Sunday, April 16, 2017

What's this button do?

North Korea tried Saturday to launch a ballistic missile, and just like their last test attempt, it also failed.  Crashed and burned big time, it did.  The question now is WHY?  Was it simply a case of inferior engineering, or something else?  Sunday the former British Foreign Secretary suggested it was likely that a US cyber-attack was responsible for the North Korean missile's spectacular failure. 

We've heard for years now about other countries successful hacks / cyber attacks on American commercial and public interests.  Through all this I've been wondering, "What are we capable of doing to them?"  Of course, barring a security leak, we'll never know for sure.  But if science is truly on the cusp of being able to disable enormously expensive weapons systems with cyber commands from a dark, secure room somewhere, this could be a world "balance-of-power" game changer.

This potential new form of dominant warfare has far-ranging implications.  For many decades there have been only two true superpowers, the USSR / Russia and the US, with the US generally believed to have a considerable edge.  "Superpower" being defined as quantities and qualities of missiles, warheads, aircraft, submarines, tanks, etc.  Only a select few advanced countries could get into our very exclusive club.  

Now, with a relatively small financial investment, many smaller countries could soon find themselves in the Cyber Big Leagues.  Surely tiny Israel is there right now, joining the US, Russia, and China in the top tier.  Other potential members might include N Korea, S Korea, Japan, India, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and a few others you wouldn't think of as likely superstars.  

Can you imagine the challenges to traditional spheres of influence where former minor league players can demand and win concessions from today's superpowers?  Where most of today's massive aircraft carrier battle groups and nuclear-tipped missiles are made redundant?  Where warfare will be (even) more about electronic / digital measures and countermeasures than about the actual hardware?  Will today's heavyweights be able to gracefully and willingly share power?

For those who are today willing to appease the Tea Party's thirst for tax cuts at all costs, please think twice.  Cutting funding in the wrong places, such as in education, especially in the nerdy fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, would likely come back to haunt us in the not-too-distant future.  It's time to double-down on funding our future.  Cyber-nerds sitting at computer keyboards may not be as sexy as a fleet of stealth bombers, but they will likely someday be far more important to our national security.

Chew on that thought for a while.



  1. I wouldn't think we would save cyber hack to mess up a test, but I had never thought of that. I suspect they may have issues in supplies of quality parts. Good points for sure.

    I was not aware of Tea Party pressure to cut funding in science education, but I agree that is not a good idea.

    1. It may be a parts / expertise issue, Joe. Maybe the suggestion it was a US cyber warfare attack might just be misinformation. We'll never know. My understanding is that the Tea Party wants to cut just about everything. Sec Edu DeVos just recently made it harder for grads with student loans to pay them back, reigning in the government's more lenient terms in favor of private education loans with less generous terms. As I say here we need to make it easier / more affordable for smart kids to get into STEM disciplines. They're the ones who can keep us ahead of the pack.

  2. Wars in the future will be fought much differently than they are today. I hope our government is preparing for this.

  3. Unless rockets have changed a lot, there is no software or radio link access on a ICBM. Since this is based on old Russian / Chinese hardware, someone made a mistake somewhere. When a USA Minute Man leaves the silo, it knows the targets and has no ability to change or self destruct. It we could change it, so could the enemy. False News again. Our country had quite a few accidents before we got it right also.
    Time to shut down the Fat Man, before he kills a lot of people.