Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Threats Real and Virtual

In this recent interview, USNORTHCOM Commander General Victor Renuart outlines growing threats across new frontiers - specifically mentioning cyberspace and the Arctic.

A massive cyber attachk remains what I consider one of the ultimate Black Swans (to the extent that you can't predict a Black Swan except in hindsight). Not only is the military highly dependent on cyber-systems, but so are vast swaths of civilian and commercial infrastructure. According to GEN Renuart, U.S. government and industry officials "have some work do in the cyber area." That is a vast understatement.

I'll be quick to resort to science fiction, but what first comes to mind is the Battlestar Galactica scenario - take out the network that ties everything together, everything falls apart quickly. It would also cause a vast crisis of public confidence.

Additionally, GEN Renuart gives the Arctic its due as a site of potential future security interests. Remember, itinerant blogger Hawkeye Havoc wrote about the Russian moves in this area over a year ago, glad to see NORTHCOM is finally getting up to speed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I recently had the chance to see the movie "Persepolis", a wonderful black and white animated film based on the grahpic novel by Marjane Satrapi. It is the story of one Irani family, from the Revolution to the Iraq War, told through the eyes of a young girl (Satrapi). The animation is stellar and the story is beautifully told. It is these Iranians - secular, moderate - that we sometimes forget about, especially with the semi-constant drumbeat towards war we hear today. I think there are more of them than the rantings of Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs would have you believe.

It's a shame this movie wasn't considered for Best Animated picture. But hey, no dancing, cooking rat - what would we expect?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Let's Sue!!!

The House of Representatives passed a bill today proposing to subject OPEC to U.S. anti-trust laws. The bill passed by 324-84, enough to override a threatened Presidential veto. While lately, as a center-left leaning Rockefeller Republican, I'm inclined to support anything the White House opposes. This, however, is stupid.


At best, this is a cheap political stunt. At worst, it's pissing in the wind and threatens to provoke a anti-US backlash from OPEC nations. The article quotes a Democratic Lawmaker saying " Americans "are at the mercy" of OPEC for how much they pay for gasoline, which this week hit a record average of $3.79 a gallon." Americans are at the mercy of their own consumption habits, and developing lifestyles that encourage consumption.

Could this be the first volley in the oil crisis of the early 21st century?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I should be happy but...

The Surface Warfare community is quite pleased with itself this week, and to some extent rightly so. From a tactical perspective, it was quite impressive to successfully shoot down the degraded satellite. It is also a strong validation of our BMD capabilities.

I'm not some rabid, anti-BMD guy, but this event bothers me on two levels. First, honesty is the best policy. Who do we think we're fooling with the "save the world from hydrazine" story? This was about sending a message. If we're so sure this is a good idea, a good capability, why not say so?

Secondly, it underscores the vulnerability of our satellite infrastructure. China shot down a satellite in 2007, and such capabilities probably aren't far outside of Russian capabilities either. We should be wary of being too provocative in this field given our dependence on satellites for GPS, communications and other military capabilities.

Bravo Zulu to the crew of USS LAKE ERIE for putting the round on target. I just remain wary that just because we can, it doesn't mean we necessarily should.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Nuclear Option

(Above, USS BAINBRIDGE, CG-N 25, one of the first nuclear-powered warships. Below, an artist's rendering of CG-X)


The FY 2008 Defense Authorization requires the U.S. Navy to build its next generation of Surface Combatants (specifically CG(X)) with a nuclear propulsion plant. While the Navy has some wiggle room to opt for conventional propulsion, I believe there is some wisdom in pursuing this nuclear strategy.

While I am not nuclear trained - didn't have a high-enough GPA to qualify to be a "nuke," I believe that in the "peak oil" scenario a nuclear powered Navy may be the only way to maintain any viable national defense. A conventionally powered fleet will be too vulnerable to oil supply disruption, and it will not be sustainable as there is simply no fuel for the oilers (and the oilers would become even more important targets than the carriers are now).

