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View Full Version : A Maginot Line In The Sky by Ralph Peters



LawVol
10-26-2007, 03:22 PM
After the carnage of the First World War, France responded to the horrors of trench warfare by building the ultimate trenches - the infamous Maginot Line, a system of almost 5,000 individual fortifications arrayed along hundreds of miles of front to a depth of 20 miles.

Only the Great Wall of China was longer - and the Maginot Line was vastly more complex. A marvel of military engineering, the problem was that it required an enemy who played by French rules.

What happened? Paris poured so much money and effort into its network of fortresses that the generals couldn't believe it wouldn't work - the Germans would simply have to behave as required.

The Germans didn't. France fell.

Now the United States sits in imagined security behind its own array of crucial strategic assets - our network of satellites.

Beat our satellites, beat us.

The Chinese know it. The Russians know it. And religious fanatics are bound to figure it out.

The rest of the article is here:
http://ebird.afis.mil/ebfiles/e20071026556165.html

Ed. by SWCAdmin, for our non-.mil audience, the original link at the NY Post (http://www.nypost.com/seven/10262007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/a_maginot_line_in_the_sky.htm).

Thoughts?

goesh
10-26-2007, 05:15 PM
nice analogy

Armchairguy
10-26-2007, 08:33 PM
The reliance on satellites, especially GPS without alternatives is dangerous. I've thought that where possible towers and buoys could be used as a backup to GPS. It could be further extended by using positions of ships, aircraft and some ground units with continually updated positions acting as positioning points on their own. It probably wouldn't hurt to have access to the European and Russian GPS systems as well.

Rank amateur
10-26-2007, 09:42 PM
The reliance on satellites, especially GPS without alternatives is dangerous

I believe the alternative is: artillery and B52s. We've still got lots of both. Also, I think cruise missiles follow the terrain, not GPS, and we've got lots of those too. Plus, we're not going to run out of laser guided bombs any time soon.

Armchairguy
10-28-2007, 05:09 AM
I believe the alternative is: artillery and B52s. We've still got lots of both. Also, I think cruise missiles follow the terrain, not GPS, and we've got lots of those too. Plus, we're not going to run out of laser guided bombs any time soon.

That's true but with newer rounds like Excalibur, a recent variant of MLRS, guided bombs (that can work in bad weather as opposed to laser guidance), as well as telling where the average soldier is being dependant on GPS. It's better to have a backup that makes these things function as they are supposed to.

LawVol
10-29-2007, 02:40 PM
The reliance on satellites, especially GPS without alternatives is dangerous. I've thought that where possible towers and buoys could be used as a backup to GPS. It could be further extended by using positions of ships, aircraft and some ground units with continually updated positions acting as positioning points on their own. It probably wouldn't hurt to have access to the European and Russian GPS systems as well.

I recall reading somewhere about an idea to equip all aircraft (civilian and military) with some sort of responder that would act similar to a satellite. The idea is that with the amount of air traffic (especially commercial), we'd have near total global coverage. I've tried to locate the article again, but no luck.

Another aspect to this is China's anti-satellite shot back in January. If memory serves, the shot was from a mobile platform. The stuff I read didn't go much into specifics about the platform, but I wonder if this is something that can be built or bought by terrorists? Is it possible that a terrorist group could shoot down a key satellite that could cause immense damage for a lengthy period of time? Or what about a rogue nation doing the same thing? Or let me go way out on a limb here: is it possible that a critical satellite that controls movement in Iraq be taken out to coincide with a Tet-like offensive? I don't know the tech side here, so maybe I've ventured into the realm of the impossible.

SabreXray
10-29-2007, 03:43 PM
Digital warfare system hunts Iraq rebels (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3855079/)



TIKRIT, Iraq - On mud-spattered computer screens in their Humvees, American soldiers scan digital street maps, monitor enemy positions, zoom in on individual buildings through satellite imagery and download instructions from commanders.

