Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 140427
Pivot Agenda Item: Defeat FOBS!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
April 27, 2014
On his trip to the Pacific Rim, President Obama should set the stage for almost immediately ending America’s current vulnerability to the existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat posed by North Korea’s Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) capability. Beyond unilateral measures—the U.S. could deploy a TPY-2 radar in the Philippines to help defend them from North Korea and to empower our Aegis ships in the Pacific and our ground-based interceptors in California to shoot down a FOBS attack before it reaches U.S. Territory.
Last Tuesday, President Obama left on a week long trip to four Pacific Rim nations, reportedly with a focus on efforts to revive a massive free-trade agreement, perhaps as the centerpiece of his Asia policy and presumably as a part of his vaunted “pivot to Asia.” Presumably this new focus reflects a geopolitical shift in emphasis away from U.S. interests and role in European and Middle Eastern affairs and the legacy of the Cold War—toward the growing economic realities of the Asian marketplace—not to mention China as a peer competitor. See, for example, last Monday’s Washington Times article by Dave Bover, which provided the following schematic of the President’s itinerary.
Wednesday and Thursday, the President was in Japan, and today he is in South Korea. Over the weekend, he will be in Malaysia—and Monday and Tuesday in the Philippines. His top priority for the trip was reported to be to shore up his trade policies, including considerations of trade with China, which is notably missing from his itinerary. However, Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post yesterday, observed that there will be no economic breakthrough and that it is “unclear” what positive will come from the President’s trip other than reports of tourist pleasantries.
Meanwhile, China’s growing economy and investments in armaments—not to mention its provocative military engagements in the region—signal an interest in becoming more than simply a peer economic competitor. Those with whom the President is meeting this trip are no doubt looking for reassurances that the U.S. will be a counterweight to China, without provoking Beijing.
And whatever the pleasantries, it is hard to imagine that his agenda does not include North Korea’s sabre rattling—including preparations for its fourth underground nuclear test and launching ballistic missiles, so far in spite of contrary diplomatic efforts by the U.S. and others. Two weeks ago, in his precursor trip, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel committed to send two additional Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) ships to the region—in addition to the five U.S. and four Japanese Aegis BMD ships already there, to bring the total to 11 by 2017.
Hopefully—whether reported by the press or not, he also could set the stage for to protect the United States from North Korea. I refer, of course, to the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat posed by North Korea’s Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) threat discussed in my April 11th email message.
In my opinion, North Korea’s inherent capability has been demonstrated by its past launches of satellites—three times—over the South Polar region. A similar satellite carrying a nuclear weapon could deliver an EMP over the entire continental United States in its first orbit, before we could currently shoot it down. In my opinion, the President’s trip could include initial steps to set the stage for countering the North Korean FOBS threat, whether formally on his agenda or not.
As we wrote on April 11, we can give our on the scene Aegis BMD ships the capability to shoot down a North Korean satellite launcher while it is boosting from its current launch pad. An Aegis ship can operate in international waters near the North Korean southern coast—entirely under our control. We need no permission or help from anyone to make the necessary preparations—just modify the system software and train the Aegis crews to accomplish the mission from nearby international waters. The President could just direct this be done ASAP.
Other steps recommended in our April 11 message would require cooperation of key allies on his trip. In particular, he will be spending Monday and Tuesday in the Philippines—and he could quietly set the stage to simply locate a TPY-2 radar at an appropriate location there. It could be part of a THAAD or Aegis Ashore deployment to protect the Philippines against ballistic missile attack.
Once there, it could be inter-netted into the global U.S. BMD command and control system to empower our already operational Aegis BMD ships in the Pacific to shoot down North Korean satellites thought to be carrying nuclear weapons. (Recall, that this system was used to shoot down a satellite in 2008.) It would also empower our ground based interceptors based on Vandenberg AFB in California to accomplish this mission.
To review the other associated steps needed to accomplish this mission with otherwise currently operational missile defense systems, read again our April 11 message.
Of course, we also are currently vulnerable to the same threat from Iran, as discussed in my April 17th message—along with recommendations for countering distinctive aspects of the Iranian FOBS threat.
These two rogue states are connected at the hip on development and testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems, as again noted in a recent Congressional Research Service report. According to the report, “For decades, most in Congress have viewed these countries with unease because these programs, coupled with the governments’ strong anti-U.S. positions and their antagonism toward US regional friends and allies, pose what are widely regarded as threats to US national security interests.” It also observes that “Congress may wish to consider requiring additional reporting from the executive branch on WMD proliferation.”
I would add that Congress and the administration should pay attention to the FOBS threat posed by both.
Whatever else comes from the President’s trip, let’s hope that when he returns home next week he will have set the stage for ending America’s current total vulnerability to the EMP from a FOBS attack from either North Korea or Iran.
No Time To Waste!
Very little new investment is needed to execute the above recommendations immediately, since the proposed approach exploits system components already either operational or under fully funded development programs. We need to make all our existing defenses all they can be! ASAP!
And we need more capable defenses for a future growing more dangerous as Vladimir Putin extends a Cold War shadow over Russia’s near abroad, especially in the wake of his illegal actions in Ukraine. Don’t forget that the Obama administration essentially ceded leadership to Putin in dealing with problems in the Middle East, especially with Russia’s erstwhile allies in Syria and Iran.
Congressional “powers that be” should consider these issues with great care and at least assure that the Pentagon considers the recommendations in our April 11 and 17 email messages. The Pentagon should do so in responding to Section 238 of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs Defense Secretary Hagel (in consultation with the Commanders of U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Northern Command, and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency) to consider options to defend the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile “threats that approach the United States from the South . . .”
Both North Korean and Iranian FOBS pose just such a threat.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will do all we can to encourage “the powers that be” to “make the Navy’s Aegis BMD system all it can be” and to adopt the anti-FOBS strategy laid out in our recent email messages.
We will continue our efforts to inform state and local authorities about the EMP threat and expand our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the EMP threat. This work should go hand in hand with the efforts to gain support from State legislators to expand on the excellent work in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the EMP threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We will continue working with South Carolinians to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to this serious threat. We will expand this effort to neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—and hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
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