The 94th AAMDC: Warriors of the Second Nuclear Age
During a visit to PACOM in late February 2014, I had the chance to interview the Commanding General of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command located at Fort Shafter near Honolulu, Brig. Gen. Daniel Karbler.
Notably, if you look at his background you see that he learned his trade under fire in the Middle East, having deployed to Israel in 1991 as part of Task Force Patriot Defender in support of Desert Storm and deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in support of Operations Desert Thunder II and Desert Fox.
Talking with the General and his team was not simply a Washington-based seminar of possibilities but of combat realities and shaping the joint way ahead.
The 94th has theater-wide responsibility for an ADA Brigade, 3 PATRIOT Battalions, 1 THAAD Battery on Guam, and currently one mobile radar detachment (the AN/TPY2 Radar) in Japan with an additional radar coming soon to Japan as well based on an announced agreement last Fall.
This function is the 21t century version of the old Air Defense Artillery role for the US Army, and unlike the significant questioning of the future of the Army after Iraq and Afghanistan, this part of the Army is in high demand from the joint forces and has no need to question its role and significance in the Pacific (or of their compatriots in the Middle East for that matter).
The first deployment of THAAD to the region last year marks an important turning point in the role of Army ADA in the Pacific and is a harbinger for things to come.
Early this year, I interviewed the THAAD commander on Guam about the deployment and the role of THAAD. Notably, he highlighted the central role of working the THAAD relationship with Aegis in crafting a more effective joint missile defense role for the PACCOM commander.
According to Task Force Talon Commander, Army Lt. Col. Cochrane, the THADD Task Force commander who is currently based on Guam:
We combine Aegis, with THAAD with short-range defense systems, etc.
For example, at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, the 94th AAMDC and the 613 AOC coordinate air and missile defense for the Pacific Theater. The Navy and the Air Force all come together and conduct that coordination in terms of how we protect and coordinate our defense so that we are maximizing our capabilities.
It is not just a single system standing alone or operating independently.
It is the inter-dependence and the inter-operability of all these systems to all three of the branches that are actively engaged in missile and air defense.
In my unit, we are looking aggressively at how to cross link with Aegis, for example.
The interview held with the 94th Commanding General clearly reinforced the role of ADA in the joint mission.
The meeting was held in the HQ building which is an old school house which belies the significance of the command and its impact in the Pacific. Brig. Gen. Daniel Karbler commented that “my office is probably the former principal’s office.”
Underscoring the joint nature of the mission and its strategic trajectory to shape a combat grid which is increasingly designed to enable distributed operations, the interview with the General was a roundtable with key USN, and USAF present who discussed the cross synergy role of missile defense and its role in Pacific defense.
A key theme was simply that deploying THAAD on Guam had freed up the Aegis to be deployed more effectively in its multi-mission maritime role.
In a theme echoed throughout my visit to PACOM, Navy Commander Steve DeMoss, the deputy for PACOM’s Space and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Division, underscored that:
The deployment of THAAD to Guam provides a significant capability all by itself and has been a force multiplier in the region. It is defending U.S. territory, U.S. citizens, and strategic U.S. bases… it provides PACOM greater flexibility with Aegis ships and other PACOM forces that had previously served that mission. The work we are doing on cross-linking Aegis with THAAD will allow us to think creatively about combining the mobile defense capability of Aegis with the land-based deployed capabilities of THAAD and Patriot.
The impact of THAAD and PATRIOT to free up the Aegis is a significant contribution to Air-Sea battle.
Deploying persistent, purpose built IAMD capability into theater (like Patriot, THAAD, and TPY-2), has given us greater flexibility with multi-mission Aegis ships. It allows us to employ those ships as designed and not simply tying them to a single mission, like missile defense.
The General explained that the networking or cross linking of THAAD, Patriot and various radars under his control with NAVY assets was creating a crucial synergy central for evolving 21st century capabilities.
Currently, the ADA branch represents only 1.6% of the Army’s force structure. But the Army Chief of Staff has emphasized its significant and growing role in the future.
With the coming of a second BMD radar to Japan (as agreed last Fall), the mobile radar system used by THAAD will have more sensors available to empower the force.
And doing a better job of linking in Patriots to the system helps as well.
The General discussed the role of ADA within Pacific defense as part of the support to airpower and to strategic decision making.
He emphasized that the capabilities of ADA helped provide time to determine how to both generate more air power and how to use airpower and provided the national command authority time to determine how best to respond to a crisis.
There are three ways to deal with an incoming missile defense.
There is passive defense, but there is only so much hardening and dispersal one can do without degrading your combat capability, and their many soft targets which cannot be hardened.
You can use air strikes to take out the adversary’s missile strike force, but you may not wish to do that right away or have not fully mobilized your capability.
The role of having active defense or an interceptor force is to buy time for [Lieutenant] General [Jan-Marc] Jouas (7th USAF Commander in the Pacific) or General [Hawk] Carlisle (the PACAF Commander) to more effectively determine how to use their airpower.
It also allows the National Command Authority to determine the most effective way ahead with an adversary willing to strike US or allied forces and territory with missiles.
Air Force Col. Mark Harysch from PACAF Strategy and Plans sees the Army’s ADA role is a central part of the evolution of the joint force.
The way the Pacific Air Force strategist sees it is that the joint force is working hard on cross domain synergy and cross linking assets.
The objective is to have the relevant platform to a mission able to draw on deployed sensors within the grid to execute the most effective approach for mission execution. General Hostage (the ACC Commander) has spoken of the combat cloud. That is what we are building here in the Pacific. For example, the contribution of the F-22 may not be in the air-to-air domain but to provide the best sensor available to the relevant task in a mission. The F-35 will add significant new capabilities to the layered approach as well.
In other words, the sense around the table among the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy personnel that the way ahead BEING built today is cross domain collaborative operations.
(For a look at the concept of evolving an aerospace combat cloud please see the following:
The THAAD system as well can support evolving Pacific defense in another sense.
As Col. Robert Lyons, the 94th AAMDC Chief of Staff noted,
The THAAD radar and interceptors can be deployed separately. We can put the radar in one location and deploy launchers to 3 launchers in another and 2 to 3 launchers in yet another and provide capability to operate over a geographic operational area. Given the geography of the Pacific thinking along these lines will give us options and enhance deterrence.
Lyons also underscored that the working relationship with allies over time is yielding enhanced combat capability.
We deployed Patriot on Okinawa in 2006 and it operated initially pretty much as a standalone system. Now we are working much more effectively with the Japanese Patriots to provide much greater potential integration. As Gen Karbler often says, you can’t [Request for Forces] Trust, and you can’t Surge Relationships.
Clearly, one key way ahead is to combine the evolving US approach to distributed operations with allied enhancement of their own capabilities to shape a new collaborative Pacific defense system.
The Army ADA evolution is clearly a central contributor to the kind of defense capability which the US needs in the Pacific and which enables credible and effective collaboration with US allies on the path to enhance their own capabilities.
One can learn a lot by visiting the principal’s office at the 94th AAMDC. I certainly did.
It should be noted that the principal’s office is moving closer to PACAF:
The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command is slated to move to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in FY2014.
Early 2013, the Pacific Air Force Commander laid out a vision for an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, which will enhance cooperation between the 613th Air and Space Operations Center, Pacific Air Forces and the 94th AAMDC.