Back on base, senior officers watch raids unfold on large screens showing real-time footage from aerial drones and displaying maps with moving icons for ground and air forces. Their locations are tracked by global positioning satellites.

The two dozen components making up this high-tech digital warfare system are known as Army Battle Command Systems. The technologies, originally designed for battlefield combat involving tanks and helicopters, now are being adapted for hunting rebel leaders and trailing street fighters....


No longer do you have guys on a map putting little stickers where things are at, said Capt. Lou Morales, a division training officer. Its digitally done. ... It allows commanders to move more rapidly, more decisively, more violently.

The 4th ID doesn't use paper maps anymore (at all). They didn't even take any to Iraq. Kill the GPS and what happens? What about EMP(ElectroMagnetic Pulse)?

TROUFION
10-29-2007, 04:07 PM
I am not fully up on this as I am not scientific but, and perhaps someone out there knows the truth here, would not an EMP caused by a nuke be the real concern about a terrorist/ or threat nation attack on our satelite system?

From my cursory knowledge a nuke exploded in orbit could cause major issues for satelites, particularly the EMP. Not something a nation would do as it would adversely effect their own satelites but a terrorist? Maybe.

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001526.html

tequila
10-29-2007, 04:17 PM
If a terrorist got ahold of a working nuclear weapon, I doubt our biggest concern would be an orbital detonation to destroy our satellite network. I'd be more concerned about them parking it in downtown DC.

How are terrorists getting into orbit, anyway?

TROUFION
10-29-2007, 04:29 PM
I don't know the answer, I imagine the terrorist that got a nuke would be near apoplectic with joy, yet scared out of his mind. I cannot say one way or another, would getting a nuke into DC be harder than placing one in orbit? I dont know that. But then I didn't think anyone except Dr Evil or Tom Clancy could think up flying a jet into a building.

bismark17
10-29-2007, 07:00 PM
Actually the short lived tv show, "The Lone Gunmen" depicted an airliner being taken over by remote control and very nearly flown into one of the WTC towers about 6 months prior to the 9/11 attack. Parts of the show can be seen on youtube.com. The show was from the creators of the X files series....

SabreXray
10-31-2007, 09:55 AM
Who said anything about terrorists? (although also a concern obviously). What about Rouge States that don't rely on high-tech the way we do. As pointed out the ability to kill satellites is available. Small yield orbital nukes are possible. My point was the US Army is moving away from maps and the ability to maneuver the old fashion way. We are training the current generation of soldiers to rely on their gadgets. In the near future having a tech melt down will completely hamper the ability of the US forces to fight. It might very well prove decisive. We rely on our tech, we need to continue to teach the low tech field craft that have made American soldiers lethal in the 20th century as well as using the high tech "gadgets" we have now.

The Maginot Line analogy is very apt; the French in WWII could not field a conventional force once their (then) high-tech defenses were breached (or in their case circumvented). They couldn't even conceive of the idea that they needed a conventional maneuver force since the last war proved that superior entrenchment would carry the day.

Presley Cannady
01-09-2008, 04:10 PM
From my cursory knowledge a nuke exploded in orbit could cause major issues for satelites, particularly the EMP. Not something a nation would do as it would adversely effect their own satelites but a terrorist? Maybe.

GPS? Not likely. A 50 MT weapon would generate irradiance on the order 10 W/m^2 at GPS satellite altitudes (I = E/(4*pi*r^2)). The irradiance from the sun incident on satellites in the Earth sphere is roughly 1400 W/m^2, not including particle bombardment outside of the radiation belt; you can imagine the tolerances built into our sats to withstand that kind of punishment. My understanding is EMP launchers are sub-orbital--LEO. Nobody can launch one into GTO without somebody noticing, and if the Chinese have ASAT that can reliably strike up that high we're screwed no matter which way you slice it.

Presley Cannady
01-09-2008, 04:22 PM
If a terrorist got ahold of a working nuclear weapon, I doubt our biggest concern would be an orbital detonation to destroy our satellite network. I'd be more concerned about them parking it in downtown DC.

