“Plankton powered rubber duck bombs”???

The new Armed Forces minister in Britain is raising eyebrows (and not before time, IMHO!) with his views on the future of warfare.

Special Forces of the future should be planting malware in enemy servers rather than fighting wars with daggers, the new armed forces minister said yesterday.

James Heappey, a former Army officer, said … the military needed ‘to think the incredible’ to win wars now and referred to the Alexa smart speaker as a model for innovation, adding: ‘Alexa, fight my war.’

. . .

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think tank, he said: ‘We have commercial, consumer tech in our hands, in our homes, and that has informed our thinking and we started to look at how do we deploy that utility within defence.’

. . .

‘We need to understand that if war is coming the first thing our opponents will try to do is to disrupt our first generation by switching stuff off before we’ve even left to fight the war.

‘We need the capability to do exactly the same to them.

‘We need to be able to thousands of miles in depth, switching stuff off, messing around with their digital architecture, their infrastructure back home, so they can’t get to the start line in good nick either.’

He said this needed a ‘total rethink of the sort of people with the sort of skills we need in defence’. He said cyber experts needed to ‘exploit stuff thousands of miles away to defeat your enemy’.

. . .

Mr Heappey also said that servicemen and women needed to be ’emboldened’ to ‘think the ridiculous’.

He said: ‘In order to embolden people to think the ridiculous, I was talking… last week about plankton powered rubber duck bombs, but why not?

‘Who knows? If a million plankton powered rubber duck bombs crashed into the Queen Elizabeth, she might sink.’

. . .

He said: ‘Are we in our platform centric military, Blockbuster, about to be disrupted by a future fight that is Netflix? In which case are we going out of business?

‘Are we fundamentally just completely structured wrong in what we have got?’

There’s more at the link.

The Minister’s questions are good ones, particularly given the old adage that an armed force always prepares to fight the last war, rather than the next one.

I must confess, though . . . the thought of a “plankton powered rubber duck bomb” is more than a little intriguing.  Who gets to design and test it? – the latter in their bathtubs, of course!  I think I’ll nominate retired US Navy flight officer Old NFO, and retired SEAL officer Larry Lambert.  With their background and experience, together they should be more than capable of figuring out such a weapon – and coming up with some unorthodox targets for it, too!  Who knows?  It might be the perfect way to secure the Rio Grande against cartel drug smugglers . . .



  1. Eh, not sold on this. Humans haven't changed, we just have better toys. 'Transformational thinking' has gifted the US Navy with the Ford, DDG-1000 destroyers and the Little Crappy Ships. Can we afford more whiz kid boondoggles?

  2. RUSI is their equivalent of DARPA… Although I think they've got the aliens on the top floor… Dinoflagellates only move due to water flow, so the rubber duck would blow wherever the wind was going. Sigh…

  3. I'm not sold on this either. Hacking is a particular, specialized skill that is useful in some places and not useful in others. I.e., it's not a magic bullet, it's part of the portfolio.

    And the Alexa comment is droolingly stupid, but maybe provides some insight into the thinking of the top brass.

  4. Plankton powered rubber duck bombs sound ridiculous, but so do watermelon bombs. And those were real 16 years ago.

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