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Missile Defense Needs to Address New Threats

By Mead TreadwellReal Clear Policy - Real Clear Defense

As North Korea works furiously to advance its nuclear missile arsenal to threaten our homeland, an upgrade of America’s missile defense systems could not come at a more crucial time.

Most Ground-based Interceptors to defend the homeland are located here in Alaska, the US State closest to North Korea.  The previously deployed fleet of 26 GBIs will be expanded to 40 defensive missiles by the end of the year, plus another four at Vandenberg AFB, in California.   With so much at stake, increasing our capability to take a volley of defensive shots is essential.
Missile defense also depends on radars across the North. At Clear, near Fairbanks, Alaska, a new Long Range Discrimination Radar will help improve the accuracy of our ground-based system.  New communications links here and around the world help network space-based sensors, land and sea-based radars that direct theater and ballistic missile defense systems on our side, everywhere.

A new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies entitled Missile Defense 2020, lays out a roadmap for how the United States can improve the capability, capacity, and reliability of U.S. homeland missile defense.  One of the most important next steps, however, concerns the “Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), the payload atop those fast Alaska and California defensive missiles.  The EKV’s job, after being rocketed into space on a trajectory opposite an incoming missile, is to intercept and obliterate anything that’s aimed at us.

These EKVs, the so-called bullets that hit the enemy bullet, are the heart of missile defense.   We want them ever more aware as they approach their target, agile as countermeasures are employed, and accurate in knocking out a warhead that could kill millions of our people.  Improvements to the EKV capabilities are available to be deployed soon, in the form of a Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), an important development effort currently underway by the Missile Defense Agency.  Some argue we should skip the RKV effort entirely, and wait for a whole new generation of kill vehicle technology that will require years of development and testing. In the face of real North Korean missile advances, however, such a path would leave us too vulnerable.

Offensive missiles are much cheaper than defensive missile systems, however, and potential adversaries in North Korea, Iran and elsewhere are stepping up efforts to build attack weapons that are more mobile, can carry more payload, and can fly farther across the planet. Last year, then- NORTHCOM/NORAD Commander Admiral William E. Gortney told Congress, “We need to invest in the lethality of our kill vehicles, and in ways to get us to the right side of the cost curve.”

We should draw upon already amassed expertise to cost-effectively re-engineer the RKV and get it deployed as soon as possible, as well as a more flexible selectable-stage booster.  Among the many capabilities that would be improved quickly is the ability to hit targets launched at us closer to home.

Over the longer-term, a new interceptor, known as the Multi-Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV) is envisioned as having the capacity to defeat multiple targets, thereby overcoming the problem of discriminating between the warhead and other debris or decoys, as well as potentially against multiple warheads. However, the threat today is from North Korea, Iran, or a ship-launched missile that might be acquired in some arms bazaar by a terrorist group. These threatening missiles are growing in number.  They are less sophisticated than Russia and China’s arsenal, but still lethal.
Robust research and development on other missile defenses must continue.

Technology will allow us –someday–  to field more effective defenses against attack missiles in the boost phase, minutes after launch when missiles are most vulnerable and unable to deploy countermeasures.  Non-kinetic options, like lasers, have great promise to further even the costs between offensive missiles and defenses.  Given that missiles can disable much of our electrical infrastructure and electronic devices with an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion high above the earth hardening our civil power grid is a deterrent that should also rise on the agenda.

Donald Trump has pledged to develop a state-of-the-art missile defense for the United States.  This is indeed exactly the right goal and is necessary for both deter and defeat current and future threats.  Funding and fielding the Redesigned Kill Vehicle now, while still expanding root missile defense technologies, will improve that overall posture and help keep the peace..

Mead Treadwell,  Lt. Governor of Alaska 2010-2014, is a charter member of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, which has since the mid-1990s studied and published independent views on how to deploy effective land, sea, air and space-based missile defenses for the U.S homeland and US forces and allies abroad.

Corporate merger with Chinese company poses security risks

By Travis KorsonThe Hill

Two years have passed since a state-sponsored cyber-attack caused one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history, and it appears that a foreign government may once again be on the verge of gaining access to a treasure trove of sensitive American information.

For those short of memory, I’m referring to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack where over 21.5 million records were stolen, most likely, by state-sponsored Chinese hackers. The hack, which was discovered in April 2015, included personally-identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, dates and places of birth and personal financial information.

