November 5, 2013—Provide for the Common Defense!

November 5, 2013—Provide for the Common Defense!


Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman  . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder

High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives

E-Mail Message 131105

Provide for the Common Defense!

By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper

November 5, 2013

In contemplating that an important purpose of the Constitution is “to provide for the common defense” and today’s existential challenges, it is difficult to ignore that Washington’s “powers that be” are collectively failing their oath of office. We seem oblivious to storm clouds that are gathering. We’ve been here before and awakened to the threat and dealt with it. Will we again find our way? Stay tuned . . .    

As U.S. citizens contemplate the many threats to our nation on this election day, no concern should be greater than our duty to support the U.S. Constitution’s stated purpose to “provide for the common defense.”   (Click here for a quick and mostly unbiased summary of many races and issues around the nation—nothing on existential threats to us all.)



We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

September 17, 1787


Though today’s voting is at the local and state level, a part of our duty is in making those choices to help achieve this U.S. Constitutional mandate in an increasingly dangerous world. Local and state authorities have a very important role in protecting against existential threats to our individual and collective wellbeing, as noted in my recent email messages. In many ways, this time is the most dangerous of my lifetime, which spans from childhood during World War II, through actively participating in the Cold War, to today’s mislabeled “War on Terror.”

This mislabeling no doubt has been intended to be politically correct, to reinforce America’s tolerance of all religions rather than  identifying “radical Islam” or Jihadism” or whatever for fear of offending Muslims and their right to follow Islam so long as they do not violate our individual rights under the Constitution.  Therein lies a conflict—the tenets of sharia, Islam’s legal basis, are in conflict with every American’s rights under the Constitution—more another day.  

Most important for today’s discussion is to note that, in many ways, the federal government is failing in its most important duty—to provide for the common defense—and that we need to identify how state and local authorities— and “we the people” can help fill the gap.

The Gathering Storm.

At a strategic level, America is retreating from the world’s stage—turning inward with threatening consequences, and not only in the distant future. 

Yesterday’s Investor’s Business Daily carried an excellent summary editorial, “Russia Conducts Nuke Attack Drill as China Identifies Targets In the U.S.

The 2009 so-called “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations has amounted to U.S. defunding, delays and deferments in sustaining and modernizing our strategic nuclear forces while negotiating unverifiable arms control agreements that favor Russia as President Obama unilaterally pursues his goal of a nuclear free world.

We probably haven’t yet seen the full consequences of President Obama’s 2012 commitment to then Russia’s President Medvedev for additional flexibility on U.S. missile defenses after his reelection.  Meanwhile, Russia is conducting a major modernization program of its strategic nuclear forces—illustrated by Russia’s major exercise last week involving launches of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and two submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

China no doubt has noted that the Obama “reset” and “lead from behind” policies allow the world’s second economic power to reduce its capability gap with U.S. strategic nuclear forces.  In fact, they now brag about that fact in China’s state run media. Their Global Times bragged recently that a single SLBM could “kill or wound five to ten million Americans” and that their ICBMs could destroy a “whole host of metropolises on the East Coast and New England” placing at risk “about one-eighth of America’s total residents.” The fact that they own a major portion of U.S. debt does not help either.

President Obama has ceded America’s leadership position in the Middle East to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, who is exploiting that position with our friends and foes in that region. The press seems overly impressed that, given Russia’s involvement, Syria (which provides Russia with its only port in the Mediterranean) is meeting its schedule of dismantling its declared chemical weapons (CW) infrastructure–no comment so far regarding Syria’s undeclared CW infrastructure and weapons. (This is Former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld’s ”known unknowns” and  “unknown unknowns” issues, which have always plagued intelligence estimates and often eventually proved them wrong.)

And there are reports that Syria now has the largest contingent of al Qaeda in the Middle East—to complement those in Iraq while violence grows as U.S. troops leave that field of battle, as well as in other Middle East states and throughout North Africa. Not to mention its alliance with the Taliban in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Notably, Israel reaffirmed Friday that it would not allow Hezbollah to gain advanced weapons, after a reported attack destroyed an air force garrison thought to hold Russian-made missiles. This was reported to be the fourth time this year that Israel has attacked Syrian targets, consistent with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he would not let sophisticated antiaircraft, anti-ship and long-range missiles move from the control of Syria to its Hezbollah ally.    

Saudi Arabia is annoyed by U.S. interactions in the Middle East and may be favoring future dealings with Russia over those with the U.S.—though not without the inconsistencies of all dealings with the Middle East. Click here for a recent report that most Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are moving to strengthen their military support for Syrian rebels and develop policy options independent from the U.S. in the wake of what they see as a failure of U.S. leadership following President Obama’s decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria.

But Russia also has long had an alliance with other ideological opponents of the Saudis, notably Iran, which is now approaching a nuclear weapons capability—while U.S. negotiators want to offer concessions that would reduce sanctions in exchange for Iranian promises to stop their nuclear weapons development programs, thought by some authoritative observers now to be only a couple of weeks short of success.

