by Peter Huessy
One area of controversy is the nuclear modernization accounts which will receive at least an additional $1.2 billion in funding, from a $23.5 billion level for the current fiscal year. They account for 4% of the defense accounts and 0.6% of the Federal budget.
Included is more modernization funding for warhead activities, the Ohio class submarine replacement program, a new long range bomber and a follow-on air launched cruise missiles, as well as the land based Minuteman missiles or ground based strategic deterrent. Continue reading
by Travis Korson • Townhall
Over the last few days, North Korean actions that ultimately scuttled the release of Sony Picture Entertainment’s release of “The Interview” have dominated the headlines.
To date the current national security leadership has been vague in describing a formal American response to the attack. Coupled with Sony’s ultimate decision to not release the film publicly, Kim Jong-un is likely feeling emboldened. This may very well mean an expansion of their cyber program, a cause for serious alarm. Even more concerning may be what a nuclear missile program looks like in a newly emboldened North Korea.
Sanctions have proven unsuccessful to date in deterring bad behavior by the North Koreans and countless negotiations have failed to make the country a more responsible actor in the international community. History has proven that the ability to neutralize threats to the homeland, and to project American power in the Asia-Pacific region is the only things this regime recognizes. Continue reading
by George Landrith • Townhall
The US and several other nations have been in “talks” in hopes of negotiating with Iran to stop its nuclear program in exchange for lifting the UN sanctions. But those negotiations have gone no-where. On Monday, the deadline came and went without an agreement.
Extending the deadline to permit more “talks” will not likely protect a single person. It just gives Iran more time to develop a bomb. Why would Iran agree to limit itself when obtaining the bomb will allow it to threaten its way out of sanctions? Even if Iran were to agree to something, there is virtually no chance that the Mullahcracy will keep its promise when they are so close to obtaining the bomb they clearly covet. Continue reading
by Travis Korson, Senior Fellow
As Congress debates the 2015 Defense Appropriations bill, it is important that members fully fund key components of a layered Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) to protect the American homeland and forward based land and sea assets from missile attacks.
Systems such as Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (TPY-2) radar, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), the Patriot Missile, and AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System are key components needed to provide America and its allies with a robust layered missile defense.
While global dangers to the American homeland continue to grow and geopolitical foes continue to develop a greater number of increasingly sophisticated missiles, it is important that America possess the capabilities to protect the country, its interests and its service members abroad. Continue reading
Why nuclear deterrent modernization is critical to our longterm security.
The newest from the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus (“Old Nukes and Old Thinking”, The Washington Post, November 17, 2014), on why nuclear deterrent modernization is not needed is that the nukes we have are old and so is our nuclear strategy.
He claims both modernization and our strategy can be safely jettisoned.
His primary reasoning is that we nuclear strategists continue to labor under what he considers the absurd assumption that we adopted during the Cold War that the Soviets might initiate an attack with their nuclear weapons, a “first strike” and thus we– the United States– had to build “more” [obviously unneeded!] weapons to survive such a strike, which in turn necessitated the scared Soviets to build more warheads in response. Thus the “arms race”.
He concludes his essay by asserting that while President Putin’s recent behavior is warlike, it should not worry us because it does not “rise to the nuclear level”.
My goodness, this guy must have missed most of the last 69 years of the nuclear age. Continue reading
Not too many years ago, many optimistically argued that the world was becoming, or would shortly become, a safer place. They said the United States had “reset” its relationship with Russia. It was argued that sanctions and diplomacy would stop Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons and Islamic State forces had yet to sweep the Middle East and destabilize Syria and Iraq. New leadership, they said, would make us more popular around the globe and thus less at risk. In that unrealistically optimistic climate, our national resolve to develop, build and maintain a robust missile defense seemed to wane. Recent events demonstrate the fallacy of that unrealistic and naively optimistic view. Continue reading
Congressional approval of a plan to modernize the missile system is critical to U.S. defense.
by Peter Roff • US News & World Report
Though lulled into a false sense of security by the fall of the Berlin Wall, America is waking up to the fact that the world is still a dangerous place. Events throughout the Obama administration have made it abundantly clear that freedom still has its enemies.
From terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to cyber-hacking, foreign regimes and groups are consistently testing not just our resolve but our ability to defend ourselves. The prospect of boots on the ground in the Middle East is once again a very real possibility thanks to the atrocities being committed in parts of Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State group.
Are our nation’s warfighters prepared for another prolonged engagement so far from home? It’s a question Congress needs to take seriously as it formulates budget allocations and approves weapons systems that will carry us through conflicts in different parts of the globe over the next several decades. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy • Family Security Matters
It has become a common assertion that future planned strategic modernization of the United States is unaffordable. The latest such claim was made by National Public Radio in a July story asserting that over the next three decades the United States is planning to spend $1 trillion in upgrading our entire nuclear deterrent.
Unfortunately, NPR’s assertion relies largely upon a mistakenly done Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year and some subsequent statistical gymnastics by a number of anti-nuclear organizations.
A central theme of the NPR report was how easy it would be for America to jettison the cheapest part of its nuclear Triad of forces–the ICBM leg–in order to save money, enhance stability and better manage our national security affairs. NPR got it wrong in every respect. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy • Gatestone Institute
The U.S. Air Force has just completed a review of the ballistic missile threats to the U.S.: China is building more ballistic missiles than anyone – and faster. By 2015, Iran’s and North Korea’s long-range missiles will be able to reach the United States.
The Israeli Air Force, on June 7, 1981, carried out Operation Opera, in which F-16s flew hundreds of miles and successfully destroyed the nuclear facility in Osirak, Iraq — the difficulty of the task only increased by the absence of laser-guided technology and the distance the jets had to fly.
When, shortly after, President Ronald Reagan was asked whether a National Security Council emergency session should be called to “assess what to do,” he replied, “Well, boys will be boys,” and calmly proceeded to the presidential helicopter. No NSC session was convened. Continue reading
By Peter R. Huessy
On September 18th, a senior group of professional nuclear deterrent experts gathered in Washington, D.C. to hear the top nuclear deterrent and policy leaders in the country’s military and civilian leaders to discuss the challenges we face in the future to keep America and her allies and friends safe and secure. One speech at the event in particular was noteworthy and that was from Chairman Mike Rogers of the House Armed Services Sub-Committee. He addressed the “Fifth Bi-Annual Triad Conference on The Strategic Nuclear Enterprise: Implementing the Roadmap Ahead”, an event sponsored by the Task Force 21, Minot in association with the Air Force Association and Geo-Strategic Analysis.
Of particular note was Chairman Roger’s remarks that the continued aggression by the Russians had a way of “sharpening the mind “as the “international system led by the United States has its hands full.” Here are the Chairman’s remarks.
Chairman Mike Rogers, “The Strategic Nuclear Enterprise: Implementing the Roadmap Ahead”, September 18, 2014
These gatherings are an important means of communication and discussion on the future of the strategic deterrent, and I thank you for inviting me.
We meet at an interesting time for nuclear deterrence and strategic issues—to say the least.
I don’t have to tick through the list for this crowd, but I can summarize by saying our friend over in Russia has a way of sharpening the mind.
Coupled with the challenge of China in the Pacific and the Islamic State’s acute threat to stability in the Middle East, the U.S.-led international system has its hands full.
Interestingly, some have commented that we may be witnessing a return to the normal state of international affairs.
After a suspension of history for the past couple decades where non-state actors often took center stage, we’re seeing a return to an international order where nation-states—and the interaction between them—play the paramount role in world affairs.
Perhaps it is fitting that this occurs on the 100th anniversary of the so-called “War to End All Wars.”
As this shift occurs, the strategic issues to which you and I pay so much attention will once again come to the forefront.
