Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

We need the best weapons we can develop

The majority of my 26-year military career was spent doing imagery analysis for the Air Force. There's a lot of information from that time I can't talk about without either authority from someone like Donald Rumsfeld, or risk going to Leavenworth, the military prison, for a lot of years. There are some generalities I can speak about, however - things that can help citizens of the United States understand a little better why their military does the things it does. That includes why it wants bunker-busting nuclear weapons.

Danger to the United States is no longer limited to a single country, or even a small number of countries. The threat is no longer from just a short list of traditional enemies, but includes rogue states, terrorist ogranizations, and multinational criminal organizations. It doesn't take more than about 20 minutes talking to a true military professional to understand that being able to engage in the type of warfare necessary to defeat a traditional enemy, waging traditional warfare, is only a small part of the demand on todays US Military services. The number of missions has grown, the number of potential enemies has exploded, and the locations where war may take place is greatly expanded.

Each type of warfare requires unique weapons, unique tactics, and specific types of training. We would not fight a war against the People's Republic of China over Taiwan the same way we would fight a hostage situation in Ascuncion, Paraguay, or a terrorist takeover of the US Embassy in Suva, Fiji. Each of these scenarios have probably resulted in an operations plan that probably exists somewhere in the Pentagon or some other military building around the globe. It's not that we EXPECT these things to happen, but that we want to have a plan that we can implement as soon as the President says "GO". When that happens, it's already too late to spend the months, even years, necessary to develop a scenario, train troops to execute it, get the logistics together, and execute the mission. Everyone's already died of old age, or someone else - who HAS created such a plan - has already interceded. The United States military creates tens of thousands of operations plans, and 99.999% of them only see the light of day when they're taken out, dusted off, and updated to correspond with the troops and technology available to the military at that moment.

One of the aspects of reviewing those plans is re-assessing the enemy's (or potential enemy's) capabilities, and matching those against our capabilities to counter them. Those periodic reviews frequently show that the potential enemy's capabilities have outstripped the way we had planned to counter their actions, and the commanders that would have to act against them want something to overset that imbalance. That could be anything from new weapons, improvements to existing weapons, different types of training, or different troop levels - or some combination of all four. That leads us to bunker-busters.

A better name for "bunker-busters" may be burrowing nukes - a weapon that can get down to where the enemy is holding out - either in a bunker, in a cave, or inside a mountain. The caverns at Tora Bora, the entire airbases buried under mountains in North Korea (everything but the runway and taxiways), the bunkers - including an underground refinery - of Hussein's Iraq - all indicate that our potential enemies understand that the deeper they dig, the safer they are from conventional retaliation. Cheyenne Mountain, located about 20 miles from my living room, is buried under almost a mile of hard granite, and is virtually impervious to conventional nuclear weapons. The German military during World War II buried aircraft manufacturing facilities and the key facilities producing the V1 and V2 'terror weapons' into the Harz Mountains of central Germany. The Russians have a key nuclear production facility buried under a mountain. There are dozens of NATO installations that are all but impervious to conventional attack because they're buried deeply underground, either in natural or manmade bunkers. We cannot allow ourselves to think our potential enemies don't have equal or greater capabilities to protect their key facilities.

Denying the US Military the right to develop weapons that can counter the protection of deeply-buried sites will only encourage our enemies to spend even more burying their key facilities. Knowing that the US has the capability of destroying even the deepest bunker will convince some that it's not practical to pursue their policies of putting everything they can underground. The Iranians are already putting some of their nuclear "research" facilities in caves and hardened bunkers. Ending research into our bunker-busting nuclear weapons will only encourage them. Not only will they work harder at burying their nuclear reactors, they will feel absolutely safe in developing an arsenal of nuclear weapons that can be used to destabilize all of Asia.


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