics:
• A comprehensive general theory of military revolutions set within the
context of broader notion of global politics and security;
• The strategy and policy foundation of military revolutions;
• The ethical dimension of RMA;
• The impact of the RMA on the structure of the U.S. national security
• The impact of RMA on leader development within the military;
• The cultivation of appropriate expertise within the Army; and,
• Technology designed specifically for conflict short of war, especially
psychological, biological, and defensive technology.
THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS AND
CONFLICT SHORT OF WAR
Introduction: Groping for the Future.
In the late 1970s Soviet military analysts, led by Marshal N.V. Ogarkov,
began to write of an emerging revolution in the nature of warfare. 1 By the
early 1990s, this idea had spread to the United States, leading strategic
thinkers inside and outside the government to conclude that ongoing innovation
represents a true turning point in history.2 If this is true, the strategic
implications are far-reaching. Revolutionary changes in the character of
warfare, according to Andrew F. Krepinevich, “have profound consequences for
global and regional military balances.”3 But while it is clear that dramatic
change is underway, its ultimate repercussions remain hidden.
In its purest sense, revolution brings change that is permanent,
fundamental, and rapid. The basic premise of the revolution in military
affairs (RMA) is simple: throughout history, warfare usually developed in an
evolutionary fashion, but occasionally ideas and inventions combined to propel
dramatic and decisive change. This not only affected the application of
military force, but often altered the geopolitical balance in favor of those
who mastered the new form of warfare. The stakes of military revolution are
thus immense. Full of promise, it seems to offer Americans an answer to many
enduring strategic dilemmas, whether intolerance of casualties, impatience, or
the shrinking military manpower base. In a time of shrinking defense budgets,
emerging technology may allow the United States to maintain or even enhance
its global military power.4 The Gulf War was widely seen as a foretaste of
RMA warfare, offering quick victory with limited casualties. As a result,
most attention has been on the opportunities provided by RMA rather than its
risks, costs, and unintended side effects.
It is ironic that just as Marxism reached final bankruptcy as a
framework for political and economic organization, one of its basic notions
gained new life. Karl Marx, after all, postulated that revolutions can be
deliberate rather than inadvertent; historical change can be created,
engineered, and harnessed by those who understand it. Without direct
attribution to Marx, this idea led many analysts to assume the current RMA can
be the first deliberate one as senior military leaders and strategic thinkers
consciously shape the future.
Whether Marxist or not, revolutionaries must always ask a series of key
questions. First: Do the proper preconditions exist for revolutionary change
or can they be created? In contemporary military affairs, the answer to this
is “yes.” Emerging technology; economic, political, and social trends; and,
most importantly, new ideas create the right environment for revolution. Then
revolutionaries must ask: How can I begin, sustain, and control the
revolution? In current military affairs, this question is still under debate.
Finally, the most difficult and often most critical questions are: Do we
truly want a revolution? and, Will the long-term benefits outweigh the costs
and risks? Advocates of a revolution in military affairs have not begun to
grapple with these issues.
The change wrought by some revolutions is deep; others do not reach such
extremes. This also applies to RMAs. The United States now faces a crucial
choice. We can choose to drive the current RMA further and faster than any of
its predecessors. In combined-arms warfare, this may be necessary. But
conflict short of war–whether terrorism, narcotrafficking, peace enforcement,
or insurgency–is different. Even if the RMA does prove applicable to these
problems, there are good reasons for deliberately limiting it. As the United
States faces this dilemma, strategic considerations rather than our
fascination with technology and enthusiasm for change must be paramount .
Cry “Havoc!”: The Strategic Context.
RMAs are born, develop, and die in specific strategic contexts, each
composed of an array of social, economic, political, and military factors.
The strategic context of the current RMA is dominated by the transformation of
the global system from the Cold War to post-Cold War period. This shapes
conflict short of war and influences the utility of U.S. military force.
During the Cold War, the most strategically significant form of conflict
short of war– then called “low-intensity conflict”–was revolutionary
insurgency in the Third World. Low-intensity conflict outside the Third World
did not require U.S. military force–the British, Italians, Germans, or
Spanish could deal with their own problems–but revolutionary insurgency
targeting our Third World allies often did. Using the strategy of protracted
guerrilla war perfected by Mao and Giap, insurgents, usually supported by the
Soviet Union, China, or their proxies, sought to overthrow fragile, pro-
Western regimes. Because revolutionary insurgency thwarted political reform
and economic development, often spread to neighboring states, and, when
successful, increased Soviet influence, we considered it a major threat.
Admittedly no Third World insurgency directly endangered the United States,
but in combination they did. The dominant strategic logic was what French
counterinsurgent theorists called “death by a thousand small cuts.” 5
In response, Western strategists developed an elaborate
counterinsurgency doctrine. Codified by Robert Thompson, Roger Trinquier, and
others, this initially emerged from the French and British experience in
Malaya, Algeria, and Indochina.6 Eventually Americans assumed responsibility
for the counterinsurgency paradigm; Vietnam replaced Malaya and Algeria as the
seminal event.7 The culmination of Cold War-era thinking was the 1990 release
of Field Manual (FM) 100-20/Air Force Pamphlet (AFP) 3-20, Military Operations
in Low Intensity Conflict.8 By defining counterinsurgency as opposition to
Marxist “people’s war,” this document viewed low-intensity conflict in general
as a subset of the struggle between the superpowers.9 Regime legitimacy was
the central concept. The United States sought to augment this and,
ultimately, ameliorate the underlying causes of conflict. The military
dimension of counterinsurgency simply allowed economic and political reforms
to take root. Counterinsurgents could not win through purely military means,
according to this theory, but they could lose.
Full of well-developed, impressive thinking, FM 100-20 deals with forms
of violence rapidly becoming obsolete. Today, the essential nature of
conflict short of war is changing. Marxist “people’s war” represents the
past. The future will most likely be dominated by peace enforcement in failed
states, new forms of “spiritual” insurgency designed to radically alter the
ideological structure of regimes, and “commercial” insurgency from quasipolitical
“gray area phenomena” such as narcoterrorism.10 Other important
changes are also on the way. During the Cold War, conflict short of war
primarily concerned nation-states. In the post-Cold War era, many if not most
Third World states will fragment into smaller units. Ungovernability and
instability will be the norm. Even those which formally remain intact will
see political and military power dispersed among warlords, primal militias,
and well-organized politico-criminal organizations.11 Most of these will be
characterized by ruthlessness, some also by dangerous sophistication as
terrorists and narcotraffickers master modern technology. Rapid, multilayered
global communications will allow insurgents, terrorists, and narcotraffickers
to learn and adapt quickly and even to form alliances and coalitions. While
war or near-war may be no more common than in past decades, general, low-level
violence will be pervasive.
In this environment, the United States will probably concentrate on
containing rather than ameliorating conflict. Our future policy in the Third
World is likely to be more selective with a trend toward disengagement. While
the global conflict with the Soviet Union forced American engagement in Third
World struggles where tangible national interests were minimal, the end of the
Cold War gives us the option of limiting our role in certain types of
conflicts to support of the United Nations or other multinational efforts, or
rejecting involvement all together. While the great powers are currently
cooperating on Third World conflict, they are likely to lose interest over the
long-term. If this happens, U.S. objectives will increasingly be symbolic as
we pursue humanitarian relief or attempt to cultivate a system of world order
but are not willing to bear the costs of the final resolution of complex and
Most ominously, the U.S. homeland may no longer provide sanctuary as it
did from Cold War-era low intensity conflict. As in Great Britain, insurgents
and terrorists angered by U.S. policy may bring the conflict to our country
using global interdependence and the increased international flow of people.
Moreover, as Third World dictators assimilate the lessons of the Gulf War,
they will see conflict short of war as a useful but safer form of aggression.
Renewed external support will restore the lagging proficiency of insurgents
and terrorists including their technological capability. Politically and
militarily, then, the Third World of the future will be full of danger.
Let Slip the Dogs of War: The Application of Emerging Technology.
