Strategic Strike Warfare

Readers must familiarize themselves with these subtopics to understand the concepts discussed in this chapter. These articles are linked within this chapter, but it may be easier to read them in advance.  

Jumbo Jet Bombers - sealord, missile launcher, bomber 

Mobile Phone "Radar" - can defeat stealth technology

Airborne Aircraft Carriers - fighters can conduct global strike missions from tankers

Sub-Atomic Bombs - huge conventional bombs

Fiber Optic Guided Bombs - the ultimate airpower weapon

Meteor Bombs - the ultimate bunker buster

MK-71 8-inch Naval Gun - can fire over the horizon

Harbor Torpedoes- a slow, stealthy strike option


     This is a huge topic so discussion will focus on potential new techniques and important issues that are generally ignored. It seems obvious that future long-range bombers will be simple launch platforms like modified jumbo jet bombers that launch stand-off weapons like cruise missiles.  Expensive stealth aircraft are slow so can only safely operate at night and are vulnerable to varied detection methods like older long-wave radar and even Mobile Phone "Radar. Modern air defenses have become too lethal to risk ultra-expensive penetrating bombers, although tankers may serve as Airborne Aircraft Carriers so that smaller strike-fighter aircraft can attack strategic targets. The value of stealthy strike-fighters is questionable since they must carry weaponry internally, which halves their payload potential.

The Limits of Strike Warfare

     Strike warfare is extremely valuable when targets are known. Once high-altitude air defenses have been suppressed with cruise missile strikes, jumbo jet bombers can pound area targets with dumb bombs, Sub-Atomic Bombs, and use Fiber Optic Guided Bombs and Meteor Bombs for precision strikes. Unfortunately, it is easy to hide most targets from satellite and aerial reconnaissance. As a result, wars this past decade have seen the US Air Force bomb anything suspicious while claiming it was devastating the enemy. While many books and articles describe future warfare as one dominated by precision weaponry, reality has proven otherwise. At a January 2001 US Air Force sponsored Gulf War anniversary retrospective, the leader of the 1991 DESERT STORM air campaign, retired Air Force General Charles Horner, noted:

     "We need to really think about where we want to go with our airpower. The problem with it is that we have  a lot of precision, but we don't have a lot of knowledge. I always say, it's like a doctor with a scalpel.  We can cut the enemy's optic nerve with it if we want to blind him, but instead we take it and jab him in the ass. That's kind of the way we approach airpower even today, 10 years after the Gulf War."

The 05-15-00 issue of Newsweek reported this about the 1999 US Air Force strike warfare results in Kosovo:

     "It was an antiseptic war, fought by pilots flying safely three miles high--for the most part.  It seems almost too good to be true, and it was.  In fact, as some critics suspected at the time, the air campaign against the Serb military in Kosovo was largely ineffective.  NATO bombs plowed up some fields, blew up hundreds of cars, trucks, and decoys, and barely dented Serb artillery and armor. According to a suppressed U.S. Air Force report obtained by Newsweek, the number of targets verifiably destroyed was a tiny fraction of those claimed:  14 tanks, not 120; 18 armored personnel carriers, not 220; 20 artillery pieces, not 450. Out of the 744 "confirmed" strikes by NATO pilots during the war, the Air Force investigators, who spent weeks combing Kosovo by helicopter and by foot, found evidence of just 58."

The 10-8-01 issue of "Aviation Week" noted: 

"Defense planners are 'desperate to improve the health of precision signals intelligence, which has not been so good,' a reconnaissance specialist said. 'We fired 800 HARMs [radar-killing missiles] at $200,000-300,000 each in Kosovo and hit one SAM [Surface to Air Missile].'"  

The 7-22-02 issue of "Aviation Week" noted:  

"One lesson of the March-June 1999 Kosovo air campaign was the comparative difficulty of prosecuting the hard-kill element of the suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) task.  Yugoslavian forces became adept, for instance, at moving SA-6 Gainful tracked launch vehicles and the associated Straight Flush radar when they thought  the equipment had been exposed to satellite, crewed-aircraft or UAV reconnaissance. The SA-6 battery crews effectively operated within the allied air forces decision cycle for launching an air strike using  precision-guided weapons.  Out of some 25 SA-6 batteries in service, only three were confirmed as destroyed during the air campaign." 

     The US takeover of Afghanistan in 2002 is used as an example of the wonder of precision strike warfare. While the operation was excellent, it merely tipped the military balance in a civil war.  There were events that were generally ignored by the American media, such as when Dan Rather of CBS News appeared live (i.e. uncensored) on Larry King's show from Kabul, Afghanistan and announced:

RATHER: Yes, Larry, I'm glad you mention it. I think the Russians involvement in what's going on in Afghanistan now is a vastly underreported story. No. 1, the Russians had a full division, I think it was called the 201st, at least an armored division right on the border of Afghanistan, and units of that division and other Russian troops have been very much involved in what's been happening lately, but they have kept themselves as much as possible out of sight.

There are reports, I have not been able to confirm them, but there are reports that I do believe that what amounts to Russian special forces are, have been operating for some time now even south of Kabul in the effort to make Kandahar fall. And the Russians rushed in here with a humanitarian aid operation.

They beat the Americans in here and nearly everybody else with humanitarian aid setup.  In fact just across this wall from where I'm talking, the Russians have their version of a tent city, and have started their humanitarian aid operation. This is an official Russian government operation as I understand it. So they're very much involved here. 

      Here is the link to Rather's interview for non-believers. Once again, the US strategy for invading Afghanistan was excellent, except for letting Osama bin Laden escape. However, Afghanistan is still incorrectly touted as an example of victory by strike warfare alone.

Strike Warfare in Iraq in 2003

     The strike warfare campaign against Iraq in 2003 and provides a good example of strike warfare in excess. Iraqi air defenses remained weak after the 1991 war a subsequent embargo, and were attacked repeatedly for a year before the actual war. The official war began with a pleasant surprise.  It seemed the Pentagon was just bluffing about employing a mad doctrine of terrorizing civilians with heavy bombing, a concept recently renamed after a horrible book Shock and AweWhen armchair experts who failed to read military history advocated this, military experts laughed, until General Myers supported the idea.  Surely the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs was just taunting the Iraqis. Since the US military hadn't bombed Kabul into rubble to crush the Taliban in Afghanistan, it was assumed the concept of massive strategic bombardment had finally died after a series of failures since World War II.

     Two days later, the surprise ended as a mindless bombing campaign began, mostly the result of a distorted concept of "jointness."  US Navy destroyers and submarines were of no value in this war, yet Admirals insisted they be allowed to fire hundreds of million-dollar Tomahawk missiles at something.  The Air Force spent billions of dollars on their B-2 bombers (right) as part of its "Global Reach" concept, so they must bomb something too.  Aircraft carrier pilots also like bombing buildings since they can drop JDAM satellite-guided bombs miles away from Iraqi anti-aircraft systems. These groups had a grand time planning and executing a bombardment to pummel Iraqi government buildings in Baghdad.

     This didn't look good on television. Reporters on the scene noted that government buildings under attack had been empty for days. They said Iraqi civilians were angry at the pointless destruction, which also broke their windows and frightened all.  It soon became apparent that "Shock is Awe" was a failed strategy, but it was too much fun to stop.  Then the first 10% of precision-guided munitions that malfunction slammed into houses, then another into a marketplace. A couple years before, the Navy dropped 500 lb bombs filled with concrete into Iraqi cities to limit civilian damage.  As the US Air Force dropped 2000 lb bombs filled with high explosives onto Baghdad, it didn't take an expert to determine this caused civilian deaths, even when the bomb impact point was perfect.  The leader of Iraq's main Shiite opposition group was so angered at the destruction that he stated US troops must leave as soon as Hussein was overthrown.