The video above was prepared by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command located at Fort Shafter near Honolulu, the evolving role of ARMY missile defense is highlighted.
Tactical Nuclear Weapons in the Russian Black Sea Fleet: In Play in the Current Crisis?
In 1995, The Belfer Center of Harvard published a well thought out research paper on “Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet in Russian- Ukrainian Relations,” this was one of their findings:
Russia tried to prove that the whole Black Sea Fleet was a part of “strategic forces” which should be under joint CIS (i.e., Russian) command.
The presence of tactical nuclear weapons on its ships and planes, and its important role in defending the CIS from a maritime sector were presented as arguments to emphasize the strategic nature of the Black Sea Fleet
Sevastopol has been viewed as the city of “Russian naval glory,” and the Russians are very sensitive to the idea of restricted access to the city
Regardless of all the current discussions which are devolving into circles within circles about Russia Vs Ukraine, or perhaps using the other Intelligence Community cliché “a wilderness of mirrors,” it is important that all Americans know what might be in jeopardy as seen from Moscow.
Consequently, as Editor Sldforum.com I sent an e-mail to Russia Today for any information that they may have published in Russian.
For US Naval Officers of my generation (I am USNA ’69) TacNucs-were neither confirmed nor denied. I understand from many articles that the Russian Military still has tactical nuclear weapons as a deterrence factor- It would be nice to know if there are any present with Black Sea Fleet.
–I have no current idea either way.
The most current reporting in RT has focused on Strategic Weapons and deterrence–
My question is— has RT published any additional information about the presidential Phone call?
Is there anything that RT has published about tactical nuclear warheads on ships and subs? –Especially stationed with Black Sea Fleet.
It is beyond foolish to think Russia would use tactical nuclear weapons in the Ukraine engagement. However, being worried about losing control is another matter completely. Regardless of the current hot house debate about Russian aggression, all Russian leaders have understood how to protect warheads since the dawn of the Nuclear age. Consequently, a lot of conventional force on force blustering by US military experts should take in account a potential catastrophic problem if Russia loses control of their weapons.
Setting aside the unknown about TacNucs, it is known worldwide that the US is never afraid to send our combat ships into harm’s way regardless of the threat of facing very lethal conventional weapons
The USS Truxton DDG-103 has just been dispatched into the Black Sea. It is a powerful navy combat ship that can acquit itself well in a fight. However, in this 21st Century, just like 20th Century war at sea it would be nice to have air cover as a combat insurance policy against any attack from any quarter.
Ships, protected by Combat Air Patrols (CAPs), are a winning formula. In times of crisis such as the brewing potential Ukraine civil war being exacerbated and flamed by Russian military cross-border engagements at sea and on the ground especially around the city of “Russian Naval Glory” it would be prudent to provide defense in depth to the crew of the USS Truxton.
In fact, using the title of President Carter’s book, “Why not the Best” comes to mind.
The F-22 is the most lethal Air-to-Air Fighter and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) aircraft in the world today and should be flying cover over the USS Truxtun going into Black Sea. Why not the best? Perhaps even the few that we have are not being given visibility.
Is it because the President, supported by Senator McCain and Secretary Gates in cheering over the cutting of the buy below the numbers requested by then General “Conan” Corley of our Air Combat Command and fully supported by Secretary Mike Wynne and General Buzz Moseley AF Chief called them “outdated”, The stopping of the F-22 line was praised by many in the media and think tanks that a bipartisan effort at the very top of our Defense establishment had said the F-22 was a cold war relic. I think President Putin is pleased to see such American foolishness.
If the past politics of the Raptor is any clue it should be remembered that White House staff pulled an F-22 out of an Alaskan Presidential Photo op a few years back that resonates to this day.
In today’s very dangerous world all America should never forget the cancellation of the F-22 was by a confederacy of short sighted and foolish leaders making a very bad decision
Again there is no cause to think the Russian would ever use tactical nuclear weapons in this current crisis but losing control of them is another matter and additionally U.S. and allies, especially NATO, being conventionally prepared with the best weapons available is very prudent.
Admiral Hyam G Rickover, Father of the Nuclear Navy said it best, note the emphasis on the word “serious.” It is up to the US National Command authority to determine the current definition of that word.
“… attempts to limit war have always failed. The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon it has available. … Therefore, we must expect that if another war — a serious war — breaks out, we will use nuclear energy in some form.”
President Forced to be his own Intelligence Analyst “Action Officer”
Disharmony in American Intelligence Community Makes President Obama his own IC ”Action Officer” so what did he find out?
“President Obama spoke for an hour this afternoon with President Putin of Russia. President Obama emphasized that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners.”
Russia’s excursion into the Crimean Peninsula as part of its broader power play in Ukraine is the most provocative military move in that region since the Soviet Union dissolved. The Russian troops deployed to the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol coupled with surrender demands from Moscow have created a potential flashpoint that could lead to a nasty escalation.
But even as western heads of state denounce the developments in Sevastopol with nuanced diplomatic language, it’s quite possible that Russian President Vladimir Putin has good reason to take the action he has.
As the premiere warm-water port for the Russian Navy, Sevastopol has played a strategic role in Russia’s military operations since the reign of Catherine the Great. The naval base has also served as a deployment point for nuclear weapons aboard surface warships and submarines.
Few people outside of the Kremlin know with certainty whether nuclear weapons are part of the weapons package of components of the Black Sea Fleet but it certainly would account for Putin’s urgency in putting boots on the ground should he feel the need to protect such weapons, not to mention an array of powerful conventional weapons.
Concerns about Russian sea-based nuclear weapons are not new. As recently as 2013, there was, “cause to suspect that Russia might be deploying some number of sea-launched cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads,” according to arms control specialists and military analysts. Russian opacity on nuclear weapons makes it impossible to precisely calculate their inventory but recent estimates over the past five years are troubling enough.
Ukrainian military planners have made no secret of wanting a well-armed navy.
During my visit to Sevastopol in 1998 as part of a U.S. congressional delegation to assess the status of how the former Soviet Black Sea fleet was being divided between Russian and Ukrainian forces, I had the opportunity to discuss the situation with the Ukrainian Chief of Naval Operations. He and his naval commanders expressed deep concern over Russia stripping the weapons from their warships and having limited access to guarded ammunition bunkers and those concerns are certainly heightened given recent events.
Doubtlessly compounding Ukrainian distress is the fact that Ukraine reluctantly surrendered its nuclear arsenal in 1991 after assurances of territorial integrity from both NATO and the Russian Federation.
Twenty three years later, Ukraine is witnessing Russia’s disregard for that agreement, a war-weary NATO unwilling to engage and a European Union wedded to Russian energy sources. Ukraine’s appetite for heavy naval weaponry on Russian warships, nuclear or otherwise, is not difficult to understand.
If Putin does harbor concerns about the security of nuclear weapons at Sevastopol, one good way of enforcing that security is to deploy troops to the naval base, isolate it and demand the surrender of Ukrainian forces, which is precisely what Russia is doing. And while it is understood that no Russian nuclear weapons are to be maintained on leased naval bases, there’s absolutely nothing to prevent Russia from keeping a nuclear arsenal onboard ships and submarines moored at Black Sea facilities operated by Russia.
The American intelligence community must take into account the potential loss of nuclear devices. Regardless of speculation about U.S. contingencies, the Russian response to riots or unrest, or the prospect of civil war in Ukraine, there are some very deadly weapons at risk on Russian warships. Lots of them.
President Obama has reportedly been in communication with our allies and Moscow, but has he even inquired as to the presence of nuclear weapons in Sevastopol? If so, he hasn’t told us. America should know if that question was asked and answered in order to understand what is at stake. Even the possibility of losing nuclear devices in times of crisis dramatically alters the terms of the discussion.
President Putin is nothing if not calculating.
Whether it’s shirtless horseback riding or the deployment of troops to an historically critical Russian port, every action must be viewed in terms of need and effect.
The question of undisclosed nuclear weapons would obviously trigger a larger set of questions but if the Russian president is acting to secure and safeguard nuclear weapons in their Black Sea fleet, President Obama needs to understand this dynamic. For now, we’re not sure what he understands.
A Tutorial on How Not to Do It on Ukraine: Secretary Kerry Takes Charge
Recently, The Hill provided this wonderful overview on John Kerry’s approach to the 21st century.
It is a virtual tutorial in how not to deal with Russia and leverage anything from the Ukrainian crisis.
Let us start first with the key requirement for strategist: Assert your values and when others do not comply, argue they are out of sync with history and “globalization” or whatever Hegelian law of history you project as the proper one for everyone else.
As a classic liberal democratic, Kerry fits the bill perfectly for there are “21st century rules” versus those old power rules of early centuries.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “stunning, willful” choice to invade Ukrainian territory and warned of possible sanctions.
“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” one of several appearances on network interview shows.
Ok John let us see – Iraq did what towards the end of the 20th? And Iran is doing what with regard to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
You see territory does not matter in the geography free world of 21st century globalization and everyone who is “non-willful” believes that.
The good news is that there is a “modern manner” in which to resolve problems.
Just like Syria, Iran, China and Russia (normally) do.
“It’s serious in terms of the modern manner in which countries resolve problems,” Kerry said.
Even The Washington Post, yes you read that right, The Washington Post gets it.
The Editorial Board of The Washington Post commented on March 3, 2014:
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior.
Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements.
These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies.
They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.
Putin has been rolling back NATO and the EU’s reach into his neighborhood since 2008 and has seen the recovery of the Russian role in the Mediterranean from Cyprus to Iran.
This might look like strength but no it is not for the 21st century global thinker.
“That’s not the act of somebody who’s strong, “ Kerry added, saying Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Kerry called Putin’s move a “brazen act of aggression” and raised the possibility that allied nations would move to kick Russia out of the Group of 8 in addition to boycotting the G8 summit in Sochi this summer.
“It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century that really puts into question Russia’s capacity to be in the G8,” Kerry said.
OK last time I looked the G8 is not run by the United States so before tossing out the Russians who have many of the G-8 members by the balls on energy issues, let us see what happens?
He called on Congress to put together an economic aid package for Ukraine and said the U.S. would be prepared to impose economic sanctions on Russia.
“It may well come that we have to engage in that kind of activity, absolutely. I think all options are on the table,” he said.
OK, here we go: all options are on the table. Remember Syria and the Red Line and I am sure Putin is quaking in his boots.
Putin is a chess player; Kerry is clearly not; so exactly what are the US options?
And a small aside, to JK: so you are going to Kiev: Did you discuss that with NATO and most significantly with Poland, the ally that your President went after at the beginning of his Administration to take away their missile defense toys, largely on the grounds that the Russians objected to their presence in Poland?
Kerry said specifically Russia is “inviting the possibility of very serious repercussions, on trade, on investment, on assets — asset freeze, visa bans, on the potential of actions by the global community against this unilateral step.”
Ok, here we go, John Kerry represents the “global community” not just the State Department in the Obama Administration. I guess this is so 21st century for in the past states used to guard their sovereignty jealously but now, they apparently have deferred to the Vietnam War hero their role on the chessboard.
When Putin sent Russian troops into Georgia in 2008, then-President George W. Bush dispatched warships to the region and distributed humanitarian aid on military aircraft.
Asked if Obama was prepared to take similar actions, Kerry replied: “The hope of the United States and everyone in the world is not to see this escalate into military confrontation. That does not serve the world well, and I think everybody understands that. The president has all options on the table.”
Hope is a good thought, but given that the President had no military options in Benghazi nor Syria (based on his actions), just what has the rhetorical leader of the White House have in mind for the “global community?”
Kerry said if Putin rolled back the military intervention, the U.S. would work with Russia to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine and “stand up to any hooligans, any thuggery” there.
Now this is really rich.
Obviously, Kerry has never been to the Ukraine. I would be interested in how the US would be working with Russia to “protect ethnic Russians” in the Ukraine. A bit like the French working with the Germans to protect the Germans living in the Danzig corridor I would guess.
Appearing after Kerry on the same program, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the House would be “very cooperative with the administration” on preparing an aid package for Ukraine and potential sanctions on Russia.
Let us be blunt. The Russians are the ENERGY supplier to Ukraine and it is winter. So the US de facto will pay the Russians more money to keep the energy flowing to the Ukraine “reformers” I would guess.
“First off, we have to accept that the reset with Russia is over,” Kinzinger said.
When asked on CBS if a 90-minute call between President Obama and Putin on Saturday had any impact, Kerry said “we’re going to have to wait and see.”
Ok so the reset is now over and how about a little 19th century realism in the fantasy world of a 21st century strategist.
Obama made it clear during the call that Russia’s military intervention is “absolutely unacceptable,” Kerry said. “President Obama wants to emphasize to the Russians that there are a right set of choices that can still be made to address any concerns they have about Crimea, about their citizens, but you don’t choose to invade a country in order to do that,” Kerry added.
OK here we have it: the preacher is telling the “weak” black belt President of Russia to get calm, do meditation and get right with the 21st century universe. Zen rather than chess is the President’s fortay.
“There are all kinds of other options still available to Russia. There still are.”
This is the epitaph for the Obama Administration with regard to the world.
“There are many options out there: it is just tough to choose and actually do something.”
The Imperative of American Nuclear Modernization: Meeting the Challenge of An Expanded Nuclear Threat
As the current warheads and delivery systems of America’s nuclear arsenal age and wear out, the US faces the necessity of replacing all of these elements of its nuclear deterrent.
Anti-nuclear groups in the US falsely claim that this is too expensive and unnecessary, that it would siphon money away from conventional weapon programs, that nuclear weapons are Cold War relics that the US doesn’t need for its security, that the US should cut its nuclear arsenal deeply, and that such modernization will provoke Russia and China to build up and modernize their own arsenals.
The reality is that the modernization of America’s nuclear deterrent is long overdue, affordable, relatively low-cost, and absolutely necessary given the nuclear threats America faces.
In fact, one could argue that the nuclear threats, which the US faces, are far graver than the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
Here’s why it’s absolutely necessary to modernize – and not to reduce – America’s nuclear arsenal. Existing nuclear-armed potential adversaries – Russia, China, and North Korea – are all growing and modernizing their arsenals, and would be doing so regardless of whether the US would be modernizing its capability.
The Russians Modernize
Russia currently has:
- Around 415-430 ICBMs collectively capable of delivering at least 1,684 nuclear warheads to the CONUS;
- 251 strategic bombers, each capable of delivering 6-12 nuclear warheads (typically, 6 cruise missile warheads and one freefall bomb);
- 13 ballistic missile submarines collectively capable of delivering between 1,400 and 2,000 warheads to the US;
- At least 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons and a wide variety of means to deliver them (short-range ballistic missiles, theater aircraft, artillery pieces, surface ships, submarines, submarine-launched cruise missiles, etc.).
