Tag Archives: Department of Defense

Rebuttal of Robert Gates and his BS book

Eagle- America Deserves Better

Today,  a book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates will hit the stores. Already some parts of it have been released to the media, which, depending on their political preferences, have focused on the parts favorable or unfavorable to Obama and the Democrats.

But equally (if not more) important is Robert Gates’ disastrous tenure as Defense Secretary under both Presidents Bush and Obama, which, even before Obama’s arrival at the White House, began to sow the seeds of America’s military and thus geopolitical decline.

Crucial Platforms Killed On False Pretexts

Gates calls himself “a Defense Secretary at War”, even though he has never seen one day of combat, has never been deployed to a war zone, and spent his entire “career in the national security arena” as a bureaucrat in Washington, DC. Most of his book is about how he ran the disastrous and useless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I’ll get to that later.

But first, let me tell you how Gates tried to pay for these utterly useless wars that he was singularly obsessed with: by killing the very weapons systems America needs now and will need in the future to deter and if necessary defeat China, Russia, Iran, and other potential aggressors.

Based on his singular obssession with Afghanistan and Iraq, his myopic shortsightedness, and his naive view of China and Russia, Gates killed over 50 crucial weapon programs based on the most idiotic of pretexts.

For example, he stopped the production of the F-22 fighter – the best jet fighter ever built – at a mere 187 copies, whereas the USAF had long said that at least 337 would be needed to maintain US air superiority and defeat advanced Russian and Chinese fighters, and despite clear evidence from experts such as those at the Air Force Association and Air Power Australia that ONLY the F-22 Raptor could meet that requirement.

Gates thus participated in the smear propaganda against the F-22, fired Air Force Secretary Mike Wynne and Chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley (who advocated continuing its production), forced other Air Force F-22 advocates to retire, and advised Obama to veto any defense bill containing funding for F-22 production – a veto threat that sufficed to scare Congress into deleting that funding after it had already been authorized by the House Armed Services Committee, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and the full House.

Gates also refused to buy the F-15 Silent Eagle – the newest version of the venerable and combat-proven F-15 Eagle equipped with the newest radar and IRST system, conformal (internal) weapon bays, and stealthy from the front. He put all of America’s airpower eggs into one basket – the utterly failed F-35 program – and killed virtually every alternative to it.

That decision has proven itself to be the most idiotic any defense secretary has ever made, for the F-35 is so well-known for its cost-overruns, delays, bugs, and giant weaknesses that there wouldn’t be enough space even in a dedicated article to list them all, or even to list all references to sources narrating them.

But those cost overruns, delays, bugs, and weaknesses were already well-known in 2009, when Gates killed the F-22 Raptor. Since then, of course, the F-35 Junk Strike Fighter program’s performance has dramatically deteriorated further: the cost overruns and delays have mounted, critical systems have been deleted from the F-35 to reduce cost, and allies are now balking at buying it and looking for alternatives. Which competitors like Dassault, EADS, Saab, and others are all too happy to provide.

(What is the difference between the F-22 and the F-35? The former was designed from the start to do one thing: achieve absolute air superiority. To that end, it is has a tiny radar signature to evade radar detection, is very fast and high-flying, is very agile and maneuverable, has the most powerful fighter radar in the world, and can carry 8 missiles in its stealthy mode – or 12 when enemy air defenses are down. By contrast, the F-35 is not truly stealthy, can carry only 4 missiles, is slow and low-flying, and is so heavy and unmaneuverable that jets from the 1960s could easily defeat it. It is useful neither for air to air nor air to ground combat. It’s not capable or survivable enough for high-tech environments, and is too expensive and overbuilt for counter-insurgency operations.)

The F-22 was but one of the many crucial weapon systems Bob Gates killed, thus leaving the US military unprepared for the current military competition with China and Russia. He killed the stealthy Zumwalt class of destroyers at just 3 ships, supposedly on cost grounds, but ignoring the fact that it was precisely the reduction of planned orders from 32 to 3 ships that caused the price to spike – because economies of scale were lost. He killed the AC-X gunship, a badly-needed replacement for the USAF’s Vietnam-era AC-130 gunships, and the EP-X electronic intelligence plane, a sorely needed replacement for the EP-3. He terminated C-17 production at 221 aircraft, claiming the USAF had ordered enough of these, when the USAF was actually so short on airlifters it had to rent Russian aircraft – at higher prices than what it would pay for BUYING more C-17s.

Most worryingly of all, Gates terminated the Multiple Kill Vehicle, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, and Airborne Laser programs in 2009. The MKV would’ve been a kinetic metal “warhead” designed to shoot down enemy missiles. It was to be kind of a defensive MIRV bus which would’ve released dozens of small “kill vehicles” that would’ve shot down lots of enemy ballistic missiles all at once. (Currently, a single kill vehicle from a single interceptor can kill only one enemy missile.) This would’ve solved the target discrimination problem missile defense critics often complain about – which among the missiles or warheads are real ones and which ones are duds would’ve been irrelevant, because ALL of them would be shot down.

The KEI and the Airborne Laser, for their part, would’ve enabled the US to shoot down enemy missiles in the earliest phase of their flight, when their countermeasures have NOT been deployed yet and their deadly payloads have not yet been released. In other words, when enemy missiles are the most vulnerable. This would’ve come in handy when countering any missiles, especially the hypersonic, high-speed global range missile recently tested by China (as reported by Bill Gertz in the WFB).

But America no longer has that option – because Secretary Gates terminated both of these programs in 2009, even though the ABL program, despite its infancy, was progressing well, having passed 3 out of its 5 tests before being terminated.

So when you read Bill Gertz’s articles in the WFB, the Washington Times, on Fox News, or elsewhere about China’s global range hypersonic missiles, remember America does NOT have defenses capable of stopping those missiles, and that is thanks to Obama and Gates.