The emerging RMA in mid- or high-intensity warfare is centered around
the fusion of sophisticated remote sensing systems with extremely lethal,
usually stand-off, precision-strike weapons systems and automation-assisted
command, control, and communications (C3). Trained with electronic
simulations, virtual reality devices, and field exercises, this fusion is
expected to allow smaller military forces to attain rapid, decisive results
through synchronized, near-simultaneous operations throughout the breadth and
depth of a theater of war.12 The eventual result may be radically new forms
of conventional warfare. With a few exceptions, however, the impact of the
RMA on conflict short of war is far less clear.
Attacks or raids–which are doctrinal missions for the U.S. Army–are an
exception. The military objective of attacks or raids in a conflict short of
war is to damage or destroy high value targets of an adversary in order to
seize and maintain the political or military initiative, and to demonstrate
U.S. capability and resolve.13 Although sometimes such operations are covert
and executed by unconventional or special operations forces, in most cases a
successful operation and its effects should be clearly visible to both the
target and the international community. Emerging RMA technologies should
improve the U.S. military’s capability in these types of operations.
Terrestrial, aerial, and space-based, autonomous, wide-ranging, high-speed
collecting devices capable of on-board processing will identify precise
targets and provide near-real-time information about the adversary’s
dispositions. Distributed interactive simulations and virtual reality devices
will train the forces and be used to rehearse the strikes. And automationassisted
C3 systems will synchronize and control lethal, stand-off, precisionguided
weapons systems in near-simultaneous attacks.14 Information technology
could be used to both conceal the intent to strike and, later, provide
evidence of a successful strike.15 Attacks and raids during conflict short of
war are, in effect, mid- to high-intensity operations writ small.16 RMA
therefore can have a significant effect. By contrast, the potential impact of
emerging technology on more “traditional” operations in conflict short of war
such as noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs), counterterrorism,
counternarcotrafficking, peace enforcement, and counterinsurgency is more
In the increasingly global economy, large numbers of Americans may find
themselves in areas of instability and conflict. Voluntary and involuntary
noncombatant evacuation operations will therefore be more frequent. The
strategic objective of a NEO is the removal of U.S. (and occasionally allied)
citizens from danger. The presence of Americans in areas of conflict reduces
the flexibility of decision makers not only because U.S. citizens might be
taken hostage or endangered, but also because their injury or death can rally
public support in the United States for more militant action than policymakers
might otherwise favor. But the open declaration of a NEO and its execution
also restricts options since it signals the seriousness of a crisis by
“clearing the decks” for further action. For decision makers this creates a
tension between a desire to remove citizens from danger early and a fear of
intensifying a crisis or precipitating undesirable adversary reaction.
While advances in robotics and information technologies may make it
possible to perform many commercial activities with fewer employees in
dangerous regions, those Americans who are overseas will be more isolated and
dispersed. This complicates the main problems of NEOs: identification and
notification of the individuals to be evacuated, identification of safe
evacuation routes, and assessment of threats to the evacuation. Technology
could diminish these problems. In the near future every American at risk
could be equipped with an electronic individual position locator device
(IPLD). The device, derived from the electronic bracelet used to control some
criminal offenders or parolees, would continuously inform a central data bank
of the individuals’ locations. Eventually such a device could be permanently
implanted under the skin, with automatic remote activation either upon
departure from U.S. territory (while passing through the security screening
system at the airport, for example) or by transmission of a NEO alert code to
areas of conflict. Implantation would help preclude removal of the device
(although, of course, some terrorists might be willing to remove a portion of
the hostage’s body if they knew where the device was implanted). The IPLD
could also act as a form of IFFN (identification friend, foe, or neutral) if
U.S. military personnel were equipped with appropriate challenge/response
devices. Finally, such a device might eventually serve, like Dick Tracey’s
wrist radio, as a two-way communication channel permitting the NEO
notification to be done covertly.
The second emerging technology with direct application in NEOs is the
unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). UAVs will be able to conduct rapid
reconnaissance of possible evacuation routes and identify threats during the
evacuation. Their small size will make them less conspicuous than either
ground vehicles or manned air platforms. Large numbers of fast UAVs could
cover multiple exit routes, thus complicating any attempt to interfere with
the NEO. In combination with “wrist-radios,” High Altitude Long Endurance
(HALE) UAVs could provide NEO notification capability via scrambled TV/radio
to Americans on the ground.17 When a NEO required combat action, stand-off,
precision-strike weapons systems could allow small military teams to
accomplish missions which today require companies or even battalions.18
Equipping these small units with adaptive camouflage could also reduce the
visibility of NEOs.19 The less visible an operation, the less provocative; the
less visible military teams are, the harder to interfere with them.
Finally, developing military C3I systems could help avoid dangerous,
last minute evacuation of Americans all together. Currently, businessmen and
diplomats facing crises tend to linger until the last possible moment, often
ignoring official warnings. If the U.S. military could gain nondestructive
access to (and perhaps even control of ) the communications of an area from
remote locations and made this available to Americans, businessmen and
diplomats might voluntarily depart early in a crisis knowing they could carry
on their activities even though not physically present. By encouraging
voluntary departure prior to a crisis, reducing the need for a public
disclosure of a NEO, and reducing the political visibility of evacuations,
emerging technology increases options available to decision makers and reduces
the degree to which NEOs act as barometers of U.S. resolve. When evacuees are
actually threatened, the ability to strike quickly, precisely, and from a
distance will provide a margin of safety.
Providing safety is also the primary U.S. objective when combatting
terrorism. Currently, the State Department deals with terrorism overseas and
the Federal Bureau of Investigation has domestic jurisdiction. The military
supports both. Efforts to combat terrorism fall into two categories:
defensive measures to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property
(antiterrorism), and offensive actions to prevent, deter, and punish
(counterterrorism).20 Emerging technologies are a two-edged sword. Some–
like bio-technical weapons–can be tools of terrorism. Others–like
precision, stand-off weapons or intrusive information technologies–may be
used either for or against terrorism.
If technology allows a reduced American presence overseas, antiterrorism
will be easier. Improved sensors and robotic guard systems may make
installations, both military and commercial, more difficult to penetrate. In
counterterrorism, according to Count de Marenches, former chief of French
Intelligence, “Precision personal intelligence can be more critical than
precision-guided munitions.”21 Advances in electronics and sensors and, even
more importantly, the ability to fuse data through automation and improved
organizations may provide that most critical commodity. New computer
software, according to Alvin and Heidi Toffler, could “quickly discover and
expose critical associations that would otherwise go undetected.”22 As
demonstrated by Israel, UAVs can also play a significant role: “… a
remotely piloted plane followed a car carrying fleeing terrorists back to
their base, so that it could subsequently be demolished by air attack.”23 If
the Army develops the aerial capability to broadcast and alter television
signals, it could remove a key and essential weapon from the terrorist
arsenal–media coverage.24 Finally, some authors have speculated that
advances in nonlethal weapons may make it possible to disable and capture
terrorists or “glue” incoming car bombs to the street.
At least one analyst has suggested using “soft kill” weapons such as
high energy radio frequency (HERF) guns and electromagnetic pulse transformer
(EMP/T) bombs, to interdict narcotrafficking flights by damaging or destroying
their avionics.25 Like combatting terrorism, counternarcotrafficking
operations are primarily a law enforcement function, with the military
providing support.26 Because narcotraffickers operate like terrorists, much
counterterrorism technology can be used against them. In fact,
narcotraffickers are even more likely than terrorists to rely on radios,
cellular telephones, fax machines, and computers. This greatly increases
their vulnerability to electronic intelligence gathering and disruption. For
example, remote intrusive monitoring of the financial computer networks of
offshore banks could identify the deposits associated with money laundering.
If desired, such accounts could be electronically emptied.
