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Slash Military Spending
Just in case you haven't encountered his essays, you may want to review some of the recent analyses of economist Gary North (usually on lewrockwell.com). Thanks for keeping us informed - The Media (aka Ministry of Propaganda) certainly won't anymore.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire
Is history repeating itself?
Few Bonds are Inflation Indexed
I enjoyed your article on the need for slashing military spending and more or less agree with the conclusions you reach. Unfortunately, the article makes one major factual error that exaggerates the point. Most notably, you state that US government bonds are inflation indexed, so a rise of 1% in inflation will result in an increase of $67 billion in annual interest payments. That would only be true if all of the US government debt were inflation indexed, but as of now, less than $200 billion of US debt consists of inflation indexed notes or bonds. This means that if inflation rose 1%, annual interest payments would 'only' increase by less than $2 billion. Nonetheless, taking this into account does not invalidate the conclusions of the article, as the US economic situation is still dire.
Ed: I realized that most of the older bonds are not inflation indexed, but wasn't sure of how much. However, all should eventually become inflation indexed as they are renewed. It is true that buyers still have the option of higher returns without the inflation guarantee, but they will soon learn what high inflation does to fixed-rate bonds.
So the President says we need to spend $78 billion extra on Iraq next year, and most Americans support him. Since he has not proposed raising taxes, I suggest he just ask for donations. With just around 78 million Americans working, that's $1000 each. So have the IRS send out a notice asking each American if they support the President's plan and ask them to check YES or NO. Then at the bottom it will state that all those who checked YES must include a check for $1000. I suspect 99.9999% of the forms would come back checked NO.
There is already such a product in development and it is called "Robonaut." Developed by the Johnson Space Center and DARPA. Robonaut is being designed to perform most of the tasks you have prescribed in your article. There are, however, several problems in deploying Robonaut as a pilot. For example an anthropomorphic mechanism with telepresence would have to be a dedicated unit as any ingress or egress from the cockpit to the exterior of the craft would require an extensive redesign of the shuttle and Robonaut. A UAV style ground based remote control system (with a pilot) would be easier than having a Robonaut perform these tasks and even that may be unnecessary. Consider the exemplary record the shuttle's remote system has. The Challenger was destroyed by the much more problematic SRB's and the Columbia by impact damage. Having EVA capable Robonauts egress the same way Astronauts do would be difficult as it would require some kind of inert or cold gas thruster module for interior movement as well as a chemical maneuvering network like MMU's. This would be prohibitive in the form of increased bulk and complexity.
The Robonaut is designed to be deployed from the Canadarm to work on "virtually" controlled satellite repair, construction, and other extravehicular tasks. This solves a lot of problems in the realm of possessing an independent power source as well as a maneuvering system. Although I have no doubt that something precisely as you described is possible in the future it is not a near term solution. Robonaut is in the early stages of its development so it is not nearly capable of such abilities. Also Robonaut was designed to perform EVA's exclusively. Perhaps in a couple of decades or more such technology will be mature enough that a descendant of Robonaut could be this versatile, since it does make sense.
Ed: Thanks, no need to apply for a patent now. Astrobots could move around by simply using their "arms" to push and pull themselves around, just like humans. They could be connected to the spacecraft by an umbilical cord, but they may become tangled with other astrobots and things, so maybe just a rechargeable battery pack and the astrobot would have to plug himself in every few hours. But they would need some kind of thrusting system to work outside the craft, just like humans, except much smaller since life support is not an issue.
It is with great interest that I read the Astrobot article in the October 2003 G2mil. My initial thought on the article was that Carlton had not considered in the problem of time delay, but in the context that he is writing this is not a significant factor. Space shuttles and stations such as Mir only orbit at around 100miles.
