Memorial Day: 5G AND THE MILITARY — Marriage Made in Hell
“What 5G means to the military 5G wireless communications is expected to move voice, video, text, and image data with bandwidth as fast as 300 GHz to create data on demand for the battlefield. 5G telecommunications technology offers far more to the military than today’s voice and data radio. It has the potential to create a ubiquitous infosphere where data from sensors, targeting, surveillance, and signals intelligence are instantly available.” LINK
Unbeknownst to many people, 5G/satellites/CubeSats/data/AI/machine learning, and the internet of things are infiltrating and permeating the earth and skies and finding their way into the military as well.
How these technologies will be integrated and used on the “battlefield”, in the skies, and in cyber space, is as yet unknown, but what is clear is that the 5G/data/AI juggernaut will provide the backbone for the new 21st century systems warfare and increase the lethality of war.
Against the backdrop of the rollout of 5G, is an increasingly unstable world with nations vying for power, profit, and dominion over earth and space. Along with a shift in power, outer space has increasingly become known as a war-fighting domain.
Exporting Capitalism to Outer Space. Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. The Pentagon and multinational corporations are privatizing outer space, placing profit over people. Laws are being implemented in order to benefit billionaires, compromising decades-long international treaties. Exporting American capitalism, colonizing Mars, privatizing asteroids and other celestial bodies are all a continuation of Westward Expansion, Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism. We must fight back to keep space for peace before it’s too late!
A move toward systems warfare is foundational for the modernization of warfare. Systems warfare relies on a vast infrastructure of cell towers, antennas, sensors, cameras, and satellites that “vacuum up” as much data as possible. The sheer quantity of data is increasingly more than humans can make sense of and that wireless bandwidth can manage. So, the data is aggregated, sorted and sifted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine what is of value, and to whom it should be directed. Command and Control (still predominantly manned by humans but increasingly being outsourced to machines) then sets the parameters for the data it will need for defense or offense in a given operation. Within seconds, “thanks” to 5G and systems warfare, the data supporting military aggression is actionable.
Robert O. Work explains that data gathered through 5G (and from former generations of 3G and 4G), satellites, and AI will provide “the means for a capable commander to take in the entirety of the data and information gleaned by the sensor grid, determine adversary plans and the decisive points in an adversary’s system of systems, and commit their forces against them.”
Mr. Work goes on to say, machines will be used to “help humans make decisions faster, better, and with greater precision and persistence,” and human insight, creativity, and strategic guidance will be “combined with the tactical acuity of a computer.”
In the US, the Department of Defense dubs this connected system of systems the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and “boasts” it will increase the lethality of war by enabling near real time communications and the use of hypersonic weapons and missiles, spy systems, and Facial Recognition Technology. JADC2 will provide a vast communication network that will weave together all branches of the military – the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force. The stated aim is for the US to gain dominion over space for both commercial and military advantage; for whoever controls the high ground (space) controls Earth as well. NATO, China, Russia and other countries are pressing for 5G as well.
Cyber Security – We’re All at Risk
By interconnecting all the branches of the Armed Forces into one communication system, there will be many more entry-points for so-called “bad actors”, leaving the military and civilians around the world vulnerable to large-scale and devastating cyber-attacks. Recall that virtually all systems on earth – electricity, banking, water, sewage etc. are not-so-wisely connected wirelessly to the internet via satellites and 5G-infrastructure, so a cyber-attack could potentially shut down a city for weeks or months. Most recently, the ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline in the US was, according to Kitco News, the “most disruptive cyber-attack on record.” The attack prompted President Biden to issue an Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cyber Security. The vectors of attacks are increasing exponentially, so we’ll be playing “catch up” forever unless we remove wireless and satellites from critical infrastructure, and rely predominantly on safer, more secure, hardwired connections.
Are Microwaves Heating Up a New Cold War?
As tensions between nations increase, one wonders if it we are reenacting the cold war era, only this time, with the temperature turned way up by the addition of microwave radiation.
In 2019, when announcing the formation of Space Force to be the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces, former President Trump emphasized repeatedly that it’s not enough to merely have an American presence in space, the US must have dominance. Journalist and peace advocate, Karl Grossman, elaborates in Trump Space Force: Turning the Heavens into a War Zone.
Russia and China are also incorporating 5G but take a more measured approach viewing space as a Global Commons. In April 2021, both Russia and China called for negotiations to establish internationally agreed upon regulations for space. In a recent video address on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated, “We consistently maintain that guaranteed prevention of an arms race in outer space is crucial to its use for constructive purposes, for the benefit of all humankind. We support the launch of negotiations on the development of an international legally binding instrument prohibiting the deployment of any type of weapon there and the use or threat of force.”
The White House has indicated its intention to rekindle negotiations on nuclear arms with Russia in an attempt to deescalate tensions.