Because interdicting narcotrafficking is similar to locating a military
opponent’s reconnaissance platforms, a military capable, in Martin Libicki’s
words, of collecting “more and more data about a battlefield, knitting a finer
and finer mesh which can catch smaller and stealthier objects” could pinpoint
intruders into U.S. territory.27 Existing radar nets can identify aircraft
attempting low altitude entry into the United States, so a favored technique
of drug smugglers is to transfer the contraband from planes to speedboats
offshore. Tracking and stopping high-speed small craft in coastal waters is
difficult today. With projected advances in sensors and directed-energy or
stand-off precision conventional munitions it could become routine. Drugs
smuggled in commercial carriers might be interdicted by hosts of miniaturized,
remote controlled, robotic detectors capable of rapid stem to stern searches
of ships and airliners.28 Interdiction of narcotics at the source, currently
a resource-intensive activity involving search and destroy operations or large
scale spraying of ecologically damaging herbicides, might be done in the
future by miniature, self-mobile, bio-mechanical “bugs” delivered by aerial
dispenser to seek out and kill or modify narcotic producing plants.29
Alternatively, information warfare systems might influence the behavior of
populations by convincing citizens to turn in traffickers or not buy drugs.
Behavior modification is a key component of peace enforcement. The
primary objective of these operations is to prevent violence and facilitate
diplomatic resolution of a conflict.30 “Soft kill” systems can play a key
role. Examples include not only information warfare but also biotechnical
antimaterial agents which “could disable propulsion systems (attacking fuel
and lubricants or clogging airways and critical passages); change the
characteristics of soil or vegetation (to deny terrain to vehicles and
troops); or degrade warfighting material (particularly those with organic
components).”31 Advances in electronics and robotics could also prove useful
in peace operations, allowing commanders to separate forces with a “no man’s
land” populated by remote sensing devices or robotic patrols and enforced with
stand-off precision strike weapons, thus reducing peacekeeper casualties and
improving the chances that the peacekeeping force will remain long enough for
a political resolution of the conflict.
The final area of consideration for application of emerging technologies
to conflict short of war are insurgency and counterinsurgency. The military
objectives of insurgency and counterinsurgency are diametrically opposed. In
insurgency the United States assists an armed political organization
attempting to seize power or extract political concessions from a regime
opposed to U.S. interests. Counterinsurgency seeks to contain or defeat an
insurgency attempting the overthrow of a friendly regime.32 How then, might
the RMA affect these operations? According to FM 100-20 the U.S. armed
forces, when directed to do so, can assist insurgent efforts to:
• Recruit, organize, train, and equip forces;
• Develop institutions and infrastructure;
• Gather intelligence; and
• Perform psychological operations, surreptitious insertions, linkups,
evasion, escape, subversion, sabotage, and resupply.33
Emerging technology can augment U.S. capabilities in a number of these areas.
Simulator training devices can help force development and partially
compensate for the difficulties insurgents face in performing actual field
training. UAVs can be used for psychological operations aimed at mobilizing
support and enhancing the legitimacy of the insurgents. Stealth vehicles can
be used for insertions, biotechnological antimaterial agents for sabotage, and
the U.S.’s extensive sensor and collector network can provide intelligence
Counterinsurgency is similar. Success hinges on obtaining accurate
intelligence about the insurgents, and developing or maintaining government
legitimacy. Greatly improved intelligence gathering and fusion is a primary
component of the RMA, and proposed information warfare capabilities might be
ideally suited for helping develop desired emotions, attitudes, or
behavior.34 Stand-off weapons could interdict outside support to the
insurgents without requiring a U.S. presence. This could help a beleaguered
regime maintain legitimacy. Improved training of security forces using
simulators would improve their effectiveness, thus increasing the public’s
trust in the regime’s ability to provide security.
Potholes in the Information Superhighway: Constraints and Countermeasures.
Emerging technology may improve the application of force in conflict
short of war, but there is probably no imminent RMA in this arena. The
changes in conflict short of war will be considerably less dramatic than in
those projected for mid- to high-intensity combat, particularly when possible
constraints or countermeasures are considered.
These constraints begin at the highest level as the basic nature of our
national security organization generates obstacles to innovation. As Stephen
Peter Rosen points out, large bureaucracies are not only difficult to change,
they are explicitly designed not to change–“the absence of innovation is the
rule, the natural state.”35 Ironically, the successful end of the Cold War,
even though it dramatically increased the need for innovation, complicates the
process. In all human endeavors, success tends to stifle innovation. The
natural attitude is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The fact that the
United States has not faced a recent military or national security disaster
has hindered the development and application of new technology to conflict
short of war. To many Americans, the absence of disaster shows that our
national security strategy “ain’t broke.” Moreover, conflict short of war
lacks a powerful institutional advocate able to transcend this attitude. Both
civilian and military leaders in the Department of Defense fear that effort,
time, and, most importantly, money spent on conflict short of war will be
subtracted from that available for conventional combined-arms warfare. And it
is not clear that the American public and the Congress consider improving our
capabilities in conflict short of war important.
In this era of shrinking defense budgets, little money is available for
technology designed specifically for conflict short of war. Fortunately, much
of the technology developed for conventional mid- and high-intensity conflict
can be extrapolated to conflict short of war, but insurgency, terrorism, and
narcotrafficking also demand some unique capabilities. Like a business’
investment in new plant, military technology increases effectiveness and
efficiency in the long-term, but has major short-term costs. If we choose to
engage in conflict short of war, two things could inspire efforts to develop
and apply cutting-edge technology. One is the emergence of an active and
powerful coterie of visionaries within the national security community,
including both senior military and civilian leaders. The other is defeat or
disaster. Yet even if the United States did make a concerted effort to apply
emerging technology to conflict short of war, our opponents would quickly
develop countermeasures, thus posing new problems and forcing further
innovation by U.S. forces. Because U.S. engagement in conflict short of war
will continue to be have weak domestic support, opponents will not have to
match us innovation for innovation, but only increase the cost of American
engagement beyond the low limits of public and congressional tolerance. How,
then, might future opponents attempt to counter high-tech U.S. forces?
First, they will strike at domestic support for U.S. engagement. One
way to do this is to kill Americans or damage U.S. property. Off-duty and
rear-area U.S. forces in country will–as always–be targets. But in the
increasingly mobile and interdependent world, the United States itself may
also be vulnerable. At times, immigrant or resident alien communities within
the United States may provide a base of support. New alliances among groups
unhappy with our policy will coalesce, share information and, occasionally,
conduct cooperative operations. Electronic terrorism–the sabotage of
communications and computer systems in retaliation for official policy–will
also be a tool of our enemies. Cyberspace will supplement international
airports as the point-of-entry for terrorists. As a National Security
Decision Directive signed by President Bush noted, “Telecommunications and
information processing systems are highly susceptible to interception,
unauthorized access, and related forms of technical exploitation…The
technology to exploit these electronic systems is widespread and is used
extensively by foreign nations and can be employed, as well, by terrorist
groups…”36 Opponents will also undercut domestic support for U.S.
engagement through traditional political mobilization using immigrant and
resident alien communities as well as sympathetic indigenous political groups-
-time-tested tactics honed during Vietnam and the 1980s. Advertising and
public relations firms will be hired to construct sophisticated
“consciousness-raising” campaigns. Often these will attack American public
opinion indirectly by creating international opposition to our policy.
Opponents will also counter American military prowess by targeting our
friends and allies. Reliance on allies has long been an American
vulnerability in conflict short of war. In Vietnam, for example, even our
hard-won understanding of revolutionary “people’s war” could not bring victory
to the incompetent and repressive Saigon elite. For American doctrine and
strategy to work, we must have a local ally with some base of legitimacy.
Given this, future opponents may not even attempt to confront high-tech
American forces, but instead steal a flank march by undercutting our allies.
In conventional, combined-arms warfare, backward or weak contingents of
coalitions can be assigned peripheral duties–figuratively holding the horses-
-and thus not erode the overall military effectiveness of the alliance. With
the exception of operations in failed states or certain types of raids and
attacks, a host nation must be the centerpiece of efforts to confront
insurgency, terrorism, or narcotrafficking. The United States can be no more
effective than its allies, a coalition no stronger than its weakest element.
Terrorists, insurgents, and narcotraffickers will quickly recognize this.
