Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pentagon Envisions Spaceship Troops Ready For Worldwide Deployment

Tom Vanden Brook
USA TODAY
October 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon wants to rocket troops through space to hot spots anywhere on the globe within two hours, and planners spent two days last month discussing how to do it, military documents show.

Civilian and military officials held a two-day conference at the National Security Space Office to plan development of the Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion (SUSTAIN) program. The invitation to the conference called the notion of space troopers a “potential revolutionary step in getting combat power to any point in the world in a timeframe unachievable today.” Attendees included senior Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force officers.

The next steps toward getting troops in space: addressing the technological challenges and seeking input from the military, said Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Brown, a space office spokesman. No further meetings have been scheduled.

Marines launched the concept after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. They needed the “capability to transport small, mission-tailored units through space from any point on the globe to a contingency at any other point on the globe” within minutes of an order, according to a Marine document.

Some critics are skeptical. The concept defies physics and the reality of what a small number of lightly armed troops could accomplish in enemy territory, said John Pike, a military analyst who runs Globalsecurity.org.

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