Computers in the Military. 1400 word essay for final term paper in American Federal Government. AP Gov't. MLA format.

Essay by QueenBastetHigh School, 12th gradeB, May 2002

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Computers in the Military

The invention of the ENIAC computer (a type of battle data computer) in 1946 changed the military. Originally used to improve the trajectory of artillery, (Boyer, 940) the modern computer is now used to relay and sort incoming information, guide submarines, and train greenhorns in the art of battle through realistic 3d simulators.

Built directly into the weapons system, computers assisted or replaced human skills in aiming and operating advanced weapons systems, like antiaircraft guns and missiles (Bellin, 45). In the past, these calculations were made with side rulers and plotting boards. However, in modern jet speed warfare, even a "taskforce of mathematical geniuses couldn't possibly make the necessary calculations in time to counter an attack" ("Pushbutton Defense for Air War" 64). SAGE, an abbreviation for Semi Automatic Ground Environment, was completed in 1957. Inside SAGE, a huge electronic computer assembles the incoming reports from radar or ground observers.

In an attack, SAGE could identify the enemy, calculate its speed, range and direction, and present them so clearly that an informed decision can be made by the Air Force men to the fate of the enemy plane ("Pushbutton? Air War" 65). If the decision to attack should be made, SAGE actually flies the interceptors by sending radio impulses, which guide their automatic pilot. SAGE keeps track of their fuel level and replaces them if they are running low. All the SAGE's are interconnected, so if the enemy tries to evade attack by veering off, an adjacent computer automatically takes over to finish the mission. All the information is sent to a top air defense command post at CONAD in Colorado Springs. CONAD then connects to the White House, the Pentagon and all the US Air Defense commands, including Army missile bases and Navy and Marine...