Instead of using the anniversary as an opportunity to renew the American government’s commitment to protect its citizens from acts of cyber warfare and foreign espionage, it appears that they are instead, inexplicably, considering approval of a transaction that would provide the Chinese a permanent pipeline to the sensitive personal information of millions of Americans.  Continue reading

The Obama Administration’s Iran-Deal Duplicity

National Review

In January 2016, the Obama administration released seven Iranian-born prisoners in what President Barack Obama called a “one-time” “humanitarian gesture” intended to sweeten the nuclear deal hammered out between Washington, D.C., and Tehran. The prisoners — who Josh Earnest insisted were guilty only of “sanctions violations or violations of the trade embargo” — were exchanged for five Americans, unjustly held by Iran since as early as 2011. In fact, some of the Iranian prisoners were national-security threats, and it wasn’t a straight prisoner swap: The Wall Street Journal revealed that on the day of the exchange the U.S. flew $400 million in cash on an unmarked cargo plane to Iran.

When it came to its negotiations with Iran, duplicity was the hallmark of the previous administration’s public statements. (Sanctimonious preening was a close second.) But supporters assured skeptics that the administration was acting in the country’s best national-security interests. Now comes a new bombshell investigation that shows the lengths to which the previous administration went to secure Iranian cooperation, even when it meant putting American security at risk. Continue reading

Iran Using U.S. Cash to Fund Unprecedented, Massive Military Buildup

By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon

Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the landmark nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup meant to transform the Islamic Republic’s fighting force into an “offensive” juggernaut, according to a largely unreported announcement by Iranian military leaders that has sparked concern among U.S. national security insiders and sources on Capitol Hill.

Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran’s defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it “a forward moving force,” according to regional reports.

Iranian leaders have stated since the Iran deal was enacted that they are using the massive amounts of cash released under the agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments. Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were nixed as part of the deal. Continue reading

Iran, Russia Boost Military Ties Amid U.S. Action in Syria

By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon

Iran and Russia are moving closer together in their military alliance, working to boost ties and coordination in Syria and elsewhere in the region following the U.S. decision to launch a military strike in Syria, according to regional reports and experts.

Iran’s defense minister is slated to visit Moscow at the end of the month to discuss increased military ties, a move that is meant to deter U.S. action in the region and show a sign of increased force, according to regional experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Tehran-Moscow axis has been growing since the landmark Iran nuclear deal, with Russia making good on a series of weapons deliveries, including the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system. The two countries have been signing an additional number of military deals in recent months and that cooperation is likely to increase in light of the Trump administration’s decision to launch strikes against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is being backed by both Russia and Iran. Continue reading

Missile Defense Now

By Peter Roff • Townhall

The Trump administration budget document recently released projects an increase in security and defense spending of more than $50 billion. It’s a needed shot in the arm, provided it’s spent wisely and on things actually necessary.

It’s important the defense community realize the days of blank checks are over. There’s no problem in government that can be solved just by throwing more money at it. This includes the vital functions performed by the Pentagon, the service branches, and the Department of Homeland Security. They too need to understand they have to find ways to do more with less just like every other part of the federal government even if the Congress and the president are willing, at the start, to give them more.

The higher number in Trump’s initial budgeting is due not just to the threat posed by ISIS but by the increasing belligerence of rogue states like North Korea (which is consistently testing missiles they argue will go farther and farther once in the air) and Iran. Continue reading

Chinese Takeover of MoneyGram Raises Lots of Red Flags

By George LandrithFrontiers of Freedom

A Chinese company, Ant Financial, largely owned by the government of China, is intent on taking over MoneyGram, a leading US-based financial payments company. This planned acquisition raises serious questions as to whether ownership of MoneyGram would be part of China’s strategic plan to obtain sensitive personal and financial information of Americans and westerners worldwide as well as  to undermine American economic strength. This acquisition should be stopped for that reason.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) exists to review the national security implications of foreign investments in US companies.  CFIUS is comprised of representatives from a number of US agencies or departments — including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Commerce.  CFIUS can block foreign sales and investments that would result in a foreign power acquiring assets and intellectual property that would harm America’s national security.

There are a number of important national security and strategic reasons that CFIUS should reject Ant Financial’s proposed takeover of MoneyGram.   Continue reading

The Challenges Obama Left Behind

National Review

Most Americans are worried about our domestic crises. Obama left office after doubling the debt to $20 trillion. Near-zero interest rates over eight years have impoverished an entire generation of seniors — and yet remain key to servicing the costs of such reckless borrowing.

Over the last eight years, GDP never grew at 3 percent annually, the first time we’ve seen such low growth since the Hoover administration. Obamacare spiked health-care premiums and deductibles while restricting access and reducing patient choices. Racial politics are at a nadir and make one nostalgic for the environment before 2009.