Russia is now building up and rapidly modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal, including its strategic nuclear triad. It is developing, or already deploying:
- A new strategic intercontinental bomber, the PAK DA, to replace the Tu-95 strategic bomber;
- A new ballistic missile submarine class (the Borei class) with two new ballistic missile types (the R-29RMU2 Liner and the RSM-56 Bulava);
- Several new ICBM types (the RS-24 Yars, the “Avangard”, the “Rubezh”, a rail-mobile ICBM, and the “Son of Satan” missile to replace the SS-18 heavy ICBM that can carry 10 warheads and 38 penetration aids);
- New warheads; and
- A full panoply of new tactical delivery systems, including new nuclear-capable cruise and short-range ballistic missiles and theater nuclear strike aircraft (e.g. the Su-34 Fullback).
By 2016, Russia will DOUBLE its spending on nuclear weapons from today’s levels and by that year, 80%, and by 2021, all of Russia’s ICBMs will be new, post-Cold-War and modern ICBMs: the Topol-M (deployed in 1997), the Yars (first deployed in 2010), and even newer missiles.
Altogether, by the 2020s, Russia’s nuclear arsenal, especially its nuclear triad, will be even larger and much more lethal and survivable than they are today.
Not only that, but Russia is not shy about articulating a first use doctrine.
In the last 6 years alone, Moscow has threatened to aim or even launch its nuclear weapons at the US or its allies at least 15 times. This year, it has twice conducted large-scale nuclear exercises simulating a Russian nuclear first strike.
Russia has, within the last 18 months, simulated a nuclear bomber strike on the US and Japan (and even on neutral countries like Sweden and Finland) several times, including in May 2012 and July 2012 (the Fourth of July, to be precise).
When asked in June 2012 by the media about what they were doing simulating an attack on Alaska, the Russians said they were “practicing attacking the enemy.”
So the Russians consider America their enemy – and have simulated attacking it several times.
And they have a large nuclear arsenal to do so if they ever want to try. America’s nuclear deterrent is the ONLY capability, which would be taken seriously by the Russians to deter this threat.
The Chinese Build Out Their Capability
China also has a large nuclear arsenal, though not as large as Russia’s.
Nonetheless, it is large and as former Russian Strategic Missile Force Chief of Staff Gen. Viktor Yesin estimates it at 1,600-1,800 warheads, while Georgetown University Professor Philip Karber puts the figure at up to 3,000 warheads.
This analyst, for his part, did his own study on the subject last year and estimated that China has at the very least 1,274 warheads, not including the warheads for the 500 nuclear-armed ground-launched cruise missiles that the DOD warns about.
Specifically, China has:
- ICBMs: 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs capable of carrying up to 10 warheads each, over 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs (4 warheads each), at least one DF-41 missile (10 warheads each), 20 DF-4 missiles (3 warheads each), for a total of 550 warheads for ICBMs – all deliverable to the US, though DF-4s can only reach Alaska;
- 120 medium range ballistic missiles: 100 DF-21s and 20 DF-3s (1 warhead each), for a total of 120 MRBM-attributed warheads;
- 500 warheads for short-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles;
- 440 nuclear bombs for the PLAAF’s delivery-capable aircraft (440 H-6s, JH-7s, and Q-5s);
- An unknown number of warheads for the PLAAF’s cruise missiles carried on H-6K bombers with a range of 3,000 kms (allowing China to strike targets throughout Asia);
- Six ballistic missile submarines: one Xia class boat carrying 12 single-warhead missiles and five Jin class boats each carrying 12 JL-2 missiles with 4 warheads each; note that future JL-2 missile variants will be capable of carrying 12 warheads each, over a distance of 14,000 kms.
In total, China, by this writer’s calculations based on Chinese ballistic missile, aircraft, and SSBN inventories and on DOD’s data on Chinese SRBMs and cruise missiles, has at least 1,862 warheads, including 802 deliverable to the US (though not all of them to the CONUS).
Here’s a map of Chinese ICBM ranges.
Note that China’s nuclear arsenal, like Russia’s, is not at a standstill and will only get larger, more survivable, and more lethal in the future. China is increasing its inventory of ballistic missile subs, ICBMs, MRBMs, SRBMs, and cruise missiles.
The PRC is also developing:
- A rail-mobile ICBM;
- A stealthy intercontinental bomber that will be capable of striking the CONUS with nuclear weapons;
- New variants of the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile that will be capable of carrying 12 warheads over a distance of 14,000 kms (i.e. striking the CONUS from Chinese ports and territorial waters); and
- A new ballistic missile submarine class, the Tang class.
So in the future, the number of nuclear weapons China has, and can deliver to the CONUS, will only increase greatly, thanks to China’s development of these new ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines, sub-launched missiles, and the intercontinental bomber.
The US must also deter North Korea. North Korea already has ICBMs capable of reaching the US (Taepodong-2 AKA TD-2 and KN-08, which USPACOM commander Adm. Samuel Locklear considers a serious threat to the US) and miniaturized warheads.
The latter has enough enriched uranium by now to produce a nuclear weapon within a month and has been working on, and successfully tested, a trigger for nuclear weapons.
The Challenge of Extended Deterrence
Currently, the US must provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but to over 30 allies who depend on it for their security and their very existence.
If it fails to do so – if it continues to cut its nuclear arsenal – some will undotedly develop their own atomic weapons, and thus, the nuclear proliferation problem will become an order of magnitude greater.
This is not a theoretical concern: already 66.5% of South Koreans want their country to “go nuclear”, and Japan has recently opened a facility allowing it to produce enough material for nuclear warheads in a matter of months if need be.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly ordered nuclear weapons from Pakistan (to counter Iran), according to the BBC.
Meeting The Challenge of Modernization: Not a Question of Cost But of Will
Thus, the US nuclear arsenal is by far the most valuable counter-proliferation tool the US has at its disposal. And a large, diverse, survivable nuclear umbrella is absolutely necessary to reassure those allies – and to protect America itself.
The cost of modernization is not the barrier, but rather political will or misplaced optimism about the nuclear free world.
Tom Collina of the Arms Control Association, puts the cost of the entire nuclear arsenal at $31 bn per year*; the Stimson Center puts the figure at $32 bn per annum – for all nuclear warheads and their associated missiles, aircraft, submarines, facilities, personnel, and programs.
$31-32 billion per year is barely 5% (five percent) of the US military budget (roughly $600 bn per year, a fraction of one percent of the federal budget, and just $100 per year for every US citizen and resident.
$100 per capita. That’s all it costs to deter Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, and to protect America as well as over 30 of its allies.
The US can certainly afford to maintain this arsenal, at a cost of just 5% of the military budget. The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad costs a low level $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, just $2.5 bn per year.
And modernization of the nuclear arsenal?
A new ICBM, a new Bomber and a new SSBN are hardly budget busters.
Opponents of nuclear modernization tend to use cost as an argument simply to support their belief in either a nuclear free world or deterrence without modernization.
The reality is that an effective and modernized nuclear arsenal is need now more than ever, as the nuclear club expands and various global competitors use the threat of the ascension to that club as a strategic bargaining chip against the US and its allies.