Russian and Chinese threats on the horizon

But China’s development as a huge threat to US and allied security, and as a contender to replace the US as the world’s top military power, is nothing new. It was already evident during Gates’ tenure as SECDEF.

Already during Gates’ time, there already was strong evidence that China was closing most gaps with the US military and working to create its own unique advantages. There already was solid evidence China was working to overtake the US militarily and would achieve that objective absent US efforts to maintain an edge over Beijing. Yet, Gates harbored a desire to appease Beijing as well as to drive America deeper into useless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So he ignored all that evidence, surpressed the truth and professional advice, lied to the American public, appeased Beijing with word and deed, and killed the very programs needed to counter the People’s Republic’s military buildup.

By 2009, China already had more attack submarines, and almost as many subs in total, as the US – and was steadily replacing old ones with new, ultra-quiet ones. It already had a large nuclear arsenal. It already had two stealth fighters under development. It already had almost as many ships in total as the US Navy, had deployed a dense and modern air defense network, already wielded thousands of missiles capable of targeting all US bases in the Western Pacific, already possessed anti-satellite kinetic and laser weapons, and already had hundreds of advanced fighter aircraft.

Russia was also busy building up its military, increasing its nuclear arsenal, and developing new, cutting edge weapons.

In 2010, Russia’s first stealth fighter, the PAK FA, first flew. This aircraft, when it enters service, will render EVERY fighter in the world except the F-22 Raptor impotent, irrelevant, obsolete, and useless. It will essentially be Russia’s response to the Raptor.

In January 2011, China’s first stealth fighter, the J-20, took to the air – at exactly the time Gates was visiting China. The Gates Pentagon was caught completely by surprise by this development, even though those of us who were clear-eyed about the Chinese threat had been warning for years that the J-20 (J-XX) would soon perform its maiden flight.

At the same time, China and Russia were also protecting America’s enemies North Korea and Iran and shielding them from any consequences of their provocations and illegal nuclear programs.

Also, advanced Chinese and Russian weapons, including the forementioned fighters, will be available to anyone able to pay for them.

But whenever someone dared to call on the US to prepare itself for possible confrontations with China, Gates derided that person as ill with “next-war-itis”, and he ordered the DOD to limit itself to fighting useless “counter-insurgency” wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under Gates, tens of billions of dollars were thrown away buying mine-resistant vehicles and nonstealthy, short-ranged, poorly armed drones like the Predator and the Reaper – which are useful only for fighting terrorists, but utterly useless against any nation state wielding any advanced weaponry.

Now that the Iraq war is long over, and the Afghan war is coming to an end, all those mine-resistant (MRAP) vehicles and drones will have to be sold to allies, stored, or scrapped.

Thanks to Gates, who stubbornly advocated staying in Afghanistan and Iraq almost indefinitely and throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at them, the US is now dramatically worse off: well over a trillion dollars has been spent fighting those wars, billions more will be spent on caring for veterans of these wars, and over 5,400 brave US troops have died for no good reason.

While Gates attempts to portray himself as a man who stood by military uniformed leaders during crisis times, his tenure in the Pentagon was actually marked by an unrestrained use of political power to surpress the truth and professional military advice in order to fund Gates’ pet projects like the F-35, MRAP vehicles, drones, and, of course, the useless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Enabling Obama’s unilateral disarmament of the US

As Defense Secretary, Gates has greatly helped Obama gut the US military – and not just through the program killings listed above, but also through his advocacy of arms control agreements that obligate only the US to disarm itself.

Gates supported the treasonous New START treaty, which obligates the US (but not Russia) to cut its deployed strategic nuclear arsenal to just 1,550 warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems – and Obama envisions even more cuts, down to just 1,000 warheads. That will necessitate, among other things, cutting at least 30 ICBMs. Gates lied to the Congress that the treaty would’ve allowed the US to maintain a sufficient nuclear arsenal and, ridiculously, claimed it would “protect” US nuclear modernization programs, which it actually threatens. He and Hillary Clinton also lied to the Congress that the treaty does not constrain US missile defenses, which it actually does.

Gates also supported the Law of the Sea Treaty, which the Reagan Administration rightly rejected and which would’ve cost America its sovereignty, subordinating it to the corrupt UN and its kangaroo maritime dispute courts, and would’ve cost US taxpayers billions of dollars in new contributions to the wasteful, corrupt UN.

Final verdict: an Obama yes-boy and a traitor

Therefore, based on the above facts about Gates’ tenure as SECDEF, an honest person cannot assess him as anything else as an Obama yes-boy, a traitor, and an utter failure as Defense Secretary. No honest person, and especially no Republican, should give him credit for anything – he does not deserve it. Gates deserves, in fact, to be tried, convicted, and executed as a traitor.

Book Review: Roger Thompson’s “Lessons Not Learned”

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A friend recently pointed me to the 2007 book, Lessons Not Learned: The US Navy’s Status Quo Culture by Roger Thompson, published by the Naval Institute Press. The Naval Institute is a private institution completely independent of the USN and dedicated to the study of America’s national defense issues.

The book is highly critical of the US Navy and has drawn laudatory praise from the usual suspects – those who seek to gut the US military, including POGO anti-defense propagandists Douglas MacGregor, Winslow T. Wheeler and Pierre Sprey. (For rebuttal of just some of their many ignorant rants, see here, here, and here, for example.) These professional blowhards, and Thompson himself, believe they are fighting a deeply entrenched and lavishly funded “military-industrial complex” (i.e. they’re re-fighting the wars of the 1970s) and the US Navy’s supposedly vast propaganda arm. They also dismiss anyone who dares to criticize them and their writings as an industry shill, an agent of the mythical “military-industrial complex”, or a pro-USN propagandist. They also extend such slander to distinguished writers such as Tom Clancy.

But let’s leave the people aside, avoid ad hominem attacks, and focus on the book itself. Let’s see if it deserves the praise it has received from the above-mentioned individuals.

Thompson identifies four big threats to the US Navy – and thus to America’s ability to control the world’s seas, which rests on the Navy.

First is that of very quiet diesel-electric submarines. Such vessels, equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, are very quiet and hard to detect. Yet, since the end of the Cold War, America has allowed its Navy’s anti-submarine skills, equipment, and force structure to atrophy, based on the wrongheaded belief that with the collapse of the USSR and with two ground wars in Asia, there was no more need for them. This was clearly wrong, and neglecting anti-submarine warfare has made the USN much weaker.

Nowadays, submarines – especially diesel-electric ones equipped with AIP, routinely embarrass the USN in exercises by remaining undetected and sneaking under American surface ships, in position to attack them with torpedoes or cruise missiles. This has happened numerous times during exercises involving allied navies’ subs, such as a Gotland class vessel of the Swedish Navy. It has also involved a Chinese navy Song class submarine in a 2006 incident in which the Chinese submarine sneaked undetected well within torpedo range of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. China currently has a large (and growing) fleet of quiet diesel-electric submarines of the Kilo, Song, Tang, and Qing classes. Iran has at least three quiet Kilo class submarines, while Russia has Kilo and Lada-class subs.

The second mortal threat is that of naval mines. China has up to 100,000 of them; Iran also has thousands, as do other enemies of the US. Naval mines could easily sink unsuspecting ships, and proved to be a real threat to the Navy and civilian American shipping in the 1980s, during the tanker war between Iraq and Iran, when the USN had to deploy considerable demining assets to the Persian Gulf. But since the 1990s, the USN’s demining skills and ship fleet have atrophied greatly, forcing the USN to rely to a large degree on allies. The French and Belgian navies have proven particularly efficient at demining and helpful in the effort. The USN even recently held an exercise featuring 40 allied countries sending their demining assets.

Remember, Dear Reader, how deadly Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) proved to be in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing thousands of American troops? The US Navy will face its own version of IEDs – naval mines – in future wars unless it greatly increases its inventory of demining ships and other assets and trains to regain demining skills.

And yet, the much-vaunted replacement for the Navy’s minesweepers, the fleet of Littoral Combat Ships with demining modules, won’t be ready for many years, because these demining modules haven’t even begun testing.

The third mortal threat is that of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). Thompson focuses mostly on the supersonic Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn (Moskit) and SS-N-27 Sizzler (Klub) missiles, which Russia and China both have (allegedly, so does Iran) and the latter of which is also sold with vehicle launchers that can fit on unsuspicious, innocently-looking container ships. These missiles can also be launched from ground platforms, aircraft, and naval ships and submarines. In other words, a surface ship could be attacked with these missiles from just about anywhere – and only one Moskit is needed to sink even a ship so big as an aircraft carrier.

Aircraft carriers’ size and flattop-like silhouette makes it even easier for anti-ship missiles to reach them. DDGs, cruisers, frigates, and other surface ships are much smaller and can be made stealthy (to a limited extent, Arleigh Burke class DDGs are – their radar signature is the same as that of a large fishing boat) – but even they aren’t completely safe.

During the 1982 Falklands War (to liberate the Argentine-occupied Falklands), the British lost many brave sailors and 6 ships to Argentine anti-ship Exocet missiles and dumb bombs. The British eventually triumphed, but paid a significant price. During the forementioned tanker war, when an Iraqi fighter mistakenly fired an Exocet missile at the USS Stark, a frigate, the vessel listed and nearly sank, and was saved only by the heroic damage control efforts of her crew (worthy a Medal of Honor, in my opinion). In the latter case, the damage was wrought by a single anti-ship missile.

Yet, China, Russia, Iran, and Syria all have more anti-ship missiles than they know what to do with. China alone has 500 Moskits, along with hundreds of ASCMs of other types, including the Yingji (YJ) family. Most of these are supersonic, unlike the transonic Exocet. Any naval combat between the US and any of these countries will likely involve a massive barrage of missiles being fired at USN ships, not just a few.

And yet, the Aegis missile defense system cannot handle more than 4 enemy missiles simoultaneously.

The fourth grave problem the USN faces, according to Thompson, is one of the Navy’s own doing: a poorly trained enlisted force, frequent shuttling of personnel from one assignment and ship to another, a cretinous up-or-out promotion system, and an officer corps more concerned about careerism, advancing in the ranks, and plum post-retirement jobs than with warfighting. (This is probably not true of the Navy’s current uniformed leader, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, but he was not the Navy’s CNO at the time the book was published.)

Nonetheless, there are several serious errors in Thompson’s book, which significantly undermine its value. Besides his incessant ranting against the mythical “military-industrial complex” and those who disagree with his views or point out his errors, his biggest error has been his advocacy of land-attack cruise missiles over manned carrier-borne aircraft.

He decries the cost of acquiring and operating the aircraft and training their pilots, as well as the cost of the carriers themselves. But Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles are not so cheap: one costs at least 1.5 million dollars, and each can be used only once. Once it’s expended, it’s gone and you need to procure a new one (and load it onto a launch-capable warship, which cannot be done at sea).

Meanwhile, planes can be used millions of times over during their multiple-decade service lifetimes. A typical tactical strike aircraft can have a life of well over 8,000 flight hours and deliver literally millions of cheap bombs (each costing less than 100K dollars) during its life.

Due to their high unit cost, cruise missiles can hit only a small, limited number of targets. They’re too expensive for any sustained operations and can be used only for small-scale attacks. During the First Gulf War, the US fired only about 100 Tomahawks – because they were so expensive. As Chuck Horner, the boss of the 1991 air war, said later about that conflict:

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Moreover, due to their small bodies and warheads, cruise missiles can hit only soft, unhardened, static targets. If any target is fleeting, or is even semi-hardened (e.g. a concrete structure), it is virtually immune to cruise missiles.

Furthermore, all cruise missiles except the most stealthy ones – and the Tomahawk is not stealthy at all – are very vulnerable even to the most modest air and missile defense systems. America’s enemies have two kinds of these. For large-scare area defense against cruise (and ballistic) missiles, as well as aircraft, they have air defense systems (wielding SAMs) such as the S-300, S-400, S-500, HQ-9, and the navalized HQ-16. For short-range defense of specific objects, such as buildings or weapon systems, they have short-range air defense systems like the SA-19 Grison, the Tor-M1, the Pantsir-S1, and the KS-1. Russia has the largest and most diverse arsenal of both types of systems, but has exported both kinds widely abroad – to China, Syria, Venezuela, Belarus, and many other countries.

This means that land-attack cruise missiles – which Thompson touts – are virtually useless, except against soft, unhardened, static targets not protected by any air defense systems.

A second major error in his book (besides his forementioned rants against his phantom enemies) is the claim that foreign submarines regularly defeat USN attack subs in exercises. This is an undocumented and false claim. Moreover, while Los Angeles class submarines are not very quiet by today’s standars, and don’t have the sophisticated sensors of the Virginia class, the latter class is much quieter than the submarines – diesel- or nuclear-powered – of any rival country, friend or foe – and has excellent sensors that can detect anything, including diesel-powered submarines, from 1,000 nautical miles.

The only problem is that the Virginia class – being very now – hasn’t yet entered service in large numbers (the first boat was commissioned in 2004 and their construction was upped to 2 per year only recently). Once they enter service in large numbers, they will clean the seas of enemy submarines – unless they are committed to other missions, which is likely.

Which brings me to another major flaw in Thompson’s book: his touting of the diesel-electric subs of rival countries as better than the nuclear submarines of the US Navy.

This is absolutely wrong. Not only are Virginia class submarines quieter than, and very much able to detect, enemy diesel-electric submarines, American attack subs (especially those of the Virginia class) also much more versatile.

In addition to the traditional submarine capabilities – sinking enemy ships and subs and laying mines – they can also launch land-attack cruise missiles, UAVs, and unmanned underwater vehicles; deploy and recover Special Operations personnel; and conduct espionage missions (including on enemy underwater cables, a mission that some USN subs have been conducting for decades).

The much-vaunted diesel-electric submarines of America’s adversaries and allies alike have none of these capabilities. (British Royal Navy nuclear attack submarines do, however, further validating the American model of a submarine fleet.)

This is not surprising, because foreign countries’ diesel-powered attack subs were designed only for operations not far from their countries’ shores – primarily in shallow waters (such as the Baltic Sea) or noisy, congested areas such as the East and South China Seas and the Persian Gulf. In other words, they were designed for territorial defense or in-theater anti-access/area-denial warfare.

But the nuclear attack submarines of the US Navy and its British counterpart – which Thompson himself admiringly calls “the one and only” on his website – are designed for totally different missions: for sea control as well as intelligence collection, Tomahawk missile attacks, launching UAVs and UUVs, and deploying and recovering Special Operations personnel, far away from home waters.

These submarines must, in short, do a far wider panoply of missions, and do so in any part of the globe, far away from home shores.

In short, American and British nuclear-powered attack subs can fight and win in any part of the globe. The submarines of their opponents can win only on their home court.

For all of these reasons, I cannot give the book more than a C. Thompson’s book gives a lot of interesting information and some useful advice for reforming the Navy and preparing it for tomorrow’s threats – and the Navy’s leadership would be wise to act upon it. But the book also contains the major factual errors mentioned above and is replete with Thompson’s rants against the mythical “military-industrial complex” and his critics, which is childish. For all of these reasons, his book merits nothing more than a C.

Beware: Leftist Plan For Even Deeper Cuts in America’s Deterrent

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On June 19th, in Berlin, Barack Obama announced his plan to cut America’s strategic nuclear deterrent further, to a paltry 1,000 warheads, from the 1,550 warheads allowed by the New START treaty – unilaterally if Russia doesn’t agree to a new accord.

Leftist subversives gathered at this year’s Netroots convention universally applauded Obama’s proposal and discussed among each other how they can advocate, and persuade Democratic and Republican members of Congress, to agree to even deeper unilateral cuts in America’s deterrent, and the eventual scrapping of the US nuclear arsenal.

Among the attending groups were such stridently liberal pro-unilateral-disarmament groups as the Ploughshares Fund and Global Zero. Obama’s Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sat on the board of both organizations before being confirmed as Defense Secretary. Before he was nominated, the New York Times said he would ultimately be picked precisely because he wants to cut America’s nuclear deterrent and “kill some major weapon programs.”

At the Netroots convention, the strident pro-unilateral-disarmament liberals showed their real, anti-American, treasonous views and mindset. They made no effort to hide their intention to disarm America completely and unilaterally, regardless of what other nations around the world do.

And in defense of their treasonous disarmament policies, they stated a number of blatant lies designed to mislead the general public. Adam Kredo reports that:

““The size of our nuclear arsenal is ludicrous,” said an outraged John Robert Behrman, committeeman with the Harris County Democratic Party in Houston, Texas.

“The amount of money we spend on nuclear ordinance is ridiculous,” said Behrman, who said that nuclear modernization and maintenance issues “should be the lowest hanging fruit in the defense budget.”

“We have so many weapons already that you know we don’t need to keep these moldy sitting in bunkers around,” added a student activist who had attended the session. “I don’t think they’re necessary and something we should be spending money on at all.””

But their claims are all blatant lies. I’ll show you why.

Firstly, the US spends only a small amount of money on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and supporting infrastructure: about $32-36 bn per year according to the Stimson Center. This is just 6.19% of the FY2013 military budget ($613 bn per the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act) and a fraction of one percent of the total federal budget. It’s a drop in the bucket.

The delivery systems and warheads themselves are the cheapest part of this. The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad costs just $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per year – and that bomber leg is capable of both nuclear and conventional strike. So for a tiny price of $2.5 bn per annum, America gets two capabilities in one weapon system.

(And as America’s overseas bases become more and more vulnerable to ballistic and cruise missile strikes, not to mention Iranian and Chinese political pressure on host nations, having long-range strike weapons like ICBMs and bombers in large numbers will be even more important than now, for these long-range strike weapons are based in the US and don’t need any foreign bases, or anyone’s permission, to operate and strike.)

No, the amount that the US spends on nuclear weapons and related assets is not “ludicrous” nor large. It’s tiny. It’s a small part of the defense, and the overall federal, budget.

Moreover, the US nuclear arsenal is THE most crucial and THE most needed asset that America has. It is not a “low-hanging fruit in the defense budget” that could be safely cut out of it. It is not some unneeded program. It’s a crucial, irreplacable, and needed asset. It’s the sine qua non of America’s national security.

The US nuclear arsenal is the most effective counter-proliferation program ever created. It has discouraged all of America’s allies except Britain and France from developing nuclear weapons, reassuring them that they don’t need to do so because the US provides a powerful nuclear umbrella to them. Such an umbrella is ESPECIALLY needed now – more than ever – given the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (including 1,550 deployed) and up to 4,000 tactical warheads – and the means to deliver all 6,800 if need be. Its 434 ICBMs can collectively deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; its 14 ballistic missile submarines can deliver over 2,200 warheads to the CONUS (while sitting in their ports); and each of its 251 strategic bombers can carry up to 7 warheads (1 freefall bomb and 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles). Its Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads to the middle of America.

In addition, Russia is blatantly violating the INF Treaty by developing and testing an IRBM, and also violating the CFE Treaty! How can we trust Russia to comply with New START and reciprocate the newest cuts proposed Obama when Russia is not complying with existing arms reduction treaties? We can’t!

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver at least 1,274 of them. Among these are over 80 ICBMs, 120 MRBMs, over 1,600 SRBMs, dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, six ballistic missile submarines, and 440 nuclear-capable aircraft. While the vast majority of its SRBMs and cruise missiles are reportedly conventionally-armed at present, they could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime, which is called “breakout capability.”

Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has recently announced it will grow its nuclear arsenal) and ICBMs capable of reaching the US, and Iran, which is coming closer to achieving nuclear weapon status everyday. Only nuclear weapons can protect America against these threats. So they are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century.

Besides deterring nuclear attack, nuclear weapons also protect America’s treaty allies against a large-scale conventional attack – ensuring that it has never happened so far.

And how big is America’s nuclear arsenal, exactly? Is the number ridiculous?

No, it’s not. It’s over 75% smaller than it was just 21 years ago at the Cold War’s end. Only 1,800 deployed strategic warheads, due to shrink to New START’s limit of 1,550 within the next 6 years, plus 180 deployed tactical warheads and some 2,000-3,000 warheads in reserve or awaiting dismantlement. In total, some 5,000 warheads – less than a quarter of the arsenal’s size in 1991 (over 20,000 warheads).

Since the Cold War’s end, the US has cut its nuclear arsenal by over 75%; stopped designing, producing, or testing nuclear warheads; has not produced a single ballistic missile or strategic cruise missile; has retired all of its stealthy strategic cruise missiles built by Ronald Reagan; has cut its ballistic missile submarine fleet to just 14 boats; has produced only 20 B-2 bombers; has withdrawn its tactical nuclear weapons unilaterally from ships, submarines, and South Korea; has dramatically cut its ICBM fleet from over 600 to just 450 missiles (due to shrink to 420); has dramatically closed its bomber fleet; has closed the Ohio class SSBN, B-2 bomber, Minuteman ICBM, and Peacekeeper ICBM production lines; and has adhered to all of its arms control commitments (while no one else has).

Meanwhile, Russia has an estimated arsenal of anywhere between 6,800 and 8,800 nuclear weapons, and China an arsenal between 1,800 and 3,000 warheads.

No, the size of America’s nuclear arsenal is not “ludicrous” nor too big. If anything, it’s too small.

In 2010, when the Senate was holding hearings on the New START treaty, the then commander of the US Strategic Command overseeing nuclear weapons, Gen. Kevin Chilton, said that New START’s limit of 1,550 deployed warheads was the LOWEST number of weapons America could safely cut to. Many reputable analysts, such as former Under Secretaries of State for Arms Control John Bolton, Paula deSutter, and Robert Joseph, warned that even this level is unsafe.

America needs all of the nuclear weapons she currently has. If anything, America needs more of them.

The extremely liberal pro-unilateral-disarmament groups gathered at Netroots also praised Obama’s plan to deeply cut America’s arsenal again, and his selection of Chuck Hagel – their longtime ally – to be Defense Secretary. The unilateral disarmament advocates believe Hagel will be their key ally in disarming the US unilaterally. Adam Kredo reports that:

“Ploughshares director of communications Margaret Swink also praised the president’s anti-nuclear stance during an interview with the Free Beaconimmediately following the strategy session.

“I think the administration does support it and [we] saw again the speech this week that Obama, as Global Zero was saying, Obama supports this issue and the peace and security of a world without nuke weapons,” said Swink, whose organization funded an aggressive campaign to support Hagel during his contentious nomination process

“We were obviously very pleased that Chuck Hagel became secretary of defense and feel very excited about working with him as we move forward,” Swink said. “With regard to nuclear issues, he’s a strong partner. I don’t think anything has changed about that since when he was on our board to now being secretary of defense.””

Do you see? I was right about Hagel all along. Hagel DOES support America’s unilateral disarmament, and Republicans made a huge and unforgivable betrayal of conservative principles by voting to invoke cloture on his nomination and by voting to confirm him.

If Republicans want to redeem themselves, they ABSOLUTELY MUST block ANY further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent – even by treaty. I repeat: if they want to redeem themselves, they MUST SUCCESSFULLY BLOCK ANY further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent – even by treaty.

Defense Issues Weekly – May 28th

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NOTE: From this edition forward, Defense Issues Weekly will appear on weekdays. This week, it will appear on Tuesday, and afterwards, it will appear on Mondays.

US on course to gut its military…

With sequestration in effect and no prospect of it being cancelled, the DOD will have to cut an additional $550 bn from its budget over the next decade on top of all the defense cuts already implemented or mandated. Accordingly, the DOD is now devising three budgetary plans for three different contingencies.

The first assumes that only $100 bn per decade in cuts is implemented, i.e. that Congress accepts Barack Obama’s budget proposal. The second assumes $300 bn, and the third $500 bn in cuts over the next decade.

Under the first scenario, the Army would take the biggest hits, mostly in force structure. Under the second and third, all services would have to make deep cuts in their size, modernization programs, and mission readiness alike. DOD officials have privately conceded to DefenseNews.com that should the full $500 bn cuts of the sequester hit the Department, the military would be severely weakened and would not be able to defeat a major adversary, let alone a peer competitor (such as China or Russia).

$500 bn in additional budgetary cuts would also mean the military won’t get the promised and badly needed equipment and munitions to prevail in theaters where access is denied by the enemy with anti-access/area-denial weapons and where the free use of the airspace, the sea, cyberspace, and outer space is in danger. This means no new bombers, cruise missiles, carrier-capable drones, or other crucial weapons needed to prevail in such environments – which are becoming more common every day.

DefenseNews.com reports that:

“If the second option — the $300 billion cut — were put in place, the cuts would be levied against all the services.

The third option assumes full sequestration, or $500 billion over the decade. Sources with insight into the SCMR say this option would wreak the most havoc on the military and force the cancellation or scaling back of several major acquisition efforts.

These sources also said the magnitude of the cut could prevent the military from being able to fight a major war against a near peer competitor.”

Also, by the end of May, four Washington think-tanks – the CSBA, the CNAS, the AEI, and the CSIS – intend to present their own plans on how to cut defense spending by the amount required by sequestration. These presentations will attempt to lull the public into thinking that such deep defense cuts can be done safely, without jeopardizing national security or any key mission of the military.

While 62% of all Americans oppose further defense cuts and believe the defense budget is either “about right” or inadequate, and even though the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats oppose sequestration, there is little prospect of the issue being resolved. The two sides vehemently disagree on how to solve the problem, with Republicans opposing any new tax hikes and Democrats advocating a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts. Both sides have firmly entrenched in their positions and neither side is willing to blink first.

Also, both parties are being held hostage by extremists on both sides of the spectrum who oppose any compromise and believe sequestration is sacred and should stay on the books.

Already prior to sequestration, the military had to make significant cuts, from cancelling programs to retiring hundreds of aircraft, multiple surface combatants and amphibious ships, and 80,000 troops. These cuts would have to be several orders of magnitude deeper if sequestration were to stay on the books.

At present, the US Navy has only 284 commissioned ships – the fewest since 1915 and able to supply only 59% of combatant commanders’ requirements – while the Air Force is flying the oldest and smallest fleet of aircraft in its entire history, with average aircraft age at over 24 years. Moreover, most USAF bombers, tankers, airlifters, and fighters are much older.

The Marines are poised to decline to 182,000 troops, the fewest since the 1950s, even without sequestration, but with sequestration, the USMC would shrink to only 150,000 troops, the fewest since the late 1940s. The US nuclear arsenal, at just 5,000 warheads, is over 75% smaller than 20 years ago.

…and so is France

defile_AR0002

The French government is also in the process of deeply cutting the country’s military, further weakening it after deep cuts implemented by President Sarkozy (2007-2012) (photographed above).

After the newest cuts – outlined in the White Paper on Defense released on April 29th – are fully implemented, the French Army will have only 7 brigades and only 200 tanks. Its fleet of lighter combat vehicles, helicopters, and other platforms also faces significant cuts.

The French Navy will not get the second aircraft carrier that President Sarkozy promised in 2007 nor a fourth amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class. After the 2 ageing air-defense frigates (destroyers) of the Cassard class are retired without replacement, the Navy will have only 2 destroyers for air defense. The frigate fleet will also shrink, from 18 to 15, while second-rate frigates will be reclassified as first-rate ones. It will shrink further as ageing vessels leave service, because only 8 new frigates (FREMM class) will be built – not the 11 planned just a few years ago, or the 17 originally planned.

The planned air-defense frigate type (FREDA) will not be built.

Yet, the deepest cuts will fall on the already-overstretched French Air Force, the world’s oldest. It currently has only 226 combat aircraft (Rafale, Mirage 2000, Mirage F1), but will have to cut that to a paltry 180 per the newest defense cuts. The entire French military will have only 225 combat aircraft (mostly Rafales and Mirage 2000s; the remaining Mirage F1s will be retired). This is another steep cut in combat power for an Air Force already deeply cut since 2000 (when it had 382 combat aircraft) and 2006 (when it had 330). The previous President, Nicolas Sarkozy, allowed the French Air Force and Navy combined to have only 300 combat aircraft.

The Air Force’s tanker fleet will also shrink, from 14 to 12. Thus, the FAF will see the fleets of its two most important aircraft types – multirole fighters and tankers – shrink at the very time when these aircraft types are playing the lead roles in France’s wars, from Afghanistan to Libya to Mali, where France doesn’t have any local airbases and has had to fly combat missions (performed by the very multirole fighters the government wants to cut, of course) from metropolitan France through Algerian airspace with aerial refueling on the way.

Likewise, the order for A400M airlifters has been cut from 70 to 50.

France’s Malian operation has revealed a shortage of tankers and airlifters, which France has had to ask the US and Britain for, but the French government remains stubborn in cutting the Air Force.

For overseas operations, France will be able to contribute only 15,000 troops in total, backed up by one amphibious assault ship and a dozen fighters. This means that, as retired French generals have admitted, France will be able to conduct only small-scale operations overseas, and in coalition expeditionary operations, it won’t be able to offer more than a symbolic contribution.