Even President Obama’s former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta cautioned against such steps. Panetta observed that “we may very well have to use military force” to stop Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear arms. In his address at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) centennial meeting in New York City, he stated, “We have implemented unprecedented sanctions and pressure on Iran, uniting the world against their nuclear ambition and making clear that they must not close the straits of Hormuz,” a key global shipping lane. Notably, he argued against engaging in endless negotiations with Iran—to begin again on November 11th.

I’d like to believe that President Obama would use force to block Iran’s efforts to gain nuclear weapons, but I doubt it. And I suspect that so does Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—not to mention Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani continues to pursue his “charm offensive” that seems to be working with U.S. negotiators.

Then there’s our confused policy in dealing with Egypt, no help to our alliance with the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel.

What a muddle! I haven’t changed my mind since June 18th, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst.

I remain concerned about the Obama administration’s lack of a serious response to languishing U.S. strategic nuclear forces—so important in deterring a peer opponent, like Russia with its shrinking demographics and potentially China as it deploys modern nuclear forces and space systems that rival U.S. capabilities. 

But I am even more concerned about what might be described as an “unconventional nuclear weapons attack,” of two types:

  • Nuclear weapons that are stolen, purchased or built by terrorists and used to attack the U.S. and/or our allies and friends—e.g., by smuggling one into a major U.S. port and detonating it there.
  • Nuclear weapons obtained by “rogue states,” like North Korea and Iran, who mate them to ballistic missiles that are used to attack the U.S.—including by terrorist surrogates. The worst case attack, in my opinion, would be to launch that nuclear armed missile from off our coasts to detonate it high above the central U.S., producing an electromagnetic pulse that destroys the electric power grid throughout the continental 48 states.

I have studied the first of these threat issues for several years, and believe the U.S. can make significant improvements in our ability to counter it—and I am concerned that we need to do a better job, particularly in providing early warning of credible threat scenarios. Perhaps, I’ll discuss these issues further in the future.

High Frontier’s mission is most pertinent to the second of these scenarios, because ballistic missile defenses can and should play an important role in defeating it. Furthermore, very inexpensive improvements in our current capabilities can be made with high confidence.

For example, the Navy’s currently deployed Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is inherently capable of shooting down ICBMs provided early tracking information is provided to the command and control system to cue the interceptor into the battle space for closing on its target. In 2008, the first generation SM-3 Block IA interceptor shot down a satellite traveling faster than an ICBM and the Block IB now being deployed has greater capability. All that is needed is the cuing information. This, Aegis BMD ships on the East Coast between Norfolk and New York can shoot down Iranian ICBMs if there is an associated radar, like the already developed TYP-2 radar, is deployed in Maine. (On a day chosen at random last year, there were two such ships on station along the east coast and 4-6 in port or in maintenance.)

What would this cost? According to Retired Vice Admiral Rod Rempt, who helped initiate the BMD programs during my SDI watch and later led the Navy’s BMD program, it would cost only $20 million to deploy an existing such radar—and immediately achieve a limited defense of the East Coast between Washington and New York. If we had to purchase a new TYP-2 radar for such a deployment, it would cost $300 million—still a small cost to enhance the limited defense provided by our ground based interceptors in Alaska.

To provide defensive coverage for the southeastern seaboard against Iranian ICBMs today, another TYP-2 radar would be needed, say at Camp Lejeune, NC.—for another $300 million.  And that’s with today’s SM-3.  In the future—by 2018, the faster Block IIA should be available and this second radar would not be needed, as discussed previously.

My main concern is our complete vulnerability to short or medium range ballistic missiles that might be launched from vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, as discussed last Friday. Our Aegis BMD ships do not go into the Gulf—but the Aegis Ashore system being deployed in Romania (by 2015) and Poland (2018) could be deployed at several locations around the Gulf.  

Again, I emphasize, no research and development is needed for this system—all R&D was accomplished before beginning deployment in Romania—last week. To emphasize this point and visualize the spatial requirements for deploying this important system, consider the Lockheed Martin shipboard simulation facility (everything but the vertical launch system and its SM-3s) in Moorestown, NJ—which will essentially be duplicated in Romania and Poland. The entire operation will fit on a football field—and this operation includes platforms to simulate operations for both destroyers and cruisers at sea. Aegis Ashore operations will be less complicated, thus the space requirements should be less for an actual deployment site.  

November 5, 2013 I

As noted above, the only other item to be deployed will be the vertical launch tubes for the SM-3 interceptors—which was illustrated in last Friday’s email message. It would be placed at an appropriate location based on site situation. They are in close proximity on a destroyer or cruiser when at sea, of course—so civilian safety requirements at the Aegis Ashore site would be the only concern.  

Some Bottom Lines.

We have serious vulnerabilities to existential threats and alternative near-term inexpensive countermeasures to those threats.  Hopefully, Defense Secretary Hagel’s report in response to the 2014 Defense Authorization Act will include these options in response to its directive to consider the “potential for future enhancement and deployment of the [Navy’s] Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor to augment United States homeland ballistic missile defense; missile defense options to defend the United States homeland against ballistic missiles that could be launched from vessels on the seas around the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico, or other ballistic missile threats that could approach the United States from the south, should such a threat arise in the future.”

