GPS At War

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GPS at War: A Ten-Year Retrospective (September 2001)

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GPS At War

  1. 1. GPS at War: A Ten-Year Retrospective James M. Hasik, IBM Global Services Michael Russell Rip, Ph.D., Michigan State University ABSTRACT Since its large-scale debut in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, GPS has grown over the past ten years to support nearly every aspect of US warfighting. No significant military operation is conducted without it, and no substantial system is built without it. This profound investment has occurred because GPS has enabled the lethal combination of precision strike with standoff range, adverse weather performance, and operational flexibility – all at a low marginal cost. In operations such as Desert James Hasik holds an MBA (Finance & Business Storm, Deliberate Force, and Allied Force, GPS and Economics) from the University of Chicago and a BA synergistic systems have enabled US and Allied forces to (History & Physics) from Duke University. His dominate their opponents in ways that were inconceivable research interests and experience span military and in the 1980s. commercial policy, management, and technology. He is a former US Navy officer. However, operations such as Desert Fox and Infinite Reach have shown that GPS is not a political silver bullet. Paradoxically, the tactical dominance afforded by GPS- equipped systems seduced American political leaders in the 1990s into a series of questionable, though seemingly riskless, standoff strikes. Despite the ubiquity of GPS, fratricide and collateral damage still plague military efforts (albeit at a reduced level). Thus, the allure of bloodless warfare and the reality of maddeningly persistent losses may have combined to condemn such campaigns to a cycle of undeliverable surgical promises. At the same time, potential enemies may not remain idle. Michael Russell Rip holds appointments in James The immense capability of GPS – shown on television for Madison College and the Department of the world to see – has induced military powers around the Epidemiology, College of Human Medicine, at globe to adopt it for their new systems as well, and to find Michigan State University (MSU). He holds B.Sc. ways of combating it. The low marginal cost of this (Hons) and M.Sc. (Community Health) degrees from investment may affect a relative shift in the balance of the University of Cape Town, and a Ph.D. power away from progenitors of GPS. Countries with (Epidemiology) from MSU. His research interests hitherto little hope of challenging NATO may now find include the proliferation of weapons of mass their asymmetric strategies bolstered by the unforeseen destruction and the international security dimensions secondary effects of widespread GPS adoption. of GPS.
  2. 2. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective THE NEW BINDINGS OF WAR accuracy since the 1970s, and as far back as the 1940s, the Luftwaffe and the US Army Air Forces had radio The weapons of choice during the air campaign command link weapons. [3] What distinguishes GPS as a over Kosovo were the precision, GPS-aided system is the tremendous decrease in cost required to weapons… in the next conflict you will see 100 achieve that precision. For a trivial price, GPS has made percent utilization of these weapons. [1] weapons truly autonomous – a feature that had not been achieved in any precision weapon short of a million dollar General Lester Lyles Tomahawk cruise missile – and has distributed this USAF Vice Chief of Staff autonomy to a potentially unlimited number of users. Military use of GPS has come a long way in the past ten To date, the most dramatic example of the value of this years. Virtually every aircraft and missile flying over distributed precision has arguably been the famous ‘Left Yugoslavia during NATO’s 1999 campaign was equipped Hook’ of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War. Until this time, with GPS navigation, and much of their dramatic deep desert operations were considered too difficult to capabilities derived from it. It is doubtful that any affect en masse. For example, T. E. Lawrence captured technology since nuclear weaponry has had such a Aqaba in 1915 with a small force, but the general Anglo- dramatic influence on military strategy. Today, GPS is the Indian advance into Kuwait and Iraq in 1917 followed the glue that binds together modern military operations, and Gulf coast and the Tigris -Euphrates Valley. In 1991, the its promise and pitfalls sit at the core of the question of Iraqis expected a similar route for the Coalition attack, military transformation. This is true because GPS’ lethal and had largely not deployed west of the Wadi al Batin combination of inexpensive precision, standoff range, along the western Kuwaiti border. Coalition commander adverse weather performance, and operational flexibility General Norman Schwartzkopf, however, ran around this has prompted military forces the world over to adopt it force with the equivalent of eight US, British, and French with blinding speed. armored divisions and two airmobile divisions. How could Schwartzkopf’s armor accomplish such a wide sweep without getting lost in the trackless desert? Tank units moving at 50 kilometers per hour could easily stumble into one another at ranges precluding visual identification, and fire on one another with deadly results. The answer was, of course, GPS. Airman 1st Class Jason Fifield of the 393rd Bomb Squadron readies 2000-lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) for a B-2 Abrams tanks, Bradley troop carriers, and a Humvee light truck of bomber flight to Kosovo. Note the GPS antenna at base of each the US 1st Armored Division speed across the Iraqi desert during bomb. For many US servicemen, the introduction of precision the famous ‘Left Hook’ maneuver of February 1991. GPS was stand-off weapons has changed warfare into a clinical affair essential to navigating these trackless wastes in good order. conducted from the comfort of, say, Knob Knoster, Missouri. Photograph courtesy