In war the unexpected happens, and thus the unexpected should be planned for. Treacherous attacks such as those on Pearl Harbor, the USS Stark, and the USS Cole ought to be prevented by wartime states of readiness around all commissioned military assets. Disastrous setbacks should be anticipated: entire fleets can be destroyed, crucial weapons systems can be made obsolete, allies can surrender and expose your flank, entire ports can be irradiated, key elements of the armed forces can be destroyed, encryption protocols can be broken, critical personnel can be killed, generals can surrender their forces without a fight, etc.

To guard against these events, a nation must avoid relying on a single encryption protocol, weapon, port, intelligence source, army, general, fleet, ally, or any other component. Separate armies, fleets and air forces with different strengths, chains of command and encryption protocols should be developed. Encryption methods should be changed regularly and radically. Command and control should be diffused throughout the world. Weapons development should be split between teams of scientists, with no team having all the information. When planning the location of fall-out shelters, the size of aircraft carriers, the deployment of assets and sources of procurement, redundancy should always be a prime consideration.

The use of computer technology

Espionage or hacking could allow the enemy to remotely disable fighter aircraft systems, ship defenses and missile defenses. It could even allow the enemy to use friendly weapons (for example missiles and drone aircraft) to attack friendly targets. It is not inconceivable that terrorist hackers could order friendly forces to launch a nuclear missile attack against friendly cities, in the same way Iran commandeered a top secret American RQ-170 drone spy plane. The leverage the enemy gains by compromised technology means that security breaches are now of far greater significance than ever before. Leaving aside the importance of securing data, measures should be in place to ensure that if a code is breached, the results are local and minimal. In addition, there should be checks and balances so that multiple systems and protocols need to be breached before malicious action can succeed.

America’s reliance on super-carriers

In the age of the nuclear torpedo, man-portable nuclear demolition charges and swarm anti-ship missile tactics, the reliance placed on super-carriers by the United States is clearly negligent. History shows that when one or two great capital ships are sunk without commensurate damage to the enemy, the rest are immediately confined to port—so great is the fear of losing the remainder. It will only take the sinking of one or two super-carriers to force the rest to be kept out of harm’s way and therefore out of action. Just as the age of the battleship ended with the sinking of the Prince of Wales, so too will the age of the super-carrier be closed with the sinking of just one or two of these enormous expensive floating targets. These ships should be replaced now with thousands of smaller autonomous drone carriers.

The Pentagon

Other than a Stalinist penchant for gigantism, there is no justification for concentrating so many military leaders and planners in the Pentagon. It ought to be converted into a shopping mall and its functions dispersed throughout the United States and the world. The damage caused to the Pentagon on 9/11 was a trifle compared to what could be achieved by a state like Iran or North Korea. A small nuclear device smuggled into the United States and detonated in the Pentagon parking lot would have a catastrophic effect on the ability of the United States to organize and command its forces in a time of crisis.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove