Tag Archives: Kingston Reif

Rebuttal of Tom Collina’s and Kingston Reif’s call to cut nukes

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The US nuclear deterrent – cut by over 75% since the Cold War’s end – is now barely adequate, yet the leftist anti-nuclear-deterrence movement wants to cut it deeply even further and eventually scrap it altogether. They want that to happen unilaterally, without Russia or anyone else’s participation.

Why? Because these people, such as the ACA’s Tom Collina and the CLW’s Kingston Reif, genuinely hate the US and would love to see it nuked.

It was therefore not surprising (even though not pleasant, either) to see both of these rabid anti-nuclear activists to write new garbage screeds calling for deep, unilateral cuts in the US nuclear arsenal and the fleet of its delivery systems – ostensibly to save money. These pacifists are now laughably casting themselves as friends of the US military who want to help it cope with sequestration and save its conventional capabilities.

They claim that a) such cuts can be done without imperiling US national security; b) they would save much money to help the DOD cope with sequestration; c) they would help save higher-priority conventional programs; d) the US has more nuclear weapons than it needs.

All of their claims are utter garbage. Here’s why.

Firstly, contrary to their, and their Dear Leader Barack Obama’s, blatant lies, the US DOES NOT have “more nuclear weapons than it needs.” In fact, the current number – roughly 5,000, of which only about 1,700 are deployed – is barely adequate to deter Russia, China, and North Korea. The current commander of the US Strategic Command (responsible for America’s nuclear weapons) and his predecessor have both said that the current size of the arsenal is “exactly what we need.” Those are General Kehler’s words, not mine. Both of them have also utterly rejected calls for further deep cuts.

Thus also refuting Collina’s lie that “the US military is telling us we have more nuclear weapons than we need.” The US military has not said any such thing.

Why? And why have both Secretary Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter – to the displeasure of Tom Collina – rejected calls for further cuts?

Because further cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent would gravely undermine US national security and quite possibly invite a nuclear first strike on the US.

In order to deter any adversary, a nuclear arsenal has to be able to a) survive a first strike by any enemy; and b) hold, and if need be, obliterate, so many of the enemy’s military and economic assets that the cost of American retaliation will be prohibitive to him and hence, he won’t retaliate.

For both of these purposes, you need a LARGE nuclear arsenal; a small one will never suffice, as it would be too easy to destroy in a nuclear first strike.

No amount of conventional weapons can substitute here; only nuclear weapons have a sufficient striking and retaliatory power.

The US needs thousands, not mere hundreds, of deployed nuclear warheads to deter Russia and China, and many hundreds of delivery systems to deliver these warheads – at minimum, no fewer than the current number.

Russia currently has 434 ICBMs capable of delivering 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; 251 bombers able to deliver 1,757 warheads to the same destination; and 13 ballistic missile subs capable of unleashing another 2,000 nuclear warheads on the US, depending on the missile type used.

On top of that, Russia has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal of 4,000 warheads and a wide range of systems (missiles, torpedoes, artillery pieces, aircraft, etc.) to deliver these, and is also developing an IRBM in flagrant violation of the INF treaty.

And if that were not enough, it’s also developing new road- and rail-mobile ICBMs, while the US is not developing any, and has not fielded a single new ICBM since the 1980s.

And on top of that, Russia has recently conducted a huge nuclear attack exercise involving several ICBMs and SLBMs, as well as several SRBMs, being fired at once – an exercise US intel agencies say were a simulation of a Russian nuclear attack!

Yet, Collina and Reif want the US to unilaterally cut its ICBM fleet from 450 to a paltry 300, the nuclear warhead stockpile to 1,000 or fewer warheads, and the ballistic missile sub fleet to just 8 boats!

China, contrary to the claims of American anti-nuclear activists, has at least 1,600, and potentially up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, according to two credible experts: General Viktor Yesin, a former chief of staff of Russia’s ICBM force, and Professor Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist during the Reagan years and now a Georgetown University professor. This writer himself has estimated that China has at least 1,274 deployed nuclear warheads, without counting any of the 500 warheads attributed to China’s ground-launched cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. If these are counted, China has at least 1,774 deployed nuclear warheads.

China’s nuclear arsenal is not at a standstill; Beijing is now introducing a new, 10-warhead ICBM called the DF-41, and two new sub-launched missile variants capable of carrying up to 12 warheads over 14,000 kms, as well as a sixth ballistic missile submarine.

This, BTW, completely belies China’s claim to have a “minimum nuclear deterrent” – but then again, deception is a practice deeply ingrained in Chinese military culture since at least the Sun Tzu years, if not earlier.

