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Military Research: Alive

Military Research: Alive image Military Research: Alive image
Parent Issue
Day
17
Month
January
Year
1975
OCR Text

When the Willow Run Laboratories lei't the University of Michigan in ll72. campus indignation over military research ended. but the military research didn" t. It continúes and prospers in a score ot University departments and schools. It prospers particularly at the Cooley and Radiation Labs on North Campus, where theory is advanced for a variety of electronic warfare gear. The work may sound harmless, but it is used by the United States military to develop more effective ways of killing ts enemies. At the Cooley Lab research continúes on such esoteric, but militarily uset'ul subjects as electronic counter-counter measures, covert communication and acoustic signal processing. At the Radiation Lab work was recently finished on schemes to make military targets less visible to electronic detecion. Little of the work for the Department of De ten se (Dol)) is even classified anymore. If s mostly theoretical in nature, since the military now takes its hardware development elsewhere. The scientists defend trieir work by pointing out that it is part of a vast scientifie enterprise, supports gradúate students and allows near complete freedom to publish results. SMOKESCREENS The scientists also like lo point out that their theories have many non-military applications, although DoD pays for the work and gets the benefit of it first. Despite this, they tend to assume a comfortable distance from the results of their work, generally leaving the responsibility to others. Sometimes they postúlate beneficial non-military applications in order to shrug off the very immediate military ones. The researchers can also chop hairs over whether the military applications are "defensive" or "offensive" in nature. No one has yet charged their research violates the ■■ ■■■ ■" ■■■■■ ■■■■ University gutdelines, which prohibit work whuse "ciearly foreseeabie" resul t is to huil people. "Il takes the same kind ol equation to send u man u the moiin as to launch an ICBM." challenges a Universiiy researcher heavily engaged in military wirk. "Can yon separate the two?" 11" a researcher is working on a humber of con tr acts, only one has to be classified to givè him access to all the classified docunients he nceds. Through access to ckissifled documents, which all llie professors working fof the military have in one way or another, tliey become aware of military problems and design their research accordingly. The military purpose never needs to be mentioned in their reports. The University was once aniong the top five academie researchers lor DoD, bul since the departure of Willow Run the amount has fallen from S I 2 million a year in the mid-Sixties to $3.5 for fiscal year lc74. Partly this is due to long-term trends in military spending, but i's also very much due to protests against L'niversity complicity with the military during the Vietnam War. Despite the precipitous drop in funds, the mperative for University researchers has remained the same. DoD controls a substantial portion of the country 's research and development funds. It can be the most flexible money around and it can be the only money around. DoD money means, not only dissertation opportunities for students, but professional survival in highly technicai disciplines. Besides the work at the Cooley and Radiation Labs, DoD has recently commissioned snail and salamander research in the Department of Zoology; $700,000 worth of survey research from the Institute for Social Research; a variety of projects in genetics. epidemiology and microbiology at the Medical School; work in "pressure fluctuations," "unconfined explosions," and "modelling and Identification theory" in the engineering school; and a considerable 'amount of work on information processing, also in the engineering school. . This ad for Probe Systems, an electronic battlefield consulting firm, appeared in Electronic Warfare magazine. When you need the best system for intercepting, detecting, analyzing, or countering - talk to the men Whether the cali is for exhaustive analysis L fcr-ry t-v- of a new weapons syslem. or for sophisticated Cv I countermeasure hardware, Probe Systems is rapidly V ■ ■ ■ developing the reputation as 'the place to go.' High-level Creative engineering is the reason. M M A 1 This engineering has producedexciting new MÊfU BS ■■ mk EW uses for computers plus numerous breakVH B V VHk through collection systems for airborne, ship, H and ground-based installations Information collection and analysis is serious SHSWer business when national secunty depends on it. Go with proven excellence. THE PROFESSORS In November the Sl'N talked lo a nu.mber of professors heavily engaged in military funded research. We found them rnotivated by patriotism.entluisiasin for progress and pride in their work. "We continue to eKamirre caret'ully the University guidelines." Prol. MP. Ristenbatt told tlie SUN. "and we're convinced our research is in accordance with them." At the Cooley Lab Prol'. Kistenbatt directs sucli projecis as "Covert Communications Techniques," tion Analysis," and "Electronic CuunterCounter Measure Waveform Validation." Electronic counter-counter measures (ECCM) are designad to prevent the enemy from interfering with detection, targetting or communication devices. ECCM sliields offensive weapons platforms, like bombéis, from enemy defenses so they can reach their targets undetected. According lo Prof. Ristenbatt, his work deals mostly with "rugged Communications," communications signáis designed to wíthstund natural or enemy interference. "The major part of filis work has been theoretical," he says. Since ll60 the