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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Why?
By kenji4life on 10/17/2008 9:14:53 PM , Rating: -1
I'm not saying that we should build more bases in hostile areas, but if we closed our foreign bases millions of people around the world (not just Americans) would be out of jobs.

In addition, it would be the worst possible thing you could do, allowing hostile countries to re tighten their grips on areas which are currently stable and friendly.

One such an example is Japan, where we have thousands of American troops, civilians, and Japanese citizens who work to defend Japan, the US, and the rest of the world from people like K.J.I of North Korea.

The ignorance of thinking that we should just close our foreign bases is just silly.

P.S. I am a US DOD Contractor stationed in Japan, and on my base alone thousands of Japanese would be out of jobs if we closed down, and there are several bases here in Japan alone, not counting similar bases in Germany, Italy, Korea, and the UK, just to name a few other countries where we are welcome and a good catalyst to the economy. That does not mean that I think we should build permanent bases in unstable, unfriendly, and unwelcoming places such as Iraq, Iran, and even sometimes Okinawa.
P.P.S. we have pulled out of places before, and that's fine. I don't have any problem with us pulling out of hostile areas.

RE: Why?
By Screwballl on 10/18/2008 11:29:35 AM , Rating: 3
Dealing with men and women coming back from Iraq (at Eglin AFB), I am told by more of them that it is more hostile in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world than it is in Iraq right now. With their own military force climbing daily with our training and a slow pull back of our troops, our main goal right now is training their forces and civilians for jobs, and protecting the contractors so they can complete their jobs and get the infrastructure back up and running well (or at least to a point where the Iraqis can fix it).

RE: Why?
By Nik00117 on 10/18/2008 12:39:04 PM , Rating: 1
I agree with you, my job is also based on US troops living overseas.

However I see this being practical in purpose. Thing is that this wouldn't be a every day use type situation. I mean lets say a Embassy is attacked in Africa somewhere and they need reinforcements NOW. With this system we could drop in a team of 13-26 or so men to really boost their ability to defend. Or even cross country within Afganisitan. I mean rapid deployement within like an hour cross country? believe me speed can be EVERYTHING. Any solider will tell you who has been or almost was injured that second of movement saved his life, or didn't.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki