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UCSC, Weapons Research, Universities in the Service of the Warfare State

Although UC Santa Cruz students, faculty, and staff have repeatedly spoken against the war in Afghanistan and the coming war against Iraq, the university itself contributes to the war efforts through research and development of new technologies for the Pentagon.

UC Santa Cruz has always been a bastion of leftist, peaceniks, hippies, and anarchists. Since the school’s founding in1964-65 UCSC has been famous for its activist student body. The campus has a reputation among other schools as being avant guard, the cutting edge of both social movements and radical academic theory. More recently, UC Santa Cruz’s campus community has been involved in the antiwar movement, both opposing the attacks against Afghanistan, and now the US government’s drive toward an assault on Iraq. The primary movement on campus is for peace. Nearly every student organization has shown opposition to a war against Iraq. Massive protests have marked the first half of the 2002-2003 school year along with many smaller more targeted actions. The SUA, Student Union Assembly, UCSC’s student government passed an antiwar resolution earlier this year taking a powerful and early step to denounce the Bush administration’s doctrine of "preemptive" war. This Wednesday, February 19, UC Santa Cruz’s faculty senate government is set to take a critical vote on an antiwar resolution. Very few colleges and universities across the nation have yet to delve into the idea of using their faculty Senates as a podium from which to oppose the Bush administration’s war. According to key organizers of UCSC’s resolution, many other universities across America are following the developments here in Santa Cruz in contemplation of drafting their own resolution.

The university’s community has spoken out: No war! So it is a curiosity that while the students, staff, and faculty of UCSC organize, march, and denounce the war, the university continues to aid the US Military. Behind the facade of an eco-topia, a peacenik’s paradise bathed in liberal left wing ideals, UCSC readily conducts research for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense in topics ranging from computer networks, electronic systems and hardware, computer visualization and imaging, marine biology, tectonics, ocean science, and more. The contradiction should be apparent: Why would a university united against the last two major wars lead by the US (Gulf War & Afghan War), historically a seed bed of opposition to the Federal government’s crimes in Vietnam, South East Asia, and Central America, a campus resisting past and present civil rights violations, why would such a university allow any military presence within its walls? Why would UCSC continue to aid the institution that exemplifies racism, homophobia, and violence to benefit from it? How is this so?

Perhaps the number one reason that the military is able to fund research, recruit students, and gain from its relationship with UCSC is that most students, staff, and faculty are unaware of the Pentagon’s presence. The image of UCSC as "Uncle Charlie’s Summer Camp" holds strong. Sun-bathed redwoods, a laid back campus, an air of environmentalism and social activism abounding. But the reality of the campus is different.

Compared to other universities, UCSC is not a major contributor to the US Military’s ability to conduct war. This does not mean Santa Cruz’s contributions are insignificant. The greatest deal of support UCSC provides to the Pentagon is through scientific research and development. Other conduits through which UCSC’s resources move through to the military are; collaborative research between military or corporate researchers and UCSC faculty, student and faculty recruitment to the UC managed national weapons labs at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, recruitment into corporations contracted by the military to build weapons and weapons systems (i.e. Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon), and student participation in the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) or the military reserves.

The military’s support for research at UCSC amounts to several million dollars each year. The vast majority of funding goes to the Baskin School of Engineering. The computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering departments receive most of this money to support their research. Projects like "WINGs/SPARROW" ( ), "REINAS" ( ), and "Naval Expeditionary Warfare" ( ) garner millions of dollars from the funding agencies of the DoD (Department of Defense).

The WINGs/SPARROW projects, funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency: ( is an innovative approach to computer networking. WINGs systems will allow the military to network every unit of combat in a mobile, robust, and self sufficient lines of communication capable of transmitting data possibly including positions of troops, battlefield sensors, soldier’s vital signs, etc. Military planners are hoping to employ WINGs and similar technologies on individual soldiers, aircraft, ships, even encasing them in artillery shells to be fired far into enemy territories to gather data. The WINGs/SPARROW projects at UCSC have been awarded at least $2.4 million from the US military since the mid 1990’s.