Zbigniew Mazurak is a defense analyst who has served as the Defense Correspondent for Conservative Daily News since 2012. His articles have appeared on CDN, in the American Thinker, on PeoplePoliticallyRight, and other publications. Mr Mazurak holds BA and MA degrees in History and is the author of In Defense of US Defense Spending (Kindle Publishing, 2011).
Editorial Note: A key question going forward for the United States is the nature of the modernized nuclear force going forward, notably with significant changes on the conventional front underway.
Is it a triad, or a different mixture of systems.
What is clear that countervalue programs by themselves are not enough.
The Impact of Culture on Rules of Nuclear Deterrence: The Iranian Case
The first nuclear age was largely forged on the foundation of a US-Soviet global rivalry with military capability grounded on nuclear weapons. This meant as well that the rules of the road for the first nuclear age were forged in the cultural merger between the Soviets and Americans about those rules.
Indeed, a significant part of American analyses of how to deter the Soviets from using nuclear weapons was rooted in perceptions of how the Soviet system worked and how the Russians thought strategically. This means as well that the rules of deterrence were not iron clad but culturally specific.
(See Robbin Laird and Dale Herspring, The Soviet Union and Strategic Arms (Westview Press, 1984).
Other nuclear powers clearly played off of what they perceived to be BOTH American and Soviet cultural propensities in order to use their nuclear weapons to achieve deterrence. This would encompass the Chinese, the British and the French. The French were quite explicit that their nuclear weapons were designed to ensure the US would actually use its weapons in event of a Soviet attack.
(See Robbin Laird, The Soviet Union, the West and the Nuclear Arms Race, NYU Press, 1986 and Robbin Laird, France, the Soviet Union and the Nuclear Weapons Issue (Westview Press, 1985).
With the coming of the second nuclear age, the cultural aspect of deterrence comes back to center stage.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons is NOT just about weapons it is about proliferation of CULTURAL understandings of what constitutes deterrence as well.
In a piece by Armin Tadayon, the author highlights an aspect of the Iranian cultural perspective on nuclear weapons.
Despite Iran’s long history and culture, it is Iran’s nuclear program and attention-seeking officials that have been at the forefront of global politics in recent times.
This is certainly understandable given the Islamic Republic’s occasional belligerence.
We are, however, at an impasse on the negotiations with Iran over those nuclear weapons.
As President Obama stated in his State of the Union address, given the mistrust between the two nations, negotiations will be difficult.
Nonetheless, the opportunity is there for Iranian leaders to seize.
Should they choose to, they can rejoin the international community and peacefully resolve one of the leading security challenges of our time.
While most people prefer a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear program, we should not be too hasty in accepting statements by Iranian officials as fact.
I understand that many in the West might be awed by the rational rhetoric of Rouhani given the low standards set by Ahmadinejad; however, acceptance without scrutiny is not the way to build trust.
It is simply unearned deference.
If we wish to build trust, we must be able to challenge our adversaries through dialogue, and a good starting place is Rouhani’s recent remarks.
In a recent interview, Fareed Zakaria asked Rouhani’s reaction to the potential of additional sanctions by the U.S. Congress.
In a very vague response, Rouhani stated that the U.S. Congress has a “long way to go before they fully appreciate and understand the Iranian people,” and that Iran does not want the bomb since the leader of the revolution has stated that the fabrication and stockpiling of nuclear weapons is religiously forbidden.
I believe Americans already know the Iranian people; just like any other nationality, Iranians are diverse, educated, and admirers of liberal ideals.
Who the U.S. Congress and the American people must understand is Iran’s ruling clergy.
An initial starting point in fully appreciating and understanding the Iranian clergy is by examining the Supreme Leader’s fatwa regarding nuclear weapons.
A fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law by a recognized authority. It is important to understand, however, that a fatwa is binding only on the followers of the mufti (issuer of the fatwa).
Since Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of Iran, and since he believes that he is the spiritual and political leader of the Muslims of the world – a belief not shared by the Muslims of the world – one can argue that his legal interpretation is, at a minimum, binding on Iran.
If one is being acquiescent, the inquiry can stop here.
My first point of contention, however, is the fact that since a fatwa is not perpetually binding, when Khamenei dies, whatever force his religious rulings may have had will die with him.
Second, the changing of fatwas is common practice among Shiite jurists, as is the issuance of contrary religious holdings by other muftis.
Third, Khamenei has numerous verbal holdings regarding nuclear weapons. In 2005, Khamenei stated that Islam does not allow Iran to produce the atomic bomb. By 2006, however, Khamenei’s emphasis had change from the production of nuclear weapons to their usage: “We [Iran] believe that using (emphasis added) nuclear weapons is against Islamic rulings.”
In 2009 Khamenei again stated: “We announced that using a bomb is forbidden in Islam,” and similarly, in 2010, Khamenei repeated: “using such weapons of mass destruction is forbidden, is haram.”
Accordingly, although Iranian officials might argue that nuclear weapons are religiously forbidden, the Supreme Leader appears to be making a very fine distinction between the haramful nature of using nuclear weapons as opposed to merely producing and owning them.
Finally, even if we were to disregard the discrepancy in Khamenei’s statements and Rouhani’s recent remarks, we should not ignore the Shiite tactic of “Khod’eh” which permits one to deceive and trick one’s enemy into a misjudgment of one’s true position.
The clearest example of the use of Khod’eh was by Khomeini.
Despite promising improved conditions for human rights and assuring that the clergy would not govern Iran, after overthrowing the Shah, Khomeini clung to power and simply stated that he had employed the tactics of Khod’eh.
As recently as late 2013, the Fars News Agency, an unofficial mouthpiece for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, published an article justifying the use of Khod’eh.
I am not arguing that the regime in Tehran is deceiving the international community.
What I am advocating is the importance of reasoned scrutiny, or what President Obama referred to in the State of the Union as verifiable actions by the Iranian regime.
Armin Tadayon is a DC-based law school graduate with a concentration in homeland and national security law.
Report from India’s DEFEXPO: First Indian SSBN to Deploy Next Year
New Delhi. India’s first nuclear powered nuclear attack submarine, INS Arihant, should be ready for deterrence patrols from 2015, roughly in about a year’s time from now.
India’s top missile scientist, Dr Avinash Chander, told India Strategic in an interview on the eve of Defexpo that the nuclear-tipped missiles for the boat were ready for installation on board, and that their integration would begin after some of the scheduled sea trials are over.
The boat is in its home port of Vishakhapatnam harbor now but should set course for the sea within a few weeks – by March – once its reactor achieves full power in the step-by-step process.
“All weapons are ready. Arihant is going through the steps of induction, and we are slowly raising the power to 100 per cent. After that, it will be ready to go to the sea… the process is a fairly elaborate exercise which will take several months… once Arihant is in the sea, there has to be a trial phase of six to eight months.”
Dr Chander, who is Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and also the Director General of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) which is leading India ’s quest for nuclear weapons requirement, observed that extreme care is needed in fully activating a new submarine’s reactor to establish total nuclear safety parameters.
“It is the first baby we are nurturing,” he said with optimistic caution.
Nuclear energy is amazing on the one hand as it can generate an endless supply of power, and dangerous on the other if its production is not scientifically controlled and handled.
The equipment on board a submarine and the men assigned to manage and handle it have to work in total sync and sensitivity.
The margin for errors is zero.
