RE: MIL: Warfare Basics

Randall Randall (
Wed, 24 Mar 1999 02:39:08 -0500

I've lately thought that on Tue, 23 Mar 1999, Billy Brown wrote:
>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

This is the explosive of my post. However, since an anarchy will have little problem with cheap, well-built nuclear reactors, this sort of material will be commonly available.

>You also need special explosives (and thus a dedicated
>explosives manufacturing plant)

Gunpowder, if you are using uranium. Really special, huh?

> very high precision manufacturing
>(still rather expensive)

Basement machine shop will do.

>and some special electronics (probably adaptable from civilian uses).

A $50 trip to Radio Shack for a timer and some miscellaneous parts.

>You also need some expensive experts to design the things, and a

Hm. Will Ted Taylor do? He was a nuke designer at Los Alamos, and says in _The Curve of Binding Energy_ that it would be trivial for a high school machine shop to build a nuke, and that all you need to design a gun type device is in any decent public library (did you know that you can interlibrary loan the _Plutonium Handbook_, two very large and thick books on how to process plutonium and every useful chemical compound involving it?). He even gives a design for a gun type, that would fit in a typical garbage can. Not elegant, you know, but hey...

>>large test range where you can try out the

Not only are gun type devices very reliable and predictable, but IIRC, no detonation of a nuclear device has ever failed, that we know of. Yields may vary, but you can be sure it will go bang.

>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.

This is exactly what I've been saying. All you need for this scenario is a fairly large market in such things.

>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

Bloated, even more than it is now.

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