Blog Archives

The ultimate power-play? Trump celebrates the Space Force’s ‘new warfighting domain’

The flag for the new the US Space Command revealed in the White House Rose Garden

In March 2018, the Military Times reported another of Trump’s apparently casual observations that ‘space is becoming a “war-fighting domain”, adding later that at first he wasn’t serious when he floated the concept, but “then I said what a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.”

Five months later the Department of Defense released a report explaining how it intends to create the Space Force and Trump repeatedly stressed the need for American dominance in space.

In a January 2019 White House government briefing announcing his vision, though liberally using terms like protection and defense, President Trump said “we will recognize that space is a new warfighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way.” This ‘Unified Combatant Command’ will ‘protect US interests’ in space.

The voice of sanity:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronautics professor and former NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman said she prefers space to be as peaceful as possible: “Space is for exploration and lifting up humanity. We should learn from our mistakes on Earth and keep space peaceful.”

Good for business – developing a new arsenal, Star Wars 2 ?

On October 6th, in The Spectator’s inaugural US edition, James Adams comments: “In the new space race, victory won’t mean landing on the moon or sending a rocket to Mars, but developing a new arsenal to wage and win war in space”. This would include extending the range of orbital surveillance networks and producing weapons to attack space systems in orbit (anti-satellite weapons), to attack targets on the earth from space or to disable missiles travelling through space. Read more here.

Space Force’s stated mission is to protect American space assets and, in the first stages of a new war, destroy enemy satellites. All US military communications are dependent on satellites, as are 90% of communications intercepts and other forms of intelligence gathering. If they were knocked out, it would be almost impossible for the Pentagon to wage war.

Mr Adams reminds us that the militarization of space is regulated, in theory, by the Outer Space Treaty, created in 1967 by the United States, Russia and Britain, and signed subsequently by another 106 countries. He adds: “It governs the peaceful exploration of space and bans the placing of nuclear weapons there. But it didn’t ban the placement of conventional weapons in orbit, and it could not foresee all of the technological changes that, by altering the balance of power in space, threaten to alter the geopolitical balance on earth”.

Since 2013, Russia has launched three satellites that US intelligence believes may carry Anti-Satellite (ASAT) weapons and Adams reports that ‘sources’ have told him that the US intelligence community is certain that Russia, China and India already have ASAT capabilities, and that North Korea and Iran have programs in development.

The most recent official announcement:(29.8.19): “Department of Defense Establishes U.S. Space Command says: “At the direction of the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper established U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) today as the eleventh Unified Combatant Command”. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. said, “This step puts us on a path to maintain a competitive advantage in this critical war fighting domain.”

USSPACECOM standup ceremony at Petersen Air Force base

The United States Space Command website reports that ‘Joint and coalition’ space officials from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States attended a ceremony to recognize the establishment of Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) at Vandenberg on Oct. 1, 2019

More detailed information can be found by following the press links given and at  https://www.spacecom.mil; though the latter’s alarmingly childish video is better avoided.

Only Peter Lazenby, in the Morning Star, in two recent articles, appears to think that this news is of any significance. He writes, “The British government is complicit in the US military’s plans, partly by its association with the NATO military alliance and partly by the presence of US military bases within the country, which will be involved in the space militarisation project.”.

He reported that a nationwide week of action to “Keep Space for Peace” was launched last Saturday as part of worldwide protests against extra-planetary militarisation. Oxfordshire Peace Campaign targeted the US intelligence-gathering base at RAF Croughton, on the Oxfordshire-Northamptonshire border.

Today, Lazenby reports, campaigners will hold a peace vigil outside RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, a US base run by the US National Security Agency, which gathers military, political and financial information communicated by spy satellites circling the Earth and feeds it to the Pentagon. (Right: meticulous report by Steven Schofield)

The Spectator’s James Adams’ sardonic comment: “Down here on the ground, it’s a good idea to buy a wind-up radio and keep that landline phone connection. And get a road atlas, just in case”.