“So, it will be a careful, step-by-step operation and as soon as we are comfortable with the step-by-step established parameters, the submarine would set course for the sea for designated and pre-determined further trials,” the distinguished scientist observed.
He said he did not want to put a time frame but would expect it to “happen in a couple of months – say March.”
Dr Chander did not disclose details about Arihant’s weapons but it is understood that its four tubes are designed to launch 750-km range K-15 missiles and 3,500-km range K-4 missiles.
Both these are nuclear tipped, capable of destroying any large city.
Arihant will carry 12 K-15 and four K-4 missiles.
There is provision to launch non-nuclear tipped Brahmos supersonic cruise missile as well as the 1,000-km Nirbhay, which can be configured for both nuclear and non-nuclear warheads, and has some loitering capability.
All these missiles have been tested successfully from underwater pontoons.
India is reportedly looking at three or four nuclear propelled nuclear attack Arihant class submarines and a larger number – 10 or 12 – of nuclear propelled attack submarines.
The latter, designated internationally as SSN boats, move fast along with Carrier Battle Groups (CBGs) while the nuclear armed boats like the Arihant, designated as SSBN, stay in hiding for three or four months as part of deterrence strategy.
SSN boats carry submarine launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) like the Brahmos, or Nirbhay.
Technically, a nuclear boat can stay underwater for very, very long periods but the limit to human endurance is generally put at about three months.
It may be noted that conventional diesel-electric boats can stay underwater for three days to a couple of weeks only, as they have to surface periodically to draw air to recharge their batteries.
The Indian Navy has some 45 vessels on order but at present, its submarine arm is very weak as the boats are old – acquired from mid 1980s – except for the nuclear powered
INS Chakra leased from Russia a couple of years ago.
INS Arihant has an 80 MW pressurized water reactor, based on Russian subs. Some of the crew trained by Russia for INS Chakra has reportedly been helping in the test procedures.
Notably, the Navy is looking for three aircraft carriers in the coming years, and it is imperative to have nuclear- powered boats as part of the overall strategy. The carriers, which are like floating islands, themselves need 360-degree protection up, down, around and underwater and SSN boats are a basic requirement if a country goes in for CBGs.
Nuclear weapons can be launched from air, sea or land, and SSBN boats are hidden in ocean depths so that they can survive a nuclear attack by a hostile country, and then be able to take retaliatory action.
India has a declared No-First-Use (NFU) nuclear doctrine, which promises however massive punitive destruction in retaliation. Submarine-launched nuclear weapons are part of this strategy.
Once INS Arihant is operational in 2015, India will then complete the nuclear triad of air, surface and underwater nuclear attack capability.
It may be noted that nuclear weapons are under the tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) and top level clearance is required from the Government to launch them if ever needed.
Reprinted with the permission of our partner India Strategic.
Editorial Note: The Indians have built the platform to be able to deliver either counter value or warfighing options:
Dr Chander did not disclose details about Arihant’s weapons but it is understood that its four tubes are designed to launch 750-km range K-15 missiles and 3,500-km range K-4 missiles.
Both these are nuclear tipped, capable of destroying any large city.
Arihant will carry 12 K-15 and four K-4 missiles.
There is provision to launch non-nuclear tipped Brahmos supersonic cruise missile as well as the 1,000-km Nirbhay, which can be configured for both nuclear and non-nuclear warheads, and has some loitering capability.
Deterrence and the Human Factor in the Second Nuclear Age
The opening of the first Nuclear Age was Hiroshima and Nagasaki being vaporized by a bombing run from the B-29 “Enola Gay.” Unlike the World War II in Europe initiated by the Nazi cult of personality surrounding Adolph Hitler that was brought to an end directly by the Russian Army sweeping into Berlin, the Pacific War against Imperial Japan ended in two big deadly flashes.
The first Nuclear Age was begun.
There are, still two core elements of the first Nuclear Age with the World today.
The first is the question of the targeting strategies of the major nuclear powers.
Does a nuclear empowered country target counterforce i.e. warfighting or countervalue ie broad based deterrence against other nuclear powers?
The second is the absolute necessity to ensure an ability to conduct a nuclear war after a first strike has been endured.
Successful Continuity of Government (COG) planning and facilities ensure retaliation.
These elements from the 1st Nuclear Age remain in play both for the older nuclear powers and the newer ones as well.
The dilemma of the 2nd Nuke Age is proliferation of devices to additional countries, some of which are run like Hitler’s Germany and have a single point cult of personality as the leader.
This presents a core strategic challenge: how to deter a cult of personality leader sitting on top of a nuclear arsenal?
There is a nuclear response possible, namely to have targetable, nuclear weapons from the large nuclear power which removes the enemy leadership and its nuclear stockpile with limited nuclear strikes. These are neither counter-value nor counter-strike; they are designed for decapitation and elimination of the problem.
A nuke thrown at a cult of personality leadership country will end the regime in a blinding flash. It is a valid question to use a single nukes to deter any possible use of nukes by a cult of personality country but doubtful that the US will ever embrace that strategy.
The Russians appear poised to follow such a policy towards North Korea if that country should threaten the Russian Far East.
For countries not willing to use nuclear weapons as a termination force, the question then is how to shape an effective conventional insertion force which can eliminate or significantly attenuate the arsenal, the delivery means and decapitate the regime.
The goal is to use conventional power projection capabilities to target and decapitate the cult of personality regime before a Nuclear countervalue strike can be launched.
The current North Korea leader, who has threatened Japan and the United States with nuclear strikes, and already has the missiles to reach Japan and soon the U.S. presents such a challenge. His father came close to Hawaii with a surprise launch at the end of the last century.
To build a credible conventional approach several questions have to be addressed in shaping a nuclear termination capability.
- Is strategic warning possible?
- Is conventional technology available to deliver a mortal blow?
- Is the intelligence good enough to find the cult of personality leader?
- Is isolation and “lights out” enough?
- Are war plans focused enough on this problem along with the will to execute?
“Quad” charts and theoretical discussion are nice but there are also a few real world data points to provide a preliminary answer in forging a nuclear termination force.
The evidence from the last Century is very mixed. On Aug. 24, 1998, Gen. Hugh Shelton, a very decent and honest man, serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a letter to Sen. Jim Inhofe stating that there was at least a three-year warning of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile threat, such as Taepo Dong-2. Essentially, Shelton was supporting President Clinton’s position for very slow development of U.S. missile defense.
Unfortunately, on Aug. 31, 1998, a three-stage North Korean missile was launched over Japan and splashed down much closer to America than anyone liked; so much for the three-year window.
Japan immediately appreciated the danger and adjusted their “self-defense” military doctrine appropriately.
In 1999 the JSDE announced that a preemptive air strike against Northern Korean missile batteries would not violate Japan’s constitution if Japan had reason to believe an attack is imminent from Red Dragon Rising (published 1999).
Missile defense technology has progressed since that point with the US proliferating BMD through out South Korea and Japan, along with Aegis afloat, and these systems are critical to deterrence and stability.
We have two examples where the ability to deploy defenses was part of the deterrent equation. The US National Command authority sent many Patriots to the aid of Israel during Desert Storm because Saddam’s scuds were hard to find and there was a clear interest in Israel not joining the war. And, more recently, NATO deployed Patriots to Turkey as part of the response to the threat from Syrian WMD.
