It’s been a while now, and people being people forget. You shouldn’t. Remember this prose?
“The United States must develop, deploy, and maintain the means to deter attack on and to defend vulnerable space capabilities. Explicit national security guidance and defense policy is needed to direct development of doctrine, concepts of operations, and capabilities for space, including weapons systems that operate in space and that can defend assets in orbit and augment air, land and sea forces. This requires a deterrence strategy for space which in turn must be supported by a broader range of space capabilities.”
This was part of a report termed “The Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization” which delivered its final report to Congress on January 11, 2001 a couple of days before Rumsfeld took over as Secretary of Defense. Many of the conclusions in the report, which warned of a “Pearl Harbour” in space, was the result of a commission created to assess the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue nations. This commission was chaired by Rumsfeld and issued its report in July of ’98. It’s main points were disputing CIA analysis which projected that such nations wouldn’t have nuclear weapons and delivery capability for at least 10 to 15 years. Rummy and the boys, without any hard evidence, pared that down to five, ostensibly to sell the urgency of the program to a Republican-dominated Congress. Much of the “evidence” cited came from defense contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, all of whom stood to make billions out of a new surge of armaments contracts.
On the basis of the Rumsfeld report, both Houses passed the National Missile Defence Act of ’99 and Clinton reluctantly co-opted Congress but refused to implement the program, stating: “I simply cannot conclude with the information I have today that we have enough confidence in the technology and the operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system to move forward to deployment.”
Bush, of course, was of the other mind. (and I use the term loosely…)
So by the time around $100 billion had been spent on the boondoggle, what was it’s status? Behold the words of General Eugene Habiger, commander of US Strategic Command in the mid-’90’s. “A system is being deployed that doesn’t have any credible capability.”
Philip Coyne, assistant Secretary of Defense under Clinton minced fewer words, calling the NMD program a “high-tech scarecrow.”
I have previously written about the technical problems with the Missile Defense system, which currently has never had a successful test that wasn’t fudged and is about as effective at defending the US as trying to take down a jet fighter by launching Sidewinder missiles with bungee cords. Here, I want to comment on the Pentagon and the US Air Force, both which have been complicit in selling the Congress and public a bill of goods that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and more importantly, comment on the programs being developed right now that could literally cost the world the use of Low Earth Orbit. It is the height of irresponsibility and is simply further evidence of the politicization of the Pentagon, which has, for many years, been more concerned with maintaining its prerogatives and keeping an unchecked flow of tax dollars into its bottomless maw with zero accountability. And spending that money on programs that are actually detrimental to the national security of the United States.
Or, as a friend of mine who used to work in the business once said, “Welcome to the world of strategic defense where we program weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist.”
Res ipsa Loquitur…
Back in September of 2004, the first blatant opening salvo was fired by General Lance Lord, chief of Air Force Space Command.
“Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. … Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.”
He then added “Simply put, it’s the American way of fighting.” He also spoke of the “freedom to attack.”
Jumping on the paranoia bandwagon, the former director of the National Reconnaissance Office and then president and CEO of Lockheed Martin asserted in 2003 “If American doesn’t weaponize space, an enemy will.” Please refer to the corporations that advised the Commission to Assess chaired by Rummy in the late 90’s….
Neocons immediately leapt onto the bandwagon. Everett Dolman, a professor at the School for Advanced Air and Space Studies barked forth: “The time to weaponize and administer space for the good of global commerce is now (author’s note: not national security, mind you – corporate exigencies rule) when the United States could do so without fear of an arms race there. The short answer is, if you want an arms race in space, do nothing now.” Dolman also espoused the view that the US should “seize military control of Low Earth Orbit. Only the United States can be trusted to regulate space for the benefit of all.”
This particular piece of bombast flies in the face of the PNAC documents which hint that the US might well deny LEO space to whatever country is currently pissing them off for whatever reason. How about the European Space Agency, many of whose members like France wisely decided to decline Bush’s kind offer to get their troops killed in Iraq for no reason at all? Can anyone state with a straight face that the Bush administration ever acted with political magnanimity on the basis of their ability to see other people’s point of view? It is a basic element of faith that the Repug-Conservative stance is always right.
Not everyone was a true believer. Lt. Col. Bruce M. DeBlois wrote in the Airpower Journal in ’98 “Once a nation embarks down the road to gain a huge asymmetrical advantage, the natural tendency of others is to close that gap. An arms race tends to develop an inertia of its own.”
It shouldn’t even have to be said, but look at the nuclear arms race and its inception right after WW II and you can clearly see where such a thing inevitably leads.
So where is the Pentagon’s planning leading? Stay tuned.