In some cases, though, our opponents will attempt to directly counter
deployed American forces. Since new technology will improve the ability of
U.S. forces to locate and track enemies and to collect, analyze, and
disseminate intelligence, the most useful countermeasures will be tactical,
operational, and strategic camouflage and deception. Some opponents,
especially those with an external sponsor, may deploy limited but high-tech
methods of camouflage and deception. External sponsors may also provide just
enough technology to their clients to foil our forces as Stingers did for the
Afghan mujahedeen. Some narcotraffickers, insurgents, or terrorists will take
a purely low-tech approach including things as simple as abandoning electronic
communications in favor of written or voice messages, and relying on timetested
cellular organization to foil intelligence efforts.37 Organizational
decentralization may not totally destroy the effectiveness of RMA technology,
but certainly erodes it. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the other Third World
caricatures of the Soviet Union are perfect opponents for a RMA-type military.
Driven by the well-earned paranoia of tyrants, they have highly centralized
military forces. This prevents coups d’etat, but also limits the chance of
military victory against determined advanced states. Future insurgents,
terrorists, and narcotraffickers will not be so stupid.
The use of new technology may also run counter to basic American values.
Information age–and in particular information warfare–technologies cause
concerns about privacy.38 For example, the individual position locator raises
several thorny issues: Would Americans overseas be forced to wear (or worse
have implanted) such a device or would its use be voluntary? If forced, would
it apply equally to those employed overseas and tourists? Will Americans
accept the fact that the government might, by access to the NEO locator data
base, know every move they make? If a locator device could be remotely
activated, how could Americans be sure that activation was only effective
outside the United States? How would they know that “wrist radios” were not
used to monitor personal conversations? Similarly, military use of
television against foreign adversaries raises the specter of domestic
applications. Even if domestic use was never contemplated, its possibility
might cause greater public skepticism regarding television appearances,
reducing the impact of one of the American politician’s greatest communication
tools. Deception, while frequently of great military or political value, is
thought of as somehow “un-American.”
American values also make the use of directed energy weapons against
suspected narcotrafficking aircraft technologically feasible but morally
difficult, perhaps unacceptable. The advantage of directed energy weapons
over conventional ones is deniability. Against whom is such deniability
aimed? Certainly not the narcotraffickers, who will quickly recognize that
interception by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or military planes leads to
loss of their aircraft.39 Instead, deniability must be aimed at the American
people, who do not sanction the imprisonment, much less execution, of
individuals without a trial (and execution is how they will perceive it–the
argument “we only disabled the aircraft, it was the crash which killed the
pilot” will carry little weight). Deniability will not last long, since
narcotraffickers can choose any number of ways to make such interceptions
public such as landing and then challenging the intercept technique in court,
or arranging to relay communications with their aircraft to a ground station
which could broadcast the “nonlethal” downing (ideally of a plane carrying no
drugs). The American public may perceive the DEA or military involved in such
actions to be as bad or worse than the narcotraffickers.
Certain biotechnical weapons–considered by some to violate the
biological warfare convention to which the United States is a signatory–also
may transgress American values regarding appropriate means.40 Most Americans
would not support the use of a weapon designed to target only a specific
racial or ethnic group in anything less than a war for survival of the
nation.41 Could the government and military of this multi-ethnic republic
face charges that it was developing or using a weapon targeting Africans,
Jews, Koreans, Hispanics, etc.? Would defense against such a charge occupy
the attention of policymakers to the detriment of other essential business?
And even accidental injuries or deaths caused by “nonlethal” antimaterial
substances could be politically damaging.
American values and attitudes thus form significant constraints on full
use of emerging technology, at least in anything short of a perceived war for
national survival. Overcoming these constraints to make a RMA in conflict
short of war would require fundamental changes in the United States–an
ethical and political revolution may be necessary to make a military
The Silicon Icarus: Making Revolution.
Even with all the constraints and countermeasures, there is some value
in applying emerging technology using existing strategy, doctrine,
organization, force structure, objectives, concepts, attitudes, and norms.
But there is another alternative: we could deliberately engineer a
comprehensive revolution, seeking utter transformation rather than simply an
expeditious use of new technology. However alluring, such a program is rife
with hidden dangers and unintended consequences. Unlike the architects of the
Manhattan Project, we are not forced to pursue revolution without considering
the implications. In conflict short of war, RMA is a Pandora’s box
desperately in need of careful scrutiny before opening.
But how to do so? Because it transcends the comfortable familiarity of
both the past and present, revolution is never easy. It is, above all, a
challenge to the imagination. Even the greatest revolutionaries have only
hazy images of the future, their lives driven more by shadowy vision than
concrete plans. But for decision makers contemplating revolution, visualizing
long-term implications–however difficult–is the only way to gauge whether or
not they truly want the kind of fundamental and irrevocable change revolution
brings. To decide how far we want to push RMA in the arena of conflict short
of war, Americans must speculate on where it might ultimately lead. One way
to do this is by constructing hypothetical future scenarios. There are any
number of feasible scenarios. The probability of any one is less important
than the interconnections it uncovers. What follows, then, is such a
hypothetical future scenario–a “history” of the application of RMA to
conflict short of war written in the year 2010. It is not a prediction and
certainly not a preference, but is a possibility.
The first question is: What led American leaders and national
security professionals to apply the revolution in military affairs to
conflict short of war? Most often, a revolution in military affairs
occurs in response to defeat or a perception of rising threat. Napoleon
led an undrilled army stripped of most veteran officers against a host
of enemies; the architects of blitzkrieg all had first-hand experience
with bitter military defeat. Likewise, the RMA of the 2000s was sparked
by a series of fiascos in the mid-1990s. First was the emergence of
what became known as “third wave terrorism.” Recognizing the strategic
bankruptcy of old-fashioned hijacking, kidnapping, assassination, and
bombing, terrorists rapidly adopted state-of-the art technology to their
sinister ends. Within Third World countries, they developed the means
to identify and kill American businessmen, diplomats and military
advisors at will, and to disrupt international air traffic and
electronic communications in and out of their countries. Even more
damaging was their ability to “carry the war to its source” in the
United States. Biotechnology and information warfare, especially
sabotage of communications and computer networks using mobile high power
microwave sources, replaced AK-47s and SEMTEX as the preferred tools of
terrorism. The new post-Mafia generation of silicon criminals provided
models and even mentors for third wave terrorists.
About the same time, the U.S. military became embroiled in several
horrific ethnic struggles. Our involvement usually began as part of a
multinational peacekeeping or peace enforcement operation, but rapidly
turned violent when American forces were killed or held hostage. The
usual response to the first few attacks on Americans was to send
reinforcements, thus placing U.S. prestige on the line. Since our
strategy was contingent on global leadership, we were aware of the
political damage which would result from being forcibly expelled from a
Third World country, and thus doggedly “stayed the course” until
domestic pressure forced withdrawal. On the ground, enemies would not
directly fight our magnificent military forces, but relied instead on
mines, assassination, and terror bombings.
The costs of these imbroglios were immense. A bitter dispute
broke out in the United States between supporters of multinational peace
operations and isolationists. And domestic political acrimony was not
the only long-term cost of these operations: many of our troops assigned
to operations in tropical areas brought back new resilient diseases
which then gained a foothold in the United States. Debate was fierce
over the new law requiring long-term quarantine of troops returning from
Third World operations.
American efforts at counterinsurgency during the mid-1990s were no
more successful. Whether facing commercial insurgents such as
narcotraffickers or spiritual insurgents attempting to forge new systems
of identity and personal meaning in their nations, we found that our
allies were penetrated with enemy agents, corrupt, and unable to
ameliorate the severe political, economic, and social problems that had
given rise to insurgency. When a number of these allied governments
collapsed, we were privately relieved but publicly aware of the
precipitous decline in our prestige. At times, the United States
tottered dangerously close to being the “poor, pitiful giant” Richard
Nixon warned against.
In areas where the United States was not militarily involved, the
major trends of the 1990s were the disintegration of nations,
ungovernability, ecological decay, and persistent conflict. Much of
this had a direct impact on the United States whether by generating
waves of desperate immigrants, inspiring terrorists frustrated by our
failure to solve their nations’ problems, creating health and ecological
problems which infiltrated the continental United States, or increasing
divisiveness in the robustly multicultural American polity.