But the situation remains tense. Due to 5G, systems warfare, power shifts, and the mounting mistrust between some of the players, the threat of a cyber or kinetic attack to another nation’s infrastructure turns space into a potentially “burning hot”, lethal war zone.
Outer Space Treaties
In a recent article in The Hill, The US Should Negotiate a Ban on Basing Weapons in Space, retired U.S. Army Colonel John Fairlamb warns, “Let’s be clear: Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back,” later adding, “and the world is at a crossroads.”
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) is the cornerstone treaty for the peaceful use of outer space and is accepted by the majority of nations. The OST promotes freedom of exploration and use of space, and the prohibition on the placement and use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction in space. Unfortunately, the OST does not address the use of all weapons in space. Four treaties were passed subsequently that expand on the OST, but rules and regulations remain unclear and open to different interpretations.
The Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty attempts to expand on the 1967 OST by calling for a ban on all weapons in space. For decades, Russia, China, Canada and nearly all other nations have supported the PAROS treaty, but the United States and Israel have repeatedly opposed its passage. Paul Meyers has chronicled the history of treaties and other initiatives on the shared and peaceful use of outer space.
“The nuclear industry views space as a new—and wide open—market for their toxic product that has run its dirty course on Mother Earth.” Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
Since the 1960s, space exploration has relied on liquid-fueled propellant and solar to power vehicles to, from, and in space. As we stretch the limits of space exploration to farther planets and increase our presence in space, these energy sources no longer suffice due to insufficient speeds obtained from liquid fuels, and extreme weather conditions and extended lunar nights on other planets (e.g., no sunlight on Mars for two weeks at a time).
Despite the potential dangers from accidents, collisions, and leakage, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) aka nuclear reactors powered by Plutonium-238 (a deadly chemical even in minute quantities) are increasingly being used for missions to distant parts of the solar system.
The US is planning to build a nuclear power plant on the moon by 2024 to supply electrical energy to support a human presence on the moon and beyond. This nuclear fission reactor would run on split uranium-235 atoms similar to power plants on Earth. Would it be used to enhance 5G capabilities and the militarization of space or “just” for exploration and mining?
Dual Use Technology
Dual Use Technology refers to the use of a given technology and/or infrastructure for both civilian and military applications. For example, GPS was developed originally for the military but then adapted to commercial and consumer uses such as navigation and mapping.
Commercial 5G infrastructure and satellites will be used by the military to cut costs while adding to the streams of data available for AI on the “battlefield.” SpaceX among other private companies, is teaming up with the military to provide dual use satellite connection for the military via its Starlink broadband internet program. The result is that customers who subscribe to Starlink’s internet service are, at least in part, funding the weaponization of space.
Dual Use Technology comes with built in ambiguity. A rocket or vehicle developed for one purpose, say, space travels or exploration, could double as a vehicle for surveillance or intelligence, or could even be used as a weapon. This confusion could lead to false assumptions about the actions and intentions of other nations, potentially igniting a cascade of retaliatory actions in space.
5G and Killer Drones
“In just the first year of his administration, Trump killed more people–including 250 children–with drones in Yemen and Pakistan than President Barack Obama did in eight years. And Obama was no slouch in this department, increasing the use of drone attacks by a factor of 10 over the administration of George W. Bush.” – Conn Hallinan
With advancements in technology, killer drones are becoming more and more prevalent. These drones can “do away with” small groups of perceived insurgents through precision targeting. A single human being on one end of the earth (or increasingly just AI) can quite literally shatter to smithereens people living half-way across the world, with the barely perceptible movement of a single finger.
About 15 countries currently use killer and surveillance drones. Records have not been disclosed about the number of people injured or murdered by drone attacks, but according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone attacks have killed about 16,901 people and wounded another 3,922 in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. One reason the death toll cannot be calculated is that in drone attacks, body parts strewn everywhere make it difficult to know how many people have been affected.
The Business of War
War is a very profitable business, as explained in the podcast, David Swanson on Thirst for War. Worldwide two trillion dollars are spent yearly on war, half of which is spent by the US alone. That’s not accounting for funds needed for cleanup, rebuilding, and health care in the aftermath of war.
In the US, a great deal of money is generated from the manufacturing and sales of weapons. The US supplies the vast majority of weapons used in war around the world, selling to nations who are both allies and adversaries. The money generated then gets funneled back into campaign “donations” securing policies and budget allocations favorable to the military.
And we humans continue to risk devastating destruction, massive suffering, and death while squandering funds on war that would be far better spent to improve the quality of life for all beings on earth.
“At this unique time in history when it is imperative that nations of the world join in cooperation to share resources to end the global plague assaulting its inhabitants and to avoid catastrophic climate destruction or Earth-shattering nuclear devastation. We are instead squandering our treasure and intellectual capacity on weapons and space warfare.” – Alice Slater, World Beyond War
Top image credit: Flo Freshman