Complementary to the WINGs/SPARROW project is the Naval Expeditionary Warfare project (NEW). Naval Expeditionary Warfare is an internetworking project conducted by a UCSC researcher who states the program’s relevance; "The results from the proposed research have direct applicability to the development and implementation of much needed solutions in support of the Naval Expeditionary Warfare (NEW) environment. In this environment, command ships, support ships, Naval surface fire support ships, air rescue, air fire support, small unit operation (SUO) teams, command posts ashore, and many ground sensors." ( ). The NEW project is funded entirely by the Office of Naval Research.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is the largest military source of funds at UC Santa Cruz. The biggest project it funded at UCSC was REINAS, the "Real-Time Environmental Network and Analysis System" designed to collect weather data from sensors dispersed throughout a region, and display it in real time through computer interfaces. The project was completed for the most part almost a decade ago, but the technology it helped create now aids the Navy in its goals. A weather data system is obviously not a weapon or weapons system in itself. Rather, REINAS is a component of a system – that system being a battleship, aircraft carrier, or entire fleet. Real-time weather forecasts and analysis is a critical component of naval operations which determine when and under what conditions a missile might be fired, fighter aircraft can take off and land, or a detachment of marines might be deployed. Besides the five main UCSC researchers, two of the principle investigators on the REINAS project were faculty members at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

Besides aiding the military through scientific research on campus, UCSC participates in the recruitment of physicist, chemists, engineers, and others by the nation’s nuclear weapons laboratories at Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore. Because these labs are managed by the University of California under contract with the Department of Energy, UC researchers and graduates are readily funneled into them for the purposes of researching, and designing new nuclear weapons. The most obvious sign of the labs presence on UCSC’s campus is visible in the halls of the physical and natural science departments where the labs post recruitment literature including fellowship opportunities for all majors. Serious recruitment drives are under way for computer science students to help develop the next generation of high performance computers capable of simulating nuclear explosions.

The labs second and more effective method of recruitment is a more informal means by which department professors post or recommend job opportunities sent to them by colleagues at the labs to their students. Many of UCSC’s researchers in the school’s Institute of Tectonics, Physics, Earth Science, and Astronomy departments are involved in research funded by the labs.

Although much scrutiny is now focused on the University of California regarding its management of the Los Alamos National Lab it is unlikely that recruitment would ever cease even if the UC loses the contract to manage the lab. Every major American university feeds the labs with personnel, the UC is, and will be no different regardless of its formal relationship with the labs until a meaningful movement of peace and disarmament ends the production and use of nuclear weapons all together.

Although UCSC does not offer an ROTC program on campus, students are still enlisted through other campuses. Santa Cruz students participate as military reserve officers through Santa Clara University, and Berkeley who according to the UC Santa Cruz General Catalog; "...offers a variety of courses in military affairs, including courses offered by the Departments of Naval Science, Military Science, and Aerospace Studies, subject to departmental approval. (See UC Berkeley General Catalog, Military Officers’ Education Program, ROTC, Special Studies.) These courses are offered to cadets and noncadets.”

UCSC students have already been mobilized for the Bush administration’s planned war on Iraq. There is not yet a solid number, but there are many reports from friends, and professors of reserve corps. students, and students themselves who have been shipped off to the Gulf in preparation.

Some students in the reserves might have chosen to serve in the military, but there are also significant numbers who have not. Those too poor to pay for a college education often find themselves enlisting in the military hoping that the Army, Navy, or Air Force will pay their way through without ever calling them up to fight a war. Indeed, many pacifist, radicals, and pro-peace students have found themselves in this predicament known as the economic draft.

Military penetration and use of universities, UCSC specifically, is not solely an attack from the military proper. Its corporate counterparts like Lockheed Martin, TRW, and Raytheon have much to gain from the militarization of knowledge. Weapons manufacturing corporations are regular and powerful donors to universities. Lockheed and Raytheon have both sponsored research at UCSC, most of it involving electronics signal processing. TRW, the 8th largest DoD contractor, producing electronics components for missiles, and aircraft was present at UCSC’s Business, Science & Technology Job and Internship Fair, held in October 2002 at the West Field House College 8. The TRW booth was fittingly located next to the Air Force booth, only one booth away from the Marines. Recruitment into corporations like TRW is common, especially for freshly graduated engineering students looking for work. Straight from college many engineering graduates can find themselves designing the next generation of missiles and aircraft.

These same corporations support UCSC through donations to the school’s foundation. The UCSC Foundation collects donations from individuals and businesses interested in supporting research and education at UCSC. Included in the list of donors are; Boeing Company,
Bechtel Foundation, General Electric Foundation, Lockheed Scholarship Foundation, Raytheon Company, TRW Foundation, HCL Technologies, Rockwell International (Rockwell International Science Center), Science Applications International Corporation (SIAC), Spaceport Systems International. By funding science and engineering programs through university foundations, weapons manufacturers can insure that the next generation of researchers, technicians, and engineers will be well trained in militarily oriented fields.

The connections exposed above are by no means comprehensive. UCSC researchers are pursuing dozens of other projects funded by the military. Weapons manufacturing corporations have inumerable other ways of buying influence and stock in the university. Although UC Santa Cruz is relatively independent of the military industrial complex compared to other major universities, the times are changing. The school’s long term plan appears to spell out an expansion of the engineering and physical sciences so that by 2010 the engineering department’s research budget will expand upwards of $37 million from roughly $3 million in 2000. The School of Engineering cites limited contracts with the DoD, DARPA, DoE, and Homeland Security departments as a obstacle to their growth(SOE Fall Faculty Retreat 2002: The school also seeks to foster new partnerships with private industry and the national laboratories in hopes of making UCSC a top notch research university fully available to the United States Military, the police state, and corporate goals.

For further information on the militarization of universities, UCSC, and military science, visit:
email the author at fiatpaxucsc (at)

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UC-DOD seal

Just look at the numbers.

Arts and Humanities departments are broke.

The Warfare Sciences are LOADED!

Peace, not war.

Times are Changing!

I read your article with great interest. I'm a doctoral candidate in the anthropology department at UCSC. Many older professors and myself included have noticed that UCSC is not too gradually changing course from being a hotbed of social/cultural theory production and research to an engineering/computer science focused university. This is rather unfortunate for many of us who went to UCSC precisely for its innovation in social/cultural theory.

While I'm not against science, I do get a bit despaired when I notice that scientific forms of knowledge production are so much more cheristed and nourished than humanities and social sciences forms of knowledge product in our current social environment.

let's do something!

we can't just stand by and watch this shit!
we need to do something

shedding light

I follow this issue with great interest, and appreciate whoever sheds light for the purpose of reducing warfare technology and the financial and commercial apparatuses of war. Our country and our planet are in dire straits and need outspoken critics of the status quo such as fiat pax.

The link above contains numerous erroneous claims, however, regarding persons at UCSC who allegedly receive "military funding." Much of the research listed has no possible military application (mantle convection; climate change; marine terrace evolution), and this greatly dilutes your factual claims and alienates many who would certainly champion your cause. Indeed you'd be pleasantly surprised at how much of your so-called "military funding" originates within the national labs to fund peaceful projects like alternative energy, nuclear nonproliferation, climate research, breast cancer research, watershed maintenance, etc. Los Alamos and Livermore are scientific laboratories, and a subset of what they do is military related. In making such a broad critique, that all money channeled through the national labs is tainted, you are not far removed from criticizing anybody for using US tax dollars, when those same tax dollars go to developing weapons systems.

Of course, the national labs were originally created to establish US military superiority, and this remains their raison d'etre. One might therefore argue that this is the gradual means by which academics becomes infiltrated by commercial and defense interests. But, as you probably know, UC management of the National Labs is under review. If UC loses the contract of managing Los Alamos and LIvermore, that might seem great in reducing warfare contracts in the UC system. But the contract would most likely go to Texas. So there is a much broader picture at stake: your biggest ally in getting warfare contracts out of the UC system may be George W. Bush himself!


light blinds

How is it erroneous to describe research funds which are dealt out by the US military as military funds?

All links in the article above - (
- are engineering projects, not earth science (mantle convection; climate change; marine terrace evolution). Our intention in listing all projects funded by the military, national labs, and private corporations is not to necessary condemn every project, rather we would like to illustrate how the military controls even the most non applicable fields of science through its control of money and resources. We would like for shift from military funding to civilian funding, not an attack on these projects or their PI's.

I do agree with you Erik, not all funds dealt out by the National Labs are meant to further "warfare science." You are right to point out that much of this money goes into worthwhile research on energy, conservation, and non-proliferation. Fiat Pax supports a transformation of the labs toward peaceful purposes, not their shutting down.

But, as you said - "In making such a broad critique, that all money channeled through the national labs is tainted, you are not far removed from criticizing anybody for using US tax dollars, when those same tax dollars go to developing weapons systems."
Yes! absolutely correct. A soceity may be judged by the things it values. In Capitalism this means the things it spends money on, and for the United States that is weapons and warfare. The labs are a public extension of rampent US militarism.

Finally, it doesn't matter if the UC loses the contract with the National Labs. The issue is not about UC managment of these weapons labs. It is that the United States should not be producing new nuclear weapons. No university should aid in the proliferation of these weapons, or any weapons be it the UC, Texas, or a private school.

some examples

Take a quick look at the research found at and click on "A List of Faculty Research at UCSC Sponsored by the Military." While a number of the research programs in this list have obvious military-industrial connections, the following projects (among many others) are about as military as an archaological dig. Lumping everybody together as a "military researcher" because their funding comes via the National Labs dilutes your message and greatly damages your popular base. Here are a few examples:

* Lisa Sloan: Earth Science. $25,400 Livermore Lab. "Climate Model Intercomparison and Analysis."

* Kenneth Bruland, professor of ocean sciences: $135,000, Office of Naval Research, "The Role of Chemical Speciation in Processes Governing the Environmental Fate and Effects of Trace Metals in Estuarine and Coastal Environments."

* Robert Anderson, professor of earth sciences: $18,535, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, "Dating of the Santa Cruz Marine Terraces Using 10Be and 26A1 Profiles."

* Gregory Rau, senior researcher with the Institute of Marine Sciences: $25,000, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, "Ocean Biogeochemistry Research at LLNL."

Indeed, the reason so may earth and marine scientists are on this list, is because so much fundamental geology and marine science gets funded through the National Labs. That's the way Congress pipes the research money.

One could argue that UC management of the National Labs has made them _less_ military than they might otherwise be. My opinion is that the same national labs, if contracted under the home state of G.W. Bush and Tom Delay et al., would expand greatly in warfare research, at the expense of academics. But that's speculation.

Anyway, you have a large base of potential support on campus. But when very peaceful friends and colleagues are listed as "military researchers", it elicits an emotional response that is not helpful to your cause.


It's good!

Universities and the Military have always had close relationships, for the good of society, really.

Do you enjoy this thing called internet? Thank the U.S Military and UCSB, Stanford, Berkeley, and several other colleges.

Do you like jets? Thank the U.S Military for developing jet engines into the commercial applications we have today.

Nuclear power, plastic, many medicines...

Those are just a few military technologies that were able to have positive commercial applications. There are countless more.

Obviously there are going to be military technologies that aren't quite suitable for civilian aps...

it's destructive

Yes, of course the internet and many other technologies now used in everyday life spun out of military-university research. Nuclear power? I wouldn't tout that as some great achievement.

But arguing that military-university links are good and productive completely betrays the real possibilities we have as a nation and society.

Military control and funding of basic scientific research represents the wildly militarized culture we are part of. The Pentagon oversees half of all federal funds for research, much of it going into fields that the military has no reason to be supporting. To have the military funding things it knows nothing about is foolish. I can think of no greater waste of money than the armed forces funding medical and civilian science.

As for the internet, yes its a wonderful thing, but it didn't solve the problem it was created for. The internet's two primary purposes were for communication between DARPA researchers across the nation, and to allow communication and survivability of command and control systems in the event of a nuclear attack against the US. Bluntly - the internet is great, but it hasn't abolished nuclear weapons, it hasn't made this a safer world.

Military Slug

Military Sluggie: UCSC's new mascot
Print Mil-Sluggie Stickers Here!


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