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Subject:      AWST military space
From:         thomsona@netcom.com (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1995/10/02
Message-Id:   <thomsonaDFuCw8.Bz6@netcom.com>
Newsgroups:   sci.space.policy,alt.politics.org.cia,alt.war

  I've had requests for reposting of the message concerning the
AWST special issue on military space.  Since one of the more interesting
responses occurred on the out-of-the way sci.military.moderated
newsgroup, I'm including that response and (go ahead and flame me for 
egoism; see if I care) my unposted reply.   The upshot is that the 
following three-part recapitulation is long and often redundant.  Hit 
the 'n' key now if this kind of thing isn't to your taste. 
*********************************************************************
   The current issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology 
(September 18, 1995) has several articles on the military use of 
space.  A lot of the material is on DSP, communications satellites 
and the like, but there are three items which touch on the use of 
reconnaissance satellites to support military operations. 
Interestingly (and for me gratifyingly, given my prejudices) the 
NRO comes in for criticism in each instance -- twice explicitly 
and once implicitly. 
   The really interesting piece was an essay by two former Space 
Command officers,  Michael Coumatos and Dennis Poulos, who 
advocate thinking seriously about the implications of fighting 
wars in the future.  While they don't offer specific solutions, 
they do ask a lot of the right questions, advocate open discussion 
free of Cold War preconceptions and secrecy, and warn, "There 
should be a degree of caution regarding over-reliance on 
potential 'black world' systems to protect or negate space 
assets.  The classification and limited scope of these systems 
restricts the ability of contingency planners and 'warfighters' 
to develop measures for incorporating such capabilities in 
overall combat plans and operational orders."  
   I was also encouraged to see that they recognize the growing 
problem of space system vulnerability: "The debate over 
vulnerabilities of our space systems must be joined more 
aggressively.  As technological advancements in high power 
microwaves, lasers, sensors and tracking systems are matched by 
increased launch capabilities, U.S. space systems, their ground-
based segments and the interconnecting electronic links are 
facing increased levels of risk."   Precisely so. 
   In an another article, Col. E. Paul Semmens of the Army Space 
Command was quoted as saying about a centralized data 
dissemination system of the sort advocated by the NRO, NSA, and 
CIA, "Information is power and there are still people out there 
who keep data from the guys that need it. We saw it happening at 
[the] Roving Sands [exercise], and it was heartbreaking...  I 
have a number of NRO requests in -- at least 20-25 days old -- to 
support real wartime contingency planning. And I'm still waiting. 
The green door is still closed." 
   In a half-page editorial, AWST also calls for faster 
dissemination of space-derived information to the troops: "... 
intelligence agencies -- most born during the Cold War -- must 
quickly reengineer themselves and demonstrate more relevance to 
warfighters.  Information channels should be streamlined and 
automated.  Most importantly, access to highly classified space 
vehicles and their capabilities should not be confined only to 
NRO, CIA and NSA gate-keepers.  Agency officials must discard the 
status quo, and work closer with uniformed space command 
planners. A good start would be laying all secret projects on the 
table." 
    If only it were that simple. "Laying all secret projects on 
the table" would expose senior NRO managers to extreme 
embarrassment, as the secrets conceal not only cases of 
spectacular malfeasance in the Reagan-Bush years, but also 
continuing inability to cope with changing realities (c.f. the 
"reinvestment plan").  Reconnaissance satellite problems aren't 
going to be fixed from inside the IC; it's going to take 
continued pressure from other users -- mostly the military -- to 
get the situation remedied. 
*******************************************************************************
Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
From: aufsj@IMAP2.ASU.EDU
Subject: Re: Military space AWST issue [ Looong ]
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 13:39:51 GMT
>From aufsj@IMAP2.ASU.EDU
	[ kinda loooong ]
: From thomsona@netcom.com (Allen Thomson)
	I'm going to take issue with some of the things these guys are saying.
  :    The really interesting piece is an essay by two former Space 
: Command officers,  Michael Coumatos and Dennis Poulos, who 
: advocate thinking seriously about the implications of fighting 
: wars in the future.  While they don't offer specific solutions, 
: they do ask a lot of the right questions, advocate open discussion 
: free of Cold War preconceptions and secrecy, 
	Whenever someone from within the business wants "open discussion" 
it usually means that their side has lost in a bureaucratic struggle and 
they feel that only an 'appeal to the people' will get them victory.  The 
military is greatly upset that the reprioritization of programs has not 
been to their liking.  "National systems" ( I naturally will be no more 
specific ) were originally designed to serve policy makers and strategic 
planners.  As time has gone on and technology has improved there have 
been tactical applications for much of the data.  At their core, and 
reflected in tasking priority schemes, these systems are still firstly 
for the top dogs.  Tactical applications will naturally be exploited, but 
will remain second fiddle to the needs of policy makers.  This is just 
yet another case of the military tail trying to wag the policy making dog.
