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Missile Defense Too Important to Leave to Chance

By George LandrithNewsmax

Missile Defense Too Important to Leave to Chance
An unarmed Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (USAF via Getty Images)

The Pentagon is wisely examining future risks of missile attack and making plans to prevent them. These plans will take at least 10 years to develop — maybe even longer, as everything often does not go as planned. In the meantime, we have our current generation Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) protecting America. While waiting for the next generation missile defense to be developed, we must keep our current generation defenses up-to-date and fully capable.

This is where there is troubling news. To afford the next generation system, the Pentagon is planning to use the funding for updates and improvements to our current GMD system to pay for the development of a future system — effectively limiting our defenses and placing America a greater risk over the next 10 years.

Our enemies are pursuing more capable missiles — greater range, greater speed, greater maneuverability to avoid interception, the ability to deploy better decoys and the ability to jam defensive technologies to effectively blind them. So it is very risky to forgo improvements to our current defenses while we work on a future system that won’t be ready for at least 10 years!

I wholeheartedly endorse the need to develop a next generation missile defense system. But the idea of leaving us exposed to a devastating missile attack in just a few short years and then leaving us even more exposed for the balance of the next decade is completely insane. The Pentagon is effectively saying that it will trust in the goodwill of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, and in the kindness of the Communist Chinese dictator, Xi Jinping — who actively hid the truth from the rest of the world and lied about COVID, making the pandemic more deadly and the economic impact devastating. Imagine the insanity of trusting in the goodwill of the Iranian Mullahs? Even Russia, while no longer our chief geopolitical rival, still poses a significant risk.

We must always outpace the evolving threats. Thomas Jefferson wisely warned Americans that the price of liberty is “eternal vigilance.” And George Washington counseled that “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” These words should ring loudly in our ears. To fail to be vigilant on something as important as nuclear missile attack is worse than stupid, it is suicidal!

Our layered missile defense includes elements that protect our troops around the globe wherever they may be, and the vast American homeland. GMD defends America’s vast homeland. Patriot, Aegis and THAAD are designed to protect American warfighters, bases and ships from missile attack. Their coverage zone is far too small to effectively protect the vast US homeland.

For example, Aegis as impressive as it is, defends an area that is 14 times smaller than GMD, based on material recently presented by VADM Jon Hill, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. And THAAD’s area defended is less than half that of Aegis and neither gives a second shot intercept opportunity.

To defend the vast American homeland, we have GMD. And that is the system the Pentagon wants to significantly upgrade in about 10 years. Eventually, the plan is for GMD to employ the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI). But neglecting our current GMD system — killing off all upgrades, zeroing out all improvements, and refusing to increase the number of interceptors we have available will only benefit our enemies and place Americans at risk until the day the new system is available — at least 10 years from now.

Without the ability to test the system and keep our defenses sharp, we would simply be hoping for good results. Hope isn’t a serious strategy when it comes to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

To be blunt, leaving the current system without incremental upgrades for the next 10 years while announcing a major system upgrade that will hopefully be ready in 10 years, sounds like an invitation to attack before the new system is in place and while the current system has grown outdated and less capable. We shouldn’t be sending that sort of invitation to the world’s dictators.

The President and many in Congress on both sides of the aisle want to upgrade our current defenses and also develop the needed next generation defense. Americans of all political stripes should want to prevent America from suffering a devastating nuclear missile attack.

We need Congress to provide sufficient funding for missile defense so that we can keep our current defenses strong, and so that we can develop even better future defenses to meet the growing risks. To do less than this is reckless and courting disaster. And those who are willing to recklessly court disaster should never again be trusted to serve the American people.


Now Is NOT the Time to Reduce Our Anti-Submarine Capabilities!

By George LandrithRed State

The reports of increased Russian military submarine activity just off our coast should be a wake-up call. Our other peer competitor, China, is also rapidly growing its naval capability with more modern and sophisticated submarines, many of which could threaten critical trade passages throughout the Pacific. Shockingly, the U.S. Navy has admitted that it no longer considers sailing just off our East coast to be an “uncontested” area or a “safe haven” for U.S. naval ships and submarines to operate.

The growth of China’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines has naval and national security officials worried. NORTHCOM Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, speaking of Chinese and Russian submarine aggression recently said: “We have had [in the past] the luxury of not having threats to the homeland that are literally right off our doorstep. That environment is rapidly changing and has changed, [and] we have not yet achieved the capability and capacity that we need to maintain that competitive advantage.”