So...start building those reactors. Not to reduce hydrocarbon emissions, but to protect America when there are no more hydrocarbons to emit. The CG(X) would be a good start...other nuclear powered ships should follow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Seriously, AFRICOM

I'm all for the establishment of AFRICOM as a new US Combatant Commander. It's probably long overdue. While the command faces some challenges - namely a skeptical Africa, and integrating an interagency community into a largely non-military, non-kinetic fight (where, by the way there is still no Goldwater-Nichols type mandate for interagency participation), I hope for the best out of AFRICOM.

But seriously, what's up with their seal? Is it just me, or does it look like a vagina? Couldn't the people who design these things have come up with something less...pussy?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Coming American Anarchy?

Robert Kaplan's classic "The Coming Anarchy" depicts an international environment where disease, resource scarcity and poverty shape geo-political trends and national interests.

Two recent articles have me thinking about this on a more personal (American) level.

The first is from the New York Times Magazine, "The Future is Drying Up." http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/magazine/21water-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin It provides an excellent review of water scarcity in the American West, and questions how long growth rates in that area can persist.

The second is the broader coverage of the current drought in Georgia. There is a fair amount of coverage at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/drought.html

The broader concern is, just how fragile is the system? What sort of ripple effect could we see throughout the southeast if Georgia runs out of water? Would we seem a stream of refugees fleeing, as in Katrina? How long could a major metropolitan area like Atlanta survive on bottled water and delivery trucks?

The developing world lives with scarce water supplies daily. A first world nation could be in for a very rude awakening in 2008. And faced with such a potentially persisent crisis, what would be the ripple effect on to America's standing in the world?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Egypt: The Future of Iraq?

I was recently privileged to spend two weeks in and around Cairo, and I started to daydream a bit. Someday, could Iraq look like Egypt? A stable country, with a solid middle class, a tourist industry?

It's not the perfect analogy to strive for - an authoritarian government, pollution, overpopulation. But it makes you wonder why some of the other functioning Arab nations aren't doing more to support the government of Iraq. When you look at UAE, Qatar, or Bahrain - they aren't such bad places.

It almost brings back to mind the origins of the European Union...start small, with something like the European Coal and Steel Communityh, and expand slowly from there. It seems like Arabs from functioning societies such as Egypt, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar could do more to stabilize Iraq than we ever might.

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's About Time

The State Department has recently announced that it will direct diplomats to serve in Iraq. In the spirit of creating a true unity of effort, in my mind, this is long overdue. The people best suited to nourishing a fledgling judicial system are not soldiers. They're people from the Department of Justice. The people best suited to developing an alternative to poppy/opium based agriculture are not soldiers - it's professionals from the Department of Agriculture. Either the nation is at war, or it isn't. I hope to see similar initiatives/incentives for the rest of the interagency community.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gratuitous Post

This post has nothing to do with shocks or trends, except to the extent it's shocking I got so close to two Nashville Predators Cheerleaders. Who knew the NHL had cheerleaders? What other surprises lurk in the battlespace?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Netroots, meet world

There's bit a great deal of discussion about the netroots concept in terms of a U.S. elections and domestic policy, but are there larger, strategic implications?

I ask this because recently I attend a showing of the documentary "The Devil Came on Horseback" about an observer to the cease fire in Sudan. After the showing of the film, there was a discussion period with the audience and several traditional grassroots organizations. The head of the local chapter of Amnesty International, STAND (Students for Taking Action Now in Darfur), and a few other smaller peace organizations were there.

The discussion, somewhat predictably with an audience of mostly true believers, largely stuck to safe ground: the tragedy of it all, the way the Iraq war has hamstrung the U.S. from perhaps a more constructive role, the fact that the troubles of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton get more attention than the dying in Sudan.

But then an older gentelman stood up and proposed that if the U.S. was too short on troops, perhaps Americans should head over with guns themselves. Surprisingly, this was not greeted with outright derision and indeed, the next speaker not only seconded that motion, but went on to call for action with words to the effect of "If the U.S. government won't do anything, then by golly the American people should raise the money and hire Blackwater and send them ourselves."

And the crowd applauded.

So, I would then ask - while this might seem absurd on the surface - paying someone else to fight a war- is it entirely so? Could a grassroots/netroots campaign build the kind of support where people are willing to pay for such action? Could the people, in effect, take control of foreign policy in some circumstances?

