Academic journal article Military Review

Ultramicro, Nonlethal, and Reversible: Looking Ahead to Military Biotechnology

Academic journal article Military Review

Ultramicro, Nonlethal, and Reversible: Looking Ahead to Military Biotechnology

Article excerpt

AFTER TWO world wars, the invention of nuclear weapons, and the Cold War, our world is undergoing a military revolution characterized by electronics, computers, communications, and microinformation technology. In recent wars, this progress has produced fewer casualties (both civilian and military), and the desire to cause fewer casualties has become an important factor restricting military operations. (1)

Biotechnology is developing quite rapidly and has had an enormous effect on the progress of science and technology, as well as on the global economy. In the field of military affairs, modern biotechnology maintains a rapid pace of development and plays an important role in medical protection. However, it is gradually revealing a character of aggression as well. Therefore, it is of increasing military value.

Mainstream science and technology extend from the land to the seas, air, and space. In an age that emphasizes the command of information, we have begun to explore a new technological space. Today, the modern biotechnology that focuses on the microcosmos of the life structure can directly explore the main entity of war--human beings themselves--thus taking precise control of the battle effectiveness of enemies. As Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz said, "War ... is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will." (2) Clausewitz scholar Wu Qiong adds, "Conceptually, to deprive the enemy of the power of resistance is the real aim of war." (3)

Compared with wars in the past, war through the command of biotechnology will guarantee the free application and security of our own biotechnology and, ultimately, lead to success through ultramicro, nonlethal, and reversible effects. Biotechnology is likely to bring about profound changes in the military domain and will contribute the utmost to the protection of civilization.

Possible Military Uses of Biotechnology

Modern biotechnology is now in full blossom. Since the 1990s, half of the "Breakthroughs of the Year" selected by Science magazine have been in the biotechnology and life sciences fields. Such innovations (outlined below) are of great medical value and can be of great value in military affairs as well. (4)

The Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP explores the new world of biotechnology, defines the microcosmos of life science, and lifts medical research and practice to new levels, such as individualized and ethnical medicine. It also provides possibilities for military use. Revealing genetic structure, the structure-function relationship, and the structure-health relationship can deepen the understanding of how to control and change a human being's battle effectiveness.

Bioinformatics. The study of gene and protein molecules is rapidly expanding to other domains. Those who master more bioinformation faster will take the lead in military biotechnology development and application.

Proteomics. From the perspective of military medicine, proteomics, which examines the structure-function relationship at the molecular level, is a bridge between military goals and practical technologies. With the development of proteomics, we can discover and interpret the key proteins in any single human physiological function and the multiple physiological functions any single protein possesses. All of this will provide accurate models for military attack and make it possible to develop small-scale or ultramicro-scale destructive weapons.

Transgenic technology. The new transgenic technology currently has limited uses, but its idea of gene control and reconstitution has possibilities for military use. The results from studies in this domain will help the military set goals in command and control.

Besides the innovations listed above, many other newly developed biotechnologies lend themselves to military purposes; for example, DNA recombination, gene modification, gene cloning, exogenous gene expression synergy, gene targeting, stem cell technology, tissue engineering, and so on. …

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