     Television images of the senseless bombings inflamed world opinion against the war. The Pentagon tried to spin the onslaught and assured everyone that civilian areas are never "targeted" meaning they don't feel responsible when precision weapons malfunction. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that what was shown on television was not really happening.  He bragged that these precision weapons had accuracy "undreamt of in earlier wars" and was proven correct after some cruise missiles struck Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; no one had dreamt weapons could miss their targets by hundreds of miles. It was possible their GPS signals had been jammed by the Iraqis. The Pentagon denied this, and then announced it had destroyed six Iraqi GPS jammers. They claimed the jammers were ineffective and caused no problems, yet put them on top of their target list for immediate attack, and criticized Russian capitalists for selling them. 

     US warplanes escalated bombing raids into Iraq by striking radar sites near Baghdad.  However, 24 of 32 Navy and Air Force GPS-guided bombs missed. The Navy is unsure what happened while the Air Force announced it was caused by programming errors. While everyone outside the Pentagon realized "Shock and Awe" had failed and was counterproductive, the Air Force and Navy continued pointless bombings. A US Air Force General explained this madness of bombing empty buildings rather than disbursed Iraqi troops when he admitted: "We don't like to bomb mud."   

     "Shock and Awe" was a lousy idea, which fooled some politicians and Generals with little historical knowledge about warfare. It failed in the "London Blitz" as it only hardened the British resolve to win.  It failed over Nazi Germany. It failed to discourage the North Vietnamese. It failed in 1999 over Yugoslavia, which withdrew its troops from Kosovo only after NATO agreed to its original demand that Kosovo would remain a sovereign part of Yugoslavia. That was another disaster spun by American politicians and their allies in the corporate media into a "victory."  Finally, strike warfare failed to cause Iraqis to bow down to the airpower God, it only made them angry. This information is not presented to denounce the value of strike warfare, but to correct common misconceptions.  

Approved Targets

     Strategic strike strategy has become more complex since the end of the Cold war.  World War II and Cold War strategy was to destroy anything of value to an enemy, known as "Total War."  See the excellent documentary now on video "The Fog of War" for details. However, smaller wars become complicated.  In Vietnam for example, dams and many other civilian targets were off limits.  The obvious tactic of mining the main port at Haiphong, where Soviet ships off-loaded war material, wasn't allowed until the very end.  These limits were imposed because politicians feared provoking a Chinese intervention.  Limiting targets was partly blamed for the failure in Vietnam, so standards were gradually loosened. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 resistance was expected to be light, so it didn't make sense to destroy strategic targets.  Nevertheless, an excessive bombing campaign was initiated, which again showed that war is too important to be left to the Generals.

     The modern era raises many more questions. What about the Internet?  Will that be allowed to operate freely during a major war, allowing enemy agents to easily send e-mail and digital photos from a local coffee shop or library? Will specialized ships or submarines cut undersea fiber optic cables to shut off the Internet?  What about civilian airliners flying all over the world. Are they fair targets? The US military chartered hundreds of commercial aircraft to move troops and equipment to the Middle East during its wars there, those must be considered legitimate targets, but how does one tell?  What about aircraft from neutral nations? If the United States imposes a blockade against Iran, will it shoot down Russian, Chinese, or Swiss civilian airliners that ignore it?

     What about nuclear power plants? Should they be bombed to shut off power, even though it would contaminate the entire region with radiation for decades?  Computer viruses seem like a harmless weapon, but what if they spread from the target computers to the Internet, and then back to the nation that released them? What about international satellite cell phone services, which terror groups are already known to use?  Should those satellites be destroyed that are owned by a neutral nation because the enemy uses the service? What about sinking supertankers full of crude oil that will cause massive environmental damage?  These are very difficult questions that must be discussed at war colleges.

     Chapter 2 discusses the need to evaluate each nation's strategic materials to find weak points.  For example, rather than destroying ten oil refineries there may be one factory that produces a certain chemical they all need. Destroying that factory and the bridges nearby could halt work at all refineries for months. Today's bombs have such precision that destroying an entire factory that may kill hundreds of civilians is not required.  Small bombs can shut down a factory for months by hitting a key computerized management system, and perhaps a few key precision pieces of equipment.  The US military is pursuing this idea with the development of 250 lb "small diameter bombs," rather the traditional 1000 or 2000 pounders. This allows an aircraft to carry many more bombs for more targets while limiting collateral damage.

Addicted to GPS

     One problem with stand-off weapons is a growing reliance on the GPS system. A "constellation" of 27 GPS satellites continually circle the Earth in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) around 12,500 miles from the surface. A European GPS system is now in service. As discussed in Chapter 4, GPS satellites can be shot down, even by jet fighter aircraft launching modified long-range air-to-air missiles. The US Air Force hopes to quickly replace downed satellites with smaller "micro-satellites" that can be quickly launched, with what they call "launch on demand."  This will be very expensive, and since satellites are easy to shoot down, replacements may not last longer either.  

     GPS jamming is another problem. Small GPS jammers are simple devices for sale on the Internet.  The GPS frequency is no secret, so anyone transmitting something on that frequency can jam a GPS signal, even if that signal is encrypted. There is no easy solution since a satellite 12,500 miles above Earth relying on solar energy for power cannot compete with a transmitter on Earth one mile from a falling bomb. In 1997, a GPS transmitter at Griffis Air Force Base was left on inadvertently after a test for a two-week period causing a complete loss of GPS signals to 16 commercial airliners and partial loss of signals to almost all aircraft operating within a 300-nautical mile radius. (see Naval Proceedings, Jan 2002, p 86) 

     The only solution is to attack the GPS jammers, which are easy to find if they remain stationary or transmit continually. If they are mounted on a truck that moves about whenever incoming aircraft are detected, they will be difficult to destroy. A future GPS system could use frequency hopping coordinated by ground base controllers to solve the problem, but it will take more than a decade to gradually replace the current constellation of 27 GPS satellites.  However, that would require modification of all GPS receivers and a method of programming them with the secret frequency hopping pattern.

     A more devious defense against GPS weaponry is a "spoofer," which transmits a slightly incorrect GPS signal.  This is more effective because a falling GPS bomb whose signal is jammed will remain on its current path and hit near the target. A spoofer causes it to change course to ensure a miss. However, a spoofer must be far more sophisticated to mimic the actual GPS signal and is of no value if the GPS signal is encrypted. If an enemy is using GPS, a nation may shut down their own GPS satellite system over the battlefield until it is truly needed.  This concept is ideal for National Missile Defense. If an enemy has developed GPS guided ICBMs or cruise missiles, once their launch is detected the GPS system can be shut down for several minutes so the incoming missiles are blinded. Ground forces may use an opposing nation's GPS, so that nation may shut down signals over a battlefield whenever the enemy launches an offensive.

      Because of GPS vulnerabilities nations should obtain or retain stocks of the original cruise missile guidance system that relies on terrain mapping. Other types of guidance should be explored. For example, a high-flying UAV like Global Hawk (right) at 65,000 feet will be difficult for an enemy to shoot down as it maintains a safe stand-off distance outside the range of air defense weapons. It may carry a GPS signal amplifier to overcome jamming, or it may broadcast GPS signals by determining its exact position by using distant land-based transmitters like the old LORAN system.  Unlike an orbiting satellite, it needn't remain airborne at all times, just when a strike package is inbound. A final option would put a few GPS satellites into a much higher orbit where they are more difficult to destroy. The Global Hawk UAV could use these high-orbit satellites as navigation points and rebroadcast GPS signals, acting like a repeater.  Such systems would also be helpful to ground forces if some GPS satellites are destroyed.

     Another option is to equip some UAVs with an astro-inertial navigation system, which locks onto stars to determine position. The old SR-71 used a similar system while the current B-2 bombers use a newer one.  At high altitude, this works even during the daytime and is unjammable.  While not as precise as GPS, three UAVs orbiting at high-altitude can use the stars to broadcast navigation signals on the GPS frequency to provide ground users with nearly identical performance as GPS. Using UAVs also allows a military to easily change the GPS frequency, use frequency hopping, or encryption.  If an enemy is using GPS during an offensive operation, UAVs may be used to broadcast a slightly incorrect GPS signal to confuse the enemy and foil GPS guided missile attacks. Friendly forces could be advised to adjust their GPS readings, like add 1000 meters north to whatever the GPS signal indicates.

     Nevertheless, a good GPS signal does not ensure an accurate hit. The May 2002 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette had an interesting article by LtCol John T. Rahm entitled: "Bombing Accuracy for Idiots." He points out that circular error probable (CEP) is commonly used to measure the accuracy of a weapon. However, "probable" means the circle, often very elliptical, where 50% projectiles or bombs are likely to hit.  While that was a good method of measurement for ballistic weaponry, it is very misleading for GPS guided munitions. While they have great CEPs, many guidance systems malfunction and the bomb goes miles off target. LtCol Rahm states that testers disregard such failures when measuring CEP since only 50% matter, and he worked at China Lake where the testing occurred.  He writes this makes them too dangerous for close air support.

     This explains the frequent "mistakes" in Afghanistan and Iraq where some bombs land far from targets. The complexity of GPS guided bombs, cruise missiles, and artillery shells result in friendly fire casualties caused by these factors: a defective guidance system; a guidance system damaged during transport or installation; an incorrect GPS coordinate sent by the targeting system; and incorrect GPS coordinate entered into the bomb; GPS signal interference from nearby mountains, buildings, or solar flares; or GPS signal jamming or spoofing. If an aircraft drops a GPS guided bomb from several miles away, any guidance problem may prove disastrous. Even if 90% work great, that loose 10% may prove too dangerous, especially in an urban environment.

Sub-Orbital Bombers

     The US Air Force has been trying to develop a Mach 5+ sub-orbital recon-bomber for over 30 years hoping to use scramjet engines to allow Mach 8 flight at 90,000 feet.  This would be the modern equivalent of the outstanding Mach 3 SR-71 from 50 years ago.  Its value for reconnaissance is obvious, but it can operate as a bomber as well using GPS-guided bombs like JDAM. At these speeds and altitudes a bomber could overfly a nation before ground-based missiles or fighter aircraft could catch them.  However, since the US military has yet to build an aircraft that can exceed the Mach 3 SR-71, a leap to Mach 8 makes success doubtful, and cost effectiveness unlikely.

     A more realistic plan would modify some surplus B-1 bombers as test platforms.  The original B-1A was designed as a high altitude bomber. With newer jet engines installed like those just developed for the F-35, it would have 25% more thrust.  With a new tail design for higher speed, the old B-1A engine inlets for higher altitude, and perhaps heat resistant materials on its leading edges, a B-1B (above) could fly much higher than 50,000 feet and faster than Mach 2.  

     The next step would place a small rocket engine it is rear, using the aft bomb bay area.  With pilots in SR-71 type space suits, when it nears Mach 3 at 60,000 feet and its jet engines begin to lose power from a lack of air, it can ignite its rocket engine for several minutes and rocket upward to ~100,000 feet reaching near Mach 3.  As the rocket burns out the B-1 can level out and spread its swept wings to provide stability, deliver its payload or take pictures, then as it glides back into the atmosphere, restart its jet engines. This idea is practical, without the unsolved challenge of airframe heating at Mach 5+ at 90,000 feet, and scramjet engines that may not ignite or stall.  Even though rockets must carry their own oxygen, they can push up and out of the atmosphere, which means more velocity because of less drag, with less heat, and less aerodynamic shape problems.  This is not an untested idea.  The rocket-boosted NF-104 fighter (left) flew above 118,000 feet several times in 1961 during US Air Force tests.

     These improvements can provide a B-1 with the high-altitude dash speed to "rocket" over another nation outside the range of its air defenses to perform reconnaissance or drop JDAM bombs. They could also launch missiles at enemy satellites or launch a Pegasus-type rocket with a microsat payload. Lessons learned would allow the construction of a future hybrid jet-rocket bomber, or perhaps the refit of all B-1Bs as ultra high-altitude B-1Cs. This is a practical concept that can quickly yield results because B-1s exist, while the training and support infrastructure is already in place.  

The USAF recently revealed that its "new" bomber will be an upgraded B-2. They did not say that, but the picture says all, and the name. The USAF has 20 B-2s in service, so the next one will be a B-21! Given their recent inability to develop new aircraft, it's good the USAF stayed with a proven design.

However, Generals insist on a manned penetrating bomber, despite advances in radar that make stealth questionable. A far better option is a commercial airliner, which could carry far more payload at far lower cost and three times the range, like a Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft. This would allow the USAF buy and maintain four times more bombers because commercial aircraft production lines already exist. In addition, the B-2 skin requires constant repair and spare parts cost 20 times more than COTS airline parts, which are available at every big airport worldwide. Another advantage is the missile racks can be removed and the aircraft used to move cargo whenever desired, and a 747 is far more difficult to identify as a bomber as it moves around the world. 

Moreover, some B-21s may be shot down as they bravely and foolishly penetrate hostile airspace. Even if their stealth works, B-2s are easy to see so can only bomb at night, and Russian fighters are known to mount searchlights that may find a slow B-21, especially after it releases bombs, which is a very non-stealthy event. Hopefully, the next president will care enough to correct this error.

Naval Strike Warfare

     The employment of carrier aircraft for strike missions is common and the ability of ships and submarines to fire million-dollar Tomahawk missiles at shore targets is well known. Since the retirement of the battleships, little thought is given to using the first strategic strike weapon--naval gunfire.  During the Vietnam war, dozens of carrier aircraft where shot down attacking targets that were in range of 8-inch and 16-inch naval guns, yet aircraft carrier Admirals rarely used surface combatants as strike platforms. Battleships were finally deployed late in that conflict and conducted a few strike patrols along the Vietnamese coastline.  This terrified the Vietnamese as there was no radar warning and no chance to fire back as they could against strike aircraft.  As a result, one of the first demands made by the North Vietnamese during peace negations was that American battleships stop pummeling their coastal installations.

     Incoming aircraft and cruise missiles can be detected and the alarm sounded, allowing the enemy can take cover and possibly shoot down the attackers.  A ship can approach offshore without detection. It can open fire and deliver dozens of supersonic shells within one minute, then quickly depart. Since naval guns fire rounds faster than the speed of sound, targets are struck with no warning, catching men in the open. This is why naval gunfire always terrified soldiers and made them feel helpless since ships can fire for as long as they please, unlike aircraft that must quickly depart. 

     Since all four battleships were retired, the Navy is left with just 5-inch guns on their cruisers and destroyers. With a range of just 13 miles, Admirals are reluctant to expose these ships to shore fire. The solution is the MK-71 8-inch Naval Gun, which can fire projectiles three times larger than 5-inch guns from over-the-horizon (~24 miles). This weaponry is far less expensive than Tomahawk missiles.  Rather than risk carrier aircraft, a wise Admiral will send cruisers and destroyers armed with 8-inch guns and Harbor Torpedoes to destroy coastal targets. 

