Defense Issues Weekly
Russia builds up, US cuts unilaterally
The Obama administration is preparing to announce a new round of deep, unilateral cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, writes Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.
Writing in his weekly Inside the Ring column, Gertz states it will happen “soon” and that a Pentagon “review”, written precisely to “justify” these new, deep, unilateral cuts, will be used for that purpose. The cuts, as many outlets have already announced, may bring the arsenal to as few as 1,000 (or fewer) warheads. Gertz states this “review” was completed, and the decision to cut was made, months ago, but have been withheld from the public so far to prevent Obama from losing the 2012 presidential election.
Obama, having been reelected by the American electorate in 2012, will not to have to face voters ever again.
The result will be not just a deep, unilateral cut in America’s nuclear deterrent, but also a possible cancellation of warhead modernization programs, a replacement for the B-52’s aging cruise missiles (the B-52 has such a huge radar signature it cannot safely enter enemy airspace itself), the new “boomer” (ballistic missile submarine) class, and a plutonium pit producing facility in New Mexico, all of which were promised by Obama in 2010 during the New START ratification debate and in the New START ratification resolution. Construction of the said facility is also mandated by the FY2013 NDAA.
(NOTE: In 2010, this writer warned not to believe or accept President Obama’s modernization promises on the grounds that his word cut not be trusted under any circumstances; however, this writer’s warnings were roundly ignored and 13 Republicans foolishly voted for the treaty. Some of these Republicans are now the same individuals complaining about Obama’s failure to fulfill his promises, even though Obama never intended to keep those promises.)
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced it will continue growing its nuclear arsenal and modernizing it substantially, including the development of a new road-mobile ICBM (the Yars-M, tested successfully last year) and a rail-based ICBM (thus further adding to Russia’s arsenal of ICBMs). It also plans to develop a heavy ICBM (the “Son of Satan”) and an ICBM called the “Avangard”, as well as a “pseudo-ICBM” with a range of 6,000 kms, to counter China’s large nuclear arsenal of 3,000 warheads.
The US, on the other hand, does not have any road- or rail-mobile ICBMs and has no plans to develop any, although the USAF is studying such options.
Rail-mobile ICBMs were prohibited by the first and second START treaty, but are not forbidden by the one-sided New START treaty negotiated by the Obama State Department and signed by Obama in April 2010. Russia is now taking advantage of this huge loophole, as well as of the loophole (also found in previous START treaties) that does not count its 171 Tu-22M strategic bombers as such under these treaties. It’s also taking advantage of New START’s extremely weak verification regime, which gives it ample opportunity for cheating.
Concurrently, Russia is modernizing the other legs of its nuclear triad: its next generation bomber is scheduled to enter service in 2020 (as are the forementioned ICBMs), and the first of its new class of ballistic missile submarines, the Yuri Dolgoruki of the Borei class, joined the Russian Navy’s fleet last year.
Historically, Russia, and before it, the Soviet Union, has never complied with any arms control treaty it has signed.
Critics have charged that by cutting the US nuclear arsenal deeply and unilaterally below New START levels, Obama is inviting Russian nuclear blackmail of the US and dramatically undermining US national security, while needlessly dismantling the only weapon type that has never failed for its entire 67-year-long existence.
Dempsey appeases China
During his visit to China last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, an Obama appointee, asked China for help in combating cyber attacks.
Despite the well-documented fact that many, if not most cyberattacks on the US originate from China and have been perpetrated by the PLA and other Chinese government entities, Dempsey put his faith in China’s benevolence, asking its leaders for help and proposing Sino-American “cooperation” on the matter.
Such “cooperation” would mean that Chinese government and military personnel would gain intimate access to US computer networks and thus be able to find out how to navigate – or disable – them and how to steal more information from the US government.
Yet, Gen. Dempsey called a Sino-American “working group” recently established “to combat cyber attacks” “both timely and appropriate”, and claimed that cyber attacks do as much damage to the Chinese as to the US economy.
Similarly, last year, Hillary Clinton claimed that both the US and China have been “victims of cyber attacks”, suggesting moral equivalence moral equivalence between the two countries.
“By turning a blind eye to China’s obvious bad cyber behavior, Dempsey and others are encouraging China to keep hacking, since there will obviously be no consequences from Washington. Even worse, by recommending more cooperation with China on this issue, the Obama Administration is actually rewarding the Chinese for their hacking by allowing them to become more familiar with our cyber systems and cybersecurity responses—and thus better prepared to spy on or disrupt them.(…)
The U.S. should change its approach to China on cybersecurity. China is not a victim on this issue; it is the perpetrator, and the U.S. should take actions that make its hacking more costly and painful—for instance, by calling out Beijing for its bad actions and ceasing to cooperate. The U.S. should also pursue legal and economic actions against Chinese companies that trade in stolen U.S. intellectual property. On top of that, the U.S. should break down Chinese censorship of the Internet and support the free flow of information within China.
Failing to change the U.S. policy toward China’s cyber crimes will only encourage more crime and attacks. It’s time to stand up to China and defend American interests.”
Ray Mabus: cutting warships, playing with boats
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus still insists on decommissioning 7 of the Navy’s newest cruisers while building 55 littoral combat ships that lack appropriate combat power, survivability, and are very vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The Navy’s released FY2014 budget proposal still insists on decommissioning the cruisers .
At the same time, Mabus insists on continuing the Littoral Combat Ship program of building 55 poorly-armed, easy-to-sink boats armed with nothing more than a gun and a few short-range missiles and costing $440 mn each, without counting the cost of their combat modules.
Mabus has hailed the LCS program as “one of our very best shipbuilding programs”, even though it is grossly overbudget and behind schedule and produces poorly-armed boats that cannot defend themselves. Think-tanks such as the CNAS and the Heritage Foundation have called for truncating LCS production.
The Navy’s own shipbuilding plans and girues also show that the service will not reach even its meagre goal – set last December – of reaching 306 ships, let alone the 313 ships the Navy said it needed as recently as December 2011. Indeed, the service’s plans show its ship fleet – especially the fleets of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines – shrinking deeply during the next 2 decades. During and after that period, the Navy’s total ship number will be significantly inflated by LCSes.
Critics, such as House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes (R-VA-04), have charged that the Navy is woefully underinvesting in its ship fleet and leaving it too small for the missions of today, let alone those of the future. They claim that, as the US “pivots” to the Western Pacific and continues to attempt to deter Iran in the Gulf, a large ship fleet is needed to keep the peace in both theaters, which are predominantly maritime.
Currently, the Navy is able to meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their requests for submarines.
Partial remedies have been suggested by think tanks such as the CNAS and Brookings. The former proposes establishing “red teams” to evaluate what it calls the “unconstrained” requirements of COCOMs, while Brookings proposes to station more warships abroad to make more available where they’re needed. It points out that one warship forward-deployed abroad (e.g. in Japan) is worth 4 warships based in the US.
Congressman Forbes proposes to increase the annual shipbuilding budget from $15 bn to $23 bn per year. That budget has been stagnant at $15 bn per year for several years.