Information Warfare: June 20, 2003


Military operations in Iraq, like those in Afghanistan, showed that the U.S. military has a severe shortage of satellite communications capacity. While a lot of that satellite use had to be "secure" (encrypted so not just anyone could examine the data), a lot of it wasn't. And military communications officials are confident that they can use commercial satellites by adding their own encryption. The solution currently being proposed to solve the capacity problem is to purchase more capacity than is needed in peacetime, and buy it long term to get the lowest rates. The unused capacity can be sold on the commercial market with the understanding that a military emergency would immediately grab that capacity back for troops use. No one yet knows how much this would cost. The market might demand a huge discount to compensate for the risk of losing capacity when the military demands it back. If this becomes too expensive, a backup plan is to buy a fleet of high altitude UAVs that will supply the same kind of communications capability as satellites, but with vehicles that are a lot closer to the ground.


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