Russia exports A2/AD arms worldwide

Russia has stepped up its exports of anti-access/area-denial weapons – such as air defense systems and anti-ship missiles – worldwide, particularly to nations unfriendly to the US, as the US ponders how to counter such weapons while its own defense budget is shrinking rapidly.

Russia has recently decided – despite US and Israeli protests – to sell advanced S-300 air defense systems and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles and launchers to Syria, whose government is battling a Sunni Islamic insurgency and fears a Western or Israeli intervention.

The sale follows Moscow’s earlier decision, though not yet inked in a firm contract, to supply 24 Su-35 multirole fighters (with a combat radius of 1,000 nm and thrust-vectoring-capable engines), supersonic TVC engines for China’s domestically-produced fighters, S-400 (SA-21) air defense systems (with a range of 400 kms), and the Tu-22M bomber production line (China plans to build 36 of these aircraft) to Beijing, which has already built a massive, impressive network of A2/AD weapons, mostly supplied by Russia and threatening America’s ability to project power in the Western Pacific.

Russia has also sold S-300 air defense (SAM) systems, Kilo class submarines, and Su-30MKV multirole fighters to Venezuela and has been sued by Iran in international courts to deliver the S-300 systems it had promised to Tehran.

The S-300 and S-400 systems are more capable than the PATRIOT and render the airspace protected by them firmly closed to nonstealthy aircraft and missiles, as do upgraded legacy Soviet air defense systems such as the SA-6 and SA-11/17.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130519/DEFREG02/305190007/DoD-Examines-3-Budget-Cut-Scenarios

$80M Pork Project Sits Useless in AK

MV_Susitna_-_Catamaran_Ice_Breaking_Ferry_for_Alaska

It sounds like an April Fool’s news story. But it’s not. Over the weekend a report emerged that should make everyone shake their heads. A brand new, unwanted high speed ferry worth $80 Million was put up for auction receiving only one bid of $750,000.

The 200 foot vessel was christened in 2010. Built in Southeast Alaska it was designed for use in the Southcentral area of the state. Only problem? There is no dock or plans to build any docking facilities for the ferry.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, a boat designer convinced the state of Alaska and the Department of Defense that he could create a new type of boat that could be raised or lowered in the water providing icebreaking ability. This high speed vessel would be used to ferry residents the length of Cook Inlet and would be available for rapid deployment in case a disaster, such as an emergency plane landing in the inlet.

It sounds good on paper right?

Imagine with me a whole bunch of guys spending other peoples’ money talking about this idea. You might call them ‘Yes-Men’. Imagine the adjectives being tossed around: novel, new technology, rapid response, ground breaking. . . Sure, they all said, “Let’s build it!”

But what about the cost?

The population of the entire borough this ferry would serve was only 80,000 residents. In fact, Alaska’s most populated city of Anchorage hovers at 300,000. A pricey endeavor for a small population. Luckily, the Navy was interested and because they were, much of the money was paid from the DoD budget. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was said to be instrumental in getting the earmarks for this pork project added. (Yes, he was a Republican.)

MV_Susitna_-_Catamaran_Ice_Breaking_Ferry_for_AlaskaUnfortunately, without additional foresight, the prototype was built.

After its completion, a state study discovered the boat can hold 134 passengers but only 20 vehicles, and burns 375 gallons of fuel an hour. A state ferry with a similar capacity, the Lituya, burns 55 gallons an hour. The borough and the state decided they really couldn’t use it. It was too expensive and docks currently within the state ferry system would have to be reconfigured.

Here we are three years later. It costs the state $75,000 each month to maintain and now we know nobody else even wants to bid on this white elephant…or should we say orca?

One has to wonder, in light of the severe military cuts via the sequestration, how many veterans college tuition costs would have been covered if the federal government had just thought this project through?

Read more at the Mat-Su Borough website, the Anchorage Daily News or even the MV Susitna’s own website.

Politicking the Drones

Predator Drone

“I spent a couple years training soldiers to go and die in Vietnam. I know more names on the wall than ones that didn’t end up in granite from those classrooms. Now, I build things to keep soldiers alive.”

My father said those words more than a few times during my life, when explaining why he worked where he did – he was a systems analyst for a company that made safety equipment. His major projects for the military toward the end of his career involved detecting chemical and biological weapons in the field, and were built for installation on primarily Naval aircraft.

Predator Drone

NOAA imagery: Predator Drone

I knew what my dad did for a living because we would often joke that he had never been introduced to a textbook on basic English Grammar. His writing was atrocious, and it was obvious very early on that I was the absolute opposite. So, he’d write his reports, and hand them to me to cover with red pencil lines and notations. While a great deal of the technical information was way over my head, I did understand that my dad’s work was saving lives of not only Naval personnel, but also many troops on the ground. That was definitely a good thing.

When this whole issue of drones being used to kill Americans overseas came up, I couldn’t help but think of what my father would have said. Of course, being an old Army man, I know he would have been furious at anyone that was suggesting that there is a problem with this. I can almost hear him saying that the real problem isn’t the drones, but the fact that people are granting the title “American” to people that have chosen to engage in terrorist activities against the U.S. He would be furious with our government for not immediately stripping citizenship rights and privileges from Americans that choose to become enemy combatants, by joining terrorist organizations.

And that is what this all boils down to – it is a matter of semantics. It is a misguided notion to consider these people as U.S. citizens anymore. And if they officially weren’t, there wouldn’t be a single word of protest against killing them. So it begs the question, why hasn’t our government set a hard and fast rule that once a U.S. citizen has been identified as a willing participant in a terrorist organization, that person is no longer considered a U.S. citizen? Argue about rights to due process, or whatever you like, but before speaking, consider what would be said if the person in question didn’t happen to be a U.S. citizen at some point.

