“The next war will be won by the side that best exploits the electromagnetic spectrum.”
–Soviet admiral, 1973 (Via ‘Wired’ magazine)
By the time President George W. Bush took office in 2001, two presidents had cut military spending. Republican George H. W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton reduced U.S. defense resources.
Both presidents had an eye on the much-discussed deficit and probably even the rarely mentioned debt.
By the time Bush 43 left office, America was at war, and he had been politically annihilated for engaging in Iraq on a more direct basis than Clinton had done with an abundance of bombs.
Cuts aside, there was an unforeseen benefit from Bush 43’s Iraq war, and it had to do with spectrum warfare.
IMPACT OF PAST CUTS, PUBLIC PERCEPTION
First, consider past defense cuts.
Bush 41 played a role in the end of the Cold War as well as in President Ronald Reagan’s defense buildup. Reagan had, in particular, invested in the development of the now-retired EF-111A Raven. That plane enabled U.S. troops to jam Saddam Hussein’s radar during Desert Storm during the elder Bush’s only term.
Bush 41 left at the advent of what we would mistakenly perceive as more peaceful times, at least from a standpoint of U.S. engagement. Clinton, however, was a different matter, and despite the fact we didn’t publicly perceive it as such, we were at war.
In Clinton’s terms, the writing was on the wall regarding Islamist supremacists—he had presided over the first bombing of the World Trade Center as well as the first declaration of war by Osama bin Laden in 1996. The context of global politics may be one reason Clinton’s cuts have been criticized more vigorously than those of Bush 41. After all the first WTC bombing was an attack on the U.S. homeland, media narratives to the contrary. That bombing was one of many reasons a terrorist act should be rightly called an act of war, and it should be prosecuted as such.
The Bush 41 and Clinton cuts left a gap, however, that haunts our defense to this day. That gap will not be resolved until “at least 2020” according to Wired. In the March, 2014 print issue, there’s an article, “Flying Blind,” and the flags the article raises are redder than Chi-com ideology. The article is complex, but the writing is layperson-friendly.
BUSH 43, IRAQ AND UNFORESEEN BENEFITS
Basically the U.S. is racing to stay ahead in spectrum warfare, most importantly the ability to control the electromagnetic spectrum. Whether our soldiers are attempting to jam enemy signals from devices like cell phones or simply keeping their own lines of communications fluid, we are currently resorting to workarounds to deal with the challenge. Making it worse, we are dealing with enemies large and small who understand the value of tech-warfare and constantly work to advance their own capabilities.
Wired explained what happened after the 2003 invasion of Iraq:
“Insurgents quickly mastered the art of constructing radio-controlled IEDs, which they set off with a range of common gadgets—cell phones, of course, but also more basic devices such as garage-door openers and toy-car remotes.”
The U.S. Army didn’t always have the resources to stop terrorists from using the spectrum—for instance, to jam signals that detonated IEDs—so the Army went with hand out to the Navy and Air Force. It soon became apparent that U.S. capabilities were only applicable to “large-scale radar installations”—not the primitive “narrow slivers of spectrum” used by the enemy.
That pressing need led the defense sector to begin to develop technology that would enable our troops to jam the spectrum but still retain ability to communicate with each other, and Bush 43 invested resources in that effort. Wired said, “Between June 2007 and June 2009, monthly IED attacks in Iraq decreased by 90 percent.” That saved many lives.
FICTION, FACT AND THE SPECTRUM
In 2012 the late novelist Tom Clancy (with Mark Greaney) published the novel Threat Vector. The novel is a page turner. The plot features an imagined war with China amid that country’s push for domination of the South China Sea and Taiwan. The novelists built a credible scenario of breaches of U.S. defenses, with drones being hacked and cyber-warfare in full swing. The reader comes away with a sense of vulnerability, envisioning Wired’s description of “drones falling from the sky” and “guided missiles swerving off-target.” Both occurred in Clancy and Greaney’s novel.
Segue to 2014 and reportage from a number of security analysts affirming something else Wired pointed out about communist China where the party is worshiped, not the state:
“The People’s Liberation Army is thus pumping tremendous resources into beefing up its spectrum warfare operations, much as it has funded the formation of an elite hacker corps to wage cyberwar against its rivals.”
OBAMA ERA CUTS, DEFICIT, AND DEBT
As the Obama administration pushes more defense cuts, Americans would do well to ask many questions about exactly where those cuts will be levied. Our current president has traditionally refused to negotiate spending related to what can only be described as a horrific level of politically directed debt, opting to permit automatic random defense cuts, with progressives touting the benefits of a deficit decrease enabled largely by tax hikes, a decrease that pales alongside more than $17 trillion in debt.
Obama, like Bush 43, does not have a compromising relationship with either party in Congress as Reagan did. Reagan sometimes had to agree to proposals he did not want to agree on, but he did it in the interest of achieving his primary goals.
In peacetime when money is flush, politically beneficial spending is customary. At this point in time, whimsical spending to court corporate alliances is at odds with the welfare of our Republic.
Now is no time for petty politics. Americans can blame Republicans in the House, because that is often the narrative the media push. Fact is, presidents preside over defense resources and thus far, one president we should thank is Bush 43 for addressing spectrum warfare to prepare for a time when, if we should fail, the human suffering would be simply unimaginable.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Feb. 25, 2014)
Washington eyes military cuts, ignores exploding fraud (Day on the Day)
Clinton bombing of Iraq far exceeded Bush’s in run-up to war (The Raw Story)