Blackwater, for example has received an estimated $300 billion in contracts since the outset of the Iraq war. Is it inconceivable that a George Soros or other geo-political extraterratorial actor could lead such a charge?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Back to Mahan?

Another very important article from Robert Kaplan. America's Elegant Decline revisits the question of our ability to shape events in the Eurasian mainland. Our military power far exceeds that of any combination of opponents. However, in terms of demographics and economic prowess, the U.S. is entering a phase where others are catching up, and eventually, our military ability to shape events will reflect this reality.

Kaplan's article is interesting in that he is trying to think forward, past our current focus on Counterinsurgency and Stability operations. How will the U.S. shape a national security strategy that is within our power to execute? I believe that a powerful mental adjustment may be underway within the American mind -- the world is a big place, and is too large for us to be engaged decisively everywhere. We will increasingly withdraw from Eurasia and focus on key relationships around the world, such as Japan, the U.K., and India, to name but a few. The future of U.S. military forces will turn to Navy to allow us to access Eurasia and ensure communications with our allies. Our Aerospace forces will be used in a similar role. The future of our ground forces will be smaller, more mobile, and will be geared to lower our profile and achieve more tailored and discrete missions to shape the Eurasian environment to our liking.

Semper Fi, Marine

Today we pause from our "deep thoughts" to remember one warrior, one Marine. "Hap" died on Wednesday night. He was a great Marine and friend and will be missed.

Click here for the news clip...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Whose Empire; Whose Mind?

Following the thread 1st SeaLord illustrated in his last post, I found this quote from the recent Washington Post Story about improvised explosive devices in Iraq highly illuminating:
The IED struggle has become a test of national agility for a lumbering military-industrial complex fashioned during the Cold War to confront an even more lumbering Soviet system. "If we ever want to kneecap al-Qaeda, just get them to adopt our procurement system. It will bring them to their knees within a week," a former Pentagon official said.

"The Empires of the Future are the Empires of the Mind" is more than a cool header for our blog. It means something to me, in that I believe that world of the future will quite literally be shaped by those most at home with communicating and using the infosphere to their advantage. Individual Americans (including, i might add, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in the field) are increasingly at home in this environment. Unfortunately at operational, strategic, and political military levels of war, our government is increasingly out of its league. Enormous time and effort is spent formatting, controlling, labeling, copying, and filing information. Much, much less is spent on actually creating and sharing it. Increasingly, our industrial-age information sharing structures are breaking down, and it is playing severe havoc with our ability to create themes and to shape the environment. It's a theme to which I will return in future posts. If our government cannot adapt to the future international environment, how free peoples create their own information-age modes of organization to attend to their security needs? Western polities unleashed as 4th generation warfare actors will be formidable indeed.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Think Strategically, Act Tactically

There's a great series (began on 30 Sep 2007) in today's Washington Post that outlines the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With the IED, you have a very specific tactical action with far reaching operational and strategic effects. While the tactical impact, although tragic, is small - one of a thousand cuts - the operational-strategic cost is higher, in terms of a perception of loss of control, in terms of a small, lo-tech (improvised) weapon stymieing one of the most technologically advanced fighting forces in the history of warfare.

As the article points out, we are making progress in the C-IED fight. But it's not over, and the adaptive nature of the enemy means this fight will go on for a long time. In future operations - counterinsurgency, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance - we could see a quick return to the IED as the weapon of choice to check a larger, more capable armed force.

But I wonder, what other technologies could prove similarly disruptive in future wars? The most obvious would seem to be computers and networks. Think of how your day-to-day life is dependent on computers...imagine how much more so the modern military is. What sort of outside the box threats could we see in the next war?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Planning for Defeat

Part of the problem with the Iraq war is the lack of reasoned, rational debate. Too much "analysis" across the political and media spectrum is merely partisan justification reduced to easily sent and digested sound bites.

That's why this article by George Packer caught my attention.

Now, the right may be tempted to use this to justify an open-ended commitment and the left excoriate it for prolonging failed policy, but Packer is no administration hack. In fact, his book "Assassin's Gate" is a pretty devastating condemnation of the post-war planning (or lack thereof). I would assert - for both sides - that the truth hurts, and there are no easy solutions.