The two terms missing from this article were "Waldo" and "Telefactoring". "Waldo" was a term coined by Robert Heinlein and later adopted by the nuclear industry. Essentially it means a remote controlled arm or other tool. Telefactoring is the name given to remotely controlling Waldos or robots, and there is a implication that via various sensors the operator can move the machine as easily as his own body. This is rather like playing certain types of video game, but your actions have an effect on the real world rather than a synthetic one.
There is an obvious temptation to use such robots at greater altitudes. Such a robot may be lighter than a man, and will require less (if any) life support, which translates into less fuel needed to reach a given orbit. In many situations the robot can be regarded as expendable, which means that there is no need for to make provisions for the trip back to Earth. However, at greater distances, time delay may become a factor. A Geostationary satellite orbits at 22,300 miles, while the speed of light (or radio waves) is around 186,000 miles per second. This translates as a delay of at least a quarter of a second between an operator on Earth seeing something needs to be done and the robot reacting. Should a robot/operator drop a component or tool the chances of recapturing it as it drifts away will be very low.
Telefactoring of robots is
already used in another hostile environment. Robots are being used for deep sea
exploration and repair, and the form of these may give us some idea what
Astrobots may look like. An astrobot doesn't really need two legs. Propulsion
can be by jets or brachiating with the arms like an ape. Without legs the body
is more compact and can go places that a man can't. An additional single grabber
or "prehensile tail" may be useful to anchor the robot. Some Deep sea
robotic systems have used air jets to synthesise a sense of touch for the
operator, and in a space environment lasers can be used to scan a surface to
"feel" its texture. Astrobots may look a lot like a smaller version of
the pods in
New Russian Arms
is a new grenade launcher of Russian manufacture that should be of interest to
you. Please visit http://www.shipunov.com/shipunov-e/str/grenades/gm94.htm.
F. Marcos (Portugal)
You mention a "short .338 LM assault rifle". This is not
possible. There's a reason that rifle pictured of has a muzzle
break. You need one on a .338 rifle. Even with a muzzle break, it would be a
pain to shoot from the shoulder. It's a very high powered round, on a par with
.50 BMG. A shorter barrel would only increase this.
Ed: I agree that a .338 assault rifle would kick a
great deal, so semi-auto may be best. Its noise would certainly intimidate
an enemy. The 5.56mm is nice for a carbine, not a rifle.
I just read your ROTC editorial and you are right on. ROTC is extremely wasteful. As a recent ROTC commissioned (Army), I am appalled at the level of waste that takes place in these units. The cadre at my battalion basically had high-paying "do nothing" jobs. I was a "Gold Bar Recruiter" during the summer, where I was paid in excess of three thousand dollars a month to essentially do nothing.
Now that I am in OBC with a number of OCS-commissioned LTs, I wonder why the services even have ROTC or the academies any more. Every one of the OCS grads that I met so far is very mature and highly competent in comparison to the ROTC or USMA grads. The average OCS grad is a few years older (25-30 for OCS as opposed to 22-24 for ROTC/USMA) and most have extensive prior military service (as opposed to very little prior service for ROTC/USMA grads).
I think that the military should just get rid of ROTC (and dare I say - the academies too) and just go straight OCS. They can expand the OCS program and a ton of money will be saved when ROTC and the academies are disbanded. The services should hash out if candidates should have prior enlisted service. Please do not disclose my name
Ed: A young officer offers a way to save the US Army millions of dollars, yet is fearful of having his name published. Has the US Army become the Soviet Army?
National Guard Urban InfantryWhen the 66th Brigade, Illinois ARNG deployed overseas to Germany the last few years, they were primarily MP's used in security role. That was what they were trained for. And since this is a light infantry brigade, their troops are ideally suited for security roles, whatever the nature. I think they are not far behind in this concept, or already may be ahead of the curve, as they say.
appreciated the detailed descriptions of real-world scenarios in this article.
However I found the "Author's Comments" sections not so realistic.
The author Lester Grau seems to forget that the convoy is operating in a hostile
environment and does not have infinite resources available to protect it.