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Book Review: Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare by Mark McNeilly

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 30, 2013


Last month, I read a brilliant and edifying book by Mark McNeilly titled Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare. Although it was published in 2003, regrettably, I had not heard of it (or of McNeilly himself) until last year, and did not pay much attention to Sun Tzu and his work (The Art of War) until last year, either. Once I did start paying attention to him and had read his work – which was a short but illuminating read which changed the way I think about military affairs – I had learned a lot. And once McNeilly’s book was delivered to me, I began reading it and finished the read in 2 days.

A native of Chicago, Mark McNeilly is a former US Army infantry captain, a graduate of the 101st Division’s Airborne Assault School, a former strategist for a major global corporation, and now an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Carolina (UNC). As such, he has had ample time to study The Art of War and think about it, and through that process he has found what he believes are the six most important principles taught by Sun Tzu in his ancient masterpiece. The purpose of McNeilly’s book is to demonstrate these principles (as well as others laid out in The Art of War), how they fit together, how they apply to warfare (past, present, and future), and to illustrate these principles with historical examples. This is because every theory is worthless if real world practice proves it to be wrong. Sun Tzu’s principles have been put to a test numerous times, and usually (though not always) were proven right.

The book is organized into seven chapters. The first six deal with each of Sun Tzu’s six key principles:

1) Win All Without Fighting: Achieving the objective without destroying it;

2) Avoid Strength, Attack Weakness: Striking where the enemy is must vulnerable

3) Deception and Foreknowledge: Winning the information war

4) Speed and Preparation: Moving swiftly to overcome resistance

5) Shaping the Enemy: Preparing the battlefield

6) Character-Based Leadership: Leading by example

The seventh chapter explains how to apply these principles in the future and thus how to prepare the US military for the wars of the future.

The first chaper, Win All Without Fighting, teaches the important principle of “achieving the objective without destroying it”, that is, winning without firing a shot if possible, and if not possible, winning with the least possible destruction to one’s own military, the country being attacked, and its civilian population, and at the least possible fiscal, material, and human cost. Here, McNeilly, like Sun Tzu, challenges the conventional wisdom that one should do as much damage to a hostile country and its civilian population as possible. McNeilly shows that such policy, regardless of whether it’s moral, is counterproductive: it dramatically reduces the value of what you’re invading while engendering the hostility of the targeted country’s population (to say nothing of its political class) and sets the stage for more conflict down the road. And it does nothing to achieve victory, for, in war, killing enemies or destroying their country is not the goal; indeed, killing enemies is only the means, and not necessarily the best means.

The second chapter counsels military leaders to attack the enemy where he’s weakest: the weakest sections of a front, the least-defended site, city or province, the weakest wing/flank of an army, etc. Naval commanders, instead of trying to wage a headfirst battle with an enemy navy, should attempt to wage unconventional warfare by e.g. cutting the hostile country off its sources of supplies by controlling the sealanes on which it depends, as the US did against Japan during WW2. Again, McNeilly, like Sun Tzu, challenges conventional wisdom here, including Clausewitz’s theory that one should try to engineer a decisive battle (Hauptschlacht) with the enemy.

The third chapter deals with the all-important issues of deception and foreknowledge; and as spies are needed for both, McNeilly cites Sun Tzu’s advice on these and explains how to apply it. He also gives historical examples of victors fooling their enemies of their intentions while gaining great insight into their enemies’ minds.

Chapter four deals with the necessity to attack, fight, and win quickly, not slowly, to overcome resistance as well as gain and maintain momentum (like water). The classic example McNeilly uses to illustrate this is Germany’s successful invasion of France. He’s right; Heinz Guderian, the inventor of Blitzkrieg, said that a tank’s engine is worth as much as its gun.

Chapter five reminds military leaders not to allow their enemies to shape them, and to shape the enemy instead: hold out baits, fool them, lead them into fields unfavorable to them, annoy their leaders if they are of choleric temper, etc. This also involves building, maintaining, and when the right time comes, dissolving alliances, as well as choosing the right allies and avoiding entanglements with the wrong ones. It also involves offering the enemy a face-saving way out of a war to avoid further conflict. Here, McNeilly makes a credible claim that the Allies should’ve offered Germany a face-saving peace if the Wehrmacht would topple Hitler and the Nazis and give up Western Europe. That would’ve allowed a lot of bloodshed and destruction while resulting in Hitler’s toppling (which German officers tried to do anyway) and Germany turning against the Soviet Union.

Chapter six shows how military leaders should lead by example. As McNeilly rightly says, “Leadership starts at the top and both good and poor examples of leadership trickle all the way down the chain of command.” McNeilly also deals with caring for, disciplining, rewarding, and punishing the troops, among other issues.

The book is, overall, a great work. It makes a strong, convincing case and backs it up well. McNeilly has, in my opinion, succeeded in making Sun Tzu’s work more readable and accessible to 21st century readers by explaining how Sun Tzu’s principles should be applied, especially WRT the six most important ones, which he explains in great detail and illustrates with germane, interesting historical examples from many different eras.

However, the book is not without flaws. And by that, I don’t even mean the few spelling mistakes that are here and there (e.g. “Clauswitz” instead of “Clausewitz”), but far more important issues.

Firstly, while the author underlines how pointless wars of attrition and headfirst attacks on the enemy are, he nonetheless fails to acknowledge that the Allies’ campaign against Nazi Germany was such a campaign throughout WW2. The Allies did implement some of Sun Tzu’s advice – as McNeilly documents – but despite the deception, the foreknowledge, and knowledge of daily weather patterns, the invasion of Normandy was nonetheless a headfirst attack and a huge blunder. Although the Allies were eventually victorious, they met fierce German resistance and suffered serious losses (about 30,000 men KIA, over 200,000 troops wounded, thousands of others missing). The Allies eventually liberated France and won WW2, of course – but only through their sheer advantage in numbers, not due to any strategic genius or implementation of Sun Tzu’s advice.

In fact, had the Allies TRULY listened to Sun Tzu’s advice, they would not have invaded northern France directly – that is exactly the kind of a head-on assault that Master Sun always counseled against. They would’ve instead invaded Italy and then the Balkans, advancing to Germany through Austria and liberating Central Europe as well. Thus, they would’ve won with far fewer casualties, far fewer destruction, faster, and without suffering a suprise German counterattack such as the Ardennes Offensive. Moreover, they would’ve significantly limited the Soviets’ conquests. France would be liberated afterwards, eastwards from an occupied Germany.

Churchill advocated such an invasion, as he wanted to win the war as easily as possible and to limit Soviet conquests. However, President Roosevelt was utterly naive about the USSR and Joseph Stalin, and refused to do anything that might upset the Soviets, and thus, he and Stalin insisted on a landing in France. Normandy was thus chosen as the landing site for purely political reasons.

McNeilly also wrongly claims that Germany made a mistake by invading Poland. However, it wasn’t a mistake. Although France and Britain did declare war on Germany over Poland, they did nothing effective to help Warsaw, or the Lower Countries and Denmark, when invaded by Germany. Furthermore, the Germans, as McNeilly documents, won overwhelmingly in France, while the British and General de Gaulle’s men were forced to withdraw to Britain. Soon after, the UK itself came under German bombardment. London then made the mistake of rejecting repeated German peace overtures.

Last but not least, there are a few things which I believe McNeilly should’ve said but didn’t. Firstly, he doesn’t provide much advice on how to use Sun Tzu’s advice to counter the growing Chinese military threat. Secondly, he does not acknowledge (nor deny) that WW2 and the Civil War were also wars of attrition in which even the winners, including the US and the USSR in WW2, paid a heavy price for victory.

Thirdly, McNeilly does not account for the few cases where a leader went against Sun Tzu’s advice and won anyway. For example, during the Battle of Austerlitz, when Coalition troops went down from the Pratzen Heights to attack French Marshal Davout’s divisions, Marshal Davout decided to oppose and stop them – and won despite his troops being outnumbered 4:1. Sun Tzu wrote that if your enemy is charging downhill, you should never oppose him – but Davout did oppose the enemy and won anyway. How does McNeilly explain that?

Nonetheless, McNeilly’s book was a quick, enjoyable, and fascinating read from which I have learned much. Having already read Sun Tzu’s Art of War several months prior, I now have read a book which nicely explains his work and applies it to past and future wars alike. It’s well-researched, well-written, interesting, and instructive about the past and potentially the future alike. I would give it a 9/10 rating.

Posted in Books, Military issues, World affairs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An assessment of Obama’s first term foreign policy

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 10, 2013


As Obama’s first (and unfortunately, not the last) term as president ends, and as the nation prepares to suffer for 4 more years under Obama, let us objectively assess his foreign policy. The media falsely claimed during the 2012 presidential race that Obama was more competent on foreign policy and continually  propagated his administration’s FP lies which, predictably, the majority of the population bought – not knowing any better. But let us objectively assess his foreign policy record without any spin from his administration, his media lackeys, or the Republican Party for that matter.

Obama’s only real foreign policy accomplishments were: the withdrawal from Iraq and SEAL Team Six’s assassination of Osama bin Laden. Both were possible only by following Bush Administration policies on these issues. Withdrawal from Iraq occurred on the terms and at the timing set by the Bush-al-Maliki agreement of 2008, and the assassination of OBL was possible only because sufficiently interrogated Al Qaeda members gave up information that led to locating and killing OBL. Even that wasn’t Obama’s accomplishment, because then-CIA Director Leon Panetta carried out the operation without Obama’s knowledge or consent.

What is Obama’s record on other foreign policy issues?

Although he has withdrawn US troops from Iraq, Obama has foolishly driven America deeper and deeper into the Afghan quagmire. Shortly after taking office, he ordered a surge of US troops in that country, followed by an even bigger surge in late 2009 and early 2010. He has now reduced the number of troops there but foresees no further withdrawals and plans to keep a large contingent there well past 2014.

Driving America deeper into a second quagmire is not a sign of foreign policy wisdom but of foolishness. But it’s the Democrats’ speciality: Harry Truman involved the US in Korea, JFK involved the US in Vietnam, LBJ drove America deeper into that quagmire, Clinton intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Obama has also led the international crusade to topple Qaddafi in Libya, even though as of 2011 Qaddafi was no threat to, and not an enemy of, the US. He gave up his WMDs in 2003 (after President Bush pressured him to do so). But Obama decided to launch this international crusade (and many Republicans criticized him for not waging it aggressively enough). It resulted in the toppling of Qaddafi and his replacement by a government installed by rebels who admire, and had ties to, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Indeed, al-Qaeda was one of the motors of the uprising against Qaddafi. (See here.)

Obama has also supported the so-called Arab Spring, which resulted in the toppling of relatively pro-American authoritarian regimes across the Middle East and their replacement by anti-American, Islamist regimes. A perfect example of this is Egypt, where Obama urged Hosni Mubarak to resign and encouraged his deposement by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The MB government of Egypt, led by a MB President, has written an Islamist, Quranic Constitution (ratified by the Islamic Arab street) and controls the crucial Suez Canal. Yet, Obama continues to shower Egypt with aid and free weapons (e.g. F-16s) paid for by American taxpayers.

Obama has (like previous Presidents, including Clinton and both Bushes) been kowtowing to China, ignoring its dismal human rights record, bowing to Hu Jintao, feting him with a state dinner in 2011 (when his family members wore red clothes), and being “neutral” on the question of China’s ridiculous territorial claims which could trigger a war in the Western Pacific at any given time.

Obama’s policy towards China, however, looks relatively firm when compared to his policy of craven appeasement towards Russia. He has signed (and pushed through a lame duck Congress) a treasonous New START treaty that obligates only the US (not Russia) to cut its nuclear arsenal deeply and puts limits on US missile defense systems. He has cancelled plans to deploy missile defense systems in Europe and has replaced it with an empty promise of deploying watered-down systems… based on “Aegis Ashore”, technology that doesn’t exist except on paper, a promise that he probably doesn’t even intend to keep, given his promise to show Russia more “flexibility” after the November election. (Shortly after his election, Russia demanded that Obama make good on that promise to show “flexibility”.)

Nor does Russia consider Obama’s watered-down plans to be any more tolerable than President Bush’s plans. It’s opposed to this version just as fiercely as the previous one, and its anti-American rants and policy have only worsened since 2008.

Obama’s policy towards Russia has been a one-way street of unilateral concessions which Russia has pocketed while giving nothing in return. It has agreed only to mild sanctions on Iran, continues to block tougher sanctions, and has been suited in an international court by Iran to supply S-300 SAMs to it.

In South Korea, Obama has kept over 28,000 troops while delaying the time when Seoul will assume wartime operational command of troops in South Korea until 2015. Doing so allows the South Koreans to continue to evade the responsibility to defend themselves.

In Latin America, Obama has appeased Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Daniel Ortega – even listening to the latter’s bashing of the US without protest.

In Europe, he has been silent everytime America’s European allies were threatened by Russia with the usage or aiming of nuclear weapons and nuclear-armed missiles.

Obama’s foreign policy is, in sum, a total failure. It can be summed up with four words: appeasement and unilateral disarmament. The American people need to wake up and realize what grave mistake they have made by reelecting him.

Posted in Military issues, Nuclear deterrence, Obama administration follies, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

How to fix the GOP’s foreign policy

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 9, 2013


Since the 2012 presidential election, there has been a fierce debate about which way the GOP’s foreign policy stance should go. Isolationists (who prefer to call themselves “noninterventionists) have predictably called on the GOP to adopt an isolationist foreign policy and advocate deep defense cuts.

AEI Vice President Danielle Pletka begs to differ and has written a dissenting article (Think Again: The Republican Party) on the ForeignPolicy.com website. That article, in turn, has spurred a roundtable of conservative FP.com bloggers who have weighed in on the issue. While all of them appear to agree on the need for a strong national defense and to stand by America’s allies when they’re threatened, they’re wrong on two important issues (as is Mrs Pletka herself).

Firstly, all of them seem to agree that the GOP (and the US government) should continue to support the foolish policy of free trade. I will explain below why it’s a grave mistake.

Secondly, all of them also seem to agree that the US should be spreading democracy around the world and that the GOP should advocate such policy. This is also a mistake. The US government does not have the resources, the patience, the time, or the consent of its citizens to spread democracy around the world; there are many countries where democracy cannot ever be implanted; and democratic elections often produce governments hostile to the US (e.g. the pro-Iranian Shia government of Iraq, the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip, and the socialist, populist governments of most Latin American countries). Furthermore, if the Chinese could democratically elect the CCP’s General Secretary, anti-American leftist Bo Xilai would’ve probably won, instead of the more practical Xi Jinping.

Thirdly, one of the round-table participants, Paul Miller (an NDU professor), wrongly claimed that:

“Mitt Romney missed a large and obvious opportunity to differentiate himself from the president by going on the attack on Afghanistan. Republicans can and should be out front explaining what our interests are and how we can win. Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates was absolutely right when he insisted that the Pentagon focus on the wars we were fighting rather than the hypothetical wars of the future. That is still true. If Republicans want to win back their foreign-policy credentials, they should stop their scripted apoplexy over Syria, Iran, and China and say something intelligent and relevant about the war in which American troops are still dying.”

He’s completely wrong. Firstly, there are no American interests at stake in Afghanistan, and the war over that country is utterly unwinnable. True, American troops are still dying there – but it’s time to stop that waste of American blood by ending the war ASAP. Secondly, Republicans are not engaging in a “scripted apoplexy over Syria, Iran, and China”, they are rightly sounding the alarm over China’s huge military buildup (which long ago exceeded China’s legitimate self-defense needs) and Bashar al-Assad’s genocide of his own people. But I guess that Mr Miller would prefer for American troops to continue to die in the totally irrelevant quagmire of Afghanistan instead of defending America’s Pacific Rim allies (or America’s southern border).

Thirdly, Bob Gates was completely wrong when he said that the DOD should ignore the needs and threats of tomorrow, stop preparing for them, and instead throw good money after bad by spending billions of dollars in pursuit of an unachievable victory in Afghanistan, a strategically irrelevant country, and Iraq, a country the US should’ve never invaded in the first place. As a result, thousands and thousands of brave American troops have died, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, thanks to that smiling idiot Robert Gates.

Meanwhile, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have been building up their militaries, at a neckbreaking pace in China’s case, and now, the US has to catch up with Beijing and Moscow.

What Gates derisively called “next-war-itis” was actually farsightedness and preparedness for the lethal threats of the future – far more lethal than Al Qaeda has ever been or will ever be – and far more important than the irrelevant country called Afghanistan. Those of us who advocated such a farsighted policy knew back then that the Afghan and Iraq wars were a) wrong and b) going to end in a few years, while future threats such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea were only going to grow and would be present for the foreseeable future. Everything that has happened since then has vindicated us. The Iraqi war ended in 2011. The Afghan war is winding down. The American public has no stomach for any new nationbuilding crusades anywhere. Meanwhile, the threats posed by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are growing.

Fourthly, if Republicans want to be popular again, or to regain their foreign policy credentials, they need to advocate withdrawing from Afghanistan ASAP, which the vast majority of Americans support.

A New GOP Foreign Policy

So what should the GOP do? To regain its reputation as competent on foreign policy, the GOP can easily make the following three changes.

Firstly, it needs to completely reject so-called “free trade” and atone for supporting this disastrous policy in the past. “Free trade” has been nothing but a disaster for the US, as all evidence demonstrates. America’s trade deficit with China is the largest ever between any two countries in history. America’s trade deficit with Japan is the largest ever with that country in US history. America’s trade deficit with South Korea tripled in April 2012 alone – the first full month under the KORUS Free Trade Agreement. As for Mexico, before NAFTA was ratified, the US had a trade surplus with that country. Since 1993, the US has had a trade deficit with that country every year, and the 2012 trade deficit is the highest ever recorded with Mexico.

This is because successive American administrations and Congresses have signed and ratified unequal, unfavorable “free trade deals”: NAFTA, joining the WTO, the GATT, granting Most Favored Nation status to China and Russia, and bilateral FTAs with many countries, including Japan and South Korea. Furthermore, the US tolerates the fact that foreign countries routinely cheat on trade. China devalues its currency more than the Fed devalues the dollar, subsidizes its exporters, and taxes all imports into China. Similarly, Japan levies a VAT on all imports, while rebating its exporters for every product they export. Thus, for example, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda get a rebate for every car they export to the US, while every American car imported into Japan faces a stiff VAT tax.

Of course, China, Japan, and the rest of the world don’t give two hoots about “free trade”, Hayek, Friedman, or the opinions of pro-free-trade think-tanks.

The GOP should completely and utterly reject “free trade”, pledge to withdraw the US from free trade agreements, and return to Hamiltonian principles: Manufacturing, not finance, is the muscle of the economy. Trade surpluses are preferrable to trade deficits. The nation’s industrial base must be protected and nurtured.

Secondly, the GOP should learn, and publicly recognize, that not every country in the world is strategically important to the US and that the US should intervene militarily abroad ONLY when its national interests are at stake. Not in case of “genocide” or to “spread democracy”. Only when its key allies or its crucial national interests – such as freedom of navigation, crucial mineral resources, a crucial geographic location, or its own security – are at stake. And even then, the US should try to solve the problem by nonmartial means first. If the US does have to go to war, US troops and their commanders should be free to do whatever is needed to win. No punches pulled. No restrictive rules of engagement.

President Reagan and his Defense Secretary Cap Weinberger (the best SECDEF America has ever had) have set a good example in that regard. The Weinberger doctrine should be reinstated.

To apply these rules to today’s world, the US should withdraw from Afghanistan ASAP; not intervene in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, nor Central Africa; and stop dreaming about spreading democracy.

Thirdly, the GOP should utterly reject and denounce the utterly failed, destructive policy of “arms control”, whose proper name is “disarmament”. Those in the West who advocate disarmament – including its nuclear variety – don’t mean total global disarmament, however; their sole goal is the disarmament of the West. They don’t mind China’s and Russia’s huge military arsenals. All they seek is the West’s unilateral disarmament.

“Arms control” has been an utter failure and has made America and the world dramatically less safe. At the Cold War’s end, in 1991, only seven countries (the five powers recognized by the Non Proliferation Treaty plus India and Israel) had nuclear weapons). Since then, the US, France, and Britain have dramatically reduced their nuclear (and conventional) arsenals.

This has made them, the entire West, and the world at large dramatically less safe. By now, Pakistan and North Korea have joined the nuclear club (North Korea now even has an ICBM capable of reaching the CONUS), and Iran is well on its way to it. China has dramatically increased its nuclear arsenal since the 1980s (contrary to the lies of disarmament advocates), from a few hundred warheads then to at least 1,800 and potentially up to 3,000 nuclear warheads now, according to Russian General Viktor Yesin and former DOD nuclear strategist Professor Philip Karber.

Similarly, the Obama-negotiated New START treaty obligates only the US (not Russia) to cut its nuclear arsenal. Russia is actually allowed to grow its own, and the treaty has several loopholes allowing Russia to field additional ICBMs despite New START ceilings. Nor does it count Tu-22M bombers as strategic delivery systems.

The GOP needs to completely reject and firmly denounce “arms control” and pledge to withdraw the US from any “arms control” treaties, including New START.

Those three steps would dramatically improve the GOP’s foreign policy credentials and, although the GOP does not currently control the White House or the Senate, at least adopting them declaratively, as pledges, would significantly help the GOP regain its reputation as the more competent party on foreign policy.

Posted in Ideologies, Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Protect the nuclear deterrent, reduce entitlement costs

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 8, 2013


As Washington ponders what to do about America’s large annual budget deficit ($1.2 trillion per year), the Left has taken aim at America’s nuclear deterrent – the most important asset the US military has, one which protects America and its 30+ allies against the most catastrophic threats – and demands cut in it while refusing to agree to any cuts in entitlements and discretionary social programs. Last month, 44 stridently liberal House Democrats, led by Ed Markey and Barney Frank, demanded exactly such policy in a letter to Congressional leadership.

But they’re dead wrong, and the policy they advocate is destructive, subversive, treasonous, and unconstitutional.

Here’s why. Here are seven good reasons why the nuclear deterrent should NOT be cut and why entitlement costs should be reformed (i.e. significantly reduced):

1) Protecting America is not only an enumerated power but the highest Constitutional DUTY of the federal government, as articulated in the Preamble, in Art. I Sec. 8, and in Art. IV Sec. 4. The majority of enumerated powers delegated to the Congress and listed in Art. I Sec. 8 relate to  military affairs. The military is the ONLY significant expenditure authorized by the Constitution.

By contrast, entitlement programs (and discretionary social programs) are unconstitutional. They are outside the scope of the powers vested in the federal government by the Constitution.

No person who takes his/her oath to the Constitution seriously could advocate deep cuts in funding for America’s defense, especially not for the kind of defense against the most catastrophic threats, while simoultaneously refusing to agree to any cuts in unconstitutional entitlement programs.

2) The nuclear deterrent costs very little: $32 bn per year according to the Stimson Center. This includes all nuclear warheads, all of their delivery systems, and all of their supporting facilities. Over the next decade or so, the US will need to modernize its nuclear deterrent; the Stimson Center estimates that with these modernization costs accounted for, the total cost will rise to only $39.2 bn per year, or $392 bn over the next decade.

How much is $39.2 bn? Just 6.1% of the total military budget ($633 bn authorized for FY2013), and just 1% out of a $3.699 trillion annual federal budget. Just one percent. Just one cent on the dollar.

Individual nuclear weapon systems cost even less. The ICBM  leg of the nuclear triad costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, $2.5 bn.

By contrast, the Big Three entitlement programs alone constitute 62-63% of the ENTIRE federal budgets, and their costs grow on autopilot every year. Social Security alone costs well over $700 bn every year. See the Heritage Foundation graphs below.

ALC_042_3col_c

70percentoffederalspendingissocialspending

3) Given entitlements’ huge costs, and the nuclear deterrent’s tiny cost, it is clear that it is ENTITLEMENTS, not nuclear weapons, that should be cut, or at least looked to for savings. By contrast, the US could give up its entire nuclear deterrent unilaterally tomorrow, and this would cut the federal budget by a paltry 1% – not even a dent in the annual budget deficit ($1.2 trillion) or total annual federal spending. Cutting or even eliminating the nuclear deterrent would do NOTHING do solve the deficit problem. Reforming entitlements and thus reducing their costs (e.g. by means-testing SS and Medicare, increasing the eligibility age, and giving people the freedom to leave the SS system and open private retirement accounts instead) would go a long way to reduce budget deficits and public debt.

4) If entitlements are not reformed soon, they will, within a few decades, swallow the entire federal budget, leaving the US with no money for defense or anything else. Furthermore, if they are not reformed soon, they will bury America under a mountain of debt, as they collectively have liabilities of $100 trillion. Again, even eliminating the nuclear deterrent unilaterally would do NOTHING to stop this tsunami of entitlement spending and entitlement-driven debt.

defense-spending-entitlement-spending-problem-600

5) Making further deep cuts in the nuclear deterrent, while Russia retains its huge arsenal and China has a large one (far larger than what disarmament advocates and government bureaucrats claim), would invite a Russian (if not Chinese) nuclear first strike on the US, as the US nuclear arsenal would, after further deep cuts, be far too small to be survivable or to credibly threaten most of Russia’s and China’s military assets.

6) Entitlements and other social programs make people permanently dependent on the government (in this case, the federal government) and thus teach dependence instead of self-reliance, which used to be a defining American trait. Today, instead of people providing for their and their families’ needs, virtually everyone wants to rely on a government program (i.e. on tax money confiscated from someone else) instead.

7) Entitlements and other social programs, by encouraging dependence on the federal government and by resulting in a mass confiscation of wealth from producers and transfer of that wealth to those who didn’t earn it, are immoral. In the Bible, God upholds the sanctity of private property: He says that we are prohibited not only to steal, but even to covet it.

In short, the Left’s claims are blatant lies, and their policy proposals are downright destructive. Were their cretinous policies to be implemented (God forbid), the US would be gutting its own nuclear deterrent (thus opening itself  and over 30 allies to a Russian or Chinese nuclear blackmail or even attack) while completely failing to make any meaningful reduction in federal spending, budget deficits, or debt. Such policies are totally unnacceptable and must be rejected completely. No ifs, no buts.

Posted in Constitutions, Defense spending, Economic affairs, Ideologies, Military issues, Nuclear deterrence, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Will the DOD adapt to the constrained access environment?

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 7, 2013


As studies by the CSBA and numerous articles and blogposts authored by yours truly have documented, the most pervasive and most lethal non-nuclear threat to the US military (other than the threat of deep defense budget cuts, of course) is and will remain the threat of anti-access/area-denial weapon systems, operated in many varieties by many potential adversaries, including China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and Hezbollah. (China, Iran, and Russia have complete inventories of A2/AD weapons of all kinds, while the others rely on inventories of specific kinds.)

These weapons range from submarines and naval mines to short-, medium-, and intermediate range ballistic missiles to integrated air defense systems to cyberweapons to antisatellite (ASAT) weapons. They thus come in many varieties and are aimed at different types of American platforms, but their mission is the same: deny the US military access to a theater of operations (e.g. the Western Pacific or the Persian Gulf) or at least make it prohibitively expensive (in terms of casualties) for the US military to operate in that theater.

China and Russia have accumulated huge and very impressive arsenals of such weapons in all their varieties; Iran also has a very potent arsenal of such weapons to offset its purely conventional military inferiority to the US. (If Iran tried to fight the US plane vs plane and ship vs ship, it wouldn’t stand a chance. But by fighting unconventionally, with submarines, naval mines, fast attack craft, and anti-ship missiles, among other things, it could inflict high casualties on the US military.)

Iran has recently increased and modernized its inventory of such weapons.

North Korea has upgraded Soviet air defense systems, midget submarines, and over a thousand ballistic missiles which can hit any American base in Eastern Asia. Venezuela has modern Russian S-300 SAM systems and advanced submarines.

Given these facts, the US should be quickly shifting its conventional force away from short-range platforms towards long-range ones, and away from platforms suited only for permissive, benign environments towards those designed to operate in very constrained environments, such as heavily-defended airspace.

Yet, the DOD has not done so yet.

To be sure, during the next few years, the DOD did make the initial steps towards that goal. For example, it has begun the development of the Next Generation Bomber, with plans to procure 100 such aircraft; it has announced plans to add the Virginia Payload Module to Block V Virginia class submarines; it is developing anti-ship missiles of its own; it has asked the industry for designs of a new cruise missile; it is ordering further EA-18G jammer and P-8 ASW aircraft; it has invested seriously in cybersecurity; and it’s building Littoral Combat Ships with ASW and demining modules alike.

But those are baby steps, and progress in that regard is too slow.

EA-18G, P-8 Poseidon, and Virginia class orders have been slowed, as have been orders for Arleigh Burke class DDGs. The Navy wants to decommission seven Ticonderoga class cruisers (each of which can launch 122 Tomahawk cruise missiles or missiles of other types) and two amphibious assault ships. The Air Force is merely “studying” the alternatives for the next-gen cruise missile. The NGB is not scheduled to enter service until the mid-2020s, even though it is need now. The DOD is cutting spending on missile defense and ordering inadequate quantities of interceptors and batteries, while also cutting spending on the development of laser missile defenses that would be far more economical than kinetic interceptors.

Furthermore, the current and projected inventories of jammer and ASW aircraft, stealthy bombers, and submarines are inadequate and will be even moreso inadequate as insufficient numbers are procured. These platforms will thus be few in number even though there will be a great demand for them in the Pacific, the Persian Gulf, and probably elsewhere.

In short, the DOD is not investing enough in these urgently-needed weapon platforms and has ordered, or plans to order, insufficient quantities of them.

Meanwhile, the DOD continues to spend a lot of money on its large ground force and on platforms suitable only for permissive environments where the only opponents are insurgents unable to contest control of the air. The DOD wants to increase the number of its Predator and Reaper orbits to 65 with a surge capacity to 80, even though such drones cannot survive in contested airspace. It still wants to procure 2,443 F-35 aircraft, even though they are already obsolete and will become even moreso obsolete by the time they officially enter service later this decade. The Army still continues to develop a heavy mobile bunker for the Ground Combat Vehicle program. And even after the modest reductions the DOD plans to slowly make to the ground force, both the Army and the Marines will still be larger than they were on 9/11 or during the Clinton years.

Can anyone explain to me what is the purpose of such investments, other than to recreate the force of the past and to re-fight yesterday’s war?

The DOD is still not serious about adapting to the A2/AD environment. Neither are most members of Congress, who have imposed a deep budget cut diktat on the DOD while not allowing it to even make modest reforms in the ground force, healthcare programs, base infrastructure, or inventories of old and/or short-ranged and/or niche aircraft like the C-27, C-23, F-16, and A-10. That means the savings which these reforms would produce will not be cashed, which means less money available for long-range-strike platforms.

Moreover, under current DOD plans, Navy shipbuilding programs and the Navy’s ship fleet will decline precipitously (excepting only the LCS program), and it is the Navy and the Air Force, not the Army and the Marines, who will see the relatively deepest cuts to their accounts, which is ridiculous given that the USAF and the USN, NOT the other two services, will play the lead role in any A2/AD environment.

The DOD has taken some steps to adapt to the A2/AD environment, but these are only baby steps. In a future blogpost, I will outline the steps the DOD should make to adapt quickly and adequately to this environment, similar to the “31 initiatives” produced by the USAF/US Army AirLand agreement of the early 1980s.

UPDATE:

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley has recently reaffirmed the need for the NGB, while also demonstrating how little this program, and bomber programs in general, cost compared to the USAF’s total modernization budget:

“The new Long-Range Strike bomber is one of our top priorities and encompasses approximately two percent of Air Force investment. An additional three percent over the next five years goes to sustain and modernize the B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers to ensure these aging aircraft remain viable.”

Posted in Defense spending, Military issues, Threat environment, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Rebuttal of Ben Freeman’s and Kevin Baron’s lies

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 5, 2013


Kevin Baron, the defense affairs blogger at the E-Ring of the Foreign Policy website, published a ridiculous litany of blatant lies on December 3rd, related to Sec. Panetta.

Of course, the author, who is a strident liberal himself, approvingly quotes (and parrots the lies of) another stridently liberal anti-defense hack, POGO’s Ben Freeman.

 

Freeman falsely claims that:

 

““He sort of surprised us, more generally, how much of an industry apologist in all of this, the rhetoric he’s used — it’s almost verging on propaganda how he used to say sequestration was doomsday and catastrophic.” Gates, Freeman argued, really went after savings. But Panetta? “He’s been really more like politician” than focused on cutting wasteful spending.”

 

This is utter garbage. Sequestration, as documented in detail by myself and many others (including BPC, Heritage Foundation, AEI, and FPI analysts, HASC Republicans, Congressman Norm Dicks, and the DOD itself, and as agreed by the vast majority of members of Congress of both parties) will gut the US military through making huge budget cuts which, moreover, will be made in a salami-slicing manner: cutting 10% out of everything, the most politically convient way of cutting budgets. Thus, essential programs like the Next Generation Bomber will be cut equally along with waste like generals’ perks and DOD bureaucracies.

 

And yes, sequestration, or further deep cuts to modernization, or cancellation of crucial modernization programs, WILL gut the military. This is not “propaganda” or “industry spin” or industry shilling or scaremongering. This is a fact confirmed unanimously by all Joint Chiefs of Staff and other US military leaders. So, with regard to sequestration, there are only 3 possibilities:

 

a) The Joint Chiefs are ignorant folks who don’t know what they’re talking about; or

b) The Joint Chiefs are deliberately lying to scaremonger the public; or

c) The Joint Chiefs are right to sound the alarm on sequestration.

 

Which is it, Mr Freeman?

 

But of course, for Freeman and his fellow POGO anti-defense hacks, anyone who sounds the alarm over deep, damaging defense cuts is an “industry shill”, even if, like me, you have never worked in the defense industry. That mindset, however, only utterly discredits Freeman and POGO, not me or Sec. Panetta.

 

But this is no surprise. POGO is not a “watchdog” group. POGO is a group of very ignorant, but very opinionated, anti-defense hacks. It was founded in 1981 to thwart Ronald Reagan’s reconstruction of the US military and since then has advocated deep defense budget cuts and the cancellation of virtually every crucial weapon program – from the combat-proven M1 Abrams tank, to the cruise missiles that helped counter Soviet SS-20s in Europe, to the B-2 bomber, to the NGB, to the V-22 Osprey, to the F-22 Raptor, etc. It also advocates deep cuts in the military’s force structure, including its SSBN fleets, carrier groups, and the Army’s and AF’s force structure.

 

And if Leon Panetta – a man who (as HBC Chairman, OMB Chief, and WH CHief of Staff) presided over the deep defense cuts of the late 1980s and early 1990s and implemented deep weapon program cuts personally – recognizes that sequestration (or similarly-sized cuts) would gut the military, then it’s likely true and should be a red flag that sequestration would truly be deeply damaging.

 

Freeman approvingly cites Robert Gates, Panetta’s predecessor. But Gates – before and after his retirement as SECDEF – sounded the alarm over impending deep defense cuts, including sequestration, numerous times, including in his most high-profile speeches: his famous Efficiencies Initiative announcement speech of January 6th, 2011; his testimonies to the 6 Congressional Committees that execute oversight over the DOD; his famous speech to the AEI in May 2011; his speech at the University of Texas in late 2011; and, more recently, during a videoconference with the CSIS during a recent CSIS event. Gates has warned about sequestration’s damage in language almost as strong as Panetta’s.