In short, our naval advantage is rapidly shrinking and in some areas it has entirely evaporated. Reports of Russian and Chinese spy ships just off our coast should also raise us from our slumber. But the growing risks don’t stop there.

Additionally, our naval fleet is threatened around the world by lesser powers who have new quiet diesel submarines. The point isn’t that a nation like Iran could defeat our Navy in an all-out naval battle. They wouldn’t stand a chance. But because of the sub technology they’ve obtained, they can more adeptly move near American ships and endanger the lives of American sailors. And we do not have the ships to be everywhere at once to combat the risks.

The U.S. Navy is under a lot of pressure and needs to increase its fleet to meet the growing threats around the globe. But he fleet has been shrinking, not growing. The Navy is trying to turn this around but building ships, as important as it is to grow the fleet, is not the only need.

Budget constraints apparently have forced the Navy into abandoning the production of its P-8A Poseidon — the world’s premier anti-submarine platform – before it can reach its own warfighting requirement. Put into context, during the height of the Cold War when Russian sub-hunting was a necessity, there were 24 anti-submarine squadrons in the active duty, and 12 in the Navy Reserve. Today, there are only 12 active duty squadrons, and the budget eliminates the only two Reserve squadrons for the entire East and West Coast. With Russian and Chinese subs operating around the globe and around our coasts and with other lessor naval powers advancing their own underwater capabilities, we need sub-hunters like the P-8A Poseidon now more than ever! And given the fact the we already have a shortage of Poseidon anti-submarine jets, now is not the time to shut down production.

Members of Congress must resolve this problem. Previous budget cuts of $2.4 billion have put the Navy in an impossible position of trying to grow the fleet and increase its anti-submarine capabilities. But this is impossible math. Congress must step in and solve this funding crunch. We cannot afford to embolden either the Russians or the Chinese or for that matter the Iranians, North Koreans, or other regional naval powers.

Even though the Russian navy overall is in decline, their commitment to submarine technology is not. They are focusing their efforts on submarines because they can be tremendously disruptive and destructive. The Chinese submarine fleet is as large as 70 vessels, with the capacity to grow to 100 within the next 15 years. In years past, the Chinese Navy was focused on homeland defense in waters that were relatively close their country. But now, particularly with the introduction of cruise missiles into their fleet, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is venturing out into broader international waters to threaten the United States. They’ve made it clear that their plan is to cause disruption and demonstrate to the world that the United States is no longer the world’s greatest naval power.

We need the robust anti-submarine capabilities of aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon to help reduce this risk. These anti-submarine jets can patrol and monitor sensitive areas around the globe where we may, or may not, want to devote other naval assets. The Poseidon is a great tool to stretch our capabilities and reach — and will help us buy time while we increase the size of our naval fleet. But shutting down production of the Poseidon places not only our Navy at greater risk, it also threatens our commerce, our economy, and our coastal waters.

The Poseidon is a bargain as its costs have been reduced by 30% over the past several years while its integrated systems and weapons have been improved and upgraded. Plus, while the Poseidon was designed as an anti-submarine platform, it is a highly flexible plane that can take on many other missions — intelligence gathering, ground surveillance, and even as a robust platform to launch offensive weapons. But right now, there aren’t enough aircraft in service even to perform its main mission — protect America from submarine threats.

Congress must do something about this shortfall because providing for the “common defense” is one of the federal government’s prime objectives under our constitutional federal system. It would be entirely irresponsible to squeeze the Navy so that it cannot meet the threats that exist around the globe — and even just off our coast in our own waters.


Upgrading Our Military’s Heavy Vertical Lift Capability

By George Landrith

By George Landrith • RealClear Defense

It is time to upgrade our military’s heavy-lift helicopter capabilities. The current workhorse, the CH-47 Chinook, has served our country since 1962. Despite its age, the Chinook is still the most capable heavy lift helicopter on the planet — flying at almost 200 miles per hour which is roughly the speed that the Army wants its next-generation Scout aircraft to fly. Our allies use the Chinook as well — precisely because of its utility and capability. 

Over the years, the Chinook has been upgraded and new technology built in.  As a result, our allies use the Chinook because it is a highly capable platform, and it is the world class heavy lift helicopter. However, the military’s needs have grown, and additional capabilities are needed. The question is how to most effectively and efficiently meet those needs. 