of US Army VII Corps. USAF photo by Senior Airman Jessica Kochman. The Iraqis had not expected that nearly all of these troops Inexpensive Precision – down to company level – would be equipped with GPS receivers. The nearly ubiquitous distribution and use of THE MISSION OF THIS PROGRAM IS TO: these receivers (which required very little training) 1. DROP 5 BOMBS IN THE SAME HOLE AND enabled the first mass, deep desert advance in military 2. BUILD A CHEAP SET THAT NAVIGATES history. Shocked by the speed and direction of the attack, (<$10,000) [2] and by six weeks of continual bombardment by Coalition aircraft (many finding their targets with GPS), the Iraqi Col. Bradford Parkinson, USAF forces crumbled in one of the most lopsided exchanges in First Director, GPS Joint Program Office (JPO) centuries. Unsurprisingly, many Coalition commanders cited GPS as one of the most important technologies of Precision alone is perhaps the least astounding attribute of the war; General Sir Peter de la Billière, commander of all GPS. After all, laser guidance has provided pinpoint British forces in the Gulf, called it a war-winner. [4] 2
  3. 3. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective While the Iraqis would not likely have successfully opposed an attack by a Coalition army without GPS, the one-sided nature of the outcome was entirely propelled by its widespread availability. More so, this capability could never have been achieved at a reasonable cost or accuracy with inertial navigation sets (INSs), and not with the same geographical sweep with LORAN. [5] Standoff range [The revolution in military affairs is leading to] warfare where distance offers no protection, where if a target can be found it can be destroyed. [6] The Rt. Hon. Ian McLachlan NATO estimate of the Serb air defenses of northwestern Bosnia and the Krajina. Briefing slide courtesy of NATO Air Forces South. Former Australian Defence Minister INS performance, of course, degrades with distance from NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in launch. Since GPS performance does not, it is ideally Vincenza, Italy then tasked USS Normandy to destroy suited for guiding long-range weapons. This capability Lisina with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The cruiser has become essential in campaigns in which casualties are launched thirteen weapons starting at 2043 local; eleven closely watched. destroyed the ‘golf ball’ radome and toppled the relay tower between 2125 and 2130. Two missed, and one was In early September 1995, Lieutenant General Michael recovered later – relatively intact – by Serbian defenders. Ryan, USAF, Commander Allied Air Forces South, and All of these weapons simply flew to predetermined GPS the leader of NATO Operation Deliberate Force, needed coordinates, acquired the imagery expected for their to reduce the complex of Bosnian Serb air defenses and digital scene matching and correlation (DSMAC) sensors, communications sites around the town of Banja Luka. and then detonated their warheads. Serbian 2K12 Kvadrat (SA-6 ‘Gainful’) batteries were thought to have congregated there in reaction to a drive by the Croatian Army towards the area; earlier in the year, one had ambushed Capt. Scott O’Grady, USAF, and his F-16. On the 8th , however, Ryan’s request for basing six F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter-bombers at Aviano was denied by the Italian Government. Although this was simply intended to retaliate for Washington’s failure to secure Rome a seat at the ‘Contact Group’ peace negotiations, by Ryan’s calculation, it placed Allied aviators at risk. On the 9th , 30 NATO aircraft fired 33 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs) at seven mobile SAM batteries in the Banja Luka area without a confirmed kill. [7,8] On the 10th , two of NATO’s five strike packages were unable to drop munitions because of deteriorating weather. [9] Later that day, the US Navy sent F-18C Hornets from the USS Theodore Roosevelt against the Lisina Mountain radio relay station with Remnants of the Lisina Mountain radio relay tower after a strike AGM-84E Stand-off Land Attack Missiles (SLAMs). [10] by GPS-guided cruise missiles. Predator UAV imagery courtesy Simultaneously, the USAF sent F-15E Strike Eagles from of the US Air Force. Aviana against the Prnjavor relay station with GBU-15 televisually-guided glide bombs. Despite GPS midcourse guidance for the SLAMs, imagery from a USAF GPS- This mission matched the ease with which seven B-52G guided Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) the next Stratofortresses used 39 AGM -86C Conventional Air morning showed only slight damage from one of the Launched Cruise Missiles (CALCMs) to dispatch Iraqi GBU-15s, and no results from the SLAMs. Simply put, power plants and communications sites on the opening Ryan needed a better answer. night of the Persian Gulf air campaign. The non-stop flight from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana to northern Saudi Arabia was not so easy, but the distance demonstrated the 3
  4. 4. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective range at which the US Air Force could strike with GPS bombers with 2000-lb JDAMs. The bomber pilots, of weapons. course, could care little whether they saw their targets through the weather or not. The fate of their targets was Incidentally, a wave of F-18Cs later returned from to sealed (short of an impressive interception of the stealth finish the job with more SLAMs. Again, they hit nothing, bomber) by knowledge of their geographical coordinates. but this time the cause was known to be interference with their missile control datalinks: the pilots saw GBU-15 imagery on their screens, as another F-15E strike was going on simultaneously only a short distance away. The F-15Es, however, destroyed their target on this second try. [11] Paradoxically, for the Navy in this case, it was autonomous guidance that won the points for simplicity. What is less incidental is the reaction that these weapons had on the Serbian leadership. General Ryan and his associates did not consider the use of the Tomahawk at all escalatory. Some members of the North Atlantic Council, however, were upset that they had not been consulted in advance on the use of the weapon. More dramatically, one US diplomat noted that the use of cruise missiles “scared the shit out of the Serbs” with whom he was in contact, as they “did not have a clue where we would go next.” [12] One might reasonably wonder whether the campaign would have been concluded more quickly with a massive barrage of missiles on the first night. Adverse weather performance We will weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not. [13] Cloud cover over southern Italy, Bosnia, and Yugoslavia on 3 Jamie Shea April 1999. These conditions were typical during the NATO air campaign over Kosovo. Defense Meteorological Support Program NATO Spokesman (DMSP) satellite image courtesy of the Pentagon. In 1991, adverse weather severely complicated Coalition efforts to destroy Iraqi armor, as the targets generally GPS-guided weapons, however, have proven less useful required the use of laser-guided bombs. Conditions over against targets that move. NATO aircraft probably did Bosnia in 1995 were not much better as NATO aircraft scant damage to the Yugoslav Army (VJ) and Special largely concentrated on ammunition dumps and bridges. Police (MUP), whatever the weather. Though E-8C Joint Though the targets were largely static, GPS-guided Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS) weapons were not available in large numbers for this aircraft are quite impressive at finding the precise conflict, so the precision strikes with LGBs were often coordinates of moving ground targets, the VJ and MUP scrubbed for weather. In 1999, however, the air planners did little mass movement during the campaign. Thus, did not consider the ground troops in Kosovo to be the dispersed, fielded ground forces remain one of the most center of gravity, and GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack difficult targeting problems. GPS has also not solved the Munitions (JDAMs) were plentiful – at least at the start. ‘Battle of the Bulge’ problem – an enemy ground attack There remains some question over what exactly brought in the face of overwhelming air superiority could succeed Belgrade to terms, and over how much damage NATO if the weather were bad enough. Close air support through really accomplished. What is clear, however, is that low-altitude clouds is difficult without helicopters, and NATO’s object seems to have been to compel acceptance helicopters – flying low and slow enough to see their of some form of the Rambouillet Accords by threatening targets up close – scare those unused to casualties. Using economic activity – particularly that of the Yugoslav elite. armed UAVs for this sort of work would not go over well This focused the bombing on assets such as broadcast with the Infantry. Indeed, in Kosovo, the USAF resorted facilities, car factories, petroleum refineries, electrical to man-in-the-loop (MITL) AGM -130 missiles to fly transformers, and Slobodan Milosevic’s house. below the weather after targets. Some of these $300,000 weapons were reportedly dropped on trucks. The threat was rather cheaply made good even through completely obscured skies by GPS guidance: virtually all these targets were attacked with GPS-guided weapons, sometimes half-a-dozen aim points at a time by B-2 Spirit 4
  5. 5. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective Operational flexibility straight and level flight path (for ease of programming) for 61 minutes over Croatia and western Serbia towards The theory is that two factors – information Batajnia. Air defenses did not respond effectively, and at technology and precision strike – are bringing the exact GPS coordinates of the target, the missile about a basic change in the way w ars are discharged 166 Combined Effects Munitions (CEM) fought. [14] bomblets right over the sitting aircraft. Although more than just GPS accuracy determined the accuracy of the Andrew W. Marshall missile, the GPS constellation provided that day a circular Director of the Office of Net Assessment error probable (CEP) that was about one-third the width of the MiG’s fuselage. [17] The cloud of submunitions Each of these preceding three, critical attributes had completely destroyed the MiG-29 parked below, and the become available with the fielding of the conventionally- results were immediately and remotely observed by the armed Block II Tomahawk cruise missile in the early still-circling Predator. 1980s. Though impressive, the capability was not revolutionary in that operational limitations prevented its widespread adoption. Specifically, the Tomahawk’s terrain contour matching (TERCOM) guidance system took weeks to program for new targets. Until the advent of the Block III missile, programming a flight path would have required building a complicated terrain profile of the ground to be overflown. This explains in part why the missiles were not used against Libya in Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986, why only 268 were used against Iraq in 1991, and why weeks passed between a US ultimatum and the Tomahawk strike on the Iraqi Zafraniyah nuclear fabrication plant in early 1993. After 1993, however, the GPS/INS-guided Block III missile became available, and Navy ships received the new Collaborative Contingency Targeting System (CCTS). A MiG-29 positioned near the Batajnica airfield in Yugoslavia as The CCTS and GPS allowed planners simply to enter a some villagers look on. Or is it? Although this was the genuine article, plenty of supposed Yugoslav aircraft, armored vehicles, series of GPS waypoints into the missile’s computer as a and guns were actually high-fidelity decoys. Photograph from an flight path. anonymous Yugoslav source. It is this sort of widely available operational flexibility that makes GPS so revolutionary. For example, UAVs In this regard, one might reasonably consider weapons have been available since the 1970s, but navigation and like the Tomahawk, the Boeing CALCM, and the new control problems precluded their widespread use until French SCALP-EG (Système de Croisière Longue Portée recently. Today, GPS-guided UAVs allow air forces to – Emploi Géneral) missile represent Mr. Marshall’s rather reconnoiter enemy territory at low altitude without much basic change in the ways of war. Ships and aircraft now worry about losses. In Kosovo, the loss of twenty-one quietly hurl weapons hundreds of miles towards their NATO UAVs hardly affected operations. The French targets while keeping their crews out of harm’s way. Army lost five of the thirteen that it deployed: had these been losses of manned aircraft, reconnaissance operations might very well have been curtailed. [15] THE UNFULFILLABLE PROMISE Indeed, it was a USAF Predator UAV gave NATO its …even if the Americans threaten force… Let me first real-time remote targeting success. On 26 March tell you, the state of Iraq is one of the most 1999, a Predator found a MiG-29 parked alongside a experienced in the region, maybe in the world, in runway at the Batajnica airfield (home to the Yugoslav terms of war… Iraq knows that a couple of MiG-29 squadron). The control crew informed NATO’s missiles will not win a war. We know their Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Vincenze, effectiveness, and also their limitations. [18] Italy, which in turn decided on a cruise missile strike, since the weather was getting difficult for manned Tariq Aziz aircraft. [16] The CAOC transmitted the required data to Iraqi Foreign Minister USS Philippine Sea, waiting in the Adriatic Sea about 50 miles off the Dalmatian coast. The cruiser needed 101 The past few short, untaxing wars have suggested that US minutes to process the data with its CCTS (including is (to quote the French press) a “hyperpower” with passing its own GPS coordinates to the firing solution) overwhelming military capabilities. At the same time, the and to launch a missile. The missile then flew a relatively US continues to fight brush-fire wars, since some corners 5
  6. 6. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective of the world remain unconvinced that these GPS- effectively from the bombers which stayed about 15,000 equipped precision legions are truly invincible. This is feet. However, the allure of war without casualties enticed because GPS technology is not a military panacea, and many NATO governments to shrink from the ground indeed, because its overuse is strategically self-limiting. option. Thus, only a handful of commandos and the We group the reasons for this into matters of maskirovka; Kosovar guerrillas were on hand to flush the quarry out. collateral damage, fratricide, and the ‘empty building In the end, this seduction and unchallenged air superiority syndrome’; interdiction; proliferation; and political abuse. dictated the indirect strategy of the campaign. Unable to significantly attrite VJ and MUP forces in Kosovo, Maskirovka NATO resorted to economic coercion. So, equipping entire air forces with GPS weapons may or may not have We had one big amusement… we made fake made the jet fighter bomber the decisive weapon of war. tanks out of cardboard and NATO aimed at these It has certainly, however, made it an extremely effective and bombed them all the time. [19] coercive instrument of economical economic destruction. Anonymous Yugoslav Army conscript First, was the target destroyed that day on Batajnica Field really a MiG-29? The Tomahawk strike was a brilliant technical feat of arms, but the prominence of the target – sitting parked next to a runway for perhaps three hours – should call into question the validity of the strike. Since the Yugoslav Air Force possessed only thirteen MiG-29s, who would place one in open view? A sophisticated hoaxster would do so, since the aircraft was probably no real MiG-29. This is because thirteen fake MiG-29s were constructed of welded steel frames and wooden ribbing, wrapped in cloth, and painted in full Yugoslav Air Force regalia before the war. Steel radar reflectors complemented steel tubing and jet engine exhaust nozzles, and internal heat generators simulated an aircraft’s thermal signatures. Tins of gasoline and smoke A high-fidelity MiG-29 decoy under construction at the LIFAM pots mimicked secondary explosions if the decoy was hit. Factory in Nova Pazova. Photograph by Djordje Ivanov. [20] Major General Charles Wald, USAF, then Joint Staff Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, suggested incredulously during the war that “if that's a decoy, he's Wrong buildings, empty buildings, wrong people putting a lot of money into decoys.” [21] Indeed, it seems that in quite a few cases, he was. It was the right address applied to the wrong building. [22] Maskirovka is the Russian word loosely designating military deception, concealment, and dispersion. While Anonymous Senior US Intelligence Official GPS guidance and computer technologies have enabled On the bombing of the Chinese Embassy NATO air forces to destroy just about any fixed target they wish, maskirovka complicates the question of what Just before midnight on 7 May 1999, a B-2 bomber struck the target really is. GPS-equipped weaponry is optimized that Federal Military Supply Directorate Headquarters for coordinate attack: weapons navigating to GPS with five, GPS-guided, $27,000 JDAMs. With impressive coordinates do not care what they are destroying, so to accuracy, the attack demolished an entire wing of the speak, so long as they are detonating in the right building. The problem was that the building was not the geographic spot at the right time. Adding autonomous headquarters at all, but the Mainland Chinese Embassy. terminal sensors to weaponry can help, but it is expensive Though tragic, the bombing is explainable: and not entirely proven against relocatable forces. Adding MITL guidance to a weapon is a more certain approach, • The street map of Belgrade used in finding the target but it is far from infallible, adds the expense of additional dated from 1992, but the Embassy had only moved to systems, and removes much of the autonomy and its then-present location in 1996. In any case, the map flexibility gained from of GPS guidance in the first place. was of too small a scale to be useful in precision weapons targeting Maskirovka becomes easier when one’s opponent is either unable or unwilling to root out the deception. Without • The intelligence databases used to check for this sort significant Allied ground forces in Kosovo, the VJ and the of error had been updated in 1997 and 1998, but the MUP had rather free reign to hide their materiel very error had not been detected 6
