Print 130 comment(s) - last by Seemonkeyscanf.. on Oct 22 at 10:36 AM

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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Humans are so last century..
By Agitated on 10/17/2008 5:00:42 PM , Rating: 1
This sounds something like Dick Cheney thought would be a good idea after hearing "it's raining men" and imagining rocket fired troops landing on democrat campaign headquarters and shooting everyone..

I'd imagine in the beginning of the Afghanistan war this would have been nice to set up the sniper/laser guiding units into key positions given the lack of sophistication of their air defenses or army.

As others have mentioned for anything short of a long range rescue attempts or capturing key targets, I can't imagine this being useful.

I would think that putting robots in these things would be a much better alternative. Let the robots take the ground fire while landing or roll over possible land mines, let them secure the landing zone so the human troops can hopefully have an easier time of getting in.

I would think in another decade the robot tech should be good enough to pull this off. And just in time for when the American people finally revolt after two more rigged elections and the complete removal of whatever personal rights are left by then.

RE: Humans are so last century..
By Ringold on 10/17/2008 10:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree, the cost:benefit doesn't look too hot here. The 101st claims it can be anywhere in the world in 48 hours already; that's good enough for government work.

And just in time for when the American people finally revolt after two more rigged elections and the complete removal of whatever personal rights are left by then.

Whichever way this goes, people will say its rigged. If it goes for Obama, Republican's can (correctly) point to ACORN and all the fishy things that have already come to light, like Florida discovering tens of thousands of felons still registered to vote (predominately Democrat), and if McCain pulls it out, Democrats will whine about the good old boy network rather than admit that despite the election being theirs to lose, Obama just couldn't close the deal and perhaps they should've gone with a proven candidate.

Unless, of course, it ends up being a popular vote landslide victory, but the polls suggest that's not very likely so far.

RE: Humans are so last century..
By Agitated on 10/18/2008 10:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
I was trying to be facetious with my implication of rigged elections. Maybe the first bush election could come closest to that definition since a court decided that, which I thought was a travesty, even though I voted for the guy. (I really hated clinton at the time)

I like how in your examples of what parties could use in their claims of fraud, you provide two examples of malfeasance for the republicans to use while the democrats simply were defeated by the old boy network and being unable to "close the deal". This made me chuckle.

It's rather sad since the actual list of things done in this country on getting the vote out, or silenced, is rather sizable and yet despite it being known, we still limp along with the same broken system and no hint of reform of the election process.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/22/2008 10:36:39 AM , Rating: 2
The system is not broken... 1 citizen = 1 vote. That work perfectly fine.

The people over seeing the counting of the votes are corrupt. If you want to see corruption at it's "best" come to Chicago... Where if you do not run under the democratic party you will not win (at least 14 out of 15 times). It's been that way for about 80 years. The best thing is if something goes wrong/bad the democrats and their followers will all blame the republicans. Even though you would have to go back to 1920 something to find an era when the republican were in control.

So how to you fix a broken honesty problem? A death sentence to those found guilty of messing with the vote??

RE: Humans are so last century..
By withchza on 10/19/2008 2:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, didn't mean to rip off your idea. Didn't scroll down far enough.
You are right, although I wouldn't put ANY human soldiers on the ground, until the enemy is cleared out.

Maybe by the next conflict we'll have robot (remotely controlled of course) soldiers.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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