This series of fiascos led a small number of American political
leaders, senior military officers, and national security experts to
conclude that a revolution was needed in the way we approached conflict
short of war. They held the Vietnam-inspired doctrine of the 1980s and
1990s directly responsible for these disasters. Only radical
innovation, they concluded, could renew U.S. strategy and avoid a slide
into the global irrelevance. Nearly everyone agreed the old strategic
framework which coalesced in the 1960s was bankrupt. This thinking,
derived from the Marshall Plan, sought to use American aid and advice to
ameliorate the “root causes” of conflict in the Third World and build
effective, legitimate governments. By the 1990s this was impossible or,
at least, not worth the costs. Few, if any, Third World governments had
the inherent capability of becoming stable and legitimate even with
The revolutionaries’first task was to recruit proselytes
throughout the government and national security community. Initially
the revolutionaries, who called their new strategic concept “Dynamic
Defense,” were opposed by isolationists who felt that new technology
should be used simply to build an impenetrable electronic and physical
barrier around the United States. Eventually the revolutionaries
convinced the president-elect following the campaign of 2000 that
Dynamic Defense was both feasible and effective–a task made easier by
his background as a pioneering entrepreneur in the computer-generated
and controlled “perception-molding” systems developed by the advertising
industry. The President was thus amenable to the use of the sort of
psychotechnology which formed the core of the RMA in conflict short of
The first step in implementing Dynamic Defense was reshaping the
national security organization and its underlying attitudes and values.
Technology provided opportunity; only intellectual change could
consolidate it. With the full and active support of the President, the
revolutionaries reorganized the American national security system to
make maximum use of emerging technology and new ideas. This loosely
reflected the earlier revolution in the world of business, and sought to
make the U.S. national security organization more flexible and quicker
to react to shifts in the global security environment. The old Cold War
structures–the Department of Defense, Department of State, Central
Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, and others–were
replaced by two organizations. One controlled all U.S. actions designed
to prevent conflict, including economic assistance programs and
peacetime diplomacy. The second was responsible for containing conflict
by orchestrating sanctions, quarantines, embargoes, the building of
multinational coalitions, and conflict short of war. This integrated
the military, civilian law enforcement, the diplomatic corps, and
organizations responsible for gathering and analyzing intelligence.
Since so many of the conflicts faced by the United States were “gray
area” threats falling somewhere in between traditional military problems
and traditional law enforcement problems, the organizational division
between the two was abolished. Moreover, many aspects of national
security were civilianized or sub-contracted to save costs.42
One of the most difficult dimensions of the reorganization was
altering the dominant ethos of the armed forces. As technology changed
the way force was applied, things such as personal courage, face-to-face
leadership, and the “warfighter” mentality became irrelevant.
Technological proficiency became the prime criterion for advancement
within the military while the officer corps came to consider research
universities such as Cal Tech and MIT its breeding ground rather than
increasingly archaic institutions like West Point and Annapolis. For
the military, the most common career track alternated assignments in
national security with ones in business and science. Since physical
endurance was not particularly important, military careers no longer
ended after 20 or 30 years. In fact, soldiers and officers were given
few responsibilities until the twentieth year of their careers. As
proposed by Carl Builder, the Army was organized into highly specialized
units permanently associated with a territorial franchise.43 Careers
were within one of these units, thus allowing all soldiers and officers
to develop the sort of language and cultural abilities previously
limited to Special Forces and Foreign Area Officers.
One of the turning points of the revolution came when its leaders
convinced the President and key members of Congress that traditional
American ethics were a major hinderance to the RMA. This was crucial:
the revolutionaries and their allies then crafted the appropriate
attitudinal vessel for the RMA. Through persistent efforts and very
sophisticated domestic “consciousness-raising,” old-fashioned notions of
personal privacy and national sovereignty changed. This was relatively
easy since frustration with domestic crime had already begun to alter
attitudes and values. In fact, the RMA in conflict short of war was, in
many ways, a spin-off of the domestic “war on drugs and crime” of the
late 1990s when the military, as predicted by William Mendel in 1994,
became heavily involved in support to domestic law enforcement.44 The
changes in American values that accompanied that struggle were easily
translated to the national security arena. Once the norms concerning
personal privacy changed, law soon followed.
Old-fashioned ideas about information control and scientific
inquiry also changed. Preventing enemies (or potential enemies) from
responding to our technological advantages became a prime objective of
U.S. national security strategy. The government closely controlled and
monitored foreign students attending American universities and exchanges
of information within the global scientific and business communities.
When necessary, the government protected valuable information through
outright deception. And the national security community cooperated
closely with business on counterespionage, providing training, advice,
With values changed, technology then opened the door to profound
innovation. Vast improvements in surveillance systems and information
processing made it possible to monitor a large number of enemies (and
potential enemies). In the pre-RMA days, psychological operations and
psychological warfare were primitive. As they advanced into the
electronic and bioelectronic era, it was necessary to rethink our
ethical prohibitions on manipulating the minds of enemies (and potential
enemies) both international and domestic. Cutting-edge pharmaceutical
technology also provided tools for national security strategists.
Sometimes the revolutionaries found it necessary to stoke the
development of technology designed specifically for conflict short of
war. Whenever possible, profitability was used to encourage private and
quasi-private enterprises to develop appropriate technology. For
example, much of the lucrative technology of surveillance, intelligence
collection, and attitude manipulation used to solve the domestic crime
problem was easily adapted to conflict short of war. The same held for
new weapons, especially nonlethal biological ones and advanced
psychotechnology. Only when there was absolutely no expectation of
profit did the government directly sponsor research of cutting-edge
technology, often with funds freed by disbanding what were seen as
increasingly irrelevant conventional military forces.
All of this reorganization and technological development was
simply preface for the full flowering of the revolution in military
affairs. American leaders popularized a new, more inclusive concept of
national security. No distinction–legal or otherwise–was drawn
between internal and external threats. In the interdependent 21st
century world, such a differentiation was dangerously nostalgic. The
new concept of security also included ecological, public health,
electronic, psychological, and economic threats. Illegal immigrants
carrying resistant strains of disease were considered every bit as
dangerous as enemy soldiers. Actions which damaged the global ecology,
even if they occurred outside the nominal borders of the United States,
were seen as security threats which should be stopped by force if
necessary. Computer hackers were enemies. Finally, external
manipulation of the American public psychology was defined as a security
The actual strategy built on the RMA was divided into three
tracks. The first sought to perpetuate the revolution. Its internal
dimension institutionalized the organizational and attitudinal changes
that made the revolution possible, and pursued future breakthroughs in
close conjunction with business, the scientific community, and local law
enforcement agencies–the core troika of 21st century security. The
external dimension actively sought to delay or prevent counterresponses
by controlling information and through well-orchestrated deception.
The second track consisted of offensive action. Our preference
was preemption. In a dangerous world, it was preferable to kill
terrorists before they could damage the ecology or strike at the United
States. While Americans had long supported this in theory, the RMA
allowed us to actually do it with minimal risk just as the Industrial
Revolution allowed 19th century strategists to build the massive
militaries they had long desired. If regional conflicts–whether
ethnic, racial, religious, or economic–did not damage the global
ecology or appear likely to bring disease or violence to the United
States, they were ignored. When conflicts seemed likely to generate
direct challenges, the United States did not attempt ultimate
resolution, but only to preempt and disrupt whatever aspect of the
conflict seemed likely to endanger us. In the quest for strategic
economy, preemption was the byword. Since the RMA made preemption
quick, covert, usually successful, and politically acceptable, the
United States gradually abandoned collective efforts. Nearly all
allies, with their old-fashioned, pre-RMA militaries, proved more an
encumbrance than a help. When preemption failed, the United States
sought either passive containment which included isolation and
quarantines, or active containment where strikes (electronic,
psychological, or physical) were used to limit the spread of the
deleterious effects of a conflict. For opponents with the ability to
harm the United States, the military preemptively destroyed their
The third track of the strategy was defensive, and included
missile defense, cyberspace defense, and rigid immigration control.
