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Nuclear Deterrence is Job #1

By Peter R. Huessy

missile-defenseOn 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.

Russian Strategic Bombers Conduct More Than 16 Incursions of U.S. Air Defense Zones

‘Spike’ in Bear H flights over past week seen as test of U.S. air defenses

by Bill Gertz     •     Washington Free Beacon

Russia_bombers_missilesRussian 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

NATO After Ukraine: Military Modernization in Europe

Ukraine Mapby Peter Huessy

NATO faces a challenge to modernize and sustain its nuclear posture and missile defense deployments in Europe at a time of declining defense budgets on the one hand and expanded threats on the other. The threats from Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa are serious and growing from both ballistic missile arsenals and nuclear programs.

At the same time, there are political pressures within NATO pushing for the adoption of a “zero nuclear” posture as well as efforts to delay significantly U.S. and allied missile defense and nuclear modernization deployments. This comes as threatening countries adopt military and political doctrines that emphasize the use of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as instruments of state power. Continue reading

The Diplomacy of Missile Defense

Missile Defenseby Peter Huessy

The long thirty one year debate over missile defenses for the United States begun with the President Reagan announcement of the strategic defense initiative in March 1983 has now reached a critical stage.

The initial building of defenses in 2002 with the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty has now reached where in the US arsenal there are over 1200+ interceptors of all kinds that can deal with short, medium and long range rockets aimed at the United States and its allies. Continue reading

Missile Defense Agency Successfully Destroys Target in Flight with Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System

missile defense copyJune 27, 2014, Washington, D.C. – On June 22nd, the Missile Defense Agency and a high tech industry team that designed and built the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system conducted a complex test and successfully intercepted and destroyed a target in flight over the Pacific Ocean. George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom, made the following statement:

“This successful test is one more example of what America can do to protect itself and render intercontinental missiles useless to harm us or our allies. This successful test demonstrates the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop, both pioneers in calling for missile defenses in the 1970s and 1980s. Continue reading

Russia Test Fires Six New Air-Launched Cruise Missiles

Putin orders military exercises amid new Ukraine tensions

Russia_bombers_missilesby Bill Gertz

Russian strategic air forces fired six new, precision-strike cruise missiles in test launches Friday amid new tensions between Moscow and the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Friday that the missile firings took place during exercises involving eight Tu-95 Bear bombers—the same type of strategic bomber recently intercepted 50 miles off the California coast by U.S. jets.

Russian bombers, meanwhile, continued saber-rattling air defense zone incursions against Canada’s arctic and in Europe over the Baltic Sea. Continue reading

The Missile Defense Deniers

missile-defenseby Peter Huessy

On Sunday June 22, high over the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Navy successfully tested the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) crashing a kill vehicle at nearly 15,000 kilometers an hour into a test warhead, while simultaneously performing discrimination tasks flawlessly.

The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and intercepted a ballistic missile target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

This means that for the 65th time since 2001, the US missile defense system successfully demonstrated “hit to kill” technology often described as hitting a “bullet with a bullet”. Continue reading

Pros and Cons of Drone Strikes in Iraq

predator-drone-firing-missileby Patrick Tucker

On Friday, President Barack Obama ruled out sending U.S. troops back into Iraq to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, fighters as they take over large areas of the country. He did leave the door open to a set of nebulously named “other options.” What form might those take? In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made clear that he would allow the U.S. to carry out Predator and Reaper drone strikes in the country against groups hostile to his government. Today, many in Washington are asking when will the U.S. send drones back to Iraq? Continue reading

Keeping the Bear at Bay

Missile DefenseHelping Europe with missile defense would show Russia that the U.S. is serious.  The U.S. needs to show that Putin’s ambition will be checked.

by Peter Roff

The world – as events in Iraq remind us – remains a dangerous place. The Russians are flexing their muscles while President Vladimir Putin tries to reassemble as much of the old Soviet Union as he can. The Chinese are trying to expand their territorial waters in Asia. North Korea apparently has the bomb while Iran wants one – badly.

In short, this is no time for the United States to step aside from its role as leader of the free world. As Franklin Roosevelt observed, America is “the arsenal of democracy,” making the weapons the rest of the world needs to secure their own defenses. Plans for downsizing the Pentagon until the U.S. military is at its smallest since before the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor places the nation and her allies at risk, especially from another surprise attack coming from an unexpected quarter. Continue reading

Providing for the Common Defense

by Peter Huessy

US-FlagForty-three years ago, on Memorial Day 1971, I was traveling home to Vermont following two years of study at the International Division of Yonsei University in Seoul in the Republic of Korea. During my time there, I marveled at the success the Republic of Korea had achieved in building the beginnings of a modern industrial state while also being a staunch ally of the United States.