Today we’re talking about something that, almost by definition, is fundamental to strategic affairs: the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
We all know that the people, infrastructure, delivery systems, weapons, and policies that comprise this deterrent have seen their share of turmoil lately.
But, there may be grounds for optimism that the turmoil will subside.
Much of this has been self-inflicted by the political and budget dysfunction here in Washington.
And, I am hopeful that—perhaps in the new year—Congress will be able to find that budget solution.
That’s step number one.
Step number two is ensuring that we invest in a wise and prudent manner to ensure we have a robust and dominant deterrent.
The Strategic Forces Subcommittee that I lead has been in the forefront on this. Through both legislation and oversight we’ve been pushing the system to achieve our goals.
Obviously, we have more work to do.
When compared with the commitments made by the Administration to win ratification of the New START treaty, the NNSA remains dramatically underfunded by over $2 billion.
More important than just the funding shortfall: important life extension programs and infrastructure modernization projects have been delayed, deferred, or canceled.
Efforts to find efficiencies within the NNSA have been—for the most part—stymied.
We will continue to push the NNSA enterprise to streamline, reduce bureaucracy, and deliver for the military and the nation. They have an able leader over there now in General Klotz.
And, I’ve got a subcommittee that is eager for change.
I look forward to the results of the congressional advisory panel and working with my colleagues and NNSA leadership to see how we can help.
Across the river at the Department of Defense, we’ve seen delays to delivery systems, including the Ohio-class replacement submarine and the long-range cruise missile (known as LRSO).
I continue to believe we, as a nation, will come to regret these two decisions in particular.
The delays to these programs have taken all schedule margin out of some extremely complex and long-term acquisition programs.
My subcommittee unsuccessfully fought against the delay to Ohio-Replacement several years ago.
As it stands today, I am deeply concerned that we have more than 15 years to go before the first submarine hits the water—and in this town 15 years amounts to 15 separate times to screw up the budget and delay the program.
Right now, in this year’s defense authorization bill, we are fighting to prevent the proposed three-year delay to LRSO.
Everyone within the system seems to recognize why this delay is a terrible idea: a fragile legacy system coupled with steadily advancing adversary air defense capabilities.
Not to mention a problem it creates in the form of a gap in production activities at NNSA.
I am hopeful we can contain the LRSO schedule slip to one year, as I proposed in the House-passed FY15 NDAA and as the military thinks it can accept.
Regarding the force structure we will have under New START, we should all be grateful that the Administration’s long-overdue decision in April of this year was the right one.
I say “right one” because it is the position my subcommittee has been pushing toward since the ink dried on the treaty.
So, the Navy will move to 20 deployed missile tubes in each boat, and the Air Force will remove missiles from 50 Minuteman silos—but keep the silos warm.
This course of action not only retains maximum flexibility and complicates adversary targeting, it also enables the Air Force to go in and refurbish silos on a rotating basis.
This will ease logistics in the missile fields and facilitate the transition to the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD) system that will come along in the late-2020s.
With Russia having said a firm “nyet” to the President’s offer for further reductions—and there being no clear evidence that further reductions are in the U.S. national security interest in the first place—it is time to get on with the business of building our force for the future.
Speaking of the GBSD, I was pleased to see the recent results of the analysis of alternatives.
After a comprehensive look at the range of options, the Air Force is recommending a solution that utilizes the existing silos, focuses on leveraging technologies across the Services, and preserves options for the future.
All for basically the same amount that we’re spending today on the current system.
This is a reasonable investment and—importantly—costs essentially the same as simply continuing to life-extend the current Minuteman system out into the future.
We are also seeing a renewed focus from the Air Force on its nuclear mission.
This is the silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of the missileer cheating that came to light last year.
It also provides the Air Force an opportunity to prove that it sees itself as more than just fighter jets.
That message needs to permeate the culture of the Air Force, from the cockpits to the staff offices, from the maintenance facilities, to the launch facilities, and the personnel system.