By 2010, the RMA accomplished its desired objectives. Most of the
time, we prevented Third World conflict from directly touching our
shores. Probably the finest hour of the new warriors was the Cuba
preemption of 2005–Operation Ceberus. This was so smooth, so effective
that it warrants explanation. Following the overthrow of Fidel Castro
in 1995 by a popular revolt, an elected government of national unity
quickly proved unable to engineer massive economic and ecological
reconstruction of the country or build a stable democracy. Frequent
seizures of emergency powers and fraudulent elections were the rule.
Within a few years, nostalgia for the stability of the old regime gave
rise to an armed insurgency; most of the front-line rebels were former
members of Castro’s security forces and military. The United States
refused to directly support the corrupt and inept regime, but recognized
that the conflict required our attention.
The operation officially began when the President transferred the
Cuban portfolio from the Conflict Preemption Agency to the Conflict
Containment Agency. An existing contingency plan with implementing
software provided the framework for quick action. Immediately, all
electronic communication in and out of Cuba was surreptitiously
transferred to the national security filter at Fort Meade. This allowed
full monitoring, control, and, when necessary, manipulation of private,
commercial, and government signals. Potential or possible supporters of
the insurgency around the world were identified using the Comprehensive
Interagency Integrated Database. These were categorized as “potential”
or “active,” with sophisticated computerized personality simulations
used to develop, tailor, and focus psychological campaigns for each.
Individuals and organizations with active predilections to support
the insurgency were targets of an elaborate global ruse using computer
communications networks and appeals by a computer-generated insurgent
leader. Real insurgent leaders who were identified were left in place
so that sophisticated computer analysis of their contacts could be
developed. Internecine conflict within the insurgent elite was
engineered using psychotechnology. Psychological operations included
traditional propaganda as well as more aggressive steps such as drug14
assisted subliminal conditioning. At the same time, Cubans within the
United States and around the world were assigned maximum surveillance
status to monitor their physical presence and communications webs. This
thwarted several attempts to establish terrorist cells in the United
Within Cuba itself, fighting was widespread. Several acts of
industrial and ecological terrorism led to the outbreak of disease.
U.S. forces under the command of the Conflict Containment Agency helped
control these while limiting the chance of their own infection by
“stand-off” and robotic medical and humanitarian relief. Naturally all
food supplies contained a super long-lasting sedative. This calmed
local passions and led to an immediate decline in anti-regime activity.
Where there were no direct U.S. relief efforts, sedatives were
dispersed using cruise missiles. In areas thought to have high areas of
insurgent activity, the dosage was increased.
Since all Americans in Cuba had been bioelectrically tagged and
monitored during the initial stages of the conflict, the NEO went
smoothly, including the mandatory health screening of all those
returning to the United States. Coast Guard aircraft and hovercraft
stanched illegal refugees. The attitude-shaping campaigns aimed at the
American public, the global public, and the Cuban people went quite
well, including those parts using computer-generated broadcasts by
insurgent leaders–“morphing”– in which they were shown as disoriented
and psychotic. Subliminal messages surreptitiously integrated with
Cuban television transmissions were also helpful.45 In fact, all of
this was so successful that there were only a few instances of covert,
stand-off military strikes when insurgent targets arose and government
forces seemed on the verge of defeat. U.S. strike forces also attacked
neutral targets to support the psychological campaign as
computer-generated insurgent leaders claimed credit for the raids. At
times, even the raids themselves were computer-invented “recreations.”
(These were a specialty of the Army’s elite Sun Tzu Battalion.)
Eventually it all worked: the insurgents were discredited and
their war faded to simmering conflict unlikely to directly threaten the
United States. Even the relatively unimportant criticism from domestic
political groups was stilled when the President temporarily raised the
quota of Cuban orphans eligible for adoption in the United States.
Unfortunately, there are growing signs in 2010 that the great
advantages brought by the RMA might be eroding. With a decade to adapt,
many opponents of the United States–both state and non-state actors–are
themselves bending technology to their ends. While none can match the
prowess of American forces across the board, indications are that by
concentrating on one potential weakness of U.S. forces, enemies might be
able to increase the human costs of intervention and, if not defeat the
United States, at least deny us success. The RMA has amplified our
distaste for death, a liability our enemies initially disdained and are
now learning to manipulate in simple, low-tech ways.
In 2010, a decade of constant success in counterterrorism was
marred by several dramatic failures. The post-attack environmental
clean-up and reconstruction of St. Louis will take decades. Many of the
difficult-to-detect drugs and psychotechnology developed for use in
conflict short of war have appeared on the domestic black market and,
increasingly, in American schools and workplaces. Perhaps most
important, Americans are beginning to question the economic, human, and
ethical costs of our new strategy. A political movement called the “New
Humanitarianism” is growing, especially among Americans of non-European
descent, and seems likely to play a major role in the presidential
election of 2012. There are even rumblings of discontent within the
national security community as the full meaning of the revolution
becomes clear. Since the distinction between the military and
non-military components of our national security community has eroded,
many of those notionally in the military service have to come to feel
unbound by traditional notions of civil-military relations. This group
has founded a new political party–The Eagle Movement–which is beginning
to exert great pressure on the traditional political parties for
inclusion in national policymaking. The traditional parties are, to put
it lightly, intimidated by the Eagle Movement, and seem likely to accept
In the end, only historians and philosophers of the future can
ultimately assess the consequences of applying the RMA to conflict short
Defining the Agenda: Conclusions and Recommendations.
The impact of purely military innovation, whether revolutionary or
evolutionary, is nearly always less in conflict short of war than in
warfare. The military dimension of conflict short of war is smaller, a
less decisive proportion of the total struggle. Political, diplomatic,
cultural, psychological, and economic factors matter in all conflicts,
but are preeminent in conflict short of war. Military superiority–
however measured–nearly always brings battlefield victory, but as
Vietnam, Algeria, and a hundred other steamy struggles showed, it is not
always strategically decisive in conflict short of war.
Still, there is some value in applying emerging technology and
innovative concepts to conflict short of war. If the United States wants
marginal improvements of effectiveness and efficiency, emerging
technology and new concepts offer it. The bigger question is whether to
seek true revolution rather than simply marginal improvements. To do so
will demand fundamental changes in attitudes and values as well as
organization, force structure, doctrine, and techniques. After serious
debate, the people and leaders of the United States may decide the costs
and risks of applying RMA to conflict short of war are not worth the
Even without such debate, undesirable change may come through
accretion. By applying new technology here and new concepts there, by
making apparently limited and benign modifications in the way we
approach conflict short of war, by serendipity, we may eventually
stumble into change as ultimately profound as deliberate revolution.
Equally, revolutionary change in our approach to conflict short of war
may come about indirectly as we grapple with domestic problems such as
crime and drugs. If our traditional notions of privacy and public
security are altered to fight these battles, it is an easy step to
change our attitudes toward intervention in the affairs and psyches of
foreign foes. Again, the focus on short-term considerations may lead to
an undesirable future.
Whether we opt for revolution or evolution, change will occur. Our
current approach to conflict short of war is a child of the Cold War.
New threats demand new ideas; old assumptions no longer hold. To
understand and control ongoing change, research, analysis, and debate is
needed. Adaptation of military force structure, doctrine, and procedures
must follow rather than precede this. The agenda for research, analysis,
and debate, at least, is fairly clear.
For starters, we must develop a comprehensive general theory of
military revolutions set within the context of broader notion of global
politics and security. Currently, there is no accepted definition of
RMAs or even agreement on which historical transformations constituted
revolutions. It is not clear whether military revolutions are
independent variables created by military leaders, or dependent
variables that occur as spin-offs of wider social, political, and
economic changes. We do not know conclusively whether military
revolutions can be deliberately created, or whether rapid change is only
seen as revolutionary after the fact. If the latter is true, then
perhaps military revolutions are gist only for historians and not
strategists. The concept of the “life-span” of a revolution–the period
during which the enemy deliberately or inadvertently allows asymmetry to
persist–also demands attention. What determines the “life-span”? Does
military innovation increase the chances of conflict or diminish it?
Finally, what is the relationship between the nature of future armed
conflict and RMAs? Most of what are considered RMAs occurred in the
Westphalian state system. Can they also occur in some different type of
political system not based on nation-states and traditional inter-state
The strategy and policy foundation of military revolutions also
warrants further study. Again, the direction of influence is central:
Can military revolutions cause strategy to change, do strategic changes
somehow generate military revolutions, or must they always occur
simultaneously? Can an incomplete or partial military revolution occur
in the absence of fundamental strategic change? Once these questions
are answered, the architects of RMA must, if they are to gauge the
potential for a military revolution, discern the future of U.S. strategy
and policy in the Third World. American decision makers and strategists
must then decide whether institutionalizing military revolution should
be an integral part of our national security strategy in the absence of
an equally innovative opponent like the Soviet Union.
Perhaps more importantly, analysis of the ethical dimension of RMA
is needed. Military strategists often overlook the fact that the
employment of force occurs within and is structured by an elaborate
normative framework. This has a historical foundation based on just war
theory, the Judeo- Christian ethical tradition, and international law as
well as a superstructure constantly modified by specific military and
political developments. In the 20th century total war, strategic
bombing, nuclear weapons, limited war, and revolutionary people’s war
forced adaptation of the normative framework Americans use when
employing force. The RMA will require a new assessment. We must decide
whether innovative military capabilities are, in fact, acceptable and
desirable. That can only happen through open debate. The military must
be a vital participant, but not the sole one. But as the institution
most intensely aware of both the opportunities and dangers offered by
emerging technology and concepts, the military must–as our notion of
civil-military relations evolves to meet changing conditions–serve as a
catalyst of this debate.
We must also examine the impact of the revolution in military
affairs on the structure of the U.S. national security organization
including both the policymaking apparatus and the military services.
Reflecting the Cold War strategic environment, the military services are
each organized around a key warfighting competency defined by geographic
medium–landpower dominance, air superiority, control of the seas, power
projection on the oceanic littoral. If writers like Alvin Toffler and
Winn Schwartau are correct and the key to future conflict is
information, organization of the military by geographic medium may be
obsolete.46 At a minimum, the growing importance of information suggests
the need for an integrated, interservice C4I force.47 The same logic
holds for conflict short of war: since it must be confronted with a
cohesive blend of military, political, economic, and intelligence
assets, organizational integration makes sense. This notion bears
careful analysis in the context of changes in the global security
environment and emerging technology. Organizational change which was
politically impossible or undesirable in the past should be considered
The military services must also assess the impact of RMA on leader
development. Since the Army plays the largest role of any service in
conflict short of war, it must take the lead in this assessment. Based
on a careful analysis of recent history, Stephen Rosen concludes that
neither money nor outside encouragement determines the ability of a
military to innovate. The key is acceptance by senior leaders that the
nature of conflict is undergoing fundamental change. Then, Rosen argues,
if “military leaders…attract talented young officers with great
potential for promotion to a new way of war, and then…protect and
promote them, they [can] produce new, usable military capabilities.”48
This suggests that the ultimate fate of the current revolution in
military affairs will not be decided in the laboratories of the great
universities, the board rooms of the major defense contractors, or even
the offices of the Pentagon, but at Fort Leavenworth, in the classrooms
of the Combined Arms Services and Staff School and the Command and
General Staff College, and at PERSCOM.
The cultivation of expertise is related to leader development, but
is not the same. Technological expertise should be of particular concern
to the Army. Because of their roles and functions, the Air Force and
Navy have traditionally emphasized technological expertise. For the
Army, successful officers need branch-specific competence, interpersonal
leadership and management ability, proficiency at staff functions, and,
later in their careers, expertise at the operational and strategic
levels of war. Technological acumen is relegated to a very few Army
officers. But if an RMA is, in fact, underway, whether in conventional
warfare or conflict short of war, and the Army intends to play a major
role, it must develop a long-term program for cultivating technological
expertise among all its officers rather than simply a tiny cadre. The
same holds for nontechnological skills. If the Army is to pursue a RMA
in conflict short of war, it must decide which nonmilitary skills from
the worlds of law enforcement, science, intelligence, and psychology are
necessary and then cultivate them throughout an officer’s career.
Research and analysis is also needed on technology designed specifically
for conflict short of war. Currently, the primary advances of the RMA
are in integrated, stand-off strike systems–the ability to find and
destroy or disable targets by synchronized strike forces. Such
capabilities form the heart of conventional, combined-arms warfare, but
play only a very limited role in conflict short of war. Advances in
sensors and other elements of information technology may bring great
benefits to conventional, combined-arms warfare, but will have less
impact in conflict short of war, which is most often won or lost through
the manipulation of images, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions.49 These
things rather than troop concentrations, command and control nodes, and
transportation infrastructure are the key military targets in conflict
short of war. This makes psychological technology much more important
than strike technology. Ways must be found to use emerging technology,
including advanced artificial intelligence and information dissemination
systems, to help military strategists develop, implement, and
continually improve methods of influencing opinion, mobilizing public
support, and sometimes demobilizing it. There is also the potential for
defensive pyschotechnology such as “strategic personality simulations”
to aid national security decision makers.50 To date, most analysts feel
that the RMA has not generated adequate advances in such “soft war”
capabilities or even the promise of such gains. But ultimate success in
applying the RMA to conflict short of war hinges on the development of
psychotechnology. As this emerges, it could be tested for political
acceptability by using it first in non-lethal operations other than war
like humanitarian relief and nation assistance.
Additional research is also needed on defensive technology for
conflict short of war. Most current attention to defensive technology
concerns protection against missiles. This is appropriate: ballistic
missile proliferation poses a real and present danger to American
national security. But in the arena of conflict short of war, different
forms of strategic defense apply. For example, research is needed on the
defense of cyberspace against politically-motivated terrorists.51 As
Winn Schwartau argues, the United States needs a national information
policy to integrate the efforts of the national security community,
business, and the criminal justice system.52 And, as public health
increasingly becomes a national security issue, strategic medical
defense, including buffering the effects of ecological decay and
preventing the import of new resilient diseases, demands study.
Finally, research is needed on the application of biotechnology to
conflict short of war. It is possible that some of the conceptual
confusion concerning the current RMA may have to do with the compression
of time which is such an integral characteristic of the modern era. In
the past, RMAs took years, often decades to develop. Today, two RMAs may
be underway simultaneously. The first (and more mature) is electronic.
Its manifestations are improved C4I and precision strike systems. The
second (and potentially more profound) RMA is biotechnological,
including genetic engineering and advanced behavior-altering drugs.
Because of the compression of time and the shortening of historical
patterns, the biotechnical revolution is totally enmeshed with the
electronic. It may ultimately be the combination of the two that proves
Distilled to their essence, revolutions are acts of supreme
creativity. The U.S. military is not inherently hostile to creativity,
but is cautious. If the nation–our political and intellectual leaders
and the public–decide that improving American capabilities in conflict
short of war is necessary and desirable, the preeminent task for the
military is to continue to build and enlarge a culture of creativity and
strategic entrepreneurship among the officer corps. To some extent, this
has begun. The changes leading to AirLand Battle, victory in the Gulf
War, and the current RMA were supremely creative. Still, these were only
first steps. To make a revolution in conflict short of war will be more
difficult. But to allow technology to develop without concomitant
creativity would, in the end, endanger the Nation’s security.
1. Jeffrey R. Cooper, “Another View of the Revolution in Military
Affairs,” a paper presented at the Fifth Annual Conference on Strategy,
U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, April 27, 1994, pp. 42-43.
2. See, for example, reports of the roundtables on the revolution in
military affairs held for the Army, Air Force, and Navy by Science
Applications International Corporation of McLean, VA, and Michael J.
Mazarr, et. al., The Military Technical Revolution, Final Report of a
CSIS Study, Washington, DC: CSIS, March 1993. Another important early
work was Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., “The Military-Technical Revolution:
A Preliminary Assessment,” a report prepared for the Office of the
Secretary Defense/Net Assessment (OSD/NA), July 1992.
3. Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., “The Coming Revolution in the Nature of
Conflict: An American Perspective,” in The US Air Force Roundtable on
the Revolution in Military Affairs, a report prepared by Science
Applications International Corporation, January 1994, p. 2.
4. Dan Gouré, “Is There a Military-Technical Revolution in America’s
Future?” Washington Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 4, Autumn 1993, p. 175.
5. John Shy and Thomas W. Collier, “Revolutionary War,” in Peter Paret,
ed., Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age,
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986, p. 852.
6. See Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, New York:
Praeger, 1966; and Roger Trinquier, Modern Warfare: A French View of
Counterinsurgency, New York: Praeger, 1967.
7. On the development of American counterinsurgency doctrine, see
especially Douglas S. Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era, New York:
Free Press, 1977; Larry E. Cable, Conflict of Myths: The Development of
American Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Vietnam War, New York: New
York University Press, 1986; and, D. Michael Shafer, Deadly Paradigms:
The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency Policy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1988.
8. FM (Field Manual) 100-20/AFP (Air Force Pamphlet) 3-20, Military
Operations in Low Intensity Conflict, Washington, DC: Headquarters,
Departments of the Army and the Air Force, December 5, 1990.
9. Ibid., pp. 2-7 through 2-14.
10. On the concepts of commercial and spiritual insurgency, see Steven
Metz, The Future of Insurgency, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War
College, Strategic Studies Institute, 1994.
11. For detailed analysis, see Steven Metz, America and the Third
World: Strategic Alternatives and Military Implications, Carlisle
Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 1994,
12. See, for example, Gordon R. Sullivan and James M. Dubik, Land
Warfare in the 21st Century, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War
College, Strategic Studies Institute, 1993. Also the reports of the
roundtables on the revolution in military affairs held for the Army, Air
Force, and Navy by Science Applications International Corporation of
13. FM (Field Manual) 100-5, Operations, Washington, DC: Headquarters,
Department of the Army, 1993, p. 13-8.
14. These are the capabilities identified as essential to future
reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) technologies
in the Army’s final draft Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
Pamphlet 525-xx, Concept for Information Operations, Ft. Monroe, VA:
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, May 5, 1994, p. 4-7.
15. Although the Army’s most recent proposed doctrine in regard to
Information Operations merely states: “The Army supports the timely and
accurate release of information to the media as well as open and
independent reporting as the principal means of coverage of U.S.
military operations.” TRADOC Pamphlet 525-xx, p. 2-9.
16. FM 100-20, pp. 5-5 to 5-7.
17. National Research Council, STAR 21 (Strategic Technologies for the
Army of the Twenty-first Century), Airborne Systems, Washington DC:
National Academy Press, 1993, pp. 49-55. Also Chuck de Caro, “Sats,
Lies, and Video-Rape: The Soft War Handbook,” unpublished paper,
Aerobureau Corporation, 1994.
18. See for example the discussion in National Research Council, STAR
21, Airborne Systems, p. 19.
19. “Chameleon” camouflage is based on commercially available heat- and
light-sensitive colorants that adapt to the surrounding environment, as
well as electrically stimulated colorants that change color according to
the surrounding landscape. See “Living Camouflage,” Soldiers’ Magazine,
Volume 49, No. 3, March 1994, p. 9. Also National Research Council,
STAR 21, Special Technologies and Systems, Washington DC: National
Academy Press, 1993, pp. 23-24.
20. FM 100-5, pp. 13-6 and 13-7.
21. Quoted in Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at
the Dawn of the 21st Century, Boston: Little, Brown, 1993, p. 157.
22. Ibid., p. 157.
23. Ibid., p. 113.
24. de Caro, “Sats, Lies, and Video-Rape,” pp. 32-34.
25. Winn Schwartau, Information Warfare: Chaos on the Electronic
Superhighway, New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1994, pp. 171-176. Note that de
Caro defines “soft war” as the hostile utilization of global television.
“Soft kill” is used here in a more generic sense of any system designed
to achieve its effect without causing harm to human beings. See National
Research Council, STAR 21, Technology Forecast Assessments, p. 314.
26. FM 100-5, p. 13-6 .
27. Martin C. Libicki, The Mesh and the Net: Speculations on Armed
Conflict in a Time of Free Silicon, Washington, DC: National Defense
University Institute for National Strategic Studies, March 1994, p. 24.
The utility of Libicki’s very interesting analysis is limited by his
failure to provide supporting references.
28. For a brief description of very small autonomous systems, see
Richard O. Hundley and Eugene C. Gritton, Future Technology-Driven
Revolutions in Military Operations: Results of a Workshop, Santa Monica,
CA: RAND Corporation, November 1993, pp. 12-37.
29. Possible advances in biotechnology are outlined in STAR 21,
Technology Forecast Assessments, Washington DC: National Academy
Press, 1993, pp. 314-346.
30. FM 100-5, p. 13-7.
31. National Research Council, STAR 21, Technology Forecast
Assessments, Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1993, p. 346.
32. FM 100-20, p. 2-0 and pp. 2-7 to 2-9.
33. Ibid., pp. 2-17 to 2-18.
34. Ibid., p. 2-22.
35. Stephen Peter Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the
Modern Military, Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991, p. 5.
36. Quoted in Schwartau, Information Warfare, p. 127.
37. A classic explanation of cellular organization by insurgents is
Andrew R. Molnar, Human Factors Considerations of Undergrounds in
Insurgencies, Washington, DC: American University Center for Research in
Social Systems, 1966, pp. 3-22.
38. See, as an example, Stephen Sloan, “Technology and Terrorism:
Privatizing Public Violence,” Technology and Society, Vol. 10, No. 2,
Summer 1991, pp. 8-14.
39. Narcotraffickers may, in fact, respond by arming their own aircraft
with conventional air-to-air weaponry. Imagine the surprise of the first
DEA crew who sees, as they pass ahead of a suspected drug laden aircraft
to aim their HERF gun at its vulnerable avionics, a Sidewinder exiting a
concealed cargo compartment.
40. The Army contends that its research falls within the limitations of
the chemical and biological conventions. See National Research Council,
STAR 21, Technology Forecast Assessments, pp. 314-315.
41. Tofflers, War and Anti-War, p. 122.
42. Michael Mazarr, an early analyst of the revolution in military
affairs, considered “civilianization of war” one of the principles of
the RMA. See The Revolution in Military Affairs: A Framework for Defense
Planning, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic
Studies Institute, 1994, pp. 22-27.
43. Carl Builder, “Information Technologies and the Future of
Conflict,” Briefing to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (OASDSOLIC), March 23,
44. William W. Mendel, “The Cold War Returns,” Military Review, Vol.
74, No. 5, May 1994, pp. 69-71.
45. This is described in Rod Paschall, LIC 2010: Special Operations and
Unconventional Warfare in the Next Century, Washington: Brassey’s, 1990,
46. Tofflers, War and Anti-War; Schwartau, Information Warfare.
47. For a detailed discussion, see Libicki, The Mesh and the Net, pp.
48. Rosen, Winning the Next War, p. 252.
49. By contrast, a seminal study by the Center for Strategic and
International Studies suggests that emerging sensor technologies (at
least) will have equal benefits for conventional and unconventional
military operations. (Mazarr, et. al., The Military Technical
Revolution, p. 44.)
50. See Norman D. Livergood and Stephen D. Williams, “Strategic
Personality Simulation: A New Strategic Concept,” unpublished draft
paper, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1994.
51. For thinking on this topic, see Hundley and Gritton, Future
Technology-Driven Revolutions in Military Operations, pp. 60-73.
52. Schwartau, Information Warfare, pp. 316-353.
U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE
Major General William A. Stofft
STRATEGIC STUDIES INSTITUTE
Colonel John W. Mountcastle
Director of Research
Dr. Earl H. Tilford, Jr.
Dr. Steven Metz
Lieutenant Colonel James Kievit
Mrs. Marianne P. Cowling
Mrs. Shirley E. Martin
Mr. James E. Kistler
Mr. Daniel B. Barnett