  7. 7. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective business very effectively without every showing up at the • No one familiar with the city had been consulted in office. It is doubtful that destroying barracks and secret the construction of the target databases, or of ‘no-hit’ police headquarters will have any effect on military databases of buildings to scrupulously avoid bombing operations, but these seem to remain favored targets for (hospitals, orphanages, embassies, etc.) [23] GPS-guided weaponry. Expectations of what they can accomplish, however, have somewhat outrun reality. In 1995, a senior Pentagon political appointee reportedly delayed work briefly on the Block IV Tomahawk missile program out of concerns about the collateral damage that the weapon could cause. The individual in question was stunned to discover that the weapon had not been designed to rule out any possibility of collateral damage. After a lesson or two about the fog of war, the program proceeded. Fratricide is a tragedy that would seem tailor made for prevention by GPS, and much has been done in this area. [24] Still, GPS cannot prevent all occurrences of it, as people will continue to do regrettable things under pressure. Casualties from a mistaken NATO air attack on Kosovar refugees. Photograph courtesy of Radio Television Serbia Ground level photograph of the Chinese Embassy in Novi Beograd, Yugoslavia, after an inadvertent JDAM attack. Consider the NATO air attack near Djakovica, Kosovo, Photograph courtesy of an anonymous Yugoslav photographer. on 15 April 1999. The pilot of the attacking aircraft thought that he was attacking a VJ or MUP truck column; his target was actually a convoy of farm tractors ferrying None of this placated Beijing, whose European refugees out of the province. Over 80 civilians were killed intelligence gathering headquarters was somehow the or wounded when USAF F-16s attacked them with 500-lb wing of the building targeted in the only strike of the GBU-12 laser-guided bombs (LGBs). These, of course, campaign nominated by the US Central Intelligence were the very people that NATO was claiming to be Agency. Assuming this to have been a shocking helping by its bombing. GPS, of course, is not particularly coincidence (rather than a brilliantly devious scheme), the useful for distinguishing farm tractors from tank columns moral here is that smart weapons wielded by not-so-smart at 15,000 feet from the cockpit of a jet fighter-bomber, so targeters are likely to induce embarrassing consequences. visual identification of targets will remain essential for More so, while GPS is very good at guiding weapons to quite a while. street addresses, no technology seems available for telling the targeters whether the building at that address is For finding targets, and for avoiding the wrong targets, actually occupied. In the words of one Pentagon official, operators using GPS-guided weapons need considerably the Iraqis have, after ten years of desultory bombardment, more intelligence and targeting support than in the past. become “professional cruise missile recipients”. Indeed, Even if entire theaters can be constantly, visually scoured the national security business around the world has some by UAVs flying beneath the clouds, trained analysts will reasonably clever people who can figure out how to do be needed to classify suspects, prioritize targets, and 7
  8. 8. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective schedule missions of both manned and unmanned been replaced by considerable conscientious effort to weapons systems. This may be neither a quick nor increase the robustness of the system to jamming and inexpensive process. spoofing. Still, several recent US Space Command wargames have illustrated how widespread dependence Interdiction on GPS for all precision warfighting matters makes GPS an enticing target. We know that Russia or former Russian republics are selling, in effect, hand-held jammers that can jam satellite signals. The Hon. Donald Rumsfeld US Defense Secretary (at Confirmation Hearing) This also assumes that those weapons will continue to work. It is widely known today that the vulnerability of GPS receivers to jamming ranges from the extreme (e.g., a handheld C/A code device) to the slight (a Y-code device with an integrated INS and a null-steering antenna). What is surprising is that jamming has not apparently been attempted with greater vigor. Still, a glimpse of what could happen was seen in a combined British-American raid on Iraqi air defenses on 16 February 2001. The force consisted of USAF F-15E Strike Eagles with AGM -130s; US Navy F-18C Hornets with AGM -154A Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOWs), HARMs, and SLAMs; and RAF Tornadoes with Paveway LGBs. The Paveways, SLAMs, HARMs, and AGM -130s elicited no complaints. The 28 GPS-guided JSOW glide bombs, however, were another matter. About half their targets escaped damage when 26 of them systematically discharged their CEM payloads about 100 feet off. The famous “soda can” jammer built by the Naval Weapons Test Center China Lake. This one-watt device can effectively terminate GPS reception for most commercial receivers within line of sight. This miss distance is not dreadful from the launch range Photograph courtesy of the GPS Joint Program Office. of up to 40 miles, but does indicate possible performance under jamming, should the weapons have been forced to rely on their INSs. Note also that it is roughly the miss Proliferation distance expected of a C/A code weapon operating under Selective Availability (SA). Jamming, however, was Every nation, in one fashion or another, is considered unlikely in this case. The bombs likely planning to use the GPS signals. encountered strong, low-level winds around the targets, but their flight paths did not include a sufficiently long Col. Michael Wiedemer, USAF straight-and-level run with which to correct their courses past GPS Program Manager before fusing. This incident, however, illustrates how targeters, planners, and politicians may assume that GPS Why destroy GPS, though, when one can use it for one’s is an ever-present ether whose function is guaranteed, but own purposes? In October 1997, USAF Space Command a mystery. GPS, of course, is a technology, but one whose conducted an experiment to test the ease with which functioning – and whose limitations and vulnerabilities – adversaries could locate deploying air units. Using only are probably not sufficiently well understood by those open-source information and commercial satellite who call upon it to perform in combat. imagery, a team tracked the deployment of an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) to Bahrain. With no special If jamming is a local matter, with localized rewards, access to sites in the .mil domain, the team discovered the destruction of the satellites would be a far more general AEF’s location, mission, and composition. The team matter. In the late 1980s, US Navy officers and tasked the French SPOT (Satellite Probatoire pour quartermasters were usually taught to avoid over-reliance l’Observation de Terre) satellite to photograph the AEF’s on GPS as a navigation system. Many (at least outside the bed-down locations. Image analysts located the AEF’s JPO) simply assumed that a global war would see most headquarters, its hardened aircraft shelters, refueling navigation and communications constellations blasted by areas, and the tents housing the crews. [25] nuclear anti-satellite weapons. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this concern has receded – although it has 8
  9. 9. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective limitation. [27] That over-reliance caused President Clinton to dispatch at least 864 cruise missiles on seven different occasions against Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and the Sudan. The politically expedient behavior may have largely served to encourage potential opponents to master the very same technology on which the US depends so heavily. This “missile boat diplomacy” rather defined military operations in the 1990s. The first attack entirely conducted with GPS-guided weapons was Operation Desert Strike, a raid on Iraq on 3 and 4 September 1996. Four US Navy surface ships, one submarine, and two USAF B-52 Stratofortresses launched 31 Tomahawks and Yugoslav troops leaving Kosovo on 11 June 1999. Would the 13 CALCMs at Iraqi targets in retaliation for attacks on result have been the same had these forces been capable of Kurdish rebels. Despite almost no threat of casualties to threatening NATO bases in Italy and Hungary with autonomous Americans, and the impressive technology involved, it is precision weapons? Photograph courtesy of an anonymous entirely unclear what Iraqi behavior this prevented. The Yugoslav photographer pattern, however, did not reach its nadir until Operation Infinite Reach on 20 August 1998. In this attack, two US Navy surface ships fired 13 GPS-guided Tomahawk Today, over 70 nations possess antiship cruise missiles; cruise missiles at the El-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in converting these to GPS-guided coordinate attack Khartoum, while four surface ships and a submarine fired weapons is not a technically difficult matter. For Iranian 66 Tomahawks at suspected terrorist training camps 150 missile crews to have fired on the AEF effectively would miles southeast of Kabul. not have been difficult. Indeed, since the new American way of war depends on repeated sorties by fighter- Regrettably, Infinite Reach would have been more bombers from fixed bases, adversaries have a strong appropriately titled Ultimate Futility. The attack incentive to develop the means to attack those bases – destroyed the pharmaceutical plant, and killed the night which are easily located on commercial satellite imagery. watchman, but no plausible evidence ever emerged to Thus, while GPS has encouraged reliance on aviation, it corroborate the story that the facility was actually a nerve has also provided the means for countering it. Since there gas plant. A spokesman for bin Laden stated that 34 of his is little to stop an adversary from having the same impact people had been killed including one top lieutenant. on the American leadership that cruise missile usage had National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s claim that the on the Serbian leadership in 1995, we should assume that attack had “significantly disrupted the capability to use weapons as these will be used against US troops. Whether these camps as terrorist facilities” is a little more difficult the system guiding these missiles is GPS, a better- to believe. [28] Bin Laden’s underground bunkers populated GLONASS constellation, an eventual pan- survived, and his mud huts above ground could be easily European Galileo system, or a fully operational Chinese rebuilt. The overall operation, however, cost roughly $80 Beidou system is a secondary question. million in munitions alone. Abuse There is even reason to believe that the entire thing was a stunt designed to deflect public attention from the The Americans have once again launched a President’s domestic political tribulations. Speaking from futile and cowardly attack upon us, hiding Martha’s Vineyard eight days later, Mr. Clinton said: behind their great technology which God has given them. “I was here on this island up till 2:30 in the Saddam Hussein [26] morning, trying to make absolutely sure that at that chemical plant there was no night shift. I In fact, some remember a time when casualties were believed I had to take the action I did, but I didn't assumed to be a part of war. As recently as 1986, the use want some person who was a nobody to me — of Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in Libya was but who may have a family to feed and a life to rejected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for fear that the live and probably had no earthly idea what else technology would slip into Soviet hands. Rather, manned was going on there — to die needlessly.” [29] aircraft were used, and two USAF crewmen of an F-111 Aardvark died in the strike. Their sacrifice was deemed Who could imagine that a nerve gas plant would lack a necessary for preserving future security. The 1990s, substantial night watch? Why would workers at a nerve however, saw much of the mystique of US air power gas factory not be desirable military targets? While Mr. squandered in the short-term interest of casualty Clinton’s statement was transparently deceptive, his 9