So the question I raise is - how do we raise the level of national discourse to a less partisan, more pragmatic level? How do we address the hard questions the war - and eventual disengagement - would raise? Planning for the Iraq war and its aftermath was characterized by over-optimistic assumptions and wishful thinking. How do we avoid the same mistakes in disengaging?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The mission is too important, Dave

"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it." HAL 9000 in 2001, a Space Odyssey.

I chose this quote from 2001 as I ponder if the post-Iraq military is developing a sense of self-awareness a la Hal 9000 or Skynet. I say this not out of fear of a doomsday scenario or military coup, but if the military is growing to take responsibility for things it should not.

What are the consequences of a global war without mobilizing the people or the rest of government to support it? A popular quote among Soldier and Marines right now goes something like this: “America is not at war. The American military is at war. America is at the mall.” You only have to go to the mall on any given day to see that this is true.

Yet I wonder Politicians say we should go to war with all elements of national power – Diplomatic, Informational, Economic and Military. But now, almost five years into Iraq – the military is asking “when is everyone else (that is to say, all elements of national power) going to show up to this fight?” In the absence of making this decisive ideological struggle a truly national endeavor, the military is taking responsibility for diplomatic, informational and economic operations in Iraq.

Can or should the military effectively conduct these operations? Why would the military be given responsibility, for example, the economic line of operation in Iraq?
Despite the experience from multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the military engaged in some strategic overreach of its own? And does the military enable the continued absence of other government agencies with its can-do spirit?

The adjacent side of this growing self-awareness is a sense of not only the sacrifice but also a share of the blame, that while it’s trendy to bash the administration now, you’ve already seen it to some extent with respect to second-guessing and criticism of Franks, Casey, Sanchez, and others (i.e. the reluctance to renominate General Pace and Admiral Giambastiani to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman positions).

And so, here we are, five years into a long, global war, but only half-heartedly. How long can we keep fighting this way? And are we ready for the consequences to the civil-military relationship if we do so?

Friday, September 7, 2007

21st Century or the 15th? The Canadian Response

***UPDATE*** See this post for more background...In reponse to Russia's claims on the Lemonosov ridge, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to the Arctic on a three day tour. During the trip, the prime minister announced that Canada intends to build a new deepwater port and seven icebreaking vessels. Even in our globalized, information age world, natural resources, location, and honor have their place in international affairs.Will Canada build a national security strategy based on Arctic protection? Will the Northwest Passage become key terrain as shipping move to the area? Which U.S. combatant commander is structured to address conflict in the area? How is the U.S. national security apparatus crafting an information-campaign to further our own extensive interests in an area that borders our homeland?

The Future of "Strategic Terrain"

Geographic locations acquire strategic importance based on how humans use these locations. Locations in and of themselves have little value. Rivers, mountain passes, canals, straits, overflight routes, and air and sea points of debarkation become important to nations and groups as they serve as avenues to travel and choke points to be blocked. Nations have fought for control of key geographic features for easily-defended borders, or to cut off the growth or expansion of a rival. Two oceans have shielded the United States from invasion for nearly 200 years and the highest mountain ranges on earth have caused India to be shielded from sustained invasion by China, but open to invasion from the West. The seas protected England and Japan from invasion for most of their history, but did not afford their colonial subjects similar protection.The importance of locations changes over time and can is dependent on the interests of particular actors. Egypt, for example, was significant to England for its investments and inasmuch as it blocked French ambitions in the area. As the Suez Canal was opened to traffic in 1869 the area between Cairo and the Sinai became the main artery for the British Empire connecting the homeland with the Indian subcontinent. The centrality of this geographic feature to the English resulted in a further extension of a chain of bases throughout the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean to further protect it. During the Cold War, a stretch of windswept ocean, known as the GIUK Gap (for Greenland-Iceland-U.K.) was a central focus of U.S. strategy to contain the Soviet Navy, prevent ballistic missile submarines from accessing the Atlantic, and to ensure that the Army could reinforce Germany in case of conflict with the Warsaw Pact.Strategic terrain remains an important element in any understanding of the international environment. Transnational terrorist organizations encourage ungoverned or ungovernable spaces as sanctuary from which to operate. In spite of the “death of distance” in the information age, servers, computers, and content generation must be located or take place somewhere on earth. The geometry of these activities such as the topology and location of network resources can be important. Furthermore, strategic “terrain” is moving off-world as specific locations in outer space become important to a variety of actors. Geostationary orbital slots are limited and give owners the ability to communicate over wide areas of the earth. Low-earth orbit is important for observation and is becoming cluttered with debris. Lagrange points, areas of gravitational equilibrium may be important stepping stones to the moon and beyond, and represent the ultimate “high ground” in the earth’s gravity well. Even the south pole of the Moon might be considered “key terrain” as abundant, continuous sunlight and the potential availability of frozen water may be the key to establishing control over Earth’s natural satellite.