Given the Chinook’s inherent strengths and capabilities, the wisest approach is to update and upgrade the Chinook so that it can increase payload, range, and other vital capabilities. With the right upgrades to the drivetrain, rotors, and other systems, this capable and proven aircraft will continue to be the world class heavy lift helicopter platform for decades to come. Following this approach means our heavy lift needs are amply met and at a much lower cost — which means we also have available resources for other crucial national security needs. That’s a win-win.

However, recently, Army Secretary Mark Esper made remarks that suggested he wasn’t interested in upgrades, but would instead start over from scratch. Sometimes starting over from scratch makes sense. But often it doesn’t. This is one of those times where starting from scratch will waste taxpayer dollars and leave our military in a lurch while a brand new helicopter is developed and produced at a much higher initial cost and increased sustainment costs.

If the Pentagon starts over from scratch, the new helicopter fleet will not be available to our warfighters for another 30 to 40 years or longer. In contrast, an updated and upgraded Chinook is already in the works and can be rolled out relatively rapidly and at a much lower cost. This approach would give our military the world-class heavy lift helicopter it needs going well into the future, and it would save money so that other critical military needs are not neglected.

The Chinook can carry dozens of fully equipped infantry or special operators. It can transport 10 tons of supplies and equipment.  It can even carry the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (which replaces the older up-armored Humvee and provides a more capable and survivable vehicle) or a 155m howitzer in a sling below the aircraft. Cost effective upgrades and updates can increase payload, range, and other important capabilities. All of these upgrades can be done at a fraction of the cost of simply starting over. 

Special operators who fly the most dangerous and demanding missions in the Army swear by the Chinook and trust their lives in it. Even Espers, while signaling he wants to move on, admits that the Chinook  “is a very good aircraft” and that it should continue to be used by our special operations forces. He even admits that perhaps the future is simply “a version of the [Chinook]. I don’t know.” Clearly, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Chinook as a platform. It is battle tested and battle proven. 

The wise choice would be to update and upgrade the Chinook — that would give our warfighters the capability they need and do so in the most efficient way possible. That means other mission-critical tools required by our warfighters can also be afforded. 

The truth is that the Chinook can continue to serve American warfighters with the right updates and upgrades.  And these updates are already in the works. It would be foolish to shut that down and waste money by starting over. This doesn’t require much imagination. With a new drivetrain, upgraded and redesigned rotors, and other new or upgraded systems, the lift capability, range and speed, can all be increased — even beyond its current world-class capability. This makes sense for the warfighter and the taxpayer. Esper would be wise to pursue the truth that even he admitted — our future heavy-lift helicopters “may be a version of [the Chinook.]”

In a world where the government needs to do more with less, upgrading the Chinook makes a lot of sense. This will give our warfighters the greater range, speed, and payload capacity that will be needed in the future.  And while achieving all of these milestones, it will keep both production costs and sustainment costs lower. Ditching the Chinook and starting from scratch makes no sense at all — either for the warfighter or the taxpayer.


Why Diversity in Air Force Procurement Makes Sense

By Phil Kiver • Washington Times

As a former member of the military who served in multi-branch operations, I understand the need for diversity when equipping our service members. Our Air Force should not be one dimensional. The current fight over procurement of the Air Force fighter; the F-15X, is an easy decision, because having diversity in the air fleet provides flexibility that current conditions require. As I well understand, different missions require different strengths, capabilities and tools.

Some lawmakers are pushing the F-35 fighter jet over the F-15X because of the fear of budgetary constraints in the future. Defense News reported on February 27, 2019, “Lockheed Martin and U.S. Air Force officials may be downplaying the prospect of an upcoming budget battle surrounding the F-15X and the F-35 fighter jets, but F-35 supporters in Congress and around the Capital Beltway are mounting an offensive against Boeing’s new F-15 variant.”

The report indicates that “all signs point to the Air Force unveiling its plan to buy a new version of the F-15 in its fiscal 2020 budget proposal, tentatively scheduled for release in mid-March. Though numbers have fluctuated, a Feb. 19 report from Bloomberg says the service plans to purchase eight F-15X planes in FY20, with an expected total buy of about 80 jets.” Right now the plan is for the Air Force to purchase both the F-35 and the F-15X. The F-15X is an upgrade to existing F-15s in service.

Continue reading


Air Force’s New KC-46 Pegasus Tanker Defends Nation, Protects Taxpayers

By George LandrithNewsmax

The U.S. Air Force just changed the game when it comes to global air mobility by signing off on first delivery for Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker. The first KC-46 Pegasus Tankers will begin arriving at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas in the coming weeks, where Airmen will begin training for their future mission.