  10. 10. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective behavior is the sort which access to long-range, push- integrating massed precision strikes with the more button weaponry encourages. immediate capabilities of ground forces. When no one is willing to engage in a knife-fight, however, possession of a rapier, however ineffectual, is the price of admission. In the US, the ease of precision strike that GPS has enabled has led to a doctrinal dissonance amongst the military services. In the early 1980s, faced with the very real threat of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, the US Army and Air Force cooperated to articulate the AirLand Battle doctrine of synergistic employment of aviation and ground troops. Today, air power enthusiasts write with some derision about the contributions of their ground forces comrades, and extol the virtues of these rather unvirtuous, bloodless wars. After relative successes in Bosnia and Yugoslavia, many planners simply assume that massed coordinate attacks by GPS-guided weapons will be enough to compel virtually any opponent to accede to the (sometimes) reasonable terms that the A B-52 Stratofortress drops a GPS-guided AGM-86C CALCM. For United States is willing to offer. Dependence on space- now, seemingly low -risk precision firepower is on call for NATO leaders round-the-clock. Photograph courtesy of the USAF. based systems like GPS, however, begs two questions central to the matter of military transformation: • First, when will attacks against fixed infrastructure be THE NEXT TEN YEARS enough to compel compliance? Our theories of deterrence and compellence with precision A country that has cruise missiles retains control conventional weapons have generally lagged the over how they are used, but on the other hand, a development of those systems. If the US cannot country that doesn’t have any can find itself resolve this issue, then will its soldiers continue to be excluded from part of the decision-making “permitted to kill, but not to die?” [33] If so, how process on strikes. [30] circumscribed will national goals become should this pattern become a habit? French Defense Ministry Report on Kosovo • Second, as central as GPS technology is to the new Even if the Infinite Reach strikes had an objective linked means of warfighting, how far will potential to national security, they certainly were of negligible opponents go to interdict it? Will major adversaries political value. Earlier, a dozen cruise missiles had restrict themselves to their own satellite systems (to frightened the Bosnian Serbs, but it is likely that future guard against reimposition of Selective Availability), adversaries will be no more impressed by this than were or will they use their high earth orbit lift capabilities hostile Arab tribesmen by the RAF’s aerial control of the to target the GPS constellation directly? If so, how 1920s. After a fashion, adversaries who do not too dearly far towards militarization of outer space should the value tangible assets learn to endure: Osama bin-Laden is US proceed to protect this essential military asset? still making bombs, and Saddam Hussein remains in Baghdad. This, as Colonel Douglas MacGregor, USA In short, the US military needs to think about its (Ret.), puts it, is because while air forces attack targets, dependence on satellite applications systematically. only ground forces change governments. [31] Considering the capabilities of GPS (or GLONASS, Galileo, or Beidou) without considering the Yet satellite-guided autonomous weapons continue to vulnerabilities that over-dependence engenders is a capture the imagination worldwide. The French Defense dangerously piecemeal approach. Military thinking about Ministry has recently announced that it is forgoing GPS could use more maturity, and less euphoria. construction of a second nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to match the Charles de Gaulle. Instead, funds will be focused on new frigates and nuclear-powered submarines armed with a naval version of the satellite-guided SCALP-EG cruise missile. Seven of the frigates would cost as much as the carrier, but it is assumed that these ships and their missiles could stand in for the single carrier if it is laid up during a crisis. [32] Not much thought, it seems, has yet been given to the question of 10
  11. 11. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective REFERENCES 1. Tech. Sgt. T. Hoffman, “Vice Chief Cites Importance of Space”, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs, 1 September 1999. 2. Bradford W. Parkinson, et al., “A History of Satellite Navigation,” NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation (Spring 1995), Vol. 42, No. 1, p. 138. 3. See Chapter 2, “A Short History of Military Air Navigation,” of M. Rip and J. Hasik, The Precision Revolution: GPS and the Future of Aerial Warfare (Naval Institute Press, December 2001). 