 

It’s time that Freeman started taking everything that Gates has said into account, and started quoting Gates fully, rather than merely invoking his name and the efficiencies he programmed. (BTW, since Freeman likes Bob Gates and his policies so much, he should also acknowledge that Gates found, and repeatedly underlined, the urgent need for the Next Generation Bomber, which Freeman and POGO oppose despite the strong evidence of that need.)

 

It’s curious to see Freeman now acknowledge that Gates “really went after efficiencies” – until now, POGO has been vehemently denying that the DOD has made any real efficiencies. Just a year and a month ago, shortly after Gates’ retirement, Freeman’s boss Danielle Brian was vehemently denying that the DOD had made any real efficiencies, savings, and cuts, despite promising them, in her own attack on Sec. Panetta’s character and credibility.

 

By the way, the claim that Panetta has abandoned Gates’ efficiencies is false. Panetta has upheld all of them while finding additional $60 bn efficiencies of his own. And as the DOD has recently stated (as quoted here on this blog on Dec. 5th), Panetta has already eliminated 68 general/admiral billets, while 28 others will be eliminated once the Afghan war ends.

 

http://e-ring.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/05/we_did_cut_generals_pentagon_responds

 

BTW, Mr Baron, you need to get your facts straight, too. Gates was not the longest-serving SECDEF. Robert McNamara was. He served from January 1961 to February 1968 – almost all of the JFK/LBJ era. The second-longest (combining his two tenures) was Donald Rumsfeld (1975-1977, 2001-2006), whose combined two tenures were just a few days shorter than McNamara’s single tenure. The third  longest-serving (and IMO the best) was Cap Weinberger (January 1981 to November 1987).

 

Panetta has NOT been a defense industry shill. In fact, under his plans, modernization spending will see significant cuts, with or without sequestration.

 

Freeman, Brian, and POGO owe Sec. Panetta an apology, as do you, Mr Baron. But, being dishonorable anti-defense hacks, you will likely never do so. Shame on you for lying so blatantly.

 

Posted in Media lies, Military issues, World affairs | 1 Comment »

Rebuttal of Chris Preble’s/CATO’s blatant lies

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 4, 2013


On January 10th, CATO Institute Vice President for Foreign and Defense Studies Christopher Preble will hold a pacifist event at CATO titled “Overkill: The Case of Reevaluating U.S. Nuclear Strategy”. Leaving aside the fact that US nuclear strategy was reevaluated just 2 years ago, in 2010-2011, and more recently in the just-completed NPR Implementation Study, the fact is that Preble calls for far more than reevaluation: he calls for deep unilateral cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent. And that is absolutely unacceptable.

CATO falsely claims that

“The United States has far more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than deterrence requires. The triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and bomber aircraft reflects bureaucratic Cold War planning, not strategic vision.”

Those are blatant lies.

Firstly, the US does not have more – let alone far more – nuclear warheads and delivery systems than deterrence requires. As the current STRATCOM commander, Gen. Bob Kehler, and his predecessor, Gen. Kevin Chilton, have testified, the current arsenal is “exactly the right size” needed for nuclear deterrence. (Remember that Gen. Kehler has spent his entire career working on nuclear weapons and their carriers.) And, as former Secretary of Defense and Energy James Schlesinger has testified, the current arsenal is “barely adequate”.

The reason why the current arsenal is the bare minimum needed is that it is barely adequate for 1) surviving a possible enemy first strike; and 2) threatening the vast majority of Russia’s, China’s, North Korea’s, and Iran’s military assets. To be able to do that, it must be no smaller than the nuclear arsenal of America’s largest nuclear adversary (currently, Russia).

Russia has 2,800 strategic warheads (1,492 of them deployed and 1,308 in reserve), untold thousands of tactical nukes, and a huge fleet of delivery systems: 434 ICBMs, 14 ballistic missile subs, 251 strategic bombers (64 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, 171 Tu-22Ms) with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and thousands of tactical nuclear delivery systems. Its ICBM fleet alone can deliver 1,684 warheads to the US, while its SSBN fleet could deliver 2,240 warheads to America if need be. Its 58 SS-18 Satan heavy ICBMs alone can deliver 580 warheads to the US. Each of its 136 SS-19 ICBMs can carry 6 warheads. Each Tupolev bomber can carry 6 nuclear-tipped missiles and a nuclear freefall bomb.

Russia’s huge tactical nuclear arsenal (estimated by the Obama Administration to be 10 times larger than America’s) can be delivered by a very wide range of delivery systems, including short-ranged ballistic missiles, ship- and air-launched cruise missiles, surface warships (nuclear depth charges), artillery pieces, tactical strike aircraft (e.g. Su-24s, Su-25s, Su-27s/30s/33s/35s, and Su-34s). Russia has at least 1,040-2,000 deployed tactical nuclear warheads (according to various estimates listed here on p. 6), and 2,000-4,000 tactical nuclear warheads in total according to ASDEF for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon (p. 6).

Thus, Russia has 4,800-6,800 nuclear warheads in total, deployed and nondeployed, strategic and tactical.

Russia currently plans to significantly grow its arsenal of ICBMs and bombers. This year, the Russian Government tripled ICBM production, and by 2020, it will procure 400 new ICBMs – partly to grow the fleet and partly to replace older ICBMs. It is also developing a new heavy ICBM (to replace the SS-18 Satan), a new 100-ton missile with a “global range” and a conventional warhead, a new middle weight ICBM called the Avangard, a new “pseudo-ICBM with a 6,000 km range (to circumvent the INF treaty), and a new rail-based ICBM (which will likely be an RS-24 Yars derivative and/or the same thing as the Avangard). None of these ICBMs will be limited by New START. Russia is also building additional Tu-160 bombers from stockpiled components.

