We are now entering a new phase in military expenditures. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown has just testified that the Soviets are making so much headway in space technology that the United States may have to allocate twice the money it spends now to develop it's own outer-space weaponry.
It appears that while the U.S. has been spending billion on earth-flying missiles, the Soviets have been concentrating on anti-satellite missiles than can knock our satellites out of space. We have no choice, says the secretary, but to develop our own antisatellite weapons to knock down their satellites.
If you think conventional and atomic weapons cost money wait until you get the bill for America's defense of outer space.
Why do we need it? This is the question I asked a friend of mine who runs the "Threat-of-the-Month" office at the Pentagon. My riend's job is to come up with a new Soviet threat every month to justify the spending of more money on military hardware. It was he who came up with the "missiel gap," the "Anti-Ballistic Missile System" and the "Backfire Bomber."
"The concept of space warfare," he said with a certain amount of pride, "is so big that you can't even put a price tag on it. Knocking down the other fellow's satellite has been the dream of military men since Sputnick. It makes ware on earth almost obsolete."
"That," I said, "is not a bad thing. It's rather fight the Soviets outside the Van Allen belt, than down here on the ground. Nobody can get too shaken up over a dead satellite."
"Don't kid yourself. We would take a very dim view if the Soviets blew up one of our satellites in space."
"But you could always send up another one," I said.
"That's not the point. There's a question of pride at stake. How would we look around the world if we permitted the Soviets to shoot down one of our satellites, and we didn't shoot down one of their's. We can't permit the Soviets to have a dominant position in the antisatellite realm.""Why not?"
"Because we're becoming more and more dependent on our space systems to be able to conduct warfare down here on the ground. We can hardly navigate a tugboat anymore without first checking it out with a communications' satellite."
"I thought everyone agreed we would only use space for peaceful means."
"We did. But the Soviet military couldn't stand the idea of sending things into space just to see what was there. So they came up with a killer satellite, which leaves us no alternative than to develop our own interceptor to blow their satellites up. Two can play the space game."
"Why do you think the Soviet military decided to go into space warfare?"
"I would imagine because they were sure we had already gone into it."
"Well, we certainly were giving it some thought. When you see the other guy's satellite orbiting around you night and day you get fed up after awhile, and start wondering if you can knock it down."
"So you figure we're in a whole new hall game and if we want to play it will cost us at least 40 billion bucks."
"That's true. But don't forget the space defense has its advantages."
"What are they?"
"Well for one thing it takes people's minds off the threat of the Soviet's Backfire Bomber."