Surreal dystopian science fiction come to life: from the PBS Rise of the Drones series, the Pentagon’s ARGUS 1.8-billion-pixel surveillance sensor allows airborne drones to capture unending, minutely-detailed video streams of everything occurring far down below on Earth. The idea is to avoid “mistakes” like the killing of 23 Afghan civilians because a drone detected that one was holding an indeterminate object shaped somewhat like a rifle:
Tag Archives | Warfare
Via NBC News, the Navy is working on making the bottom of the sea less peaceful:
The U.S. Navy wants to pack aerial drones and other intelligence-gathering technology into special containers built to withstand deep ocean pressures and distribute them around the world’s seas. The containers will rise to the surface when called into service from a remote location.
These “upward falling payloads” are seen as readying the Navy to address conflicts in corners of the world where it is too expensive or complex to establish a forward operating area, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) explained in a call for proposals.
The containers would be stealthily deployed well ahead of time and designed to stay put on the seafloor for years.
Via the Daily Mail, this likely will trigger conspiracy theories regarding natural disasters past and future:
The U.S. and New Zealand collaborated on a top-secret plan to develop a ‘tsunami bomb’ capable of devastating coastal cities, it has emerged. The countries carried out covert tests of the potential weapon of mass destruction – designed to use underwater explosions to trigger huge tidal waves – in waters around Auckland and the Pacific island of New Caledonia during the Second World War.
Details of the secretive operation, code-named Project Seal, were discovered in military files buried in New Zealand’s national archives by author and film-maker Ray Waru. The files revealed how around 3,700 bombs were exploded during testing, which was launched in June 1944, and indicated that the weapon was feasible.
Mr Waru said: ‘It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami… and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.’ While initial testing was positive, Project Seal was shelved in early 1945.
The New Yorker unravels the military’s secret program to develop the ultimate “humane” weapon for the wars of the future — mass-delirium-inducing gas:
Colonel James S. Ketchum dreamed of war without killing. He joined the Army in 1956 and left it in 1976, and in that time became the military’s leading expert in a secret Cold War experiment: to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals that temporarily incapacitate the mind-—causing, in the words of one ranking officer, a “selective malfunctioning of the human machine.”
Today, the facility, Edgewood Arsenal, is a crumbling assemblage of buildings on the Chesapeake Bay. But for some of the surviving test subjects, and for the doctors who tested them, what happened at Edgewood remains deeply unresolved.
I spoke to a former Edgewood test subject who was given the nerve agent VX. The effect was rapid. There was a radio on in the room, but the words made little sense.
Our vision of the future typically consists of a vast blighted landscape decimated by nuclear bombs or killer robot drones or battles to control the dwindling supply of water or oil, but a group of Norwegian researchers claim that warfare will become less and less common in coming decades. Could their simulations of a peaceful tomorrow be accurate, or is humanity doomed by aggressive urges? Via TIME:
Global conflicts have in fact been on a downward trend for the last half-century. And a group of researchers in Norway says their data indicates that the future could be even more peaceful.
In a paper soon to be published in International Studies Quarterly, Håvard Hegre, a professor of political science at the University of Oslo, claims that the number of ongoing conflicts will be halved by 2050 — with the greatest decrease coming in the Middle East.
Hegre, along with his colleagues at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, put together a statistical model that took into account factors such as infant mortality, education, youth population, ethnic make-up and conflict history.
Via the The New Inquiry, Huw Lemmey on social media as tools of destruction:
By nightfall tonight that explosion which just shook your neighborhood, in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, will have been liked over 8,000 times on Facebook. Welcome to Gaza City.
The transmutation of territorial control today enters a new topography, an extension of the historical “propaganda war”: control of the networked space online. The IDF have run a comprehensive social media campaign from the first stages of the new assault, announcing the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Twitter, followed up by YouTube footage of his targeted killing within minutes.
Far from embracing ideas of a futuristic, dehumanising warfare, the instagrams of IDF, processed through the various “retro” and “soft-focus” filters, serve a dual purpose. The first purpose is that of historicization. Much as the hipstamatic literally filters the contemporary condition through the lens of the ’60s and ’70s, the use of “retro” filters removes the images of today’s IDF from their context within the current campaign of blockade and air assault and reframes them as part of the Israeli foundation story.
Suppose our War on Terror drones were at the center of our culture rather than the shadowy periphery? Absurdity and horror via Saturday Night Live:
A preview of the uprising of the machines, from the Washington Post‘s glimpse into a secretive U.S. military base in the Horn of Africa:
Camp Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen U.S. drone and surveillance bases in Africa, created to combat a new generation of terrorist groups across the continent.
As the pace of drone operations has intensified in Djibouti, Air Force mechanics have reported mysterious incidents in which the airborne robots went haywire.
In March 2011, a Predator parked at the camp started its engine without any human direction, even though the ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed. Technicians concluded that a software bug had infected the “brains” of the drone, but never pinpointed the problem.
“After that whole starting-itself incident, we were fairly wary of the aircraft and watched it pretty closely,” an unnamed Air Force squadron commander testified to an investigative board, according to a transcript.
Long distance strategic communication via bird may seem obsolete by a hundred years or so, but pigeon squadrons are quietly being maintained and could one day be essential in calamitous conditions, the Wall Street Journal writes:
Glorified for their roles in World War I, pigeon squadrons have long been removed from active duty because of the introduction of more reliable, all-weather communication systems. And yet the French Defense Ministry still operates a military dovecote—Europe’s last—with 150 birds drafted into the 8th regiment for communication and transmission.
The corporal [who] sees to their upkeep and training draws hawkish scenarios—a nuclear catastrophe, a hurricane, a war—where racing homers would be the last-resort messaging network. In the Syrian city of Homs, insurgents defying the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are relying on carrier pigeons to communicate because their walkie-talkies are out of reach, he says.
Last year, Mr. Decool became concerned that France could be outdone in carrier-pigeon expertise by China, which maintains a platoon of 50,000 birds with 1,100 trainers for communication in border and coastal areas, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.
In the future, synthetic viruses will be unleashed which spread quickly, producing no symptoms — until they reach a targeted person whose DNA sequence unlocks the virus’s lethal abilities. The Atlantic reveals that preparations are already underway for this coming era of biological assassination:
The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.
DNA of world leaders is already a subject of intrigue. In the President’s Secret Service, Navy stewards gather bedsheets, drinking glasses, and other objects the president has touched—they are later sanitized or destroyed—in an effort to keep would‑be malefactors from obtaining his genetic material. Personalized bioweapons are a subtler and less catastrophic threat than accidental plagues or WMDs.