Deep Space Warfare

Military Strategy Beyond Orbit


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About the Book

Since the Cold War, outer space has become of strategic importance for nations looking to seize the ultimate high ground. World powers establishing a presence there must consider, among other things, how they will conduct warfare in orbit. Leaders must dispense with “Buck Rogers” notions about operations in space and realize that policies there will have serious ramifications for geopolitics.
How should nations view space? How should they fight there? What would space warfare look like and how should strategists approach it? Offering critical observations regarding this unique theater of international relations, a military professional explores the strategic implications as human affairs move beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

About the Author(s)

Major John C. Wright is a US Air Force officer and pilot. He has published multiple articles on Pacific region political-military affairs in a variety of journals and online publications. He specializes in Japanese language, culture, and US-Japan military-diplomatic affairs. He lives in Yigo, Guam.

Bibliographic Details

John C. Wright

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendix, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7926-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3784-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction: War Plan Orange 3

1. Interstellar Basics 9
Conflict  10
Determining Military Objectives in Deep Space Warfare  16
The Tyranny of Distance  19
The Stellar System: The Territorial Unit of Interstellar Warfare  21
The ­All-or-Nothing Character of Space Warfare  23
Assumptions  29

2. Logistical Requirements and Realities 33
Supplying Space Forces  33
Forces: To Automate or Not to Automate?  36
The Attrition of Distance  46
Supplying a Planetary Invasion Army  48
Logistical Impacts on Fighting in Hostile Environments  50
Automated Assault Forces  54

3. Ideological Factors 58
The Will to Fight  59
Facing a ­Non-Human Opponent and Its Repercussions  61
The Power and Primacy of Fear  63
The Hazards of Disunity  65
Planetary Unification: An Impossible Dream?  71

4. Space Dominance 83
The Trouble with Space: The “Never Ready” Blues  86
The Military Need for Settlements  88
Planetary Systems as the Key to a Strategic Stronghold  93
Deliberate Targeting: A Challenge to Prioritization  94
The Simple Sphere: Chasing the Ideal Space Superiority Fighter  100
Tactical and Operational Considerations of System Assault  108

5. Planetary Invasion 113
Forces Required  117
Endgame Objectives  118
Stage I: Blockade  121
Stage II: Planetary Siege and Orbital Bombardment  122
Stage III: Biological and Chemical Warfare  124
Stage IV: Orbital Insertion and Spacedrop  125
Planetary Defense and Dealing with Local Resistance  126

6. Economics of Interstellar and Interplanetary Warfare 129
The Planet as a Closed Energy System  131
Deep Space Economic Activity  134
Strategic Resources in Space  137
Mahan’s Ghost: Economic Warfare in Deep Space  142

7. Dealing with ­Non-Human Cultures 150
The Problems of Communication  151
Superior Civilizations  160
Inferior Civilizations  162
Inter-Species Intelligence Gathering Limitations  163

8. Likely Causes of Warfare 167
Resource Competition  167
Territorial Disagreements  169
Fear  170
Honor  170
Self-Interest  172

9. Challenges to Diplomacy 173
Biological Impediments to Interspecies Communication  173
Why Stop Fighting? Finding the Proper Incentive  175
Treaty Limitations  176
The Ease of “Cold War” in Deep Space  178

Afterword 180
Appendix: Useful Formulae 183
Glossary 185
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 193
Index 197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Wright’s audacious look-ahead at extraterrestrial military policy and planning will fascinate space-passionate readers.”—Booklist
  • “As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking…an extraordinary study that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented…recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “Applying a military strategist’s approach to a fascinating problem set, John Wright has written an absorbing and intriguing treatise on fighting in space. Readers might not agree with his conclusions, but the analysis is engaging and fun.”—Brad Glosserman, deputy director of the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University, author of Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions