Satellite Communications and Situational AwarenessTerm Paper

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[. . .] This is to say that the gathering of intelligence by satellites can be done without regard to specific military operations, but can function as a major element in an all-encompassing American security strategy:

National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) was founded with the mission of "guaranteeing the information edge" .... The Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other national security agencies presented strategic plans aiming to sustain and expand America's information edge while planning for increased volumes of information gathered from an increasingly diverse range of sources. Our adversaries, meanwhile, moved to create and exploit their own information advantages. Al Qaeda, for example, developed a global intelligence capability, adapted the latest commercial information technology for their purposes, and exploited seams in our security defenses

(O'Connell & Tomes, 2003)

As can be easily understood, modern satellite technology has also made our enemies more cunning and dangerous. What helps us can also help them. We must maintain our technological superiority and our unchallenged lead in global intelligence, if we are to remain invincible not only to enemy states, but also to rogue organizations. The United States Military recognizes,

NIMA'S capabilities to leverage satellite imagery and geospatial intelligence, [can result in] "enormous advances in homeland security are possible by simply overlaying NIMA'S current analytic and planning capabilities onto homeland security missions." It is time to bring our technological and analytic superiority home, where prudence suggests it should always have been.

(O'Connell & Tomes, 2003)

The satellite is helping to alter the balance of power in modern war and strategic planning.

D. Practical Applications

Lastly, we turn to the practical, on-the-ground, or, up-in-the-air, applications of these marvelous new technologies. Armed with data in hitherto unimagined quantities, modern warfare has reached a level of precision, and economy of assets, that would also have lain beyond the imagination of the typical commander of just a generation ago. A mass of technological wizardry takes all of this data, and combines it with real-time, battlefield information to generate today's "smart" weapons. A recent example of this from straight out of the Iraq War can be observed in the Joint Direct Attack Munitions or JDAM's. These operate in the following manner:

Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). JDAMs reach their pinpointed targets like this: The attack aircraft receives electronic mission data, which then is downloaded into the JDAM's computer. If the targets change in flight, the new coordinates automatically guide the JDAM. The bomb can be launched as far as 15 miles from the target and far above antiaircraft artillery range. Once the JDAM is released, an inertial navigation system guides the tail fins during free fall, and an onboard Global Positioning System (GPS) device makes any necessary corrections to guide the bomb to within 45 feet of the target. The satellite guidance allows the weapon to be used in any weather.

(Waller, 2003)

And this is but one application!

In the run up to this same Iraq War, experts envisioned the use of satellite technologies to create almost a "robot soldier." (Waller, 2002)

In the opening air campaign ... U.S. B-1 and B-2 stealth bombers carrying 16 and 24 one-ton satellite -guided bombs respectively, would attack a range of targets from military headquarters to air defences. How much the new technology has changed the face of war can be gauged by the fact that over 60% of bombs to be dropped will be precision-guided munitions, as opposed to only 9% during the previous Gulf War. "This will allow more effective bombing with fewer aircraft ...."

(Vesely, 2003)

And on the horizon, military experts already envision new high-tech satellite weapons that will enable the United States to defend itself not from the skies, but from beyond, out in the vastness of Space:

... Such satellite -based arms -- which the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) calls "space-based Earth-strike weapons" -- theoretically could allow the United States to destroy any enemy at any time with a minimum of troop, ship or aircraft movement and without threatening a holocaust with weapons of mass destruction .... SPACECOM is one of nine unified commands of the U.S. military that is responsible for combining Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force operations under its area of jurisdiction. The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is responsible for U.S. military activity in central and southern Asia, for instance, and it and other commands combine land, sea and air assets in a geographic region. But, according to a command spokesman, SPACECOM integrates "space forces and space-derived information with land, sea and air forces." (Waller, 2002)

The future of modern warfare is now, with satellites and space-based weapons destined to play a major role in future wars, and in the defense and security of the United States of America.

References

Cloud, J. (2002). American Cartographic Transformations during the Cold War. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 29(3), 261+.

Harris, J. (2003). Dreams of Global Hegemony and the Technology of War. Race and Class, 45(2), 54+.

Harrison, S.S. (2002). Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kagan, F.W. (2003). War and Aftermath. Policy Review, (120), 3+.

Mueller, J. (1989). Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War. New York: Basic Books.

O'Connell, K., & Tomes, R.R. (2003). Keeping the Information Edge. Policy Review, (122), 19+.

Rostow, W.W. (1960). An Essay in Recent History. New York: Harper.

Rostow, W.W. (1972). The Diffusion of Power: An Essay in Recent History. New York: Macmillan.

Sharma, S., & Kumar, S. (2003). The Military Backbone of Globalisation. Race and Class, 44(3), 23+.

Vesely, M. (2003, February). A Different Kind of War: The Face of Modern Warfare Is Changing. In Today's Age of 'Robo-Soldier', Tank-against-Tank, Platoon-against-Platoon and Eyeball-to-Eyeball Fighting Is Almost Unthinkable, with the Thought of Vietnam-Era Casualties an Anathema to the American People. The Middle East,, 6+.

Waller, J.M. (2002, March 18). Robo Warriors and Millennial Weapons: The United States Will Be Able to Fight Swift, Decisive Victories with Few Casualties-But Only as Long as We Can Deny Our Adversaries the Ultimate Advantages. Insight on the News, 18, 23+.

Waller, J.M. (2003, April… [END OF PREVIEW]

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