Radiation Lab has worked on scattering behavior and techniques for the Air Forcé, more recently antenna design and prototype-building. Scattering is the reflection of electromagnetic radiation off objects. Therefore it's central to the detection and targetting devices used by the United States in Indochina. Prut'. Ralph Hiatt. director uf the lab, i says it has investigated first, ways to explain scattering characteristTes and secund. can be done tü control scattering. Specifically, Prof. Hiatl and his eolleagues have investigaied "reactive loading" and "impedente synthesis teebniques" tu niake military targets less visible. In discussing ihe labs' work. Prof. Hiatt stresses that the lab rarely issues classifíed reports. thut it has supported as n.any as two dozen students and that the work has been theoretical experimental. "UNCONFINED EXPLOSIONS" Prof. Birdsall of the Cooley Lab works on "Acoustic Signal Processing" for the Navy. Tlie Navy uses acoustic signáis for contmunicatson and sonar detection. but océanographers use them for mapping ocean currents. According to a classitled research summary, one objective of the work is to develop theoretical bases for the improvement of Sonar detection." Prof. Birdsall says he deals largely with the passage ofjsignals'through water, and how ocean currents distort them. Another objective of the studies, according to a project summary, is to establish the ■'theoretical basis" for receiver design, "the optimum receiver design itself, and an evaluation of the performance of the optimum receiver." Aerospace Engineering Prof. J.A. Nicholls works on "Fundamental Aspects of Unconfined Explosions" for the Air Force. The only reason his work in tluid dynamics and combustión is ciassified, he says, is to permit access to classified documents. White Prol. Nicholl's studies of pressures, lemperulures. and wind velocities is useïul in the measuremem of destrucción, henee the design ot" military cxplosives. he also says it helps assess haaid in the trarisportation ot liquid tuels. Prol. Charles Olson is deán oí the School uf Natural Resources, chairman of the University's gradúate program in remote sensing, and used to spend half his time at the Willow Run Labs beiore they separated. His work on the basic light reflectance properties of trees has been funded by both NASA and tlie Office for Naval Research. His work is useful in the detection of camouflage and underground sites. Ho wever, he also says that all his research for the Navy has been unelassified, published in the open literature and proven even more useful in telling healthy from diseased trees and taking inventory of forest species. He aiso notes that all his gradúate students are pursuing environmental appiications. MICROWAVES AND ERIM Engineering School Professor G.I. Haddad studies ".Microwave Solid State Devices" for the Air Force. also "Properties of Semiconductor Materials for High -Power Microwave Generation." "The money from the military is the roost flexible money we have." says Prof. Haddad. "They support good, solid state of the art work and if it weren'i lor that support, we wouldn't have what we have." The military uses microwaves to communicate and detect targets, as in radar and remote sensing devices, but according to Prof. Haddad his research is on very basic microwave generating devices whicli can be turned to a wide variety of appiications, including such things as car radars and burglai alarms. Prof. Haddad has also subcontracted defense work from the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM), the new name for the Willow Run Labs. Title of the unclassified project is "Analysis and Design of Electron Beam Guns." According to Prof. Haddad, maehinery in his lab at the University was used lo fabrícate an I RIM design (bi a televisión tube-like device io record and reirieve in forma t ion. Besides being used by t lic military, says Prof. Haddad.it may also prove useful in hospitals. The tille of the E RIM con trad from which t sterns is "Investigation of feasibility of using a thermoplastie medium tbr subsequent neur real time optical processing tu a radar map record." According to bRIM President Dr. William Brown, the "radar map record'" refers tQ IRIM's work in imaging radai Foi Aii I orce ■ planes. Imaging radar In atlack planes is used to defect targets and chart the path of weaponry. IT'S NOT SO COMPLICATED If this has seemed very abstract, look at the picture at the head of this story. The picture is deliberately innocent; it's an ad tor a consulting t'irin which appeared in Electrottk Warfare magazine. Tliere are no people in the picture, only a truck, plane and scoop dish antenna. lint if you understand the ihree objects to be a target, a weapon and a tracking device you have a modern electronic war. According to what the professors quoted above have told us, they migJit have advanced the theory responsible for the lollowing features of this pastoral scène. Prol. Ristenbatt would help keep the plane's approach secret from the occupants of the truck. . Prof. Olson would help the tracking device dUtinguish the truck from the trees in which it is hiding. Prof. Hiatt would help figure out how to make the truck less visible to the tracking device. Prof. Nicholl would help calcúlate the arnount of high explosive necessary to demt)lish the truck and its occupants. Prof. Haddad's laboratory would play a part, admittedly sniall, in building the imaging radar system which allows the plane to spot the truck and launch a rocket against it. "There are no people in the picture to the left, but if you understand the three objects to be a target, a weapon and a tracking device- you have a modern war. University researchers continue to develop theory for the US military so it can fight this kind of war."