But in the ensuing decades, conventional wisdom in academia, Hollywood and the entertainment industry and the media turned this view on its head. The new “wisdom” concludes that the U.S. lost the war in Korea. And not only that. Even our victory in the Cold War now seems to be in question. Continue reading

ASP’s Nuclear Fairy Tales and Misconceptions

Nuclear Disarmamentby Peter Huessy

Despite the fact that our Triad of forces has been a nuclear umbrella that has kept the nuclear powers from going to war against each other for 69 years, the anti-nuclear left continues to receive $300 in support for every $1 contributed to those who support our current nuclear deterrent efforts.

It is also becoming apparent that much of this effort on the left is designed to radically change our current nuclear deterrent strategy. This involves a push to break apart the nuclear Triad of bombers, submarines and land-based missiles deployed by the United States since the early 1960’s. And to significantly cut back on the number of deployed B2 and B52 bombers and Trident submarines we keep in the arsenal as well as a push to eliminate most or even all of our land based Minuteman missiles. Continue reading

Will Obama ground America’s top tank-killer?

Warthog Thunderbolt A10 A-10Cutting the functional and economical A-10 would be a mistake

by George Landrith

Budget cutters are rumored to have their eyes on the A-10 Thunderbolt, thinking that retiring it may generate much-needed savings.

When the government shutdown was over, President Obama and members of both parties in Congress said they would work together during the coming months toward a sustainable budget. Let’s all hope they do. Government spending must be brought under control, and we need to be smart about the cuts we make.

Congress should focus on cutting things that provide little in return and preserving things that work well and are cost-effective — especially at the Pentagon. The world is simply too dangerous a place to allow the nation’s defense capability to be hollowed out. As George Washington wisely observed, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” Cuts that are “penny-wise and dollar foolish” do not help the taxpayer or our war fighters. Retiring the A-10 would be the very definition of “penny-wise and dollar foolish.” Continue reading

Even the Hapless Jimmy Carter Wasn’t This Bad

obama-carterby Jack Kelly

Leaders of other countries don’t respect President Barack Obama, said 53 percent of respondents in Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 3-6. That only 53 percent of Americans think this is an indictment of the news media’s coverage of foreign affairs.

He would lead the world by “deed and example,” not try to “bully it into submission,” Sen. Barack Obama wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2007.

In a major foreign policy speech in 2008, Mr. Obama said he would focus on “ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” Continue reading

Ronald Reagan, “You’re out there on the frontier of freedom.”

Ronald Reagan said to conservatives, “You’re the troops. You’re out there on the frontier of freedom.” 

Reagan Korea

A young soldier stands guard in the cold, looking out over no-man’s-land through to the other side of the demilitarized zone and into North Korea. President Reagan is visiting the troops there that day. During the visit the young soldier turns to the president, salutes and says, “Mr. President, when you get home, tell them we’re on the frontier of freedom.”

Reagan concludes his final speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference with this brief story. He compares the gathered conservative movers and shakers to the “troops” who — like the soldier in the story — are on the forefront of defeating “totalitarianism.”

He tells the story to them, “because,” he said, “you’re the troops.” He illustrates the comparison, telling them, “You’re out there on the frontier of freedom.” He then repeats what the soldier said to him (“Mr. President, we’re on the frontier of freedom.”) And immediately afterwards adds the pithy coda to the very end of the speech, “Well, so are you.”

And so we are. Or should be. Continue reading

The Iran Enigma

by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi   ahmadinejad

History, in her disposition toward intellectually gifted peoples and nations, appears as fickle as the gods of ancient times were wont to be of their most devout revelers; the more those peoples and nations excelled the less they were shielded from endless tribulations, great catastrophes, and devastating tragedies. Like most of the nation-states of Europe and Asia, present-day Iran had a glorious history, yet unlike them, it has been torn since 1979 between revolutionary adventurism and reactionary self-preservation.

The fatal contradiction in Ayatollah Khomeini’s doctrine of the “guardianship of the jurist” (velayat-e faqih) is that, by definition, it contains the political seeds of its own destruction. Continue reading

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