posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 07:34 PM
AS A FORCE MULTIPLIER: OWNING THE WEATHER IN 2025
MILITARY APPLICATIONS OF WEATHER MODIFICATION
2 - Required Capability
Would We Want to Mess with the Weather?
According to Gen Gordon Sullivan, former Army chief of staff,
"As we leap technology into the 21st century, we will be able
to see the enemy day or night, in any weather- and go after him
relentlessly." A global, precise, real-time, robust, systematic
weather-modification capability would provide war-fighting CINCs
with a powerful force multiplier to achieve military objectives.
Since weather will be common to all possible futures, a weather-modification
capability would be universally applicable and have utility across
the entire spectrum of conflict. The capability of influencing
the weather even on a small scale could change it from a force
degrader to a force multiplier.
People have always wanted to be able to do something about the
weather. In the US, as early as 1839, newspaper archives tell
of people with serious and creative ideas on how to make rain.
In 1957, the president's advisory committee on weather control
explicitly recognized the military potential of weather-modification,
warning in their report that it could become a more important
weapon than the atom bomb.
However, controversy since 1947 concerning the possible legal
consequences arising from the deliberate alteration of large storm
systems meant that little future experimentation could be conducted
on storms which had the potential to reach land. In 1977, the
UN General Assembly adopted a resolution prohibiting the hostile
use of environmental modification techniques. The resulting "Convention
on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental
Modification Technique (ENMOD)" committed the signatories to refrain
from any military or other hostile use of weather-modification
which could result in widespread, long-lasting, or severe effects.
While these two events have not halted the pursuit of weather-modification
research, they have significantly inhibited its pace and the development
of associated technologies, while producing a primary focus on
suppressive versus intensification activities.
The influence of the weather on military operations has long been
recognized. During World War II, Eisenhower said,
n Europe bad weather is the worst enemy of the air [operations].
Some soldier once said, "The weather is always neutral." Nothing
could be more untrue. Bad weather is obviously the enemy of the
side that seeks to launch projects requiring good weather, or
of the side possessing great assets, such as strong air forces,
which depend upon good weather for effective operations. If really
bad weather should endure permanently, the Nazi would need nothing
else to defend the Normandy coast!
The impact of weather has also been important in more recent military
operations. A significant number of the air sorties into Tuzla
during the initial deployment supporting the Bosnian peace operation
aborted due to weather. During Operation Desert Storm, Gen Buster
C. Glosson asked his weather officer to tell him which targets
would be clear in 48 hours for inclusion in the air tasking order
(ATO). But current forecasting capability is only 85 percent accurate
for no more than 24 hours, which doesn't adequately meet the needs
of the ATO planning cycle. Over 50 percent of the F-117 sorties
weather aborted over their targets and A-10s only flew 75 of 200
scheduled close air support (CAS) missions due to low cloud cover
during the first two days of the campaign. The application of
weather-modification technology to clear a hole over the targets
long enough for F-117s to attack and place bombs on target or
clear the fog from the runway at Tuzla would have been a very
effective force multiplier. Weather-modification clearly has potential
for military use at the operational level to reduce the elements
of fog and friction for friendly operations and to significantly
increase them for the enemy.
Do We Mean by "Weather-modification"?
Today, weather-modification is the alteration of weather phenomena
over a limited area for a limited period of time.11 Within the
next three decades, the concept of weather-modification could
expand to include the ability to shape weather patterns by influencing
their determining factors.12 Achieving such a highly accurate
and reasonably precise weather-modification capability in the
next 30 years will require overcoming some challenging but not
insurmountable technological and legal hurdles.
Technologically, we must have a solid understanding of the variables
that affect weather. We must be able to model the dynamics of
their relationships, map the possible results of their interactions,
measure their actual real-time values, and influence their values
to achieve a desired outcome. Society will have to provide the
resources and legal basis for a mature capability to develop.
How could all of this happen? The following notional scenario
postulates how weather-modification might become both technically
feasible and socially desirable by 2025.
Between now and 2005, technological advances in meteorology and
the demand for more precise weather information by global businesses
will lead to the successful identification and parameterization
of the major variables that affect weather. By 2015, advances
in computational capability, modeling techniques, and atmospheric
information tracking will produce a highly accurate and reliable
weather prediction capability, validated against real-world weather.
In the following decade, population densities put pressure on
the worldwide availability and cost of food and usable water.
Massive life and property losses associated with natural weather
disasters become increasingly unacceptable. These pressures prompt
governments and/or other organizations who are able to capitalize
on the technological advances of the previous 20 years to pursue
a highly accurate and reasonably precise weather-modification
capability. The increasing urgency to realize the benefits of
this capability stimulates laws and treaties, and some unilateral
actions, making the risks required to validate and refine it acceptable.
By 2025, the world, or parts of it, are able to shape local weather
patterns by influencing the factors that affect climate, precipitation,
storms and their effects, fog, and near space. These highly accurate
and reasonably precise civil applications of weather-modification
technology have obvious military implications. This is particularly
true for aerospace forces, for while weather may affect all mediums
of operation, it operates in ours.
The term weather-modification may have negative connotations for
many people, civilians and military members alike. It is thus
important to define the scope to be considered in this paper so
that potential critics or proponents of further research have
a common basis for discussion.
In the broadest sense, weather-modification can be divided into
two major categories: suppression and intensification of weather
patterns. In extreme cases, it might involve the creation of completely
new weather patterns, attenuation or control of severe storms,
or even alteration of global climate on a far-reaching and/or
long-lasting scale. In the mildest and least controversial cases
it may consist of inducing or suppressing precipitation, clouds,
or fog for short times over a small-scale region. Other low-intensity
applications might include the alteration and/or use of near space
as a medium to enhance communications, disrupt active or passive
sensing, or other purposes. In conducting the research for this
study, the broadest possible interpretation of weather-modification
was initially embraced, so that the widest range of opportunities
available for our military in 2025 were thoughtfully considered.
However, for several reasons described below, this paper focuses
primarily on localized and short-term forms of weather-modification
and how these could be incorporated into war-fighting capability.
The primary areas discussed include generation and dissipation
of precipitation, clouds, and fog; modification of localized storm
systems; and the use of the ionosphere and near space for space
control and communications dominance. These applications are consistent
with CJCSI 3810.01, "Meteorological and Oceanographic Operations."
Extreme and controversial examples of weather modification-creation
of made-to-order weather, large-scale climate modification, creation
and/or control (or "steering") of severe storms, etc.-were researched
as part of this study but receive only brief mention here because,
in the authors' judgment, the technical obstacles preventing their
application appear insurmountable within 30 years. If this were
not the case, such applications would have been included in this
report as potential military options, despite their controversial
and potentially malevolent nature and their inconsistency with
standing UN agreements to which the US is a signatory.
On the other hand, the weather-modification applications proposed
in this report range from technically proven to potentially feasible.
They are similar, however, in that none are currently employed
or envisioned for employment by our operational forces. They are
also similar in their potential value for the war fighter of the
future, as we hope to convey in the following chapters. A notional
integrated system that incorporates weather-modification tools
will be described in the next chapter; how those tools might be
applied are then discussed within the framework of the Concept
of Operations in chapter 4.
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5 - Appendix