Missile defense

Staff Columnist

“We must ‘rebalance’ in the right way” Thomas Karako,  A Missile Defense Agenda In NATIONAL REVIEW, October 2, 2017

Defense of any sort is truly serious business.  Defense against missiles, as well as the use of missiles as weapons of our own is maybe even more serious .  These are no toys.  We are the big boys who “play with them.”  Recent actions with North Korea put these o-so-serious weapons in possible play.  Lets hope not.

A piece in National Review by Thomas Karako puts things we’d rather not think about in up-to-date perspective.

Mr. Karako is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of its Missile Defense Project.

Karako:  “In the 1990s, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that North Korea might acquire an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.  That threat is now here.  North Korea demonstrated ICBM capability twice in July, with a missile that may be able to reach Chicago.  This demonstration came only a year and a half later than those old warnings had estimated.  North Korea has also shown that it has hydrogen bomb technology that it could mate to its new missile.”

More from Karako: “It is good that the United States has in place a limited defensive capability against this threat. That this capability exists, however, was far from automatic. It required sustained leadership and vision.  In 2000, even while declining to move forward with deployment, President Bill Clinton declared  that national missile defense would be an important form of insurance.  In 2001, President George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and in 2004 he deployed the first ground-based interceptors in Alaska.  Had that old 1972 treaty with the former Soviet Union remained in place, today’s defense would not have been possible.  In  2010, the Obama administration observed that the U.S. was, at least at the time, in an ‘advantageous’ position relative to the threat of long-range missile attack such as that from North Korea.  And so it was.

The situation facing us today is different.  From the Middle East to Europe to the Asia-Pacific, one sees a surge in the global supply of and demand for a wide variety of missile-based precision-guided weapons and the means to counter them.  Collectively, this represents a kind of missile renaissance.  The Iranian-supported Houthi  faction in Yemen has fired a significant number of missiles at both civilian and military targets in its conflict with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, as well as at the USS Mason (DDG87), which was the object of a cruise-missile attack last October.  In June, Iran launched several Zolfaghar missiles at ISIS targets in Syria, demonstrating  a willingness to use its significant missile arsenal for more than just deterrence.  Russia used its long-range Kalibar cruise missiles to strike  targets in Syria, sending a signal to U.S. and NATO.  China, too, is developing and fielding a wide array and significant number of strike missiles and air-defense systems.

The Pentagon is currently conducting a review of missile defense policy and programs.  Unlike the review in 2010, this one occurs in the face of new threats. At presidential direction, it will ‘ identify ways of strengthening missile defense capabilities, rebalancing homeland and theater defense priorities, and high-lighting priority funding areas.”

Mr. Karako writes:  “To address this strategic environment, the U.S. should reorient missile defense policy and programs  along three major lines of effort:  greater emphasis on protecting  the American homeland, the fielding of a space sensor layer, and reinvigoration of research-and-development efforts to outpace current and emerging threats.”

These are three serious suggestions.

We’ll take up these and more detailed areas, starting with the rebalance to the homeland in our piece to be published next week in these pages.







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