Military technology

  • U.S. military doubts purpose, efficacy of U.S. strike on Syria

    The Obama administration’s plan to attack military targets in Syria is not greeted with enthusiasm by a U.S. military still carrying the scars of military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and facing deep budget cuts.Many in the military have reservations about a military action in Syria, with the main reservations concerning the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria. Both supporters and opponents of a strike on Syria, though, agree on one thing: “Remember, with respect to policy choices concerning Syria, we are discussing degrees of bad and worse,” one officer said.

  • New analysis suggests war has not disappearing

    While some researchers have claimed that war between nations is in decline – see, for example, Steven Pinker’s 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined — a new analysis suggests we should not be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world. New study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage war. Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, but this is due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so.

  • British MPs vote against U.K. military participation in attack on Syria

    In a heavy defeat to Prime Minister David Cameron, , the British Parliament voted against British military contribution to or involvement in an attack on Syria in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons last week. The vote is an embarrassing defeat for Cameron, and a major set-back for President Obama’s plan to put together a coalition of the willing to strike military targets in Syria. The parliamentary vote has no military significance, as the British contribution to the actual military operations would have been minimal at best. The U.K. vote, rather, is a political blow to the United States as it highlights on-going skepticism among Western publics – including U.S. public opinion — about yet another Western military involvement in the Middle East.

  • UN withdraws inspectors from Syria ahead of schedule

    UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has instructed the UN weapons inspectors investigating last Wednesday’s chemical weapons attack to leave Syria by Saturday. The withdrawal of UN inspectors in the face of an imminent military campaign is reminiscent of other instances of early departures of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq in December 1998. The Clinton administration tipped the inspectors off that missile strikes against Saddam Hussein’s regime were imminent.

  • Divisions in U.K. over Syria action

    A U.S.-led attack on Syrian targets in response to the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons in an attack on Sunni civilians last Wednesday may be delayed until next week in the face of strong opposition in the U.K. parliament to British involvement. Prime Minister David Cameron said MPs would be given a second vote to approve military action ahead of a Commons debate today (Thursday) on Syria, in order to defuse a parliamentary revolt. About seventy Tory MPs said they would join the Labor opposition in voting against the U.K. participating in the attack on Syria. Some of the opponents of U.K. participation say a UN approval of such an attack would be needed, while others say they want to see clear-cut proof of the Assad regime’s culpability.

  • Pentagon not likely to attack Syria’s chemical weapons depots

    Administration officials say that the coming U.S. military strike against Syria – and it may be launched as early as tomorrow, Thursday – will aim not to change the regime, but to punish the Assad regime for using chemical weapons, and “deter and degrade” the ability of the regime to launch chemical weapons in the future. The attack will not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, as American officials fear that such an attack may release clouds of toxic clouds into the air, possibly causing humanitarian and environmental disaster. Israeli intelligence analysts disagree, pointing out that the components of the chemical weapons are stored separately and assembled when an order is given – meaning that a strike on a chemical weapon storage facility will not trigger a chemical reaction. Whether or not Israel has been able to persuade the United States on this issue remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: if Assad decides to retaliate against Israel in the wake of an American strike on Syria, Israel will not hesitate to attack these storage facilities.

  • Cruise missile-only strikes have mixed record of success

    If the United States limits its operation in Syria to cruise missile strikes, the operation will resemble similar attacks in the past – for example, cruise missile attacks in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq in 1998. Cruise missile-only operations have had at best a mixed record of success. Experts note that Tomahawk missile strikes are politically and psychologically significant, but typically have a limited tactical effect.

  • New technology improves IED detection

    Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are homemade bombs that can both injure and kill civilians and service members. One solution to the problem of IEDs is to find them before they explode by detecting the chemicals used in the explosives. Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed a technology, using silicon to fabricate a sensor that may revolutionize the way trace chemical detection is conducted

  • Unmanned undersea platform network to help better deploy naval capabilities

    Today’s naval forces rely primarily on highly capable multifunctional manned platforms, such as ships and submarines. Even the most advanced vessel, however, can only be in one place at a time, making the ability to respond increasingly dependent on being ready at the right place at the right time. New Hydra program aims to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy crucial capabilities worldwide.

  • Young scientists to tackle DoD’s most demanding technological challenges

    A group of twenty-five early-career scientists at research universities have received grants totaling more than $12 million for basic research to address some of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) most challenging technological hurdles. The long-term goal of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will focus their careers and research on DoD and national security issues.

  • U.S., allies prepare military strikes against Syria

    Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday said that the use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians last Wednesday was undeniable. He said the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable for this “cowardly crime” and “moral obscenity.” U.S. political and military leaders have been holding around-the-clock discussions with allies about a coordinated military attack on Syrian regime facilities. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey said there was no need to seek a UN Security Council approval of military action against Syria, and that none will be sought. Administration lawyers have been crafting legal justifications for an intervention without UN approval that could be based on findings that Assad used chemical weapons and created a major humanitarian crisis. The U.S. Navy has moved more ships to the eastern Mediterranean, and activity has been stepped up in Britain’s air base in Cyprus.

  • Israel offers proof of Assad regime’s responsibility for chemical weapons attack

    Israeli sources said that the IDF’s sigint unit, Unit 8200 – which, among other intelligence operations, routinely eavesdrops on communications among military and political leaders in Syria — has recordings of senior Syrian political and military officials discussing the timing and scope of the chemical attack last Wednesday against civilians in rebel-held areas. Israeli intelligence sources have also identified the Syrian military unit which fired the chemical weapons: the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, a division under the command of the Syrian president’s brother, Maher Assad.

  • A flying car is developed for the U.S. military

    Flying cars would enhance the mobility of soldiers. Transportation will no longer be restricted to trafficable terrain that makes movement predictable and easy to track, and a flying car will enhance capabilities for resupply operations, fire-team insertion and extraction, and medical evacuation — reducing timelines and increasing the probability of survival.

  • As many as 1,400 killed in a suspected chemical attack in Syria (updated)

    Rebel sources say the number of dead in a Syrian army chemical weapons attack, which targeted a dozen villages in a rebel-held area east of Damascus, has reached 1,400. The Syrian government admitted launching a major military offensive against rebels in the area – both rebels and government sources say it is the largest military operation since the beginning of the war — but strongly rejected the allegations about chemical weapons use by the Syrian army. The Israeli defense minister, in the first official Israeli reaction, confirms the Syrian military used chemical weapons. Chemical weapons experts say there are two other possibilities: the Syrian regime may have used crowd-dispersal chemicals in higher-than-usual concentration, causing death among people trapped in bunkers and shelters; or the army may have used fuel-air bombs in bombing Sunny residential areas. Such bombs, also called thermobaric explosives, rely on oxygen from the surrounding air, unlike most conventional explosives which consist of a fuel-oxidizer premix.

  • Secure, private Internet and cloud to soldiers, marines at the tactical edge

    Squads of soldiers or marines on patrol in remote forward locations often do not have the luxury of quickly sharing current intelligence information and imagery on their mobile devices, because they cannot access a central server. Troops frequently have to wait until they are back at camp to download the latest updates. In the meantime, mission opportunities may erode because the information needed at the tactical edge isn’t immediately available. DARPA’s Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) program aims to provide an alternative approach to the top down focus of most military networks by starting the content sharing at the individual soldier or marine level.