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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 rippleyaliens on 10/18/2008 12:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
Actually i am liking this idea. people laugh at 13 men,
LOL- 13 Seal team 6 (DEVGRU) , Folks that is 13 dudes, i would not want comming after me. Or 13 Delta guys.
MORE importantly, if 2-3 pods (26-39).. That is a serious force to be dealing with. And yes those guys are real..

Now, if the Tech can be utilized to, provide a platform for instance, via ICBM tech, or even just a launch from Andrews, with those troops, to be anyplace in the world within 2 hrs, safely. That is a serious punch.
Rescue ops..
Material destruction.. (Iran nuke, Korean, etc..., Swift silent deadly insertion of Teams in hot spots...

As a US Marine, yah, we are sitting off the coast, per say. but talk about hitting a fly with a hammer. It still takes time to get marines ready, get the helo's.. If the target is beyond the range of a Osprey, have to get a Navy Carrier on standby, with a fuel plane... There is no element of surprise, and the enemy could see us comming.

A high level insert platform, would just Rock..

ALSO- Once again, folks, what is Fantasy today, is reality tomorrow. 20 years ago, a GPS cost $1000, only gave lat/long and was pretty big. Same time frame, Cell phones were huge, and a call cost $1 a minute.
Now- a Cell is a GPS/Camera/Video Camera/messaging platform.
100 years ago, someone would have stoned you for mentioning that one day, people will be able to fly.
50 years ago, we just got jets,
25 years ago, BOOM a color tv..
10 years ago, the fast computer took up a full floor of a office building, today, $1000 buys a computer that is faster than that..

Me personally i can forsee, hyper sonic transport, >mach5-6.. Transporting 5-10 Spec Ops, anyplace in the world within 2hrs, and them just parachuting..
Other than Mach 5-6 we have that ability now, just need the Jets/Rockets to catch up.

RE: Why?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/20/2008 7:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
Just a note, 100 years ago, we were flying, so I don't think anyone would have stoned anyone over it. I think stoning was not prevelant in the US 100 years ago anyway. It still is in some countries, but even they wouldn't have thrown stones when the thing was already proven and in practice by 1908.

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