Monday, March 11, 2019

No, the next war won't be livestreamed

Looks like the NYT discovered and wants everyone to know that "the cloud" and all the internet that binds our world together is not floating around us, but is under us and the great blue sea. 

The article is behind the paywall, so I won't make you go there, but let's touch on the topic.

Oceanic cables might seem like a 19th Century wonder, and they are, but that was just the first time our world was stitched together.

At war, it is not a new thing to consider data part of commerce and a nation's C2 infrastructure. Ever more so, the Information Age or Cognitive Age or whatever you want to call where we are now, it is all driven by fiber optic cables. Along those cables run everything from free pr0n to, as we discussed on Midrats yesterday, the command signals to our drones we use to fight our foreverwar.

Day to day lives in this age without access to internet? Look south;
Internet Collapses in Venezuela with 80% Offline; Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud Blocked
That is just entertainment in a 3rd rate nation. Now consider what would happen to a global mercantile power engaged in military action. Not just a "soft kill" that has to do with electricity and software ... but a hard kill?

No, this isn't a new threat. It is old. Go back a bit over 120-years;
To isolate Cuba from Spain and other countries of the world was the problem which, upon the breaking out of war between the United States and Spain, immediately engaged the attention of our fleet at Key West. The blockade became virtually effective along the entire coast-line of Cuba, preventing the landing of food-supplies and munitions of war, as well as cutting off communication by mail between the island and the outside world. This, however, was not enough. General Blanco at Havana was still in direct communication by ocean telegraph-cables with many of the islands of the West Indies, and thence with the home government at Madrid. To cut these cables and thus destroy the Spanish telegraphic lines of communication, preventing the authorities at Madrid and at Havana, and the ships of Admiral Cervera's fleet, from sending or receiving information, was of the utmost strategic importance.

No ocean cables are landed on the north coast of Cuba except those leading directly from Havana to Key West. The United States, holding the terminal at Key West, controlled these lines. On the south coast the telegraph-cables are looped along the shore from Batabano, a port about thirty miles nearly due south of Havana and connected with that city by railroad and overland telegraph, to the eastward as far as Guantanamo Bay; the northern loops of the cables touching at San Luis, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and a point on the shore of Guantanamo Bay.
The naval force operating on the south coast of Cuba in the early part of May, at the time of the cutting of the cables at Cienfuegos, was composed of the cruiser Marblehead, the gunboat Nashville, the converted yacht Eagle, the revenue cutter Windom, and the collier Saturn, at that time forming the fourth division of the fleet, under the immediate command of Commander B. H. McCalla, U. S. N., who flew the senior officer's pennant on board the Marblehead.

Cienfuegos is situated about six miles from the sea, and the bay or harbor is entered by a channel three miles in length. On the east of the entrance is Punta de la Colorados, where a lighthouse is situated. Overlooking this low strip of land and extending some miles to the eastward is a ridge or plateau, from two to three hundred feet in height, steeply sloping to the shoreline. Trees and the dense chaparral of Cuba cover the rocky and irregular surface of this hillside, the wild confusion of nature forming better rifle-pits here than the efforts of man could produce.
Shortly before sundown on May 10, signal was made directing the commanding officer of the Nashville and me to repair on board the Marblehead. On our arrival on board that vessel, we were informed by Commander McCalla that he intended to make an attempt at daylight the following morning to cut the ocean telegraph-cables; that an expedition of boats under my command would be sent in to endeavor to find and cut the cables landing near Colorados lighthouse, that the expedition would be opposed by a force of the enemy, and that the Marblehead and the Nashville would shell the country and attempt to dislodge the enemy or silence his fire. I was told that I could have the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Marblehead and the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Nashville, and that Lieutenant E. A. Anderson of the Marblehead would accompany the expedition as second in command. I had no further orders as regards the fitting out of the expedition, the details being left entirely to my own judgment.
The crew of each steam-cutter consisted of a cockswain, two seamen, a fireman, and a coal-passer. In addition to the crew, a sergeant of marines and half a dozen privates were to go as sharp-shooters. They were to be armed with rifles. In the Marblehead's steam-cutter a one-pounder Hotchkiss cannon was to be mounted on the forecastle. The Nashville's steam-cutter was to have two Colt machine-guns, one forward and the other aft. All boats were to be supplied with life-preservers. The tools for cutting the cables, to be carried in each sailing launch, consisted of cold-chisels, blacksmiths' hammers, a heavy maul, a block of hard wood with iron plate for its upper surface, an ax, wire-cutting pliers, and a hacksaw. Coils of stout rope and grapnels of different sizes were to be used in grappling the cables and bringing them to the surface.
My own individual orders were very brief. I was simply to cut the cables as directed above, and under no circumstances to land. The orders were quite sufficient, and I was glad to escape being hampered by more explicit instructions.
All should be nodding their heads here. Short clear orders.

Now days, things won't be so dramatic. Submarines and drones can do it ... but the impact will be the same and more dramatic as it will impact everywhere from teenagers' bedrooms to The Pentagon.

Silence. How the world would change in the blink of an eye.

So, what is the backup plan?

Head on over and read the whole thing by the guy who did the mission, LCDR Cameron Winslow, USN.

H/t Claude & Sid.

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