TR: How do you see the possibilities for the Air Force?
JA: The Air Force is the most forward-thinking service, in many respects. They’re interested in all the possibilities of networking, moving information laterally as quickly as possible. They understand that some legacy technologies, like the B-52 bomber, can continue indefinitely because the information-processing capacity and range of today’s weapons allow one to get by with much older platforms. So the Air Force has all that correct.
But there’s one huge error in their mindset. The Air Force seeks to use technology to validate a questionable concept: strategic bombardment. Now, we’re almost a hundred years into the era of strategic bombing. In that time, you can count on the fingers of one hand how many such campaigns ever succeeded. Yet the Air Force continues to try to make this work. Shock and Awe – which did nothing besides spurring some Iraqis to join the insurgency – is the linear descendant of strategic, round-the-clock carpet bombing in World War II, of Curtis LeMay’s ideas, and of Operation Rolling Thunder in Vietnam. Strategically, it’s a trail of tears. Yet the Air Force is still on it.
In technological terms, in fact, they’re taking a fatal upward turn. Every Air Force general I talk to says, “We’re going into space.” For them, that’s the ultimate high ground. They want to make strategic bombing work from space with bombers that climb into orbit, then drop directly on a country somewhere. They’re even talking about moving small numbers of troops very quickly – a “starship troopers” approach. The Air Force is bedazzled by the technology of going into space and hopes this will somehow validate strategic bombardment. In fact, they’ll create a catastrophe if they start an arms race in space.
TR: You don’t think that the militarization of space is inevitable?
JA: I’m very much against violating the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But, like lemmings, the U.S. military are heading for it – and the cosmonauts and taikonauts [Chinese astronauts] will be not far behind.
TR: If you want to protect your information systems and satellites, won’t you inevitably militarize space?
JA: No. You can create defenses that don’t require offensive capabilities. We have something under development called ANGELS – Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating Local Space. They’re autonomous nano-satellites. We’re in a sensitive area now, but ANGELS will allow us to move our satellites to safer locations. We’re also experimenting with the rapid ability to reconstitute space assets.
TR: Let’s now consider the Army. How do you rate the Future Warrior concept now under development at the Soldier Systems Center at Fort Natick in Massachusetts and at MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies?
JA: It bothers the hell out of me that Future Warrior is focused simply on throwing enough technology at the individual soldier to make him invincible, like the armored knight of the middle ages. I think it’s like the related Future Combat Systems for Army vehicles – largely a wrong-headed approach. The Future Combat System has so far not been thought of as a real system of interconnecting parts. With these programs, we’re really de-emphasizing the connectivity part of military effectiveness. That’s unfortunate. The more your people are interconnected and work skillfully with each other, the more effective they are.