Secretary James and General Welsh, together with external and internal reviews conducted by DOD, have identified a series of actions.
Their focus on military personnel, morale, and leadership issues is a refreshing change from moving boxes on organization charts.
My subcommittee will remain supportive and…maybe the best phrase is optimistically-skeptical…of their efforts.
Let me close with a return to the strategic environment.
The challenges we face from Mr. Putin’s Russia are as real as they are grave.
A declining power, seeking to hold on to former glory by upending the international order, is immeasurably more dangerous when it is nuclear-armed. Let’s look at Russia’s recent actions:
· The illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of Eastern Ukraine.
· Nuclear threats and open discussion of plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Crimea.
· The deliberate violation of the INF Treaty
· The circumvention of New START, Open Skies, and numerous other agreements.
· Kidnapping of intelligence officials from neighboring states.
And let’s not overlook China and its new ICBMs and submarine-based nuclear forces.
Nor can we overlook the perpetually unstable relationship between two nuclear powers in South Asia—one of which may be heading towards another coup.
Or the ever-perilous Kim regime in North Korea, or the nuclear intentions of Iran.
Or the lessons learned in capitals around the world subsequent to Libya and Ukraine giving up their nuclear capabilities.
In other words, nuclear weapons will be with us for quite some time.
We need to recognize this. We need to recognize that the world is not about to come together and sing “kumbaya” as some hope it will.
We need to approach strategic affairs with our eyes wide open and with all of the tools we can bring to bear.
And the key tool upon which all else rests—and that we use every day—is a robust, flexible, and highly credible nuclear triad.
‘Spike’ in Bear H flights over past week seen as test of U.S. air defenses
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russian strategic nuclear bombers conducted at least 16 incursions into northwestern U.S. air defense identification zones over the past 10 days, an unusually sharp increase in aerial penetrations, according to U.S. defense officials.
The numerous flight encounters by Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers prompted the scrambling of U.S. jet fighters on several occasions, and come amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.
Also, during one bomber incursion near Alaska, a Russian intelligence-gathering jet was detected along with the bombers. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Cranky opponents of the Iron Dome Israeli missile defense claim the system doesn’t work. Some in the arms control community have latched on to such criticism to smear missile defense work in general especially that in the United States.
What happened then to the nearly 3000 Hamas rocket warheads that if not intercepted largely landed somewhere in Israel? The same critics say not only did Iron Dome not work, but the Hamas rocket warheads didn’t work either! Continue reading
by Uzi Rubin • Reuters
While the troops of Israel’s Air Defense Command are blasting Grad and Fajr rockets shot from Gaza out of the sky with success, there are an obsessive few who try to blast Iron Dome’s evident achievements into oblivion. They insist on trivializing the missile-defense system’s rock-solid record because the facts don’t fit their theory that no missile defense system can ever work.
The chief Iron Dome scold is Ted Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a professor with academic standing but no experience in designing or managing the development of modern missile systems. Continue reading
Current conflicts confirm the need for a robust layered defense system
by George Landrith • Washington Times
Not too many years ago, many optimistically argued that the world was becoming, or would shortly become, a safer place. They said the United States had “reset” its relationship with Russia. It was argued that sanctions and diplomacy would stop Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons and that Syria was still a stable country. New leadership, they said, would make us more popular around the globe and thus less at risk. In that unrealistically optimistic climate, our national resolve to develop, build and maintain a robust missile defense seemed to wane.
Recent events demonstrate the fallacy of that unrealistic and naively optimistic view. After several years of “irrational exuberance” on the foreign-policy front, we need to reassess the risks and redouble our defensive efforts. George Washington wisely stated that “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” Or perhaps, to be prepared for a missile attack is the most effective means of preventing one. Continue reading
U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today joined several of his Republican colleagues in reaffirming their support for Israel, America’s friend and ally, and its sovereign right to defend itself against Hamas: Continue reading