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CHINA PROBLEM

 

By Geoff Metcalf

March 10, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

“The truths we accept are so multiple that honesty becomes little more than a strategy by which you manage your tendencies toward duplicity.” --Ann Douglas

Even the erstwhile great New York Times is getting hip to the potential problems we have faced, do face, and will eventually have to deal with regarding Communist China.

War in space, or even the initial preparation of the battlefield in space, could/would be ugly. An assault on the American satellite system in a barrage of anti-satellite weapons would immediately and significantly traumatize American troops, planes and ships around the world.

The global economy would probably catastrophically collapse, along with air travel and communications.

“The fallout, if you will, could be tremendous,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.

Bill Gertz at the Washington Times has been a leader in eyeballing China. “The Pentagon is set to begin strategic arms talks with China amid concerns outlined in an annual report questioning Beijing's control over the military's growing nuclear arsenal.”

Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, China's official reaction to Washington's intentional destruction of that wayward USA-193 spy satellite--an action many have (logically) interpreted as an anti-satellite (ASAT) test--has been fairly muted. Beijing asked for data, not an apology or explanation. Yet, the Chicoms also expressed concern over the shoot down’s impact on space security, apparently anxious that it could potentially provoke an arms race in space.

The hypocrisy in China's demands considering the nature of its January 2007 ASAT test is palpable. But that doesn't mean Beijing's concerns are entirely without merit…or that ours were when we groused about their 2007 test.

Last year China shot down a satellite in a test, and was excoriated by other nations (including the U.S.). I wasn’t the only one writing about “Warfare in Space

‘Preparing the battlefield', is a military basic. Once upon a time, “preparing the battlefield” meant archers attriting, or wearing down, the enemy. Eventually it became artillery “softening” the enemy. Delivery systems have significantly improved. Now we have laser designators and GPS “smart bombs.”

However, in the very near future, “preparing the battlefield” will include disrupting command and control mechanisms by attacking satellite and computer systems. Prior to any tanks or missiles being deployed, phase one will, for sure, consist of trying to take out satellites and hacking computer networks. “Preparation of the battlefield” isn't going to happen just “on the battlefield,” but also in space and in cyberspace.

Most U.S. satellites in low orbit are vulnerable to a fast Chinese attack. The commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (responsible for defending satellites from attack) recently told Congress that U.S. military forces need conventionally armed long-range strike capabilities to deter and counter foreign threats. Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, the commander, said that conventionally armed precision guided missiles could be used against anti-satellite capabilities of countries like China.

Perhaps Chilton’s most significant and ominous comment was, “With a robust capability, you could essentially deny a lot of the benefits and most of the satellites that we rely on in low Earth orbit in very short order. I'm talking not a week; I'm not talking days; I'm talking hours.”

“I’m talking HOURS” the general said. Hours of an even partially successful assault on our satellites and all the whiz-bang hundreds of billion dollars spent on national security could and would reduce our military sophistication to WWII standards.

The threat to our satellites by an aggressor is geometrically compounded by the threat to our computer systems.

In 2001, a Chinese hacker community, calling itself ‘Honker Union’, declared war on US government and business websites. They claimed responsibility for attacks against hundreds of US government and business sites (including but limited to NASA, US Geological Survey and Cornell University).

The Department of Defense reported in 2006, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began developing information warfare reserves and militia unites in 2005. The establishment of a new elite unit of cyber warriors in the PLA is not just coincidental with increased sophisticated attacks on significant high-risk targets.

Time Magazine touched on the problem with their ‘Enemies at the Firewall’ article last year.

In a for real cyber war, “a successful attack would target computer-dependent infrastructure, such as banking and power generation.”

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As China focuses efforts on recruiting their country’s slickest hackers, the United States should be trolling the universities and Silicon Valley basements to find our best and brightest.

The elite forces of the next generation of warfare will not be my brothers from Ft. Benning, Ft. Bragg, Coronado and Camp Lejeune but rather gigabyte nerds.

© 2008 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

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However, in the very near future, “preparing the battlefield” will include disrupting command and control mechanisms by attacking satellite and computer systems.