:and warn, "There 
: should be a degree of caution regarding over-reliance on 
: potential 'black world' systems to protect or negate space 
: assets.  The classification and limited scope of these systems 
: restricts the ability of contingency planners and 'warfighters' 
: to develop measures for incorporating such capabilities in 
: overall combat plans and operational orders."  
	For good reason, over-reliance has already been raising its ugly 
head.  On a carrier bound for desert storm, for example, the senior 
cryptologist was told about poor manning, poor morale, and other problems 
amongst the battle group cryptologic assets.  His reply?  "It doesn't 
matter, we'll get everything we need via comms."  What an attitude, sit 
on your ass and expect someone to mail you the answers.  And if those 
answers don't get mailed to you?  Scream "Intelligence Failure!".
:    I was also encouraged to see that they recognize the growing 
: problem of space system vulnerability: "The debate over 
: vulnerabilities of our space systems must be joined more 
: aggressively.  As technological advancements in high power 
: microwaves, lasers, sensors and tracking systems are matched by 
: increased launch capabilities, U.S. space systems, their ground-
: based segments and the interconnecting electronic links are 
: facing increased levels of risk."   Precisely so. 
	I'd be much more concerned about 'internal' risks.  The tendency 
to stretch technology to the limits and the inability of the military to 
properly train and motivate people in key positions results in systemwide 
"brittleness".  One example:  At one national system processing center a 
new communications computer was rushed into place for desert storm. 
Naturally no one was properly trained how to use it.  AFter several days 
of operation it was discovered that the computer was 'bit bucketing' 
(i.e. deleting ) 50% of the messages being sent through it.  Literally 
tens of thousands of messages had been lost.  It didn't take some enemy 
exotic weapon system to do that.  I could recite such cases till I'm blue 
in the face.
:    In an another article, Col. E. Paul Semmens of the Army Space 
: Command is quoted as saying about a centralized data 
: dissemination system of the sort advocated by the NRO, NSA, and 
: CIA, "Information is power and there are still people out there 
: who keep data from the guys that need it. We saw it happening at 
: [the] Roving Sands [exercise], and it was heartbreaking...  I 
: have a number of NRO requests in -- at least 20-25 days old -- to 
: support real wartime contingency planning. And I'm still waiting. 
: The green door is still closed." 
	Commanders are not supposed to rely on national systems.  An 
example of a war game that was supposed to have gone down years back:
	South Korea is being invaded and the US commander is under great 
pressure.  He formulates a complex battle plan that assumes execellent 
intel support from the national systems, which he is naturally getting.  
In the scenario, however, the soviets move their strategic forces to a 
higher level of readiness.  Facing possible nuclear war, intel assets are 
retasked to cover the USSR.  Withing minutes to hours the Korean 
commander is left hanging in the wind and his plans, without the national 
systems data, founder.  Not a pleasant prospect.
	The flexibility of some of these systems is a mixed blessing. 
Efforts can be focused and a tactical commander can get info like mana 
from heaven. Just as fast a higher priority can pop up, the commander 
gets to go cold turkey.  He'd better be used to it.  This is one reason 
tactical commanders like to have "their own" platforms.  Theater 
commanders want SR-71, for example, because they have learned that 
support from other systems can be taken away from them in an instant if 
higher authorities perceive a more important use for the assets.
:    In a half-page editorial, AWST also calls for faster 
: dissemination of space-derived information to the troops: "... 
: intelligence agencies -- most born during the Cold War -- must 
: quickly reengineer themselves and demonstrate more relevance to 
: warfighters.  
	Here we go again. "War fighters" is a loaded term intended to 
induce some kind of patriotic fervor.  Policy makers get to set the 
priorities, and then military folks from the Chairman on down.  By the 
time all these people have had their needs met there might not be much 
left for Colonel Jones and his battalion ( or whatever ). Naturally he'll 
bitch.  But just like an infantry platoon leader can't always count on 
getting tanks to back him up, so tactical commanders can't 'rely' on 
national systems data.
	If there were more assets we could make more people happier.  
Anyone for quadrupling the intel budget?  I mean besides the contractors...
:Information channels should be streamlined and 
: automated.  
:
	The problem is not getting enough data, it is getting enough 
qualified people to analyze it.  We can already bury anyone with a few 
keystrokes.  I am constantly amazed at how tactical units vastly 
overestimate their abililty to process and fuse huge amounts of very 
diverse and complicated info.  We can not afford to send *experts* to 
every tactical unit, so they are centralized and their skills parceled 
out on an as needed basis.  The STU-III and a simple satcom terminal can 
get you in touch with the guru back in DC, yet tactical commanders demand 
that *their people* be the ones doing the work, for a number of reasons 
(some reasonable, most not).
	I saw one account in a recent book on Desert Storm ( Crusade ?? 
).  The photo analysts in Saudi swore they had pictures of SCUDs being 
knocked out by a smart weapon.  Stormin' Norman showed the pics at a press 
conference "See, we're killing SCUDs!"  Analysts back in DC jumped out of 
their seats, it wasn't SCUDs but fuel tanker trucks. What if the press 
had caught that mistake? Norman a liar?  Luckily it blew over ( no one 
from the press caught it ), but I think you see my point.
	I'm not flaming people in tactical intel outfits, but experience 
and expertise tends to get centralized so that it can have a greater 
impact.  The real experts are usually far away from the battlefield, be 
it intel analysts in DC or Generals in Ryadh.
:Most importantly, access to highly classified space 
: vehicles and their capabilities should not be confined only to 
: NRO, CIA and NSA gate-keepers.  Agency officials must discard the 
: status quo, and work closer with uniformed space command 
: planners. A good start would be laying all secret projects on the 
: table." 
	There are damn good reasons those things are kept close to 
certain vests.  The military leaks like a sieve, due in large part to 
enormous turnover ( and folks like that greedy officer who sold secrets 
to the Saudis a few months back.  Anyone heard anything new on that? ).
	Everybody whines about informing congress.  How many congressman 
and aides have been spies in recent years compared to the military?  I'm 
getting off subject.
:     If only it were that simple. "Laying all secret projects on 
: the table" would expose senior NRO managers to extreme 
: embarrassment, as the secrets conceal not only cases of 
: spectacular malfeasance in the Reagan-Bush years, but also 
: continuing inability to cope with changing realities (c.f. the 
: "reinvestment plan").  Reconnaissance satellite problems aren't 
: going to be fixed from inside the IC; it's going to take 
: continued pressure from other users -- mostly the military -- to 
: get the situation remedied. 
	This is power politics, not total quality management.  they 
aren't fighting about 'fixing' anything, just about who runs the mess 
that will remain as long as senior officials are more concerned about 
shovelling billions through the right pockets than with operational 
effectiveness.
[ disclaimer -- there is certainly nothing classified in this post and my 
dissatisfaction with certain things should *not* be interpreted as an 
intent to violate any agreements I may or may not have ever signed.  Go 
bother someone else. ]
regards,
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cryptology made me insane--Now history is my game.
Steven J Forsberg  at  aufsj@imap2.asu.edu                  Wizard 87-01
*************************************************************************
[Submitted but unposted reply to the above message by 
thomsona@netcom.com (Allen Thomson) 
In article <DFGrAF.8yv@ranger.daytonoh.attgis.com> aufsj@IMAP2.ASU.EDU
<Steven J Forsberg> declared:
>   I'm going to take issue with some of the things these guys are saying.
>:    The really interesting piece is an essay by two former Space 
>: Command officers,  Michael Coumatos and Dennis Poulos, who 
>: advocate thinking seriously about the implications of fighting 
>: wars in the future.  While they don't offer specific solutions, 
>: they do ask a lot of the right questions, advocate open discussion 
>: free of Cold War preconceptions and secrecy, 
>   Whenever someone from within the business wants "open discussion" 
>it usually means that their side has lost in a bureaucratic struggle and 
>they feel that only an 'appeal to the people' will get them victory.  
   Of course: the tactic of enlarging the number of players in an 
   attempt to reverse decisions is well known in bureaucratic 
   politics, and is written up in books on how Washington works.  
   The flip side, of course, is that the winning side tries to keep 
   the number of players limited -- and the NRO's national security 
   classification authority is an enormously powerful tool which they 
   do not hesitate to use (abuse, actually) to achieve that limitation.
[snip]
>"National systems" (I naturally will be no more specific ) were
>originally designed to serve policy makers and strategic planners.  
   I'd add technical intelligence analysts to your list, though that
   could be considered to come under support to policy makers.
>As time has gone on and technology has improved there have
>been tactical applications for much of the data.  At their core, and
>reflected in tasking priority schemes, these systems are still firstly
>for the top dogs.  Tactical applications will naturally be exploited, but
>will remain second fiddle to the needs of policy makers.  
   This is at the heart of the matter: the satellites and 
   supporting systems (with a couple of exceptions) weren't designed 
   as tactical collectors, and aren't really all that well suited to 
   such use (some are better than others).  On the other hand, with 
   the fading of the strategic threats and the emergence of the
   concept of "information dominance of the battlefield" as 
   powerfully boosted by the Desert Storm experience, tactical uses 
   have come to prominence.  Support to policy makers isn't really 
   in conflict with tactical reconnaissance, as policy-level
   questions tend either to be of a long-term character or, if 
   short-term, to be more or less coincident with the areas of 
   tactical interest.
   The problem is that the corporate NRO, more particularly its 
   CIA component which still dominates imagery, is a creature of its 
   history.  That history includes great power, great successess and 
   great mistakes, none of which is easy to get away from.  Thus the 
   design of current and planned systems is more influenced by past 
   practices and attitudes than by an objective evaluation of future 
   requirements. 
>This is just yet another case of the military tail trying to wag 
>the policy making dog. 
   I disagree. The military has seen the utility of satellite 
   reconnaissance for tactical purposes and is making a legitimate 
   appeal for appropriately designed systems. (I'm not, BTW, any 
   great fan of the military bureaucracy; but they do have a 
   valid case in this instance.) 
>: and warn, "There
>: should be a degree of caution regarding over-reliance on
>: potential 'black world' systems to protect or negate space
>: assets.  The classification and limited scope of these systems
>: restricts the ability of contingency planners and 'warfighters'
>: to develop measures for incorporating such capabilities in
>: overall combat plans and operational orders."
[snip]
>:    I was also encouraged to see that they recognize the growing
>: problem of space system vulnerability: "The debate over
>: vulnerabilities of our space systems must be joined more
>: aggressively.  As technological advancements in high power
>: microwaves, lasers, sensors and tracking systems are matched by
>: increased launch capabilities, U.S. space systems, their ground-
>: based segments and the interconnecting electronic links are
>: facing increased levels of risk."   Precisely so.
>   I'd be much more concerned about 'internal' risks.  The tendency
>to stretch technology to the limits and the inability of the military to
>properly train and motivate people in key positions results in systemwide
>"brittleness".  One example:  At one national system processing center a
>new communications computer was rushed into place for desert storm.
>Naturally no one was properly trained how to use it.  AFter several days
>of operation it was discovered that the computer was 'bit bucketing'
>(i.e. deleting ) 50% of the messages being sent through it.  Literally
>tens of thousands of messages had been lost.  It didn't take some enemy
>exotic weapon system to do that.  I could recite such cases till I'm blue
>in the face.
   Well, I suppose every military organization in history has asked 
   itself if enemy action could be any worse that its own self-
   generated disasters.  Somehow, though, they seem to end up paying
   attention to the baddies. :)
   The two important points here are 1)  all the post-Desert 
   Storm fuss about tactical use of satellite intelligence is going 
   to motivate future enemies to find ways to counter space-based 
   reconnaissance and 2)  the technologies for finding, tracking and 
   attacking satellites (as well as ground facilities) are advancing 
   and proliferating rapidly. 
   I suspect that passage in the Coumatos/Poulos article concerning 
   "over-reliance on potential 'black world' systems to protect or 
   negate space assets" is Aesopian language meant to communicate 
   concern that classified features of existing and planned systems may 
   not be adequate to counter future threats against the satellites.  
   IMO, such concern is more than justified.
[snip]
>   Commanders are not supposed to rely on national systems.  
   That may have been true once, but it isn't anymore. See the current 
   trade and professional literature for many official statements.
>An example of a war game that was supposed to have gone down years back:
>   South Korea is being invaded and the US commander is under great
>pressure.  He formulates a complex battle plan that assumes execellent
>intel support from the national systems, which he is naturally getting.
>In the scenario, however, the soviets move their strategic forces to a
>higher level of readiness.  Facing possible nuclear war, intel assets are
>retasked to cover the USSR.  Withing minutes to hours the Korean
>commander is left hanging in the wind and his plans, without the national
>systems data, founder.  Not a pleasant prospect.
   This seems to pertain more to The World That Was.
>   The flexibility of some of these systems is a mixed blessing.
>Efforts can be focused and a tactical commander can get info like mana
>from heaven.  Just as fast a higher priority can pop up, the commander
>gets to go cold turkey.  He'd better be used to it.  This is one reason
>tactical commanders like to have "their own" platforms.  Theater
>commanders want SR-71, for example, because they have learned that
>support from other systems can be taken away from them in an instant if
>higher authorities perceive a more important use for the assets.