Additionally, while Russia, China, and North Korea are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a nuclear deterrent not only to itself but also to over 30 allies around the world, who rely on it for their security and their very existence. And they cannot afford to bet these on Obama’s, Collina’s, and Reif’s childish fantasies of a “world without nuclear weapons”, which will never happen.

If the US continues to further cut its nuclear umbrella, it will become woefully inadequate, forcing other countries to develop their own weapons. Already 66.5% of South Koreans want to do so. Persian Gulf states are already preparing to do so, in the face of the future Iranian nuclear threat. Japan, for its part, has facilities that can produce enough fissile material for 3,600 warheads in a matter of months if Tokyo chooses to go nuclear.

So cutting the US nuclear arsenal further will only lead to MORE nuclear proliferation around the world, not less.

But wouldn’t it at least save lots of money?

No, it wouldn’t.

Deputy Secretary Carter has already warned there is little that can be saved even by cutting the nuclear arsenal deeply. Collina condemns DOD officials for thinking nuclear weapons are cheap, but even he admits that they cost, overall, only $31 bn per year and that this is little compared to the overall US military budget.

Indeed, $31 bn is just 5% of the roughly $600 bn annual US military budget, and only 5/6 of 1% of the annual federal budget. It is also only about $100 per capita (for a US population of roughly 310 mn people).

So it costs every American (and immigrant) only $100 per year to maintain this large, diverse, three-legged, survivable nuclear deterrent which, for the last 68 years (and counting) has protected America against Russia, China, and North Korea.

Collina proposes to “dial back” the B61 nuclear bomb’s service life extension, cut the ballistic missile sub fleet (and its planned replacement) to just eight boats, delay the next generation bomber program by a decade, and cut the ICBM fleet from 450 to “300 or fewer” (there is no lower limit on cuts to US ICBMs that Collina would ever consider).

Collina desperately responds to such criticism that in fiscally dire times, every saving that can be accrued is worthy. But such puny savings are worthless – and even dangerous when they are made in the inventory of such crucial instruments of deterrence as nuclear weapons, which nothing can replace today.

Cutting the US nuclear arsenal further – let alone as deeply as Collina and Reif suggest – is not only not worth the puny savings it would accrue, it would be utterly suicidal, as it would invite (God forbid) a nuclear first strike on America and its allies. A much smaller US arsenal would be much easier for Russia and China to destroy in a first strike.

Preventing such a strike is, and out to be, THE highest priority of the DOD – as confirmed by Sec. Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter. It is worth far more than any amount of money.

And at just 5% of the military budget and a paltry $100 per capita, it is a very low cost.

When lean budgetary years come, no sane company or organization cuts its budget by eliminating the most valuable service it provides. And nuclear deterrence is by far the most valuable service the military provides to the nation.

Collina’s proposal to delay the next-gen bomber by a decade is very dangerous (and treasonous) also for another reason: the next gen bomber is needed for conventional, not just nuclear, missions. This is because the B-52 (whose retention Collina advocates) and the non-nuclear B-1 have long ago lost ability to penetrate Soviet airspace (in fact, the B-1 never had it – it was obsolete by the time it entered service). Their radar signatures are so large that even legacy Soviet air defense systems, such as those owned by North Korea, would have no trouble detecting them and shooting them down.

That’s to say nothing of the modern, state of the art air defense systems used by Russia, China, Venezuela, and Belarus, and soon to be delivered to both Syria and Iran. No aircraft except the B-2 and the F-22 will be able to penetrate these systems – and experts such as CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger (a retired bomber pilot) say that even the B-2 will, a decade from now, lose its penetrating ability. Which would leave the US with no bomber able to penetrate enemy airspace – and thus give enemies complete sanctuary within their airspace and on the land below it.

And when you give your enemy any sanctuary, you lose the war.

The next-gen bomber is therefore absolutely needed – NOW, not a decade from today. The requirement for it has been validated by two consecutive QDRs (2006, 2010), by successive SECDEFs (Gates, Panetta, Carter) and USAF Chiefs of Staff (Moseley, Schwartz, Welsh), and by a wide range of outside-DOD studies by the CSBA, the Heritage Foundation, the Mitchell Institute, the Joint Force Quarterly, and others, including this writer. The USAF says delaying this program would be “very high risk.”

The NGB is not a mere wish; it is an absolute requirement. The USAF’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Welsh, lists it as one of his top three modernization priorities, along with the KC-46 tanker and the F-35 strike fighter.

