September 9th, 2009
The Wall Street Journal published an article about Wayne E. Meyer, who died last week. Meyer was a rear admiral who commanded America’s first naval anti-missile system during the Cold War.
Those who understand the importance of missile defense know that a comprehensive system is the key. Meyer was such a man. Launching missiles from ships was the easy part. Meyer worked to solve the problem of defending against incoming missiles. If you watched old WWII footage of Japanese airplanes-turned-missiles crashing into American ships, you understand the enormity of the problem.
Solving the problem led to the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, designed to intercept ballistic missiles after the boost phase and before reentry. Although Meyer faced “fierce initial opposition” for his idea, the Aegis system became a reality. A long and expensive project, the building of this system provided the U.S. with comprehensive protection against potential Soviet missile attacks.
John F. Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy, said, “We had the forward strategy to get into the Soviets’ face in the Norwegian Sea and around Vladivostok, to demonstrate we could handle the best shots. Aegis was the keystone of that air-defense system and still is.”
June 16th, 2009
Jim Talent and Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation make the case that President Barack Obama’s budget cuts will reshape the U.S. military as we know it.
“If Congress ultimately gives the Administration what it wants,” they write, “America’s armed forces will lose capabilities that its leaders and citizens have come to take for granted.”
Capabilities like strategic defense, control of the seas, and air superiority will be lost. With rogue countries determined to acquire nuclear weapons, the timing couldn’t be worse. The administration proposes to cut $1.4 billion from missile defense. The Airborne Laser boost-phase program and the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor, as well as the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, would be cut. Last week, Alaska governor Sarah Palin said, “Reducing Alaska’s defense readiness in these perilous times is a show of weakness, it is not a sign of strength…And yet, Washington thinks it’ best now to actually cut defense spending in Alaska by hundreds of millions of dollars. Now that is an odd priority there.”
Odd, indeed. The president has already made it clear that he is not committed to building missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. Talent and Eaglen say liberals’ opposition to strong missile defense was understandable during the Cold War. It’s dangerously behind the times now.
“[T]he Cold War has been over for nearly 20 years, and missile defense today is a clear tool for peace. In fact, it may be the only stabilizing tool available to prevent a global nuclear arms race. As the ballistic missile programs of North Korea and Iran continue to mature, America must invest in a comprehensive, multi-layered missile defense system to stay ahead of the technology curve–instead of deemphasizing and restructuring the program for a more a constrained vision of what the future may hold.”
Read the rest at Heritage.org.
January 23rd, 2009
UPI has published the first of a multipart series of commentaries on nuclear warhead-equipped ballistic missiles. Although the number of such missiles has decreased since the Cold War, the number of countries that have the weapons has increased. At least nine countries have ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.
As the writer notes, traditional methods of deterrence may not work. In a FOX News op-ed, the Heritage Foundation‘s James Carafano echoed these sentiments. The old Cold War way of thinking about missile defense is ineffective against rogue nations like North Korea. “For one thing, nascent nuclear nations…may not understand the ‘rules’ of Cold War-style deterrence and could well blunder into nuclear conflict. For another, rogue states and non-state actors may not be deterred by the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
With only two countries in the nuclear weapons game during the Cold War, both could effectively promote deterrence because neither wanted nuclear annihilation. Now that nine other countries have joined the game, the players will be harder to control.
The U.S. may be able to control who possesses and launches ballistic missiles among smaller countries like North Korea and Iran, especially if those missiles can be intercepted in the early launch stage. The ideal time to intercept a ballistic missile is during the boost phase. That’s why the Missile Defense Agency is funding programs that focus on intercepting missiles as they ascend.
January 13th, 2009
The Heritage Foundation‘s James Carafano has a message for missile defense naysayers. In the 21st century, nuclear deterrence is unworkable. America must respond to the threat of ballistic missiles with a strong missile defense of its own. (Source)
Carafano says the old Cold War way of thinking about missile defense is ineffective against rogue nations like North Korea. “For one thing, nascent nuclear nations…may not understand the ‘rules’ of Cold War-style deterrence and could well blunder into nuclear conflict. For another, rogue states and non-state actors may not be deterred by the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
He exposes the flaws in arguments against a strong missile defense system. For example, a retired general said that missile defense won’t stop nuclear terrorism. Carafano points that we don’t have to focus on only one kind of threat. The U.S. can and should protect the homeland against threats from rag-tag terrorists as well as the formidable Russia at the same time. He also dismantles arguments against terrorists using suitcase or dirty bombs, or smuggling weapons onto trucks or ships.
Terrorists can and do obtain short-range ballistic missiles, however, and that’s enough of a threat to justify maintaining a strong missile defense system.
“Missile defense must be an important part of ‘providing for the common defense.’ If America does not act, its enemies will.”