Toto, We're Not in Sichuan Anymore...

A report from the Daily Telegraph describes dark hints at from Chinese official in interviews that it may use its extensive holdings of dollar-denominated assets, such as Treasury Bonds as leverage against threats of increased tariffs on Chinese goods. The massive trade deficit between the U.S. and China has allowed it to amass over $900 billion of these assets. Nothing highlights both the types of strategic opportunities and threats that feature in today's global information-enabled economy than the game that China is attempting to play. It greatly fears increased import tariffs on its goods and by fingering the trigger of this particular gun, China is telegraphing to the world that it means business.The pain of such a course of action for the U.S. could be dramatic, including a greatly weakened dollar and massive hikes in interest rates. However, the extensively-interconnected global economy means that wielding power results in unanticipated (and often severe) consequences that would redound to China as well. First, an insolvent domestic credit system will need most of that $900 billion to set right. Declining rates of return, or the destruction of this wealth through trade war will throw millions of Chinese out of work (especially combined with a the loss of teh U.S. market) and undermine the stability of the country -- a perennial concern for the communist party there. Furthermore, the threat may be hollow in that thw world economy might not be large enough to accomodate a transfer of this size. Where would this money go, to the euro? the yen? the pound? the ruble?If advanced or rapidly developing economies do not fight because they have too much to lose then we do not have too much to worry about. The die is already cast as China will continue to hold U.S. Treasuries and the U.S. will allow the relatively free flow of Chinese imports. Both sides will find an amicable solution to trade and financial imbalance and neither will resort to the "nuclear option." If, however, conflict and war results from questions of honor, fear, and "face" -- in spite of the consequences -- then China's threat is far more consequential indeed. On which side of this calculus does history come down?***UPDATED August 9 13:58***It is not all that often that "unthinkable" courses of action by a foreign state are commented on by the President. It happened today, however as the Commander in Chief took note of Chinese threats to dump the dollar. In the president's words, it would be "foolhardy" to attempt to push down the dollar in retaliation for US pressure over Beijing's alleged currency manipulation.Bush said he had not seen the report that Beijing was hinting at such a move, in Britain's Daily "That would be foolhardy of them to do that."

A Strategy of "Energy Dominance"?

The control of oil and energy resources seems a recurring theme in recent Russian international relations and security strategy. Russia's Navy has announced plans to reestablish a Naval presence in the eastern Mediterranian Sea. The article linked above mentions the establishment of a military base on the Black Sea at Novorossiysk when Russia's lease on the Ukrainian port of Sevastapol runs out in 2017. Novorossiysk is already a major terminus for Caspian Sea oil. The moves in the Med are also tied to oil, as Latakia is close to Ceyhan, the Turkish terminus for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline.Russia seems to be matching its ends to means and pursuing a strategy that is within its capabilities and accounts for "hard" factors such as natural resources and geography. Its singular focus on having a hand in the production and deliver of oil will help it to guarantee delivery to whomever it wishes (and for whatever political reasons it desires).

21st Century or the 15th?