Collina’s claim that making such cuts in nuclear weapons is necessary to cope with sequestration is also a blatant lie, and a figleaf for advocating deep, treasonous cuts that he and his treasonous, subversive organization (ACA), as well as other anti-nuclear groups like Kingston Reif’s CLW, have long been calling for in order to disarm America unilaterally.

Eliminating the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad would save only $1.1 bn per year; scrapping the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per annum.

In fact, even eliminating the US nuclear arsenal completely would not provide more than half of the savings required to pay for sequestration, which amounts to $55 bn EVERY YEAR and $550 bn over the decade from FY2013 to FY2022.

The real money in the defense budget is in the military personnel accounts – pay, benefits, healthcare, retirement packages, etc. – which have, so far, been considered sacrosanct and off the table, based on the mistaken belief that even touching them would mean “breaking faith with the troops.” If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on, it’s stonewalling any DOD requests for authorizing reforms of personnel programs.

Yet, without meaningful reforms, personnel programs will, by FY2039, consume 100% of the US defense budget – leaving no money for any weapons, nuclear or conventional.

And that is probably what Collina and Reif want.

Rebuttal of Kingston Reif’s and Greg Thielmann’s newest lies – about missile defense

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Kingston Reif – a pacifist propagandist working for the extremely-leftist “Council for a Livable World” – has shown his utter ignorance, as well as his extremely leftist beliefs and desires to disarm the US unilaterally, on quite a few occassions, and in December, I even took the time to completely refute his utter garbage calling for scrapping the nuclear triad. Since then, however, Reif has not stoppped writing his ignorant leftist garbage, and has recently (on June 4th) written a screed in the liberal Time magazine criticizing House Republicans for “all sorts of madness on nuclear weapons, missile defense, and related issues” – especially their proposal to create an East Coast missile defense site in the northeastern United States (e.g. New York state or Maine).

Reif claims that it would be “unnecessary, technically dubious, and cost-ineffective”.

Regarding the latter, he invokes CBO’s estimate that creating such a site would cost $3.6 bn over 5 years, and another by the National Academy of Sciences saying that their proposed “evolved GMD system” would cost $25.4 bn over 20 years.

But those numbers are not only small by themselves, they’re even small when put into perspective on a per year basis. Reif, to exaggerate the cost and scaremonger taxpayers, conveniently omits the “over X years” part of the price tag.

Divided over 5 years, $3.6 bn is $720 mn; that is 0.152% of the DOD’s base budget for FY2014 even under sequestration ($475 bn), or % if sequestration is cancelled (the DOD’s base budget would then be $526 bn).

Divided over 20 years, $25.4 bn is $1.27 bn, i.e. 0.276% of the DOD’s base budget for FY2014 even under sequestration.

So the cost would be tiny – a small fraction of one percent of the base defense budget even with sequestration accounted for. A fraction of 1% of the DOD’s budget is all that it would cost to build an EC missile defense site.

Reif claims it’s “unnecessary.” But the DOD and the Intelligence Community estimate Iran will have an ICBM in 2015/2016. That is just 2-3 years from now. So the US has just 2-3 years to prepare itself for a potential Iranian ICBM threat. Iran has made considerable progress  in long-range missile development, including being able to launch satellites into orbit (e.g. with the Safir space rocket).

Reif invokes the recent statement by VADM James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, that money for East Coast missile defense would not be used in the next FY. Of course, Syring was just expressing the position of the leftist Obama Administration – he can’t speak against his own president. But former Missile Defense Agency Director Henry “Trey” Obering, in a recent article, has expressed strong support for an East Coast BMD site.

In his screed, Reif totally contradicts himself, claiming, alternately, that the current ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California are either sufficient for protecting the East Coast or deficient and unreliable. He alternately claims they already offer adequate protection… or don’t work at all. So which is it, Kingston?

As for thereal experts on the issue (other than Gen. Obering), current Strategic Command leader Gen. Bob Kehler says that:

“I am confident that we can defend against a limited attack from Iran, although we are not in the most optimum posture to do that today… it doesn’t provide total defense today.”

The Commander of the Northern Command (charged with defending the US homeland and Canada), Gen. Charles Jacoby, says that the current GBI system is “sub-optimum.” This is no surprise; the interceptors in Alaska and California would be at the extreme margin of their performance envelopes if tasked with shooting down an ICBM heading for the East Coast.

A “sub-optimum” defense posture is not good enough. Not even close.

Moreover, in March, just 3 months ago, Gen. Jacoby told the Senate:

“What a third site gives me, whether it’s on the East Coast or an alternate location, would be increased battle space; that means increased opportunity for me to engage threats from either Iran or North Korea.”