   That's is an argument for more, smaller, cheaper satellites
   which can be given over to local use as they pass over the 
   theater -- just like airplanes.
>:    In a half-page editorial, AWST also calls for faster
>: dissemination of space-derived information to the troops: "...
>: intelligence agencies -- most born during the Cold War -- must
>: quickly reengineer themselves and demonstrate more relevance to
>: warfighters.
>   Here we go again. "War fighters" is a loaded term intended to
>induce some kind of patriotic fervor.  Policy makers get to set the
>priorities, and then military folks from the Chairman on down.  By the
>time all these people have had their needs met there might not be much
>left for Colonel Jones and his battalion ( or whatever ). Naturally he'll
>bitch.  But just like an infantry platoon leader can't always count on
>getting tanks to back him up, so tactical commanders can't 'rely' on
>national systems data.
   There is an interesting article on just this problem in the 27 
   September 1995 Washington Post.  The emphasis seems to be very 
   much on getting Col. Jones his data.  Whether it's wise to get
   used to 'relying' on satellite data is another question. (I 
   tend to think it isn't.)
>     If there were more assets we could make more people happier.
>Anyone for quadrupling the intel budget?  I mean besides the contractors...
   If the NRO is spending ~$6e9/yr as rumored, there would seem to be 
   scope for building an adequate number of $1.5e8 satellites -- but
   that would run counter to the NRO's love of gigabuck Battlestar
   Galacticas.
>:Information channels should be streamlined and automated.
>    The problem is not getting enough data, it is getting enough
>qualified people to analyze it.  We can already bury anyone with a few
>keystrokes.  I am constantly amazed at how tactical units vastly
>overestimate their abililty to process and fuse huge amounts of very
>diverse and complicated info.  We can not afford to send *experts* to
>every tactical unit, so they are centralized and their skills parceled
>out on an as needed basis.  The STU-III and a simple satcom terminal can
>get you in touch with the guru back in DC, yet tactical commanders demand
>that *their people* be the ones doing the work, for a number of reasons
>(some reasonable, most not).
[snip]
>   I'm not flaming people in tactical intel outfits, but experience and
>expertise tends to get centralized so that it can have a greater impact.
>The real experts are usually far away from the battlefield, be it intel
>analysts in DC or Generals in Ryadh.
   You're right; this is a difficult dichotomy between deep but 
   disengaged expertise and on-the-ground, highly motivated focus. 
   My current opinion is that the data should go as simultaneously as 
   possible to both the field and the centralized guru-shop, and the two 
   should keep in constant contact.  Probably it will continue to be
   a problem.
>: Most importantly, access to highly classified space
>: vehicles and their capabilities should not be confined only to
>: NRO, CIA and NSA gate-keepers.  Agency officials must discard the
>: status quo, and work closer with uniformed space command
>: planners. A good start would be laying all secret projects on the
>: table."
>  There are damn good reasons those things are kept close to
>certain vests.  The military leaks like a sieve, due in large part to
>enormous turnover ( and folks like that greedy officer who sold secrets
>to the Saudis a few months back.  Anyone heard anything new on that? ).
   The really compelling reasons have more to do with bureaucratic 
   politics than national security (see the enlarging vs limiting
   discussion above).  Why should reconnaissance satellites be more
   secret than, for example, U-2s?  Certainly details of their 
   technical capabilities and operations should be classified for 
   identifiable and logical reasons, but what legitimate purpose 
   is served by extreme compartmentation?  Even if there really 
   were some major aspect of a system's function which depended on 
   secrecy, history teaches that big secrets don't have a very long 
   half-life, and that we aren't very good at detecting breaches of 
   security.  Just because the NRO says something is Terribly Secret
   doesn't mean it isn't known to the opposition: spysat orbital 
   elements are a case in point.
[snip]
>
>:     If only it were that simple. "Laying all secret projects on
>: the table" would expose senior NRO managers to extreme
>: embarrassment, as the secrets conceal not only cases of
>: spectacular malfeasance in the Reagan-Bush years, but also
>: continuing inability to cope with changing realities (c.f. the
>: "reinvestment plan").  Reconnaissance satellite problems aren't
>: going to be fixed from inside the IC; it's going to take
>: continued pressure from other users -- mostly the military -- to
>: get the situation remedied.
>   This is power politics, not total quality management.
[snip]
   Politics? In our nation's capital?  How absurd. ;]



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