To counter the threat of proliferating ballistic missiles with improved offensive countermeasures, we need cost-effective defenses, well beyond the capability of our current systems. The best way to achieve this goal is with defenses that can intercept attacking ballistic missiles while their rockets are burning in their boost phase, before they can release their decoys that overwhelm our current mid-course defenses that work in outer space. We need to revive initiatives from the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) era that recognized this potential problem and dealt with it. The most cost-effective concepts, space based interceptors, remain controversial—but unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be acceptable as launch platforms for boost-phase interceptors. Happily, that SDI-pioneered technology has survived, at least after a fashion, and could be harnessed to defeat today’s offensive countermeasures.
Recent Pentagon strategic guidance states that the threat of proliferating ballistic missiles with improved offensive countermeasures will defeat current and planned ballistic missile defense systems—suggesting major changes in direction are required. Actually, this situation should not be a surprise since the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) era recognized this potential problem and dealt with it—regrettably those initiatives were scuttled by the Clinton administration and have not been revived, presumably for political reasons because this condition need not be tolerated if we would simply return to the SDI vision and technology championed by President Ronald Reagan. Stay tuned.
We have opportunities for diplomatic initiatives to benefit the United States and our allies while defending against fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) attacks from North Korea and Iran. Such initiatives should be easily attached to agreements for defense cooperation, as evidenced by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the Philippines and discussions in Abu Dhabi—both of which set the stage for rapid follow through to end our total FOBS vulnerability and cooperate on regional defenses for our allies as well.
Reflecting on past May Day celebrations in Red Square prompts recollections of better times, to which I believe we should aspire to return. In my opinion, the high point, especially for our ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs was at the end of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) decade at the end of 1992, while Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” vision was still alive and well. It’s been a bit down-hill since then, at least from my perspective, though Vladimir Putin probably has a different perspective—especially as he views Russia’s current prospects in dealing with a U.S. administration that our enemies don’t fear and our friends don’t respect.
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.
In this among the holiest of weeks for those committed to the Judeo-Christian faith, let us repent of our wayward ways and seek to renew that commitment, which is the basis for our Liberty. This faith gave America its Liberty in the first place, and we should pray it again becomes the basis for America’s future!
Iran, like North Korea, has demonstrated an ability to launch nuclear weapons into low earth orbit over the South Polar regions. Last year, they launched a monkey into space in such a trajectory, reportedly in a 4400 pound capsule that could easily carry a conventionally designed nuclear weapon into orbit. If they launched a much lighter “EMP” nuclear weapon possibly in the North Korean inventory, they could achieve substantially higher orbits. (Detonation of either weapon over the U.S. could lead to the death of several hundred million Americans within a year.) These facts, coupled with geographic realities, make defending against an Iranian FOBS more difficult than is the case for North Korea. And the Iranian Mullahs may be more inclined to attack “the Great Satan” than is North Korea’s Dear Leader. We can and should quickly end our vulnerability to both emerging if not existing threats.
A combined diplomatic and technical response is proposed to counter effectively North Korea’s demonstrated FOBS capability, which poses an existential EMP threat to the American people. We should insist on inspecting their satellite payloads for launches over the South Polar regions, and if they refuse be prepared to shoot down their satellites before they overfly U.S. territory. We should deploy a layered set of sea- and land-based defenses to do so, beginning almost immediately—and for relatively little expense since existing mostly already funded defense capabilities would be employed.
North Korea’s recent satellite launches and previous nuclear tests, coupled with its recent claims of a coming test of a “new form” nuclear weapon, give us pause in contemplating a possible North Korean EMP attack on the United States coming from over the South Polar region. The question is, will we take effective initiatives in time to counter this threat?
To deal more effectively with today’s threats, we should return to President Ronald Reagan’s vision made explicit in his March 23, 1983 speech that launched the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The “powers that be” should revive technology programs aimed at developing space-based defenses, the most cost-effective way to defend against a full gamut of ballistic missile threats, including those that pose an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat.
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IWG Capitol Hill Conference on Aegis Sea-based Missile Defense: Present Status and Future Requirements, June 26, 2014
Amb. Cooper speaks on EMP at SC Tea Party Patriots Convention
The Day The Lights Went Out – Video Courtesy of New York Times
Expert Panel on EMP Threat: New EMP Coalition!
Gingrich endorses SHIELD Act, praises Maine EMP legislation
Jim Woolsey: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is existential threat to America
President Reagan announces SDI on March 23, 1983
President Reagan on 10 Year Anniversary of High Frontier
Key Policy Briefs