Russia is claiming an undersea ridge that runs beneath the North Pole. Today, a Russian expedition dispatched a submursible to the seafloor there and placed a titanium-clad russian flag there. The Canadians have responded to these activites with a mixture of bemusement and disbelief. As the search for oil and gas resources intensifies, global commons will become areas of focus for those wishing to exploit potential resources there. Furthermore, the Arctic may be an newly-opened frontier as sea lanes open and habitable areas expand with warming seas and a shrinking ice cap. With resources and access come questions of ownership and control. Will the Arctic emerge as an area of contention as its littoral countries (the U.S., Canada, Denmark, and Russia, and Norway) position themselves for a piece of the potential oil resources there? The Canadian foreign minister responded that "this isn't the 15th century...you cant go around the world and plant flags...claiming territory." His analysis is correct on its face and this indeed is not the 15th century. But in the 21st century nations do indeed "plant flags and claim territory" both on land, in the seas, and in the mind. Canada is in for a sharp shock as its holiday from history comes to a close. Does Canada have the power and, perhaps more importantly, the will to engage in a world where legal nicities and communiques matter not?

China Meets the World

The Counterterrorism Blog reports on attacks on Chinese nationals in response to the storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad. It is rightly observed that Pakistan is on the brink of precipice. In Pakistan, Chinese nationals, security forces and Musharraf regime, all are in an Islamist terror mess, especially after the fall of Red Mosque early this month. Wave of revenge attacks on Chinese nationals and security personnel have been increasing...Avowed militants continued suicide attacks and intensified their deadly assaults on security forces and Chinese populations. This is an interesting development. Pakistan and China are historic Allies, with China using Pakistan to balance India in South Asia. The increasing dearth of Westerners in countries like Pakistan is often mirrored by a corresponding rise in Chinese workers, consultants, businessmen, and government officials. This increasing international presence of Chinese nationals will provide more visible targets for local discontent, including kidnapping and even terrorism.What is particularly interesting is that at the international level, Pakistan and China are close friends. The Islamists do not seem to see it this way, and for reasons of their own have chosen to take out their frustrations on the Chinese expatriate community. How will the Chinese government and its military forces respond in the future as it becomes a major presence around the world?

Biofuels and U.S. Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agricuture had published a report on the increasing use of ethanol as a fuel additive and the effects of this trend on U.S. agricultural production. Corn is currently used ni ethanol productionand in 2006 some 20% of U.S. corn production was used for this purpose. Increased corn acreage displaces soybean production, causing rising prices for both commodities. Furthermore, increased demand for corn causes higher feedstock prices which are transmitted in to higher pork, beef, poultry, and milk prices as well as the array of processed food products based on corn.The paper discusses the potential of "cellulosic ethanol" to displace corn-based ethanol production. Cellulosic ethanol uses plant waste -- plant stalks, leaves, tree trunks, and other materials that are currently biproducts of agricultural production. The study notes that if cellulosic ethanol technology can be made to work, the U.S. could produce as much as 11o billion gallons of ethanol -- using materials that are currently considered waste, and contributing no net gain to greenhouse emissions (burning the plants removed the same amount of carbon dioxide in the past growing year at was burned in combustion. This production technique may be competitive with conventional techniques by 2012, but significant investment in new production capacity will be required.

Safe (er) Nuclear Energy?

MIT has released a study by the Nuclear Science and Energy Department on a concept to build modular and relatively cheap nuclear reactors to generate electricity or hydrogen. The Pebble Bed reactor described in the study It relies on hundreds or thousands of self-contained, tennis-ball sized graphite "pebbles" encasing small uranium pellets. These pebbles when piled together within a reaction vessel undergo nuclear fission, heating gas to turn a turbine.Has a number of advantages over current nuclear reactor technology: It cannot undergo runaway nuclear fission, damaging or destroying the reactor. The cooling system is dramatically less complicated and more robust than that of current reactor technology, leading to lower construction costs. The design is modular, so components can be constructed in assembly-line fashion and transported into place, again reducing costs of building them. Because the reactor itself is small, multiple reactors can be built in high-demand areas. Disadvantages include the fact that depleted pellets may be difficult to contain over long periods of time. Interestingly, the authors notes that this technology may be small enough to power some vehicles (though likely airship, aircraft, or naval-vessel sized, as opposed to personal-vehicle side). Military implications can include reduced dependence on imported oil, and (with transportable, ship or airship-mounted designs), high-power generation in remote, expeditionary environments.