The success and safety of our military forces responding to constantly evolving threats and crises around the world relies on our Air Force’s global reach, giving us the ability to hit targets and deliver troops and supplies anywhere in the world. Our global reach and that of our allies would not be possible without America’s superior air refueling capability — a capability that is limited and jeopardized by our current fleet of Eisenhower-era tankers.

The aerial refueling tankers our Air Force operates now are mostly KC-135s that date back a half-century. The fleet’s last real update was the KC-10 procurement over thirty years ago. These aircraft face serious limitations in responding to modern threats. Continue reading


U.S. Air Force to Ramp Up Commitments to Space Amid Chinese Threat

By Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon

The United States Air Force is accelerating investment in space as Chinese advancements threaten to penetrate American systems in the previously uncontested domain, top service officials said during a congressional hearing Tuesday.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force secretary Heather Wilson and chief of staff General David Goldfein both identified China’s space innovation and “rapid growth” in military capabilities among their top concerns facing the service in the coming years.

“Some of the work they’re doing in space, it’s very aggressive,” Goldfein said. “We built our space architecture in an era when space was a rather benign domain, so … we’re very focused on taking some bold moves in this budget to increase our ability to defend what we have in space.”

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Satellite spat reveals commercial industry priorities

By George LandrithThe Hill

This month on the brink of another deadline, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, including hundreds of billions in critical funding for the U.S. military. As with any 2,322 page bill, some of the most interesting consequences are the ones you haven’t read about yet.

Included in the spending bill was $600 million for two additional Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites badly needed by the U.S. Air Force. The WGS system is the backbone of our military’s global satellite communications, currently providing the vast majority of the global high-data-rate communications capability for marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, the White House Communication Agency, the U.S. State Department, and some of our key international partners. As you might imagine, secure and dependable satellite communications are vital for the global security missions we demand of our military every day.

WGS satellites provide excellent value for the taxpayer. Boeing and the Air Force have been able to increase capability on each successive WGS, while at the same time reducing the per-satellite cost. WGS satellites also have unique military features that allow it to operate in contested, warfighting environments. Continue reading


Long-Term Defense of US Must Be Top Priority

By George LandrithNewsmax

One of the primary reasons the original 13 colonies formed a constitutional federal government was to provide for the common defense. Even more than 200 years ago, the Founders understood that the world was a dangerous place. Today, it is even more so. We have more adversaries with more powerful weapons, and they are much closer to us than in the 18th century. Oceans once separating us by months, now only separate us by minutes.

Powerful nation states, like Russia and China, now threaten America. But what might be an even larger concern are rogue states with unhinged and unbalanced leaders like North Korea and Iran. While the spreading danger of radical Islamist jihadism is ongoing, since Sept. 11, 2001, we’ve focused primarily on the terrorism threat, and done little to be better prepared for the more traditional nation state threats.

America needs a military force which can deter any who may endanger Americans. And when an enemy will not be deterred, we must have a military which will quickly defeat them. Some believe diplomacy should play a greater role, but I would argue military preparedness also augments our diplomatic efforts, making conflict less likely. Continue reading


Freedom Through Commerce: How A Robust Domestic Shipping Industry Is Critical To Defend America

By George LandrithRedState

To project power and protect America the U.S. military requires a robust American sealift capability. Transporting materials and weaponry over across the high seas is a key component of America’s ability to protect its interests around the globe yet it is often overlooked, misunderstood and underappreciated.

History teaches this lesson unmistakably. In 1812, when the greatest army the world had seen up to that time launched an invasion of Russian. Napoleon had an army of almost 700,000 men. At first his troops routed the opposition wherever they engaged but, as he led his forces deeper and deeper into Russia, supplies ran short and his men began to starve.

As winter came, his men began to freeze, not from fear but from hypothermia. Napoleon was forced to beat a hasty retreat back to France, leaving 380,000 dead, 100,000 captured, and many so sick that they could no longer fight. His once great army had only 27,000 soldiers capable of fighting. Continue reading


Op-Ed: Missile Defense is needed now more than ever

By George LandrithAmerican Military News

About 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan and U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop shared breakfast at U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt’s ranch. Virtually no one knew that this meeting took place or understood how important it would be to America’s security. As friends shared breakfast, Wallop explained the need for a robust missile defense — including developing a space-based defensive system. Once elected to office, President Reagan made it a national goal to develop effective high-tech defenses against missile attacks. That policy objective was an important factor in the U.S. winning the Cold War. Simply stated, even before missile defense was able to shoot down a missile, it was helping America defeat the Soviets.