There is an uncomfortable reality here. First, there is the political situation, and the fact that this policy would have been attacked severely by the left if it had been a Republican president setting it. It’s unfair, but true. However, while it might feel nice to point this out, that righteous indignation is hollow, because as conservatives, we would have been defending this policy on behalf of a president from our side of the aisle. For those that are a little slow on the uptake, that means the problem isn’t with the policy, but with the party affiliation of the president that created it. That doesn’t cut it.

Second, there is a huge contextual issue on the horizon here. Obviously, the use of drones by the U.S. military overseas is something that the people should be able to agree is a good thing. Unmanned aircraft make it possible to save the lives of our military personnel, and no matter which side of the aisle one is on, that should be considered a major asset. The real argument lies in the use of these aircraft over U.S. soil, and rightfully so. With the noted exception of use of drones by our Border Patrol, their use should be highly limited – primarily using them for search and rescue, and perhaps for apprehending a fleeing criminal. Drones should not become “Big Brother’s eye in the sky.” But, in spite of some states and localities choosing to make laws governing the use of drones now, that isn’t the issue at hand. And straight military use over foreign soil should not be a bone of contention.

Bottom line is, fight the fight that’s worth fighting. Stop arguing over the merits (or demerits) of using drones to attack enemy combatants, regardless of their citizenship status. Focus on preventing the misuse of them over U.S. soil – that’s where the real battle will be.

Hagel proving his own inadequacy

chuckhagel

As Washington insiders argue the finer points on the merits (and demerits) of having Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, the man himself had been running around for years proving that he probably isn’t the best option for the position. His abysmal performance in the confirmation hearings aside, Hagel has been wandering around proving his lack of basic knowledge necessary to do the job for well over a year now.

The American Enterprise Institute blog, AEIdeas aptly pointed out at least one shortcoming when it comes to Hagel’s comprehension of the Defense budget and sequestration cuts on the horizon. AEIdeas points out from a short snippet of a September 2011 interview by Financial Times, that Hagel’s lack of real knowledge of the issues at hand in the Department of Defense, when it comes to spending, is not a new development.

It is true that traditionally defense spending is a sacred cow to conservatives. Any talk of cuts typically garners at best, cynicism – at worst, outright attacks and derision. However, there is fat to be trimmed, and that concept has been explored by at least one blogger at Their Finest Hour. That source is mentioned primarily because of its pro-military stance. But, that is not the sort of cuts that Hagel is referring to, either in his 2011 interview with the Financial Times, or in his confirmation hearing testimony. On the contrary, in both he is showing a sophomoric understanding of the important issues at hand – of balancing budget requirements with maintaining the level of national security this nations needs. And this was not lost on former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during his appearance on “Meet the Press.”

Hagel is not a an appropriate choice for Secretary of Defense at this point, not only because of his own shortcomings, but also because John Kerry is now taking the post of Secretary of State. These two departments must work hand-in-hand to ensure the safety of American citizens abroad, and provide relatively safe situations for American businesses to expand worldwide. It has come to light that the suicide bomber that attempted to attack the U.S. Embassy in Turkey was known to U.S. authorities, and unlike the Benghazi attack, the administration has come out from the beginning admitting that this was a terrorist attack. But, one has to wonder what Hagel’s ideas for cutting fat at the Pentagon would do to the security overseas that arguably prevented that bomber from breaching even the outer defenses of our Turkish Embassy.

And maintaining the safety of our personnel and business interests abroad is not the only concern our incoming Secretary of Defense will have thanks to the new Secretary of State. With Iran stepping up development of weapons for use against its enemies in the Middle East and beyond, there will be serious issues to address in the Department of Defense. Whether one considers the possibility of Iran making its own fighter jets, or the possibility of them being able to send rockets into space, there are seriously disturbing issues on the horizon when it comes to dealing with Iran going forward. Couple this with their determination to acquire a nuclear weapon, and it is a deadly combination that will require competent leadership in the Department of Defense – not willy-nilly running about talking about the need to cut funding. This is especially important, since the Iranians appear to be dangling a carrot when it comes to talks on nuclear weapons – something Kerry probably will not navigate through well. In this administration, the Department of Defense will play a pivotal role, if only because it will be left to clean up messes made by the Department of State, for one. Hagel cannot handle that, if for no other reason, because he would fail to recognize the need to do it in the first place – at least until there was a significant loss of civilian lives, at home or abroad, to force the issue.

U.S. Military Leaving Iraq? Not So Fast…

Iraq President Jalal Talabani

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President Obama and his administration are making preparations to negotiate with Iraq on a possible long-term defense relationship between the two nations.

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Acording to Michele Flournoy, an aide to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the administration is poised to hear Iraqi proposals about how much involvement the US will have, according to a FoxNews report:

 

“One of the things we’re looking forward to doing is sitting down with the Iraqis in the coming month or two to start thinking about how they want to work with” the U.S. military to develop a program of exercises, training and other forms of security cooperation, Flournoy said.

The U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Iraq in December after nearly nine years of war. Both sides had considered keeping at least several thousand U.S. troops there to provide comprehensive field training for Iraqi security forces, but they failed to strike a deal before the expiration of a 2008 agreement that required all American troops to leave.

Members of the administration, including Vice President Biden are continuing negotiations with members of the Iraqi government in hopes of striking an agreement.

PNT advises against LightSquared

On Friday, Ashton B. Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense and John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, issued a letter to Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.

The two men are co-chairman of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee. This is the organization that was charged by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with investigating the interference question surrounding LightSquared’s proposed terrestrial based wireless broadband network and the nationwide Global Positioning System (GPS).

The letter reads in part, “It is the unanimous decision of the test findings by the National Space-Based PNT EXCOM Agencies that both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers. Additionally, an analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded that the LightSquared proposals are not compatible with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems. There appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time.”

NTIA is conducting its own analysis, and the decision of the PNT EXCOM is not binding on the FCC. NTIA said the panel’s decision will help inform them as they make their final recommendation to the FCC.