Many will fear far more extensive repercussions from President Trump’s latest inspiration

 

 

 

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Media 93: MSM downplays Britain’s role in the latest Yemeni killing & the BBC omits UN experts’ charge

Today, the BBC reports that UN Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council next month. It says that the experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemeni government forces, the Saudi-led coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement have made little effort to minimise civilian casualties and there have been attacks on residential areas in which thousands have died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.

But the BBC failed to mention that the Group of Experts’ report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.

Yemenis dig graves for children in the wake of the latest air strike

Lest we forget, the remote-sounding Saudi-led coalition is supported by UK arms sales (including cluster bombs manufactured in the UK) and technical assistance.  British military personnel are complicit – deployed in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, giving access to lists of targets.

The Saudi-led coalition struck last Wednesday and Thursday. Following the attacks on Wednesday, four families in northwestern Yemen, who had decided to leave their homes to avoid such danger, were in a vehicle when airstrikes hit again.

Though Britain’s mainstream media fully reported the killings of 9th August, a search finds no reference to those on the 24th.

CNN did full justice to this atrocity, recalling also that earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors.

CNN adds: “There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll”.

The latest news: yesterday, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, reports that the Pentagon has issued a warning to Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support for its campaign against rebels in neighbouring Yemen if the Saudis don’t demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes – adding “It is not clear if President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of support”.

 

But, like the proverbial three monkeys, the failing British government hears, sees and speaks no evil.

 

 

 

 

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US government legalises drone technology for commercial purposes as well as illegal slaughter

The leader of the ‘free world’ insists drones are safe, despite 400 major accidents, and governments salivate as the drone industry, which lobbied Congress to pass the new law, predicts $82 billions in ‘economic benefits’ and 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Mark Shapiro draws our attention to news of more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. The link he sent led to other information, including a detailed 2012 Business Mega account. Documents obtained by the Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenge the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Under the 2012 law passed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is to issue rules by September 2015 allowing commercial drone flights drones in civilian airspace. There is a wide demand:

  • Law enforcement agencies already own a small number of camera-equipped drones,
  • Businesses see profitable possibilities for drones, to tend crops, move cargo, inspect real estate or film Hollywood movies.
  • Journalists have applied for drone licenses to cover the news.
  • Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (who owns the Washington Post) wants his company to use autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers’ doorsteps.

Disrupted by smart phones?

An Australian triathlete was injured after a (non-military) drone crash in April. She and spectators said the UAV crashed into her but the drone’s owner said she was merely startled. Someone else in the crowd of spectators had briefly taken control of the drone. The cameraman said it would be difficult to find out who had done this, because smartphones could easily be used to carry out such an attack.

This is another immature technology. Nuclear systems were installed well before there was any appreciation of the problem of long-lived toxic waste and research scientists were deceived into thinking they were devising a clean and cheap energy source. The most principled left the industry when they learnt that their brainchild was to be used to make highly lethal and toxic weapons.


Read more here:

http://dronewarfare.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/us-defense-department-confident-drones-are-safe-despite-400-major-accidents/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/06/20/when-drones-fall-from-the-sky/

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/river-of-blood-after-drone-hits-australian-athlete-20140407-zqruh.html

http://business.mega.mu/2012/12/04/drone-crashes-mount-civilian-airports/

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NATO Missile Defence: full spectrum protection for Europe – or Boondoggle?

Protracted government/corporate projects involving large numbers of people and heavy expenditure

missile defenceBoondoggle? A project considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet often continued due to extraneous policy motivations. The term “boondoggle” may also be used to refer to protracted government or corporate projects involving large numbers of people and usually heavy expenditure, where at some point, the key operators, having realized that the project will never work, are still reluctant to bring this to the attention of their superiors.

NATO Watch comment by Nigel Chamberlain and Ian Davis:

Missile defence is an incredibly complicated subject in its planning, funding and implementation – if not in its rationale, which seems to be questionable and contentious. The breakdown of what is ostensibly a US, NATO or national asset is opaque and, as a consequence, so is a clear understanding of relative and assigned costs.

