Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

U.S. Military Eyes & Ears in the Arctic



US-NATO are intercepting Russian and global communications and militarizing the island of Svalbard in violation of Norway-Russia treaty that outlaws military use of the island.

In his landmark book entitled 'The Satellite War' Norwegian journalist Bard Wormdal reports the following about Svalbard:

  • Svalbard is the best location for a ground station serving Polar-orbiting satellites....Only Svalbard is situated close enough to the North Pole to enable a ground station to download data from all [satellite] flights overhead....The satellites can be controlled and data downloaded during the 15 minutes they are visible from Svalbard before they pass the North Pole and are visible to a station in Alaska for another 15 minutes....By setting a satellite on a fixed course around the North and South Poles it is then possible to gain images of all sections of the planet in the space of a full day.  That is why most earth observation satellites travel in a Polar orbit.  

  • The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 established full Norwegian sovereignty over the archipelago....The preamble to the treaty stipulates that the Islands must only be used for peaceful purposes, and Article 9 states that Svalbard "may never be used for warlike purposes."

  • In the year 2000 Norway and the US entered into a mutual formal agreement to develop space co-operation [at Svalbard]....Norway wants the US to pay for a fiber cable....The US Armed Forces inject $25 million, or one-third of the total cost.  It goes without saying the Pentagon wants something in return.

  • The US currently has at least 104 military satellites....With the new generation of weather and environmental satellites the focus is changing from "dealing with the weather" to utilizing data on the atmosphere and conditions in outer space directly in warfare.

  • Svalbard is the best location for a ground station serving Polar-orbiting satellites. Only Svalbard is situated close enough to the North Pol to enable a ground station to download data from all satellite flights overhead. Svalbard can communicate with satellites in all the 14 orbits a satellite completes around the Earth in the space of 24 hours.

  • Twenty years ago the Pentagon almost always only used their own satellites for communication.  Private corporations now supply 80-90% of all [military] satellite communication. 

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