China building electromagnetic pulse weapons for use against U.S. carriers

emp

China’s military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.  Portions of a National Ground Intelligence Center study on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal – weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.

Continue reading.

 

Cops or soldiers?

FROM the way police entered the house—helmeted and masked, guns drawn and shields in front, knocking down the door with a battering ram and rushing inside—you might think they were raiding a den of armed criminals. In fact they were looking for $1,000-worth of clothes and electronics allegedly bought with a stolen credit card. They found none of these things, but arrested two people in the house on unrelated charges.

They narrowly avoided tragedy. On hearing intruders break in, the homeowner’s son, a disabled ex-serviceman, reached for his (legal) gun. Luckily, he heard the police announce themselves and holstered it; otherwise, “they probably would have shot me,” he says. His mother, Sally Prince, says she is now traumatised.

Continue reading.

Fleet of drones to patrol Australia’s borders

snowbirds2Australia has announced plans for a fleet of giant high-tech unmanned drones to help patrol the nation’s borders, monitoring energy infrastructure and attempts to enter the country illegally.  Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which can remain airborne for 33 hours, would be based in the southern city of Adelaide.

A report in February said seven of the US-made drones would be purchased for Aus$3 billion, but Abbott said the details of how many and when had yet to be finalised.  ”These aircraft will patrol Australia’s vast ocean approaches, and work closely with other existing and future Australian Defence Force assets to secure our ocean resources, including energy resources off northern Australia, and help to protect our borders,” he said.  ”They will provide the Australian Defence Force with unprecedented maritime surveillance capabilities, operating at altitudes up to 55,000 feet (16,800 metres) over extremely long ranges while remaining airborne for up to 33 hours.”

Continue reading.

 

Global military spending is now an integral part of capitalism

  China’s surge in military spending gains headlines, partly because of the ominous implications regarding its regional contest with Japan, but it’s the deeper structures of military spending in general that are far more compelling.

There are few surprises about the distribution of military spending: for all the current focus on China’s growing military outlays and it is significant that they have embarked on a sequence of double-digit increases as a percentage of GDP the United States still accounts for 40 per cent of such expenditures. However, the distribution is not the only thing that matters; it’s the sheer scale of such investment $1.756tn in 2012. The “peace dividend” from the end of the cold war has long since bitten the dust. Global military spending has returned to pre-1989 levels, undoubtedly a legacy of the war on terror and the returning salience of military competition in its context. In fact, by 2011 global military spending was higher than at any year since the end of the second world war.

Continue reading.

Navy’s UCLASS Could Be Air to Air Fighter

131109-N-SB233-218

Could the U.S. Navy’s future Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft have an air-to-air role? The service’s director of air warfare Rear Adm. Mike Manazir posed that it could during a Dec. 20 interview with USNI News.  Manazir contemplated the possibility that that the UCLASS, which is primarily being designed for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike roles, could be used as a flying missile magazine which could supplement the firepower of the F/A-18E/F and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter in air-to-air combat as a robotic wingman of sorts.  “Maybe we put a whole bunch of AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) on it and that thing is the truck,” Manazir said. “So this unmanned truck goes downtown with—as far as it can go—with a decision-maker.”  In Manazir’s vision the UCLASS could be commanded remotely from a Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye or a Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter flight leader.  The concept has a lot of merit, said Air Force Reserve Col. Michael Pietrucha, a former F-15E weapons systems officer and autonomous unmanned air vehicle expert in a Wednesday interview with USNI News.

Continue reading.

 

The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.  According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.  The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.  In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

Continue reading.

DOD Looks 25 Years Ahead in Unmanned Vehicle Roadmap

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2013 – Strategy and budget realities are two aspects of the Defense Department’s new Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap, released today.  The report to Congress is an attempt to chart how unmanned systems fit into the defense of the nation.  “The 2013 Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap articulates a vision and strategy for the continued development, production, test, training, operation and sustainment of unmanned systems technology across DOD,” said Dyke Weatherington, the director of the unmanned warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance office at the Pentagon.  “This road map establishes a technological vision for the next 25 years and outlines the actions and technologies for DOD and industry to pursue to intelligently and affordably align with this vision,” he continued.  Unmanned aerial vehicles have received the most press, but unmanned underwater vehicles and ground vehicles are also providing warfighters with incredible capabilities.