Conventional Technology and Delivering a Mortal Blow
One of the great stories of rapid fielding of war tipping technology was performed by the US Army at their Watervliet Arsenal in New York in response to a combat requirement during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
From the history of the Arsenal “a point in time.”
Saddam Hussein attacked across the Iraqi border and seized Kuwait. Although Arsenal Commander Col. Michael J. Neuman did not know at that time if the US would go to war, he did know that given the potential for war the Arsenal could not reduce its workforce. He cancelled the RIF.
In early 1991, as it appeared more and more everyday that the US would soon be in combat, a renewed sense of spirit permeated the Arsenal, from the tool room to the mail room. Everyone was onboard ready to support the troops.
Aerial bombing of Iraq began on Jan. 17, 1991, but after thousands of tons of ordnance had been dropped, there was one target that was still relatively untouched – Iraqi Command & Control bunkers.
Not that the coalition forces hadn’t tried, but the 2,000 pound bombs were simply bouncing off of the bunkers and a bunker buster bomb, using current weapon options at the time, was still about 20 weeks from development.
Then a call came into the Arsenal on Jan. 25, 1991 from Lockheed Missile and Space Co.
The Arsenal was known for its expertise in machining barrels and that is what a former Army officer who was working for Lockheed at the time had in mind when he suggested to the Air Force that they use stockpiled 8-inch howitzer barrels as the bomb casings to deliver a 5,000 pound bunker buster bomb.
Arsenal planners and machinists worked around the clock, seven days a week shortening the gun barrels and boring the barrels to a 13-inch diameter. The first two bombs were delivered on February 17.
The first test bomb was dropped on the 24th of February by an F-111 at the Tonopah test range in Nevada. The bomb buried itself more than 100 feet deep. The Air Force did not bother to recover it.
On February 27th, the Arsenal’s bunker buster bomb was uploaded on an F-111 and flown to Taji Airbase, about 15 miles northwest of Baghdad. The Taji command and control bunker had been bombed at least three previous times, but to no avail.
The F-111 dropped the bunker buster bomb and guided it to an air shaft on top of the command and control bunker. The bomb sliced through the 20-foot thick reinforced walls to devastating consequence. The bunker was destroyed.
These 23 days, from time of request to delivery, speak volumes about the history, capability, and the heart of the Watervliet Arsenal’s workforce.
This story illustrates breakout capabilities, but the steady state growth of defensive systems to work with strike systems can allow for a credible capability to shape an early intervention force to deal with the target set of a small nuclear power.
Will it be enough to do nuclear termination?
That will be determined by events, but the build out of such a capability, clearly is part of the deterrence equation.
Otherwise, one is left with one of two options: capitulation or the use of limited strike nuclear weapons.
Is the intelligence good enough to find the leader?
In addition to the ever increasing trending of US intelligence collection efforts being based on high technology, ISR, NSA et al there is still a major role for HUMINT. The capture of Saddam Hussian highlights the role of the human element.
After Baghdad fell Saddam Hussin was on the run. It was a very experienced former UK Ambassador operating out of out of the Intentional Technology Security Office/OSD that tipped off to Deputy Undersecretary John “Jack” Shaw on the way to capture Saddam.
A former UK Ambassador Julian Walker UK told Shaw to pass on that US forces should do a sweep of an area in their searching then wait and go right back. Ambassador Walker’s anti-Saddam contacts were giving him raw ground intelligence that Saddam’s MO was to move immediately into an area that had been swept, DUSD Shaw passed that vital information up the chain-of command to the Secretary of Defense. As Shaw’s IG team was flying enroute to Iraq Saddam was grabbed that very day.
The event in DUSD Dr. John “Jack” Shaw’s own words:
I got the call at home from Julian Walker on Sunday afternoon, saying that we had swept the areas around Ramadi (mentioned two or three other coordinates) and then would wait a couple of weeks to redo. I sent SupraNet message to Lynn Wells as soon as I got to the office Monday morning, and as you remember they got him later that week in exactly that area by doing exactly what Julian had suggested.
Julian was one of the last of the real Arab hands and had drawn all the Iraqi borders in the sixties (as everything earlier was British sphere of influence exact borders along lower Gulf to Saudi border were never demarcated.) He gave me the marked aerial photographs of Umm Kasr when we embarked on the clean up effort. He was also the last director of the famous British Arabic language school at Shemlan in Lebanon.
Are isolation and “lights out” enough?
In both Desert Storm and then Afghanistan and Iraq combat after 911 a significant contribution of airpower was “lights out.” This is simple shorthand for stopping an enemy’s ability to command and control their forces and operate any weapons that need electronic signals to operate. Since Vietnam the US has tried to engage with an “emit you die” battlefield engagement strategy. Add the active HOJ with all kinds of ever increasing “tron” warfare capabilities and it is a potent force.
In a period of strategic warning or a surprise attack by the current North Korean Dear Leader, if the US and South Korea can not find him and kill him and his General Staff will the US be able to abort his ability to launch a Nuke be stopped both kinetically and/or electronically?
Does the US and our Allies have confidence that is both achievable and signaled correctly, or are current war plans still in a conventional ground central protracted slug-fest mindset?
If instead of just the horrible death and destruction of 20,000 artillery tubes and rockets going into South Korea if he throws a nuke in his opening shot will he and his military receive a nuke?
If he holds nukes in reserve since it a step-function over a conventional attack is destroying him and that capability the highest objective in a 21st Century Korean war.
Are war plans focused enough on this problem along with the will to execute?
This is a question that must be appropriately answered by those civilians in charge of US National Security and the Military Commanders responsible for deterrence and fighting and winning in any Korean conflict.
The Second Nuclear Age and an Australian Nuclear Option
A previous post on this forum discussed Japan as a potential nuclear weapons state, but what about seemingly less unlikely candidates, like Australia?
From 1945 to around 1974, Australia tried to acquire the bomb, but eventually gave up because the geopolitical circumstances changed and a deterrent of such magnitude was no longer perceived as necessary.
But things are changing again in Asia – in a dramatic way.
And the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. force posture seems to be diminishing just as the major Asian powers become more assertive.
In a context of rapidly shifting geopolitical relativities, Australia may soon have to reconsider its attitudes towards deterrence – including by nuclear weapons.
U.S. extended nuclear deterrence has never really been “tested” for Australia. During the Cold War successive Australian governments concluded that a major attack (conventional or nuclear) against Downunder was unlikely to occur outside the context of a general world war.
In other words, there were no plausible threats to Australia that would not also threaten the United States.
As such, the credibility of US nuclear deterrence only ever had to be measured against the PRC and USSR.
But the geopolitical situation in the Asia-Pacific has already undergone dramatic change.
There are now several major military powers jockeying for their share of prestige, power, territory, and military influence in the region.
And Australia doesn’t quite know how to live in a region that isn’t dominated by the Western maritime power of the day.
Historically (1945 to the early 1970s), the “answer” to ensuring the defense of Australia in a geopolitically unstable region (the Korean War, British military withdrawal from Southeast Asia, the Vietnam War, Indonesian expansionism, the fear of Chinese invasion, and wariness over a re-militarized Japan) was to obtain a national nuclear deterrent (neither the British nor Americans could be relied on to defend Australia from such threats).
Australian Defense White Papers say that Australia “relies” on U.S. extended nuclear deterrence for its ultimate security, but that is only because Australia hasn’t actually needed a major deterrent in the last forty years.
