RE: MIL: Warfare Basics

Billy Brown (
Tue, 23 Mar 1999 14:27:17 -0600

Randall Randall wrote:
>Billy Brown wrote:
> >Nuclear bombs are complex devices, requiring exotic materials and large
> >capital investments.
> Nuts. Not counting the actual explosives, one could build a
> device for $10K. They really are not complex, Billy.

To build a nuke, you need either plutonium or enriched uranium. Producing either of these materials requires a capital investment on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars (or much more if you want to produce it in volume). You also need special explosives (and thus a dedicated explosives manufacturing plant), very high precision manufacturing (still rather expensive), and some special electronics (probably adaptable from civilian uses). You also need some expensive experts to design the things, and a large test range where you can try out the prototypes.

Now, I'm sure all of these things will become less expensive as technology improves, but so will everything else. If technology advances bring the cost of a nuke down to a few thousand dollars, that implies that prices on other kinds of military equipment will also fall by a couple of orders of magnitude. That would lead to radical changes in every aspect of military operations, which means we would need to re-evaluate the whole subject from the ground up.

> >Second, bombs aren't much use without a delivery vehicle.
> A small group which has been kept poor by State can't afford them --
> a spread-out, high energy use society would mean that even individuals
> could easily afford delivery systems..

If you are going to assume that future technology increases the ability of the individual to purchase expensive hardware by three orders of magnitude, you should also assume that states get the same benefit. What do you think the U.S. military look like if it had an annual budget of $100 trillion dollars?

Billy Brown, MCSE+I