Continue reading.

Russia claims $5 billion in helicopter orders at Dubai Air Show

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 23 (UPI) — Russia’s state-owned arms exporter said Saturday it has new orders worth $5 billion from Arabian Gulf nations for helicopters.  A Rosoboronexport representative made the announcement at the Dubai Air Show in the United Arab Emirates.  The representative said outstanding orders as of Nov. 1 exceeded $38 billion for Russia’s state arms exporter for military-related equipment.  During the five-day biannual air show, the Russian delegation held talks with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Jordan and Algeria, RIA Novosti reported.

Gulf states seek integrated air defence

DUBAI // Arabian Gulf states aim to integrate their air defence systems to meet threats from ballistic and cruise missiles.  “Advances in science and technology have made the world networked and connected,” said Maj Gen Staff Pilot Mohammed bin Sweidan Saeed Al Qamzi, commander of the Air Force and Air Defence.  “We need to be a single force to overcome our common threats and challenges. While the UAE faces no armed conflicts, civil wars or internal instability, we must remain vigilant to deter conflicts that are occurring regionally. We must maintain strong air defence forces to continue protecting our national and regional interests.”

Continue reading.

Air-Sea Battle 2.0: A Global A2/AD Response

In a recent article here in Flashpoints, William Yale attempts to make the case that Air-Sea Battle is, as the title points out a “dangerous, unaffordable threat.”  Indeed, such an argument has been made before among a vocal crowd here in Washington defense circles.  One of the chief concerns among such anti-ASB voices is the often repeated fear that “long-range strikes deep within the Chinese mainland, are highly escalatory and offer no good way to end a limited war.”  Unfortunately for Yale and others who make similar arguments against ASB, the operational concept has evolved and matured – while their line of attack has not.In order to debate the issue, one must have an idea of what ASB is today, and not what it was or at least was perceived to be in the past.  But first, it’s worth noting that ASB is easily misunderstood.  That’s because much of the analysis and controversy is driven from the first major ASB publication, the 2010 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study (which according to at least one source received no input from DOD).  ASB has evolved dramatically since this founding document, as attested to by the Joint Operational Access concept, comments by senior officials as well as public documents from the ASB office itself.

Continue reading.

The New American Security Force: A Revolution in U.S. Military Strategy, Part I

000618-N-0147W-002

Did the rest of the world go to sleep when Sen. Ted Cruz started filibustering at the end of September? Well, he did read aloud Dr. Suess’s Green Eggs and Ham. Meanwhile, was peace established in Middle East or did the Taliban suddenly become a humanitarian organization? Americans might think so after the obsessive media attention of the federal government shutdown, the debt-ceiling showdown and the troubled rollout of Obamacare.

External Systems

Unfortunately, not so.  Civil war continues to rage in Syria, violence escalates in Iraq, a barbaric terrorist attack was recently perpetrated on civilians in Kenya, and tensions escalate in India and Pakistan. As well, the global proliferation of precision-guided weapons poses new threats, and old threats grow with the rise of China’s military and Russia’s re-emergence on the world’s geopolitical stage

Continue reading.

Fifty Organizations Seek Ban on Armed Drones

drone

Fifty organizations and over 75,000 individuals are asking the United Nations Secretary General to investigate the concerns of Navi Pillay, the U.N.’s top human rights official, that drone attacks violate international law — and to ultimately pursue sanctions against nations using, possessing, or manufacturing weaponized drones;

  • the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate grounds for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for drone attacks;
  • the U.S. Secretary of State, and the ambassadors to the United States from the nations of the world, to support a treaty forbidding the possession or use of weaponized drones;
  • President Barack Obama, to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his “kill list” program regardless of the technology employed;
  • the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.
  • the governments of each of our nations around the world, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.

Continue reading.

 

Armies and Police Are Being Privatized Around the World and Business Is Booming

In a world where budgets are tight, and bottom lines daunting, it makes sense that governments around the world have to do more with less, or they just have to do less. Surprisingly, one part of the state apparatus that most countries seem happy to outsource is one of its most fundamental—security. At home, cash-strapped American cities, and even communities, are turning to private forces to protect public order. And a report out of the UN on Monday shows that the private security industry is experiencing a global economic boom that many of its customers would love—the shadowy industry is growing at 7.4 percent a year and is on target to balloon to a $244 billion global market by 2016.  Unsurprisingly, the U.S. is the world’s biggest spender on private security, totaling $138 billion a year, thanks in large part to a spike in demand during the concurrent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continue reading.

Making sense of Pakistan drone death reports

how_drones_work_464

The tension arises from recent claims by international rights groups that a large number of civilians are being killed in drone strikes in tribal areas where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have sanctuaries.  Ironically the issue seems to have put rights groups on the same page as the pro-Taliban forces in Pakistan.  Both are using what they call “high” civilian deaths as the centrepiece of their campaign to denounce the drone programme.  In contrast, the liberal elements in Pakistan and those living in tribal areas seem to be in greater agreement with the official American version, which plays down the number of civilian casualties in those strikes.  The latest twist in the tale came on Wednesday when the Pakistani government issued its own official estimates, putting civilian deaths since 2008 at a mere 67 – much lower than the estimates released by the international rights groups.  Recent investigations have placed estimates of civilian deaths in drone strikes at somewhere between 400 and 900. One by a British lawyer and United Nations rapporteur, Ben Emmerson, also estimated at least 400 civilian deaths from drones since 2004.

Continue reading.

Confessions of a Drone Warrior

He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human.  From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.

Continue reading.

Battlehawks and rocks that spy: 3 wild new military technologies from AUSA

BattleHawk Textron

What do a kamikaze drone, a “field and forget” surveillance system and an Israeli robot have in common? Buzz at the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, D.C.  Here are three new pieces of tech revealed at this year’s show.  A new “kamikaze” drone that blows itself up — and takes its target with it — was revealed at AUSA.  Made by Textron System, the Battlehawk is similar to Aerovironment’s widely publicized Switchblade. Both are drones that can be carried in a backpack and hand-launched. And they both represent a movement towards making drones more accessible at a squad level.  Rather than call in air support, a squad would have a drone literally in their hands to deploy against threats like a sniper or an ambush waiting around the corner. The Battlehawk is made of carbon-fiber wings – wings that can be curled up for deployment from a 22-inch tube launcher.

Continue reading.

Pentagon agency creating digital map of the world

Future military operations may use a constantly updated digital “image skin” for a comprehensive map of the world under development by the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).  This week the NGA sought information from potential contractors to help develop the “orthorectified image skin” that would provide the base layer for the world map. Such a map would give the military a clearer picture of any potential trouble spot where they would have to operate.  Orthoimagery, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, are “high resolution aerial images that combine the visual attributes of an aerial photograph with the spatial accuracy and reliability” of a traditional map.  “A key element necessary to support global readiness is the availability of a current and accurate worldwide image base to ensure a common operational picture for all users,” the NGA document says.

Continue reading.

NATO OKs Small Defense Advisory Mission for Libya

(BRUSSELS) — NATO says it is setting up a small team of experts to advise Libya in building the country’s defense institutions.  Carmen Romero, a spokeswoman for the defense alliance, said ambassadors from NATO’s 28 member countries on Monday granted the request first made by Libyan authorities in May.  She says the team won’t have a permanent base in Libya but will operate from Brussels and comprise “no more than 10 people.”  Libya has been in turmoil since the end of a civil war that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with the new security forces still struggling to assert their control over the vast, mostly barren North African country

How the World Health Organisation covered up Iraq’s nuclear nightmare

Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a long awaited document summarising the findings of an in-depth investigation into the prevalence of congenital birth defects (CBD) in Iraq, which many experts believe is linked to the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by Allied forces. According to the ‘summary report’:

“The rates for spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and congenital birth defects found in the study are consistent with or even lower than international estimates. The study provides no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq.”

Jaffar Hussain, WHO’s Head of Mission in Iraq, said that the report is based on survey techniques that are “renowned worldwide” and that the study was peer reviewed “extensively” by international experts.

Continue reading.