NBC Warfare 

     The possibility of nuclear weapons use has risen since the end of the Cold War. As more nations join the nuclear club, it becomes difficult to deny membership to others. Many dictators around the world now seek nuclear weapons after concluding that Saddam Hussein would still be in power if he had a few crude nuclear weapons, which seems to have protected North Korea from attack.  Soviet "loose nukes" remain a problem. They have aged so they are unlikely to work if fired since detonators (triggers) are made from a very high explosive called HMX, which degrades after a few years and becomes unreliable. However, the plutonium remains, so they can be rebuilt if someone has the knowledge.  

     Building a nuclear bomb is not difficult, the basics can be found on the Internet. Obtaining the needed fissile material is the challenge. Building a nuclear weapon compact enough to fit inside a missile warhead requires very advanced knowledge. Therefore, the next nuclear weapon used in a conflict will probably be a truck bomb, either in a terror attack, or as part of a defense. For example, if an American force invades Iran, a truck with an atomic bomb may be set to blow up in their path.  This would kill many and halt their advance for weeks until the radiation dissipates. This seems to be North Korea's plan for their nuclear arsenal since they haven't the knowledge to "miniaturize" nuclear warheads for missile or aircraft delivery.  

     After Winston Churchill served as an infantry battalion commander during the first World War, he returned to England and advocated massive use of chemical munitions.  A close friend was shocked, and asked Churchill how he could take such a position after witnessing their gruesome effects. Churchill replied "You should see what a howitzer shell can do to the human body."  Nevertheless, chemical weapons are difficult to manufacture, store, and employ.  Winds and weather are a big factor with chemical and bio weapons because they can blow back on those that use them.  Generals don't like to use them in their homeland as thousands of civilians may be killed, and then their own army requires NBC suits and decontamination equipment.  As a result, nations are unlikely to produce or use chemical or bio weapons. If they want to fight "dirty," nuclear weapons are best.

Terror or Commando Strikes

     Few people realize that chemical and biological weapons are nearly as difficult to produce as nuclear weapons.  Expert skills are required (not just info from the Internet) and access to restricted chemicals, expensive facilities to produce substantial agents, and a method of employment.  The last part is most difficult because bio weapons are living organisms that quickly die when exposed to sunlight or cool temperatures, while chemicals fall to earth and drift like leaves. In addition, the filters of large air conditioning systems trap airborne particles and chlorinated water supplies inactivate toxins within 20 minutes. The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo spent millions of dollars and years of effort to make Sarin nerve gas, which it released on five Tokyo subway trains in 1995. That effort killed just 12 people; a guy with a sword could have killed more. Terrorists have tried almost everything, and the best weapon they've found are basic explosives.

     Even if a group obtains a common bio weapon like anthrax, a person must deeply inhale hundreds of particles. If treated with common antibiotics within a few days most people fully recover. The only serious incurable communicable disease is smallpox, which was eliminated from Earth 20 years ago, except for a research repository in the USA and another in Russia.  The USA refuses to destroy its remaining strain despite urgings from scientists, and Russia has said it would do so only if the USA agrees. However, smallpox is not contagious until after the infected person is ill for several days and becomes bedridden. So even if a terrorist manages to infect some people, an outbreak can be immediately contained in our era of instant communications.  All of these facts are well known and detailed articles have been published in mainstream magazines.  However, this threat (and Ebola) has been overblown by politicians and companies seeking taxpayer funds.

     Bio and chemical attacks are also unlikely since terrorists seek to destroy objects as well as people. Knocking down the World Trade Center was just as important as killing the people inside. The most likely terrorist weapon are the thousands of tanker trucks filled with gasoline cruising the streets of the world at this moment. Ship tankers full of refined fuel are major threats as well.  However, the threat of terror attacks is vastly overstated. Terrorism is not even one of the top twenty leading causes of preventable deaths in the Western world.  Thousands die each month from automobile accidents, the flu, work accidents, hospital errors, and prescription drug errors.  If a government is truly concerned about protecting the lives of its citizens, terror attacks are a minor concern.