Tech Biological Look of Future Warfare

While One Nation Under Attack deals primarily with attacks on America by way of pushing us over the brink of bankruptcy, it is interesting to note that in addition, technology has been applied to ultramodern warfare techniques and weapons systems. It is possible that a rogue nation, terrorist organization, or other entity could make use of recent technology such as is described in this Appendix.

Each of these weapons has a military application, and also a potential use by terrorists. And in the long-range effect, each one has as well the ability to disrupt society, transportation, trade, banking, infrastructure, communications, and other systems that are critical to carrying out the nation’s economic activities.

Direct-Energy Photon Weapons

Science fiction fans have watched the TV show Star Trek covering the 24th century space wars using the starship Enterprise going into battle against enemy spaceships. In addition to hand-held “phasers,” the Enterprise fires “photon torpedoes”, which projects balls of light energy across the vacuum of space. The idea that pulses of light energy could be focused and fired effectively at an enemy vessel seems implausible to most of us. A major reason to question such a weapon is the known tendency of acoustical or electromagnetic energy to disperse as it travels through space.

However, American and Russian researchers have developed long-distance directed-energy-beam weapons. The patent issued for the invention states: “The invention relates generally to transmission of pulses of energy, and more particularly to the propagation of localized pulses of electromagnetic or acoustic energy over long distances without divergence.” The patent describes the effect of the beamed energy as “electromagnetic missiles or bullets” capable of destroying virtually any targeted object at extreme distances.

[Richard W. Ziolkowski, “Electromagnetic or Other Directed Energy Pulse Launcher,” U.S. Patent 4,959,559, filed March 31, 1989, issued September 25, 1990. Found at http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND &d=PTXT&s1=4,959,559.PN.&OS=PN/4,959,559&RS=PN/4,959,559/. Accessed April 24, 2009.]

The “Voice of God” Weapon

The U.S. has created an unprecedented weapon that can project a verbal or visual message from a great distance into the mind of an enemy combatant. Knowledgeable insiders suggest that the designated target will perceive the message as having a supernatural origin, as if it were coming from God. Imagine suicide bombers or other terrorists on a mission suddenly hearing a voice in their head telling them to desist from their planned destruction.

Two technology companies, Holosonic Research Labs and American Technology Corporation, developed their own versions of sound-directing technology. There are reports that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have used a similar system to confuse and disorientate enemy combatants. Some reports suggest that the visualization technology could be adapted to fit the religious assumptions and expectations of the targeted individual in order to enhance the powerful psychological impact.

[Sharon Weinberger, “The Voice of God Weapon Returns,” Wired, December 21, 2007. Found at http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/12/the-voice-of-go.html/. Accessed March 25, 2009.]

A Thermobaric Rifle

After years of research aimed at increasing the power of handheld weapons used by infantrymen, the Pentagon equipped soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with a thirty-three-inch long weapon that vastly increases their firepower. According to an article in Wired magazine, the thermobaric bomb is “a fearsome explosive that sets fire to the air above its target, then sucks the oxygen out of the atmosphere surrounding anyone unfortunate enough to have lived through the initial blast.” Thermobaric ammunition contains a computer chip that the soldier can program so the charge explodes precisely over the heads of enemy soldiers or terrorists hiding in buildings.

[Noah Shachtman, “When a Gun Is More Than a Gun,” Wired, March 20, 2003, www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2003/03/58094/. Accessed January 15, 2009).]

The Raytheon Silent Guardian Microwave Weapon

A new high-tech weapon developed by Raytheon, known as the Silent Guardian, is the size of a large television plasma screen and can be mounted on the back of a Humvee. When energized, the Silent Guardian emits microwaves at a precise frequency that produce unendurable pain by stimulating the targeted person’s nerve endings. This can be done over a distance up to a half mile. The device produces a beam that penetrates the skin of the targeted individual to a depth of only one-sixty-fourth of an inch, so the Silent Guardian can’t cause visible or permanent injury to the target. Soldiers who volunteered to test the effect of the weapon were not able to resist fleeing the target area, due to the intense discomfort caused by the microwaves, after only one second.

[Michael Hanlon, “Run Away the Ray-Gun Is Coming: We Test US Army’s New Secret Weapon,” Mail Online, September 18, 2007, www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech /article-482560/Run-away-ray-gun-coming—We-test-US-army’s-new-secret-weapon .html/. Accessed March 29, 2009).]

Weapons Using Radio-Frequency

Many western research projects have reported the development of sophisticated weapons that use radio frequencies to produce enough static electrical energy to destroy high-tech equipment such as computers. A new form of these weapons, Transient Electromagnetic Devices (TEDs), could be used to destroy the electronic infrastructure of societies, including government offices, financial institutions, aircraft, medical facilities, and critical electronic equipment. Unfortunately these advanced devices can be assembled using widely available electronic parts costing less than five hundred dollars. Electronic frequency weapons generate wide-band radio pulses in the nanosecond and picosecond range, using megawatt power and gigahertz (microwave) frequencies. Directional radio-frequency antennas send radio pulses to attack specific targets. These RF (radio frequency) terrorist weapons could be easily disguised as small satellite dishes.

[Winn Schwartau, Information Warfare: Cyberterrorism: Protecting Your Personal Security in the Electronic Age (New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1996), 183–88.]

It is possible to protect vital computer systems against RF attacks, but the cost is prohibitive except for the most vital government computer systems.

Camouflaged Electronic Devices

New U.S. military technology includes electronic camouflage devices that alter the perceived appearance of military vehicles, causing their surface to simulate or match the colors and textures to their immediate background. This camouflage technique makes a lightly armored vehicle virtually invisible to the naked eye of an enemy from a distance. Sophisticated cameras record the physical elements that exist in the immediate background, such as sand, earth, and vegetation, then electronically projects these precise visual images onto the surface of the vehicle that is encountering enemy combatants. The enemy observers only see what is behind the vehicle, causing the vehicle to virtually disappear.

[Andy Oppenheimer, “Mini-Nukes: Boom or Bust?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 60, no. 5 (September–October 2004), http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/125h528 57735n3ju/. Accessed March 30, 2009).]

Space Based Weapons

The February 2012 issue of Future Threats Monitor detailed U.K. complacency over space superiority. The article discussed the national security issues concerning the potential of enemy use of space weapons against western nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States. On 22 February the UK Government and their Defense Select Committee released its report “Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP).” This report clearly examined the military risks to all developed nations from the use of a space based EMP weapon attack initiated by a nuclear weapon detonated in the high atmosphere.

The report warns that over the next decade, existing space launch vehicle technology could be utilized by nuclear-capable states to deliver a small nuclear warhead, either in terms of a direct strike or an atmospheric detonation. The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense reported that the attacker would utilize an improvised nuclear warhead that would be detonated at high altitude, possibly three hundred miles over a high-technology nation. Use of such a space-based nuclear warhead would generate widespread economic damage from an Electromagnetic Pulse weapon

The U.S. EMP Awareness Coordination Taskforce (EMPACT) noted in its 2009 report “Global Single Point Failure: The EMP Threat” that some rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, are aware of the potential of such an attack. Iran is reported to have conducted a simulated missile bomb tests in the late 1990s to simulate a nuclear EMP strike.

An article titled “Electronics To Determine Fate Of Future Wars,” appeared in an Iranian political-military journal that suggests that “the key to defeating the United States is EMP attack: Advanced information technology equipment exists which has a very high degree of efficiency in warfare. Among these we can refer to communication and information gathering satellites, pilotless planes, and the digital system.... Once you confuse the enemy communication network you can also disrupt the work of the enemy command and decision-making center. Even worse, today when you disable a country’s military high command through disruption of communications you will, in effect, disrupt all the affairs of that country....” The author, Nashriyeh-e Siasi Nezami, wrote in his 1999 journal “Electronics To Determine Fate Of Future Wars,” about the disaster to an enemy state from a nuclear-capable nation launching an EMP. He declared that any advanced nuclear-capable nation such as America, the U.K., France, Russia, China, or Israel might choose to launch a pre-emptive EMP attack to protect themselves from future communication EMP annihilation: “Once you confuse the enemy communication network, you will, in effect, disrupt all the communication affairs of the country. If the world's industrial nations fail to devise effective ways to defend themselves against dangerous EMP assaults then their national defenses will disintegrate within a few years.”

A surprise EMP attack would instantly destroy all exposed electrical equipment, including generators, and leave the nation suffering the attack in the dark for decades. Such an EMP attack would destroy the electrical communications infrastructure of an advanced technology, including the banking system, the stock market, virtually all transportation systems, the pumping of fuel, and too many additional systems to enumerate. In short, a space-based EMP attack would reduce the target state to a level of 1870's technology virtually instantly.

[Nashriyeh-e Siasi Nezami, Electronics To Determine Fate Of Future Wars, 1999.]