How are terrorists getting into orbit, anyway?

I think the concern is countries like Iran getting their hands on powerful enough lasers to dazzle satellites. It should be doable for any country with multi-megawatt power generation. Jamming GPS signals is, of course, far more academic, but susceptible to anti-radiation attacks. Peters' network security objection is a bit stronger, assuming that battlefield networks at some point(s) connect up with DoD VPNs.

selil
01-09-2008, 09:38 PM
The reliance on satellites, especially GPS without alternatives is dangerous. I've thought that where possible towers and buoys could be used as a backup to GPS. It could be further extended by using positions of ships, aircraft and some ground units with continually updated positions acting as positioning points on their own. It probably wouldn't hurt to have access to the European and Russian GPS systems as well.

LoranC and the DGPS systems still work (for awhile anyways) there are a few other solutions such an OMNI and other radio direction finding services. The problem is not with ships or aircraft because there area always dead reckoning systems in place and astrogation as methods of location. The issue is with smart munitions and missiles. The European and Russian navigation systems are in place and can be used but much like selective GPS they can be turned off at a moments notice.


I recall reading somewhere about an idea to equip all aircraft (civilian and military) with some sort of responder that would act similar to a satellite. The idea is that with the amount of air traffic (especially commercial), we'd have near total global coverage. I've tried to locate the article again, but no luck.

I don't know the article to which you speak, but there are several commercial systems that work on this type of technology. They are good for stopping accidents from occurring but fairly useless for munitions.


Another aspect to this is China's anti-satellite shot back in January. If memory serves, the shot was from a mobile platform. The stuff I read didn't go much into specifics about the platform, but I wonder if this is something that can be built or bought by terrorists? Is it possible that a terrorist group could shoot down a key satellite that could cause immense damage for a lengthy period of time? Or what about a rogue nation doing the same thing? Or let me go way out on a limb here: is it possible that a critical satellite that controls movement in Iraq be taken out to coincide with a Tet-like offensive? I don't know the tech side here, so maybe I've ventured into the realm of the impossible.

The Chinese system is static if I remember correctly and not likely to be recreated as they developed by terrorists. However earth orbit is achievable by hobbyists (and terrorists) should it be desired. The science is static, the methods are well known, and the tools to create the vehicle exist in most high school shop classes.


What about EMP(ElectroMagnetic Pulse)?

This has some traction.


I am not fully up on this as I am not scientific but, and perhaps someone out there knows the truth here, would not an EMP caused by a nuke be the real concern about a terrorist/ or threat nation attack on our satelite system?

From my cursory knowledge a nuke exploded in orbit could cause major issues for satelites, particularly the EMP. Not something a nation would do as it would adversely effect their own satelites but a terrorist? Maybe.

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001526.html

Reverse the thought process. Instead of attacking the satellite (and likely ALL satellites) attack the ground stations. Same effect and much less savvy needed. An EMP in space would be fairly catastrophic to a small number of satellites. Use the ping pong ball and softball analogy. The ping pong ball is the earth and the softball the high earth orbit (HEO) satellites (+200 mile orbits). The objective of the analogy is to explain how much "space" there is between satellites and why EMP in space is less of an issue (unless it is a BIG emp).



GPS? Not likely. A 50 MT weapon would generate irradiance on the order 10 W/m^2 at GPS satellite altitudes (I = E/(4*pi*r^2)). The irradiance from the sun incident on satellites in the Earth sphere is roughly 1400 W/m^2, not including particle bombardment outside of the radiation belt; you can imagine the tolerances built into our sats to withstand that kind of punishment. My understanding is EMP launchers are sub-orbital--LEO. Nobody can launch one into GTO without somebody noticing, and if the Chinese have ASAT that can reliably strike up that high we're screwed no matter which way you slice it.

The Chinese system from what I've read is HIGHLY capable.

