Owning The Weather By 2025 is a study designed to comply with a directive from the chief of staff of the Air Force to examine the concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the future.
Presented on 17 June 1996, this report was produced in the Department of Defense school environment of academic freedom and in the interest of advancing concepts related to national defense. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States government.
This report contains fictional representations of future situations/scenarios. Any similarities to real people or events, other than those specifically cited, are unintentional and are for purposes of illustration only. This publication has been reviewed by security and policy review authorities, is unclassified, and is cleared for public release.
Applying Weather-modification to Military Operations
How will the military, in general, and the USAF, in particular, manage and employ a weather-modification capability? We envision this will be done by the weather force support element (WFSE), whose primary mission would be to support the war-fighting CINCs with weather-modification options, in addition to current forecasting support. Although the WFSE could operate anywhere as long as it has access to the GWN and the system components already discussed, it will more than likely be a component within the AOC or its 2025-equivalent. With the CINC’s intent as guidance, the WFSE formulates weather-modification options using information provided by the GWN, local weather data network, and weather-modification forecast model. The options include range of effect, probability of success, resources to be expended, the enemy’s vulnerability, and risks involved. The CINC chooses an effect based on these inputs, and the WFSE then implements the chosen course, selecting the right modification tools and employing them to achieve the desired effect. Sensors detect the change and feed data on the new weather pattern to the modeling system which updates its forecast accordingly. The WFSE checks the effectiveness of its efforts by pulling down the updated current conditions and new forecast(s) from the GWN and local weather data network, and plans follow-on missions as needed.
The Military System for Weather-Modification Operations.
WFSE personnel will need to be experts in information systems and well schooled in the arts of both offensive and defensive information warfare. They would also have an in-depth understanding of the GWN and an appreciation for how weather-modification could be employed to meet a CINC’s needs.
Because of the nodal web nature of the GWN, this concept would be very flexible. For instance, a WFSE could be assigned to each theater to provide direct support to the CINC. The system would also be survivable, with multiple nodes connected to the GWN.
A product of the information age, this system would be most vulnerable to information warfare. Each WFSE would need the most current defensive and offensive information capabilities available. Defensive abilities would be necessary for survival. Offensive abilities could provide spoofing options to create virtual weather in the enemy’s sensory and information systems, making it more likely for them to make decisions producing results of our choosing rather than theirs. It would also allow for the capability to mask or disguise our weather-modification activities.
Two key technologies are necessary to meld an integrated, comprehensive, responsive, precise, and effective weather-modification system. Advances in the science of chaos are critical to this endeavor. Also key to the feasibility of such a system is the ability to model the extremely complex nonlinear system of global weather in ways that can accurately predict the outcome of changes in the influencing variables. Researchers have already successfully controlled single variable nonlinear systems in the lab and hypothesize that current mathematical techniques and computer capacity could handle systems with up to five variables. Advances in these two areas would make it feasible to affect regional weather patterns by making small, continuous nudges to one or more influencing factors. Conceivably, with enough lead time and the right conditions, you could get “made-to-order” weather.18
Developing a true weather-modification capability will require various intervention tools to adjust the appropriate meteorological parameters in predictable ways. It is this area that must be developed by the military based on specific required capabilities such as those listed in table 1, table 1 is located in the Executive Summary. Such a system would contain a sensor array and localized battle area data net to provide the fine level of resolution required to detect intervention effects and provide feedback. This net would include ground, air, maritime, and space sensors as well as human observations in order to ensure the reliability and responsiveness of the system, even in the event of enemy countermeasures. It would also include specific intervention tools and technologies, some of which already exist and others which must be developed. Some of these proposed tools are described in the following chapter titled Concept of Operations. The total weather-modification process would be a real-time loop of continuous, appropriate, measured interventions, and feedback capable of producing desired weather behavior.
Operational Capabilities Matrix
DEGRADE ENEMY FORCES ENHANCE FRIENDLY FORCES
Precipitation Enhancement Precipitation Avoidance
– Flood Lines of Communication – Maintain/Improve LOC
– Reduce PGM/Recce Effectiveness – Maintain Visibility
– Decrease Comfort Level/Morale – Maintain Comfort Level/Morale
Storm Enhancement Storm Modification
– Deny Operations – Choose Battlespace Environment
Precipitation Denial Space Weather
– Deny Fresh Water – Improve Communication Reliability
– Induce Drought – Intercept Enemy Transmissions
– Revitalize Space Assets
– Disrupt Communications/Radar
– Disable/Destroy Space Assets
Fog and Cloud Generation
– Increase Concealment
Fog and Cloud Removal Fog and Cloud Removal
– Deny Concealment – Maintain Airfield Operations
– Increase Vulnerability to PGM/Recce – Enhance PGM Effectiveness
Detect Hostile Weather Activities Defend against Enemy Capabilities
Current technologies that will mature over the next 30 years will offer anyone who has the necessary resources the ability to modify weather patterns and their corresponding effects, at least on the local scale. Current demographic, economic, and environmental trends will create global stresses that provide the impetus necessary for many countries or groups to turn this weather-modification ability into a capability.
In the United States, weather-modification will likely become a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications. Our government will pursue such a policy, depending on its interests, at various levels. These levels could include unilateral actions, participation in a security framework such as NATO, membership in an international organization such as the UN, or participation in a coalition.
Assuming that in 2025 our national security strategy includes weather-modification, its use in our national military strategy will naturally follow. Besides the significant benefits an operational capability would provide, another motivation to pursue weather-modification is to deter and counter potential adversaries.
In this paper we show that appropriate application of weather-modification can provide battlespace
dominance to a degree never before imagined. In the future, such operations will enhance air and space
superiority and provide new options for battlespace shaping and battlespace awareness.
“The technology is there,
waiting for us to pull it all together;”
in 2025 we can
“Own the Weather.”
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