Red-blue tensions are at an all-time high, and suddenly there is talk of 1860s-like Confederate nullification of federal laws. It’s now the norm for prominent commentators to call for the murder, forced removal, or resignation of the current president. A New York Times columnist asked the IRS to commit a felony by sending him Trump’s tax returns, and then he boasts by providing his own address. Continue reading

McMaster is a Promising Choice

by Mackubin Owens • American Greatness

President Trump’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his national security adviser has been widely praised, and rightly so. McMaster is a remarkable man cut from the same cloth as the new secretary of defense, Jim Mattis. Both are inspirational leaders. Both are thoughtful, well-read “soldier-scholars.” Both are clear thinkers and straight talkers. Indeed, McMaster’s intense, fierce outspokenness has not always endeared him to his superiors.

McMaster’s story has been recounted many times in recent days. A native of Philadelphia, he is a 1984 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. Later, he earned a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying under Richard Kohn, the eminent military historian and civil-military relations expert. His doctoral dissertation became Dereliction of Duty, a withering critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War.

As a captain commanding an armored cavalry troop during the first Gulf War, McMaster proved himself to be an aggressive, fearless leader. Continue reading

Poll Finds DC Is Out Of Touch With Americans On Foreign Policy

by Jeremy Lott • The Federalist

The foreign policy consensus in Washington DC is so stubbornly pro-intervention that our most recent president—who dragged the country into several foreign entanglements and whose military dropped 26,171 bombs last year alone—is seen as, at best, a ditherer. The World Politics Review summed up his legacy by saying, “The problem with Obama’s foreign policy has been inaction, not weakness.”

Get outside of DC and the estimation of what we ought to be doing is much different. Americans who are actually stretched to pay for those wars and whose children may be serving in the military are not as gung-ho about going there.

That is my takeaway from the latest Charles Koch Institute/Center for the National Interest poll of American attitudes toward foreign policy. A majority of those surveyed in late January turned out to be deeply skeptical that what America has been doing has been working. It’s hard to argue they don’t have a point. Continue reading

U.S. Adversaries Closing Gap With American Aircraft Capabilities

by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon

U.S. adversaries are rapidly catching up to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft capabilities—a risk that has exacerbated given ongoing cyber vulnerabilities in the F-35 fighter jet program, according to an Air Force major general.

Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., the vice commander of Air Combat Command at the Langley, Va., base, said Thursday that while the United States maintains an advantage in the stealth and weapons capacities inherent in fifth generation fighter aircraft models, adversaries are “quickly closing the gap.”

“We are trying to maximize our ability to procure fifth generation airplanes and go from a 100 percent fourth generation fleet to a significant mix of fifth generation [planes] so that we have the opportunity to operate in these hostile environments against these threats that are catching us faster than we thought they would,” Harris testified before the House Armed Services Committee. Continue reading

Russian Jets Buzzed U.S. Destroyer

by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon

Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea last week, the first such military provocation since the new Trump administration took office.

The incident took place Feb. 10 and involved the USS Porter, a guided missile destroyer, fending off low flights by what the commander of the ship regarded as potentially dangerous flybys.

“There were several incidents involving multiple Russian aircraft,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the European Command. “They were assessed by the commanding officer as unsafe and unprofessional.”

The first buzzing involved two Russian Su-24 jet fighters followed by a single Su-24 and, in a third incident, an IL-38 transport aircraft. Continue reading

Afghan Government Lost 15% of Its Territory Last Year

by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon

The government of Afghanistan lost almost 15 percent of its territory last year, as Taliban insurgents continued to launch attacks amid declines in U.S. and allied military personnel.

The figure is included in a government watchdog’s latest assessment of the security situation and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. The assessment comes as the Donald Trump administration grapples with how to move forward in what has become America’s longest war.

“Analysis of the most recent data provided by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter,” states the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. “The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.” Continue reading

CIA Veteran: Europe a ‘Launching Pad’ for ISIS to Attack the U.S.

by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon

Europe serves as a “launching pad” for ISIS jihadists to initiate attacks against the United States due to the absence of a cohesive information-sharing strategy among Western nations, former acting CIA director John McLaughlin said Wednesday.

McLaughlin, a 30-year CIA employee who served as acting director under the George W. Bush administration, warned that the absence of effective coordination between European intelligence agencies exposes the United States to greater risk of attack.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, McLaughlin said the Trump administration must work with European allies to establish an intelligence-sharing platform that coordinates Europe’s extensive network of security services. Continue reading

Trump Admin: Iran in Breach of Nuke Deal

by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon

In a vast departure from the Obama White House, the Trump administration went on record Wednesday to accuse Iran of being in violation of the landmark nuclear agreement as a result of its recent test of ballistic missile technology, according to a senior White House official, who said that Iran has officially been put “on notice.”

Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, accused Iran of breaching international accords governing the nuclear agreement. He lashed out at the Islamic Republic for threatening American military assets in the Persian Gulf region.

Flynn’s remarks represent a break with the previous administration, which worked to hide Iranian transgressions and declined to publicly state that Iran’s behavior violated the nuclear deal. Continue reading