During most of the last decade, missile defense was de-emphasized. It was a self-evidently foolish policy decision even though some offered misguided defenses of it. But now, given recent news from North Korea, few could argue that the Obama Administration’s disdain for missile defense has served America’s interests. Kim Jong Un has pushed North Korea’s nuclear program to develop nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach our West Coast. Pyongyang intends to threaten not just the West Coast, but all of America. Iran is headed in the same dangerous direction as North Korea. Continue reading


The Missile Defense Imperative

As nuclear threats grow, the U.S. needs more advanced protection.

By George LandrithWall Street Journal

Liberal opposition to missile defense has persisted since the 1980s, but the politics may be changing with technological progress and the rising threat from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons. Congress has an opportunity this summer to notch a rare bipartisan deal that enhances U.S. security.

Kim has already overseen more nuclear and missile tests than his father and grandfather combined, and the Defense Intelligence Agency warns that “if left on its current trajectory” Pyongyang will develop a capacity to hit Japan, Alaska, Hawaii or even the U.S. West Coast. The Trump Administration is pleading with China to stop the North, but Chinese leaders never seem to act and they’re even trying to block regional missile defenses in South Korea.

Meanwhile, the U.S. last month successfully tracked and shot down a mock intercontinental ballistic missile, akin to a bullet hitting a bullet. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD)—first fielded in 2004 but untested since 2014—has a success rate of nine in 17 intercept trials. But even the failures show the GMD is increasingly effective. Continue reading


Op-Ed: Rebuilding Our Defenses: Building Strength And Obtaining Value

By George LandrithAmerican Military News

After a decade and a half of actively fighting terrorism around the globe while simultaneously imposing tighter and tighter budget squeezes, our military faces clear and unmistakable shortages in critical systems like ready-to-deploy fighter jets. These gaps grow larger and larger with each passing year and in the near future become alarming. As our fleets age, more and more, air craft carrier groups and squadrons are running short of planes. Media reports of cannibalized aircraft in museums to keep military aircraft in the air are not comforting. We cannot continually choke our military and hope to defend ourselves against ever increasing threats.

The Trump Administration has correctly identified the need to rebuild and strengthen our defenses. And they have shown an interest in getting the job done “on time and under budget.” That too is an important focus. The good news is it that we can rebuild our military and give our war fighters the best tools and systems on the planet and “come in on time and under budget.”

Here is one way we can do both — reinforce our military and be mindful of the taxpayer’s wallet. While we need a next generation stealth fighter with capabilities like the F-35, an effective air defense needs a wide variety of tools with varying capabilities and not all of them must cost nearly $132 billion each. We may see all fighter jets as being just like the other ones — super fast, super maneuverable jets that shoot and bomb things. But the truth is there are different missions and different missions and roles for different planes and they are not all the same. 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


Army’s Ground Combat Systems Risk Being Surpassed by Russia, China

by Morgan Chalfant • Daily Caller

The U.S. Army’s ground combat systems risk being surpassed by those being developed by foreign countries such as Russia and China, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

The Army is currently using main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems developed during the Soviet era. Billion-dollar plans to modernize the force’s ground combat systems have been cancelled over the last decade.

Meanwhile, potential adversaries have prioritized funding new weapons systems and technologies for their forces, raising concerns among American experts about the shrinking capability gap between the United States and other nations. Continue reading


Deterrence In an Increasingly Dangerous World

By George Landrith     •     American Military News

North Korea has test fired five new missiles and claims to have successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. Iran too is racing towards nuclear weapons and advanced missile technology. Around the globe, risks are increasing. As a result, deterrence is more important than ever.

There was a time when deterrence simply meant having retaliatory nuclear weapons. But the risks are far more complex than a generation ago. Maintaining a strong and credible nuclear deterrent is absolutely necessary. But by itself, it is not enough. Today, the risks are too varied to have a single solution. The US must have a robust, multifaceted, broad-based deterrent to stop the world’s evil doers. A modern military deterrent includes: (i) a strong up-to-date nuclear threat; (ii) a robust multi-layered missile defense; and (iii) a powerful conventional military force that can meet any threat and defeat any foe.

The need for a nuclear deterrent is clear. If any nation is tempted to use nuclear weapons, they must know that the retaliatory nuclear strike that would follow, would be devastating. With our nuclear weapons aging and more than a generation old, however, we must make needed upgrades to our nuclear triad. Continue reading


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