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Military officials eye inserting troops anywhere on the globe in two hours by rocket

In the future, U.S. troops could be on the ground in hotspots anywhere on the globe in only two hours. This may sound like science fiction, but it is exactly what a group of civilians and military officials met to talk about at a two-day conference.

The meeting's purpose was to plan the development of the Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion (SUSTAIN) program. USA Today reports that the invitation to the conference called the idea a "potential revolutionary step in getting combat power to any point in the world in a timeframe unachievable today."

The biggest challenge for the SUSTAIN program is certainly the technology. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Brown, a spokesman for the space office said that the next step in the plan is addressing technological challenges and seeking military input.

The goal of the program is to be able to insert a team of 13 soldiers anywhere on the globe in two hours. John Pike, a military analyst told USA Today, "This isn't even science fiction. It's fantasy." Pike says that the concept defies physics and the reality of what a small number of lightly armed troops could accomplish.

Burt Rutan, the rocket pioneer who won the X Prize in 2004 for building a private spacecraft capable of flying into space says that the plan is technologically possible. Rutan wrote in an email to USA Today, "This has never been done. However, it is feasible. It would be a relatively expensive way to get the troops on the ground, but it could be done."

The need for a program like SUSTAIN was restated in 2005 in a document from the Marines titled the Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare Capability List signed by Gen. James Mattis. The document called for the program to be realized as early as 2019.

2005 wasn't the first time military officials have dreamed of inserting soldiers into combat zones from space; the concept has reportedly been discussed sine the 1960's. General Wallace Greene mentioned the capability in a speech from 1963 and hoped Marines would be in space by 1968.

The technology needed for such a force would likely make SUSTAIN a viable program by 2030 according to military analyst Baker Spring. Spring says that it will be just as important for military officials to determine what such a small number of troops could do if they were inserted into a hot zone by rocket.

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the SUSTAIN program in many minds is how safe will it be. Rockets have to be light to reach space and the bulk of their weight is fuel to reach space. Significant challenges for the program will center on a ship that can carry enough fuel to reach space and then be able carry enough fuel for lift off and removing the soldiers from the battlefield.

It would seem that the rocket ship would be very vulnerable as well. It would be virtually impossible to design a ship armored enough to withstand any incoming fire on ascent or decent to a battle. The ship would also not likely be able to carry any weapons of its own.

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RE: Why?
By TechIsGr8 on 10/17/2008 12:54:55 PM , Rating: 5
Just take a listen to Eisenhower's speech, warning America about the dangers of power and control by the military industrial complex. It's all about big money, big ongoing budgets, forever war, and invoking fear in the American people to go along with it. By today's standards, the neo-cons would paint him as a traitor.

Here is the transscript:

RE: Why?
By Amiga500 on 10/17/2008 1:51:05 PM , Rating: 5

I cannot emphasis enough how many within the US* need to seriously pay attention to what Eisenhower said. His prophesy has definitely come true - it might even be argued that a lot of the US's cold war expenditure was mostly a result of self-funding paranoia created by the military-industrial companies within the USA.

Unfortunately, due to the democratic structure of the US, it is very hard for candidates to get elected without sizeable support of such industries.

*That includes many readers of Dailytech.

RE: Why?
By jskirwin on 10/17/08, Rating: -1
RE: Why?
By evenjr on 10/17/2008 2:52:32 PM , Rating: 3
Cute edit.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

RE: Why?
By evenjr on 10/17/2008 2:55:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry forgot to mention the quote in my last post was from the same hippy myth source

RE: Why?
By masher2 on 10/18/2008 12:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
Why not quote the summary from that link?
- Eisenhower didn't believe the Military Industrial Complex was to blame for the Cold War. He laid the blame on communism: "a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method."

- Eisenhower felt the Military Industrial Complex was necessary.

- Eisenhower felt the influence of the Military Industrial Complex might be "sought or unsought." For 60s leftists, "unsought" power for the Military Industrial Complex was inconceivable.

- A principled Republican, Ike was also skeptical of agricultural and research programs fostered by the federal government. He did not consider military industrial interests uniquely insidious, but rather he distrusted government expansion generally.
That seems to counter your basic point fairly thoroughly.

RE: Why?
By Ringold on 10/17/2008 9:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you're all talking past each other, reading only what you want out of his speech.

Eisenhower, and every president since Roosevelt, has understood that whatever the cost endured and whatever the dangers it brings, a powerful standing military is without question a necessity. Troops take too long to train, their arms too long to design and manufacture, their tanks and their aircraft can take years or even decades to mass produce, and a similar story with warships and carriers. Wars can be fought and lost in the time it takes to just build a new carrier. Even WW1, we were a little flat-footed getting in due to the time involved in spooling up the army from, I think, a just couple hundred to millions. I think most people understand that the Cold War stayed cold partly because any direct conflict would be a lose-lose due to our strength.

It seems as though hippies think Eisenhower implied that risk must be avoided. No, it is inescapable, and it looks to me like Eisenhower is saying it must be managed instead.

RE: Why?
By Ammohunt on 10/17/2008 2:08:55 PM , Rating: 1
Forever war? thats called the human race war will disapear when humans become extinct. To believe otherwise is extremely naive.

RE: Why?
By random2 on 10/18/2008 12:48:27 AM , Rating: 2
And Dwight would know wouldn't he?
Anyone who thinks all this is about good and evil was raised on to many Disney shows, and really cannot think critically, or at least outside the box now and again.
Just keep watching your TVs.... specially Fox, and that way, you'll really come to understand how things really are.....NOT!!!
One of the brightest comments in this blog Tech :-)

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