In my October 28th email message, I gave the collective Washington “powers that be” a failing grade in their preparations to deal with an existential EMP threat, which in part could be countered with such an Aegis Ashore as suggested last Friday and repeated above. I gave the Department of Energy (DOE) a passing “C” in part because of contributions of the national laboratories and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz’s stated interest in his confirmation hearing in assuring the resilience of the electric power grid to a full complement of threats, including EMP. 

My positive assessment of DOE was reinforced this past week when Bill Gertz reported in the Washington Times on an important 286 page study funded by the Energy Department of the resilience of the grid to cyberattacks. Considered were over 40 ways foreign intelligence services or other malicious hackers could break into the networks controlling the distribution of electrical power. One case indicated an “insider” could create mass “remote disconnects” in the power grid, leading to a cascading power failure over a large geographical area.

This important report gives industry and government an assessment of the electronic power grid’s vulnerabilities to cyberattacks and recommendations for countermeasures. I have requested from friends far more qualified than I assessments of the merits of this report—and I’ll share them in future messages. In any case, I applaud DOE for this examination of the resilience of the power grid, at least to cyberattacks. Such attacks could be integrated into multi-effect attack scenario. The effort should be extended to include other modes of attack, including cyber as a precursor to an EMP attack that could cause a wide-area power failure of indefinite duration, unless the current grid is hardened.

See the recent comprehensive discussion of these issues by my colleagues Jim Woolsey and Peter Pry in Sunday’s Family Security Matters—“AMERICAN BLACKOUT: A Real Life Nightmare Nearer Than You Think.

Scenarios reflecting these realities should be included among those provided by the Department of Homeland Security as guidance to the rest of the federal government, as well as to state and local authorities.  This would be consistent with HR 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, introduced this past week by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) who with Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY) co-chairs the EMP Caucus.  This is a complement to the Shield Act which is stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee—and perhaps may help relieve those political constraints.

In any case, the Washington “powers that be” still need to be fully mobilized.  Meanwhile, the clock ticks on without seriously addressing the manmade EMP threat that could materialize or the natural EMP threat that will occur, only its timing is uncertain.

We also need informed and prepared state and local authorities—and informed and prepared citizens. ”We the People” need to mobilize. 

I began this report by referring to the Preamble to the Constitution which calls for all our efforts “to provide for the common defense.” I’ll end by reflecting on another preamble, learned in my earliest recollections as a very young farm boy in the 1940s—before TV, most memorably listening to Kate Smith singing it during World War II (Stay to the end of this very special clip to see a young Ronald Reagan reveling in it as well):


While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

— Irving Berlin

Kate Smith’s first radio performance was on Armistice Day 75 years ago—November 10, 1938

. . . As the storm clouds were indeed gathering . . .

. . . Not unlike today . . .


It seems clear that storm clouds are again gathering for America. We, like Americans 75 years ago, are ignoring existential threats. Can we repeat the feats of the “Greatest Generation.” Could we survive a modern Pearl Harbor and again prevail? Truly, while seeking to awaken a sleeping giant, I fear our future is only in His hands.

What to do???

Beyond praying for God’s blessing, High Frontier will continue to inform the powers that be of the existential EMP threat from the south and how deploying Aegis Ashore sites around the Gulf of Mexico can significantly reduce our vulnerability to that threat.

We are even more focused on working with the grass roots as well as local and state authorities. Hopefully, they will urge key federal authorities and their representatives in congress to begin to deal effectively with it, beginning with how the Secretary of Defense deals with these issues in his response to the Defense Authorization Act for 2014.

We met last year with local Mississippi authorities about deploying such a site in Pascagoula, where our Aegis ships are built—not a big deal to build an Aegis Ashore site there. We personally confirmed that they and other local and state authorities up to and including the Governor of Mississippi were receptive to the idea, if the Washington powers that be would accommodate them.

We are now exploring these issues and possibilities with local authorities in Florida, beginning with the possibility or a deployment at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City. We will be considering other deployment possibilities as indicated by the “stars” in a figure in last Friday’s email and urge that the federal powers that be do their own studies. How many sites are required depends on the velocity of the defensive interceptor—the faster, the fewer sites required. Such considerations should be folded into the scheduled interceptor improvements—e.g., the Block IIA will be a faster interceptor (planned to be available to deploy in Poland by 2018) and would allow wider spacing between Aegis Ashore bases. Studies should also consider Coast Guard vessels that might carry the same components as Aegis Ashore—except on vessels that are commonly deployed in the Gulf.

We consider our message to grass roots America to be urgently important. Our local and state authorities need to understand these issues and what they might do if their federal representatives continue to fail “to provide for the common defense.”

And what can you do?

Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public and our local and state authorities to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.

We need your help in spreading this information to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!


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