Back in the 1950s up until the early 1970s when Australian officials did want to know the details of that security guarantee (targeting, contingencies), officials in the U.S. State and Defense Departments were not willing to share any level of information that might reassure Canberra of Washington’s commitment to defend its antipodean ally.
The answer was an Australian bomb.
If Canberra loses faith again, then Australia might indeed again pursue alternative defense policies.
For decades Australia has a good track record as a promoter of nuclear arms control and disarmament, true. But even after a Labor government ratified the NPT in 1970, a classified defense report dating from 1974 concluded that Australia could not rely solely on the U.S.
[Where] a major power’s nuclear weapons had become the source of threat to Australia the option would be open to the U.S., in particular, to provide Australia with a nuclear capability of a kind which might be adequate for deterrence.
But we certainly cannot assume that it would… were nuclear powers evidently unwilling to become involved in the defence of Australia, a non-nuclear Australia would be subject to nuclear blackmail…We conclude that a necessary condition for any defense of Australia against a major power would be the possession by Australia of a certain minimum credibility of strategic nuclear capability.
In addition, successive governments have always recommended that Australia retain a certain amount of “lead time” to produce a nuclear capability should the need arise.
For example, a 1968 defense report stated that:
No present requirement is foreseen for Australia to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.
However, should a serious breakdown in the international order appear likely to develop, Australia might wish to reconsider the possibility of a requirement for a nuclear capacity.
It is important, therefore, that Australia maintain its freedom to reduce the lead time for the development of such a capacity from the present period of seven to ten years.
According to journalist Brian Toohey, even the Labor government (under Bob Hawke in the 1980s) accepted a defense planning assessment which argued that Australia should be in a position to develop nuclear weapons as quickly as any neighbor that looks like doing so.
The document stated that:
Nuclear proliferation in Australia’s neighborhood will significantly alter the country’s security circumstances.
Successive governments have firmly committed Australia not to acquire nuclear explosives and this is confirmed in a legally binding document under the NPT. This commitment assumes the efficacy of the non-proliferation regime.
Developments relating to nuclear capability in countries within Australia’s neighborhood should be monitored in order to ensure that the lead time for Australia could be matched with developments in other countries should Government so decide… We should also maintain a scientific competence in [nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare] sufficient to advise policy.
And since the 1970s up until today, although senior advisers to the Prime Minister have not recommended developing an enrichment capability, they have not recommended disregarding the possibility, either.
For several decades Australia, deterrence did not have to be “tailored” for specifically Australian circumstances and requirements.
When it did (the late 1940s to early 1970s), it wasn’t credible.
In this shifting security environment Australia will have to think very carefully about how to fend for itself in a region where nuclear weapons are in play.
And in the next ten to twenty years the ultimate defense of Australia may well again require the possession of a strategic nuclear capability.
Christine Leah is a Stanton Post-doctoral fellow at MIT and the author of “Australia and Nuclear Strategy”, which is her PhD dissertation and being prepared for publication.
 Cited in Brian Martin, “Proliferation at Home”, Search, Vol. 15, No.5-6 (June-July 1984).
 Cited in Britan Toohey and Marianne Hanson, The Book of Leaks, pp.248-9
Rethinking South Korean Defense in the Second Nuclear Age
A key challenge is much thinking around South Korean defense remains rooted in 1954; but this is 2014 and we are dealing with a nuclear power seeking expanded regional reach with his weapons.
It is not about preparing to repel the North Korean “legions” coming South.
It is about deterring regional war.
It is useful to put the difference in context by comparing 1954 to 2014.
First, China was a newly independent state under Communist rule moving beyond a brutal Japanese occupation. It was under the leadership of Chou En Lai and Mao Tse Tung and the Korean War would be part of its outreach into the Pacific and statement that an invasion like that of Japan would never happen again.
There is very little relationship between the PRC of 1954 and 2014. The PRC has become a regional power with global reach and is a key player in setting the table for the Second Nuclear Age. And clearly is working to expand its reach and assertiveness into the Pacific. North Korea is both barrier and ally to such an effort.
Second, Japan, Singapore, and Australia are major players in the Pacific and globally. They are building 21st century forces for self-defense and for participation in cross cutting multi-national efforts as well. They are all concerned with potential reach from North Korea into the region, and do not view the Korean defense problem, as a managing the threat from the “hoards” going South. It is about self-defense, and self preservation.
Third, the South Korea of today and 1954 are dramatically different. South Korea could not defend itself in 1954; now it has a very large army and growing arms industry to equip its forces and to export as well.
Fourth, the US and South Korean are in the throes of shifting the command structure in South Korean defense. Although the 2015 deadline for the transfer seems to be a moving, rather than fixed target, clearly the assumption operating with the OPCON is that the US Army will become a supporting command to the ROK Army and that the air role for the Air Forces will NOT follow that example, but with the USAF continuing to play the lead role.
In part, this is due to the realistic focus upon the threat from North Korean aerospace forces, notably missiles and nukes.
In addition to these differences, it is clear that there are a number of key building blocks, which can be leveraged in the period ahead to shape a new strategy.
First, the evolution of missile defense is a key element in any solution set to shape an effective approach. And the trend line here is to more effectively link the disparate systems into a system of systems to more effectively link these defensive systems into a more effective operational whole. This is clearly happening with THAAD and Aegis and needs to happen with regard to the Patriot systems in South Korea as well.
Second, fifth generation aircraft are already available in the region and will be augmented by the shaping of a Pacific fleet of F-35s. The fifth generation aircraft are not simply fighters as Lt. General (retired) Deptula often points out but are forward deployed sensors as well as strike systems. They could be used over time to tee up other strike elements, as well as to integrate with defensive systems to shape a strike and defense enterprise which can deliver a decisive blow to the North Korean nuclear and missile complex if war comes.
Third, the US Navy and USMC are shaping new capabilities for mutli-vector insertion of force, whether it be with the Ospreys, the Bs to come off of the amphibious ships (and with the coming of the USS America) and with the coming of the USS Ford,. Innovative new ways to integrate the air arm into a comprehensive strike and defense complex.
Clearly, a 21st century Inchon strategy is possible with the evolution of US Air Force, US Navy and USMC capabilities combined with evolving US Army ADA capabilities as well.
A key issue to address is the question of the use of nuclear weapons themselves.
The Russians have made it clear that the modernization of their tactical nuclear arsenal is part of their response to the Second Nuclear Age and their defense of the Russian Far East, a region crucial to their future.
Assuming the United States does not want to go down that path, there will need to be a concerted effort to build out the strike and defense capabilities to ensure the credibility of a nuclear dismantlement, missile destruction and leadership decapitation strategy. Not accepting the “hoard goes South” as the initial feint followed by the Dear Leader determining when to strike is central to an effective strategy.
Hunkering down to defend and focusing on eliminating an artillery tube belt as a primary mission simply misses the point of the changes since 1954.
Clearly, there are a number of regional stakeholders in the evolution of South Korean defense strategy. Despite the tensions in the region and the historical rivalries, a North Korea unleashed is not in the interest of Russia, Japan, Australia or Singapore to mention simply the most obvious players.
And in the case of Japan, the key question will clearly be: If the US does NOT have a credible deterrent strategy against North Korean nukes, how do I build one?”
This is not an option in a wargame or on briefing slides.
This about the only country in the world with real experience with the consequences of nuclear war, not wishing to repeat the experience.
This is not a think tank exercise; it is a real world pressure point.
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