What is clear is that costs, both fiscal and geopolitical, are going to be substantial and on-going for some time. That alone should be of concern to national treasuries, parliamentary oversight bodies and citizens in NATO Member States. There is a sense of inevitable and growing momentum behind this endeavour with a good deal of industrial commitment already entrenched and with the prospect of lucrative contracts on the horizon.

Is this drive for missile defence systems in Europe prompted by indicators that coincide with Pentagon and NATO HQ thinking?

Most worryingly, however, is the seemingly negative impact this highly controversial military procurement programme is having on NATO-Russia relations and the absence of any ‘circuit breakers’ to reflect changes in geopolitics (such as the emerging détente with Iran).

Generally, we are led to believe that NATO is seeking to channel European defence spending towards essential military programmes which enhance collective security within the Alliance. Based on this ‘smart defence’ criteria, it is hard not to conclude that the inextricable drive for missile defence systems in Europe is heading in the opposite direction and ignoring all indicators that do not coincide with established thinking inside the Pentagon and NATO HQ.

Their analysis summarised:

  • The assumed problem – increasing threat from missile attack from North Korea, Iran or any other rogue state or non-state actors.
  • The proposed solution build a web of connected radar and communication centres so that various missiles can be launched to intercept them.
  • The cost (financial) – €1.25 billion to 2020, and rising, to European taxpayers collectively, plus large contributions to the development of national systems.
  • The cost (geo-political) – further degradation of relations with Russia which feels threatened by missile deployment encroachment that it views as an extension of NATO enlargement.

Next: Britain’s supportive endeavours.

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Military figures in Britain and America continue to pass through the revolving door to defence companies

As noted earlier on this site, the Guardian recently highlighted the revolving door in this country: “Senior military officers and Ministry of Defence officials have taken up more than 3,500 jobs in arms companies over the past 16 years, according to figures that reveal the extent of the “revolving door” between the public and private sector”. A NATO Watch message now sends news of a parallel in the United States.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jv4CQJuANYM

This clip is from a short video, Strategic Maneuvers, presented by War Costs to accompany a new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It focusses on the revolving door between the government and war profiteering defence contractors:

“The revolving door phenomenon is not new, yet it continues to play an integral part in the money flow from the taxpayer to the Pentagon and into defense contractors’ pockets:

Strategic Maneuvers (read the report here) finds that from 2009 to 2011, 70% of retiring three and four-star generals and admirals left the Pentagon to jobs with contractors and consulting firms, using their knowledge of the Pentagon and Capitol Hill to reap immense profits from public coffers. The report includes much more on this age-old process that ultimately perverts public trust in officials holding important positions in the government”.

Readers are invited to join the dialogue via the hashtag #4stars4profit on Twitter at @warcosts.

Obama: the tide of war is receding – not if I can help it!

 

 

World Service Radio alarmed this reader today by prominently featuring a pre-election Pentagon speech by President Obama as a threat to China – in marked contrast to its website’s lowly placed and cheering title Obama unveils smaller US military. 

Weasel words attempting to sanitise military spending and slaughter  

Examples from a brief video extract

  • The latest Afghan war: “long-term nation-building with large military footprints” 
  • Afghanistan: a “long-term stability operation” which led to “force-generation” 
  • More investment in Nato, which has “demonstrated time and again” that it’s a “force multiplier” 

Translation: 

Force Generation is the structured progression of increased unit readiness over time resulting in recurring periods of availability of trained, ready, and cohesive units.  

A force multiplier, in military terminology, is a factor that dramatically increases the effectiveness of an item or group. Military examples include troop morale, reputation, training, and so on. 

‘Nutshell’ definitions are needed – any offers? 

We’ll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific alongside the Middle East;  the Financial Times adds: 

“While Mr Obama and other officials did not mention China by name, a strategy paper was more blunt in describing potential military threats from Beijing, at one stage listing it alongside Iran as one of the principal challenges. 

“States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projections capabilities,” the document says. It also notes: “Over the long-term China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the US economy and our security in a variety of ways.”

The global threat 

Obama: “The world must know – the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.” 

 

 

 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16430405

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