CelesTrak (http://celestrak.com/events/asat.asp)
Aviation Week (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/CHI01177.xml)
CNS (http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/020722.htm)


I think the concern is countries like Iran getting their hands on powerful enough lasers to dazzle satellites. It should be doable for any country with multi-megawatt power generation. Jamming GPS signals is, of course, far more academic, but susceptible to anti-radiation attacks. Peters' network security objection is a bit stronger, assuming that battlefield networks at some point(s) connect up with DoD VPNs.

As to using lasers. A placid lake surface can blind SBIRS part of the Defense Satellite Program and other SAT systems (widely reported in the 1990's as a cause for a NORAD alert) that are in and around the vision spectrum. That being the case there are new kinds of heat/power generation power plants that use highly tunable mirrors over hundreds (or thousands) of acres and are able to follow the sun (1 (http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hcu-hamiltonenergy0102,0,7225438.story)), (2 (http://www.news.com/Full-steam-ahead-for-Nevada-solar-project/2100-11392_3-6166113.html)), (3 (http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/05/21/sevilles-solar-power-tower/)) (4 (http://www.abb.com/cawp/seitp202/0a4536a14acdc2fdc125737f0025a5de.aspx)). Imagine if you missed the top of the power tower and with pin point accuracy hit just the general location in space with them?

George Raihala
01-10-2008, 01:31 AM
That's true but with newer rounds like Excalibur, a recent variant of MLRS, guided bombs (that can work in bad weather as opposed to laser guidance), as well as telling where the average soldier is being dependant on GPS. It's better to have a backup that makes these things function as they are supposed to.

JDAMs are GPS-aided weapons. They have a very accurate INS that does the actual guiding. If the GPS never locks on, or is denied, the weapon will still guide, albeit slightly less accurately. However, JDAMs going INS-only have been generally been as accurate as the GPS-aided spec for the weapon.

The same holds true for a number of other weapons.

George

RTK
01-10-2008, 01:34 AM
It's the guy calling it in that forgot how to read a map because of his over-reliance on GPS that raises my concern.

George Raihala
01-10-2008, 01:42 AM
Absolutely. When I was flying B-1s, we made sure we had "no GPS" training sorties to make sure we didn't get over reliant on those sats being around. Probably a good idea for just about everybody...

George

Penta
01-10-2008, 05:42 PM
As I recall, Galileo (the European system) is designed to be interoperable w/ GPS.

More to the point, without direct knowledge, I can guess that satellites are hardened against EMP.

The problem is that EMP hardening is expensive. Ergo, a lot of stuff *not* spacebound is -not- hardened.

Launching to the altitude of the GPS satellites, also, is expensive (regardless of payload); The number of countries that can independently launch anything is small: 7 of them, and two (the UK and France) now combine their space operations under the ESA.

In short: Worry not about the satellites. They're safe from EMP. Worry about all the equipment that uses them. They're not.

Umar Al-Mokhtār
01-10-2008, 06:10 PM
The launching of a nuke to strike at the satellite network is a bit beyond the technical abilities of most "terrorists." The concern lies in a state using them in a terrorist fashion (Iran, NK, or perhaps Pakistan). They have the techno to do it.

It is not beyond the capability of anyone with enough moxie (and money) to detonate a nuke in DC. Just look at the freakin truck traffic in the city.

Could you detonate it really close to the WH or Capital? Probably not. But you could take out the Lincoln Memorial, or the Washington Monument, or a host of other areas.

The point in detonating a nuke in DC wouldn't necessarily be the resulting damage (which would still be significant), it would be to show you could do it.
And since our southern border is pretty leaky...

Mike Innes
01-19-2008, 09:07 PM
Interesting bit in The Economist on space as a contested domain.

"The Militarization of Space: Disharmony in the Spheres (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10533205)." The Economist (19-25 Jan 2008), p. 23-25.


A very short summary of it here: "Missal Defence (http://www.terraplexic.org/zerotropes/2008/1/19/missal-defence.html)."