4. General Sir Peter de la Billière, Storm Command: A Personal Account of the Gulf War (Harper Collins, 1992), p. 348. A Chinese Long March rocket lifts the first Beidou (Northern 5. The US 101st Airmobile Division was partially Dipper) navigation satellite from the Xichang launch center into equipped with LORAN receivers, but this was an orbit on Halloween Night, 2000. Photograph by the Xinhua News entirely adequate substitute, as Saudi Arabia had an Agency. excellent LORAN network. The French 6th Light Armored Division neither GPS nor LORAN receivers, but used Gazelle helicopters of its 1st and 3rd Combat Helicopter Regiments as pathfinder units ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS immediately behind their lead units. These aircraft were not equipped with GPS either, but used the The authors would like to acknowledge the sponsorship of Nadir Doppler-radar navigation system and an Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, Maryland) in the established system of waypoints behind the French publication of their upcoming book, The Precision advance. M. Hammick, “Gazelle HOTs extend Revolution: the GPS and the Future of Aerial Warfare French anti-armour reach,” International Defence (November 2001). They would also like to thank Review, May 1991, p. 456. Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, Michigan) for its assistance in the development of their next project, 6. “Interview: Ian McLachlan, Australian Minister for Just a Little Bombing: NATO’s Balkan Air Wars and the Defence,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 7 August 1996, p. Question of Military Transformation. 40. 7. Lt. Col. Richard L. Sargent, USAF, “Deliberate Force Targeting”, in Col. Robert C. Owen, USAF, ed., Deliberate Force – A Case Study in Effective Air Campaigning: Final Report of the Air University Balkan Air Campaign Study (Air University Press, 2000), p 315 (hereafter, BACS). 8. Tim Ripley, Operation Deliberate Force: The UN and NATO Campaign in Bosnia, 1995 (Centre for Defence and International Studies, 1999), p. 279. 9. Lt. Col. Mark J. Conversino, USAF, “Executing Deliberate Force, 30 August – 14 September 1995”, in BACS, p 155. 10. See Chapter 5, “NAVSTAR’s Storm Across the Desert – the Second War in the Persian Gulf, 1990-91,” in Rip & Hasik, op. cit. Seven SLAMs had been used against Iraq in 1991, and four had hit their targets. 11. Ripley, op. cit., p 285. 11
  12. 12. GPS at War: A Ten-year Retrospective 12. Col. Robert C. Owen, “Summary”, in BACS, p. 492. - A GPS/INS Application to Improve Effectiveness Admiral Leighton Smith, USN, Commander of and Minimize the Possibility of Fratricide” Allied Forces South, related this story to Col. Owen. 25. Lt. Col. Beth M. Kaspar, USAF, The End of Secrecy? 13. NATO Press Conference, Brussels, 14 April 1999. Military Competitiveness in the Age of Transparency (Thesis, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 14. Testimony before the Senate Armed Services April 2000). Kaspar cites a report by US Air Force Committee, May 1995. Space Command, “Operation Seek Gunfighter: Aggressor Space Applications Project Operational 15. These aircraft were the Crecerelle and Piver drones Report”, Falcon AFB, Colorado, 23 January 1998. deployed by the French 7e Régiment d’Artillerie in Macedonia. Interestingly, as an older system, the 26. Address on Iraqi television, 3 September 1996. Piver did not carry a GPS receiver, but only an INS, an altimeter, and a Doppler radar. Rip & Hasik, 27. For more on this line of thought, see Eliot Cohen, Chapter 5, op. cit. “The Mystique of American Air Power,” Foreign Affairs, January/February, 1994. One might argue, 16. See Chapter 12, Rip & Hasik, op cit. however, that the opportunity for restraint has somewhat passed. 17. Analysis performed by the authors courtesy of Richard Langley, Geodetic Research Laboratory, 28. M. Sappenfield, “What Cruise Missiles Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, Accomplished,” The Christian Science Monitor, 28 University of New Brunswick (Fredericton, New August 1998, p. 4. Brunswick). 29. See Christopher Hitchens, “Weapons of Mass 18. Scott Ritter, Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem – Distraction,” Vanity Fair, March 1999. Mr. Hitchens Once and for All (Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 141. is not normally considered temperate in his opinions, Aziz was meeting with Rolf Ekeus, the United but this argument is a strong one. Also, the Nations Special Commission’s first executive occurrence of this event so close to the release of the chairman in Baghdad, on 19 June 1996, following the film Wag the Dog was oddly fascinating. Iraqi government’s refusal to permit an inspection team access to three Special Republican Guard 30. Craig R. Whitney, “U.S. Military Acted Outside facilities. NATO Framework During Kosovo Conflict, France Says,” The New York Times, 11 November 1999. 19. B. Maddox et al., “The 80 Days War,” The Times (London), 15 July 1999. 31. Col. Douglas Macgregor, USA (Ret.), Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Land Power in the 20. M. Stekovic, “Yugoslavia’s Wooden Fulcrums,” Air Twenty-first Century (Praeger: 1997). Forces Monthly, November 1999, pp. 34-35. 32. J. A. C. Lewis, “France rules out second aircraft 21. Wald has since been promoted to Lieutenant General, carrier,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 18 June 2001, p. 12. and been given command of the US 9th Air Force. His The seven frigates are assumed to cost about as much particular comments were about an S-125 Pechora without their missiles as the carrier would cost (NATO codename: SA-3) surface-to-air missile site without its aircraft. It remains to be seen whether that had to have been real, since the attack shown in Paris will equip its weapons – in the long run – with the gun camera video indicated massive secondary GPS, or will insist on developing the Galileo system explosions. The Yugoslavs, of course, were rigging for guidance not subject to US cooperation. their decoys to do just that. US Department of Defense Briefing on Operation Allied Force, The 33. Comment by Lt. Gen. Philippe Morillon, former Pentagon, 24 May 1999, Pentagon Deputy commander of UN Forces in the Former Yugoslavia. Spokesman Mike Doubleday and Maj. Gen. Charles See Col. Peter F. Herrly, USA (Ret.), “The Plight of Wald briefers. Joint Doctrine after Kosovo,” Joint Forces Quarterly, Summer 1999, pp. 99-104. 22. ABC News, 11 May 1999. 23. US State Department, Report on Accidental Bombing of Chinese Embassy, 6 July 1999. 24. See elsewhere at this conference: Thomas Loeffler, “International HARM Precision Navigation Upgrade 12

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