Also in March, Gen. Jacoby told the House:

“I would agree that a third site, wherever the decision is to build a third site, would give me better weapons access, increased GBI inventory and allow us the battle space to more optimize our defense against future threats from Iran and North Korea.”

Doesn’t this nation owe it to the Northern Command – the one charged with protecting the homeland?

The requirement for a third site to protect against Iranian ICBMs was also stated in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, which said:

“… defense of the US homeland will be augmented by Europe-based SM-3 Block IIB interceptors, which are planned to be able to provide an early-intercept capability against potential Iranian ICBMs.”

But the SM-3 Block 2B has been cancelled now, so an EC missile defense site is needed.

Reif also claims that the proposal is “technically dubious” because GBIs supposedly don’t work. Here, he’s wrong as well. GBIs have passed most of their tests, including a recent flight test, and more tests are planned for later months. The interceptors themselves work, as do their current, first generation kill vehicles (kinetic “warhead” counterparts). Critics love to seize on the two failed intercept tests from 2010, but in those tests, it was a new generation of kill vehicles that failed – not the older kill vehicles, and not the missiles themselves. The MDA, in any case, is working to solve the problem.

And even if and when a weapon fails, this teaches us something and doesn’t mean the weapon can never work. Quite the contrary. The Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile – the first American nuclear-armed missile deployed on submarines – failed the vast majority of its tests: 17 out of 22. Yet, it passed 5, was ultimately proven to work (with President Kennedy watching), and was deployed on 41 USN ballistic missile subs – and later became the basis for the development of the Trident ballistic missile.

Reif bemoans the GBI’s low ability to distinguish real missiles and warheads from decoys. But the MDA actually had a program to solve that problem – called the Multiple Kill Vehicle, essentially a bus carrying dozens of small kill vehicles sufficient to kill all warheads and countermeasures – until April 2009, when President Obama killed the program and when General Obering had already retired. (General Obering, of course, points this out in his piece.)

So the problem of enabling GBIs to discriminate between genuine targets – like real missiles and warheads – and decoys can be solved quite easily, if the MKV program is simply revived.

Reif complains that there is “no guarantee” that this problem will ever be solved and the GBI system made highly effective. Actually, in life, there is no guarantee of anything. There is no guarantee that your car will always start (especially in winter), or that your bus, train, or flight won’t be delayed, or that even the best friends will not fail you, or that even the most reliable weapons will always work perfectly.

There is no perfect person, vehicle, weapon, plane, ship, or anything that humans make.

But if the development and improvement of ground-based interceptors is continued, and the MKV program revived, there’s a high likelihood that these interceptors will become highly effective.

Moreover, Reif and other missile defense opponents are contradicting themselves. On the one hand, they claim that US BMD systems can’t distinguish real warheads from decoys, but OTOH, they also claim that North Korea and Iran don’t know how to mate nuclear warheads to missiles.

But if they don’t know how, they also certainly don’t know how to make credible decoys (or mate them to missiles). Why? Because decoys, in order to deceive anyone, must EXACTLY match real warheads in size and flight patterns – they must look and fly exactly like the real thing. Any decoy not matching a real warhead EXACTLY in size, shape, and flight patterns will immediately be seen on radars as what it really is – a fake.

In order to make a fake of something that exactly matches that “something” in size, shape, and flight patterns, you must first be able to make the real thing. Otherwise, you don’t know how to mimic it exactly. It’s simple logic.

So simple logic alone utterly refutes the lies of missile defense opponents like Reif. It exposes their real motivation – ideological, implacable knee-jerk opposition to missile defense per se, which motivates them to make any false claims, even contradictory ones.

You can’t have it both ways, Kingston. Either North Korea and Iran  can make credible decoys and mate them with missiles – in which case they can do the same with real warheads – or they can’t.

In short, there is a clear need for the East Coast missile defense site; it would be cheap; and if the GBI system continues to be developed and improved, and if the MKV program is revived, the system can become very effective.

Like Reif, ACA’s Greg Thielmann falsely claims that an East Coast missile defense site – and deploying the now-cancelled SM-3 Block 2B missile also intended against ICBM – would be too expensive and that the Iranian ballistic missile threat hasn’t even even begun to emerge. He even claims it’s doubtful that Iran will have an ICBM by the end of this decade.

But that threat has already begun to emerge: the US intel community and the DOD estimate Iran will have an ICBM by 2015/2016, and it could simply buy one from North Korea or China. It has already (allegedly) bought Musudan-ri MRBMs (with a 4,000 km range) from North Korea and has developed its own solid-fuel Sejjil and Ashoura MRBMs with a range of 2,500 kms. Moreover, it has also launched a satellite into space, thus making a huge step towards constructing an ICBM and demonstrating the capability to mate nuclear payloads with missiles.

Again, this truth must be repeated: the technology used to install satellites on missiles is THE SAME as that used to mate warheads to missiles. Fact.

Moreover, the point of defense, including missile defense, is to stay AHEAD of the threat, not to barely keep up with it. Yet, the US intel community and the DOD project Iran to have an ICBM by 2015/2016, so the US now has only 2-3 years to build an East Coast missile defense site.

But Thielmann goes even further, falsely claiming that North Korea doesn’t have ICBMs either and that its successful December 2012 launch of a satellite on an Unha-3 (Taepodong-2) rocket, i.e. on an ICBM. Again, the technology used to marry satellites and warheads to missiles is the same.

Moreover, after that successful launch, the South Koreans retrieved the upper stages and the delivery bus of the rocket from water; TheDailyBeast investigative journalist Eli Lake was the first to report this fact. The retrieved pieces of the missile demonstrated that North Korea DOES have the ability to marry payloads to missiles. CDN’s Defense Issues Weekly duly reported the story.

North Korea’s TD-2 ICBM, capable of reaching the CONUS, was the basis for the successful space rocket. On top of that, North Korea also has the road-mobile KN-08 ICBM, whose existence and genuity were recognized by the DOD (spoken for by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. Sandy Winnefeld) in March.

Thielmann also wrongly touts the utterly false numbers given for Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris (for Russia, 466 ICBMs and SLBMs and less than 1,500 deployed warheads; for China, only 300 warheads and 50-75 ICBMs and SLBMs). This is supposed to prove that even the Russian and Chinese nuclear threat isn’t big; like other advocates of America’s disarmament, he dramatically understates the real size of China’s nuclear arsenal.

But both countries have far more weapons than that. Russia has 434 ICBMs and 224 SLBMs (16 for each of its 14 ballistic missile subs), a total of 658 intercontinental missiles, and 1,550, not 1,466, deployed strategic warheads – right at New START limits. (It has significantly built its arsenal up since New START’s ratification, while the US has had to cut its own.)

China has at least 86 ICBMs, plus at least 60 SLBMs on its five Jin class submarines (which, contrary to Thielmann’s blatant lies, ARE operational, and China has 5 of these, not merely 2), plus another 12 on its Xia class sub. And China’s real nuclear arsenal numbers at least 1,600-1,800, not 300-400, warheads.

Thielmann also falsely claims that Russia and China have many common interests that make their attacks on the US unlikely. This is also a blatant lie.

The US and China share no interests whatsoever; their national interests are diametrically opposed. The US wants to safeguard freedom of navigation at sea and in the air, freedom of trade and travel around the world, and to preserve its own and its Pacific’ allies security, as well as the international rules-based order. China wants to replace the US as the world’s top power, turn the Western Pacific into an internal Chinese lake, seize the Okinawa, the Senkakus, the Spratlys, Taiwan, and goodness knows what else, and push the US out of Asia completely.

China has behaved in a very hostile manner towards the US, whether by harassing unarmed American ships, stalking American carriers, blinding American satellites with lasers, threatening war with the US, or launching massive cyberattacks on US networks. The same is true of Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin openly vents his hatred of the US at every opportunity, while conducting an arms race against America, bullying US diplomats, launching his own cyberattacks on America, and supplying America’s enemies around the world (including Iran) with weapons and nuclear fuel.

Russia and the US share very few, if any, interests.

Lastly, Thielmann falsely claims that missile defense is impeding new arms control agreements and “additional” cuts in Russia’s arsenal. This is totally false. Since the late 2000s, Russia has not been cutting anything; under New START, it has significantly increased its nuclear arsenal.

Moreover, both Russia and China know that America’s current and planned missile defense systems are of limited scope and capability – capable enough against Iran and North Korea, but not against Russia’s and China’s much more advanced missiles, let alone the huge arsenals that Moscow and Beijing have. The idea that US missile defense systems pose any threat whatsoever to Russia’s or China’s nuclear arsenals is utterly ridiculous – like everything that Thielmann and his Arms Control Association colleagues write.

Thielmann’s ACA program is ridiculously called the “Realistic Threat Assessment Project”; in fact, it’s a Threat Dramatic Understatement Project and should be called that way.

Thus, Kingston Reif’s and Greg Thielmann’s claims have once again been exposed for what they really are – blatant lies.