Because Russia was below New START ceilings, and because that pathetic treaty has many loopholes large enough to drive a truck through them, Russia is allowed to significantly build up its strategic arsenal. The US is not.

Overall, Russia plans to spend 21 trillion roubles (i.e. $770 bn) on new equipment during the next decade. This will also include spending on tactical nuclear delivery systems such as Su-34 aircraft and dozens of Iskander SRBMs.

Russia’s huge nuclear arsenal alone justifies the current size of America’s nuclear arsenal and constitutes the single largest threat to US national security, as documented in more detail here and here.

Furthermore, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher has admitted that “Russian overreliance on tactical nuclear weapons should be a signal to the US that some Russian officials are still acting and reacting according to a Cold War mentality.” Note that she said that about Russian, not American, officials.

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and possesses at least 36 DF-5, 30 DF-31/31A, and a number of DF-41 MIRVable ICBMs, plus 6 ballistic missile subs with a collective capacity to deliver at least 72 SLBMs (JL-1s and JL-2s). It has recently acquired the Tu-22M production line and intends to procure 36 such bombers, each of which can carry 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. It is rapidly growing its arsenal of ICBMs, MRBMs, SRBMs, and land-attack cruise missiles (which can be launched for airborne, seaborne, and ground platforms alike and have a range of up to 4,000 kms).

Yet, under New START, the US will be allowed to maintain only 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and only 700 deployed (plus 100 nondeployed) strategic warhead delivery systems. Tactical nuclear weapons and their delivery systems (in which Russia has a huge lead over the US) are not covered, and neither is China’s large nuclear arsenal, which is not subject to any inspections or limitations, even though Russian generals such as Viktor Yesin (ret.) have called for China to be included in nuclear arms limitation treaties. China, however, has persistently refused to participate in such treaties or even to discuss the issue or disclose the size of its arsenal. In fact, the US is the only country in the world to have publicly disclosed the precise size of its nuclear arsenal: 5,113 warheads, deployed and nondeployed, strategic and tactical. (Per New START, only 1,550 strategic warheads can be deployed).

Last but certainly not least, the US has to deter North Korea and Iran as well, and has to provide a nuclear deterrent not only for itself, but also for over 30 allies who rely on it for their security and their very existence. Further significant cuts to it would force these allies to develop their own nuclear weapons, because they cannot bet their security and their existence on America breaking free of its “unilateral nuclear disarmament will make us safer” kool-aid.

CATO’s claim that the US nuclear arsenal and its triad structure (ICBMs, SSBNs, and strategic bombers) is a relic of Cold War bureaucratic planning is also a blatant lie. The nuclear arsenal’s size, as demonstrated above, is the bare minimum needed for the nuclear threats of today (if anything, it should be larger).

Furthermore, the nuclear triad is NOT a relic of Cold War bureaucratic planning; it is THE most survivable arrangement for any nuclear arsenal (more legs of the nuclear triad mean more layers of defense and more targeting problems for the enemy) and the only credible kind of a nuclear deterrent. Only such a deterrent can survive a Russian or Chinese nuclear first strike – thus ensuring that such first strike never happens.

Moreover, the nuclear triad has been repeatedly confirmed by the highest levels of the US government as the right arrangement for the nuclear deterrent: in the 1994, 2001, and 2010 Nuclear Posture Reviews, in the New START Senate resolution of ratification, as well as recently by the entire US Senate when it unanimously adopted Senator John Hoeven’s FY2013 NDAA amendment stating the Senate’s commitment to maintaining the nuclear triad and its belief that this is the best arrangement for the nuclear deterrent. Likewise, the House has passed an NDAA which – as House Republicans trumpet on the HASC’s website – upholds the House’s commitment to the nuclear triad and provides for the maintenance and modernization of all three of its legs.

Moreover, the US nuclear arsenal and fleet of delivery systems are already vastly smaller than they were at the end (let alone the peak) of the Cold War. In 1991, the US had over 20,000 nuclear warheads; today it has only about 5,000. In 1991 the US had over 1,000 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers; today, only 450 ICBMs (going down to 420), 14 SSBNs (not all of which are at sea at any time or are fully loaded), and just 96 nuclear-capable bombers (B-52s and B-2s). The US nuclear arsenal is less than 1/4th of its 1991 size, i.e. more than 75% smaller than it was at the end (let alone the peak) of the Cold War.

Thus, CATO lied when it spoke of “the need to bring it [US nuclear strategy] into the 21st century”; that strategy, and the nuclear deterrent, have already been brought into the 21st century.

“Join us as Christopher Preble, the Vice President of Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, discusses U.S. nuclear strategy, and the need to bring it into the 21st century.”

CATO also wrongly asks:

“Can the United States achieve an effective nuclear program which makes us safer, while adapting to the need for a smaller defense budget?”

Firstly, the US already has a very effective nuclear program which keeps America safe 24/7/365. Furthermore, cuts (let alone deep cuts) in America’s nuclear deterrent would make America MUCH LESS secure, not more, for the reasons stated above. Furthermore, there is no “need for a smaller defense budget”; the total FY2013 military budget (as authorized by Congress in the FY2013 NDAA) is only $633 bn, i.e. just 4.2% of GDP and less than 18% of the total federal budget. By both measures, it’s the lowest level of US military spending (excluding the late 1990s and early 2000s) since FY1948. Even Jimmy Carter spent a larger percent of GDP and the federal budget on the military.

Moreover, the entire nuclear arsenal, along with its supporting facilities, costs only $32 bn per year to maintain (per the Stimson Center), which is only 5% of the total military budget. So, even as the defense budget is being reduced, there is no need to cut funding for the nuclear deterrent. In fact, such cuts would be foolish and suicidal.

Further recommended reading: http://missilethreat.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/WebPage.pdf; http://missilethreat.com/russia-developing-new-long-range-ballistic-missile-2/.

Posted in Ideologies, Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

China acquires the Tu-22M production line; intends to build 36 bombers

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 2, 2013


Well, lookie here. China Times reports that the PRC has bought the Tu-22M production line from Russia and intends to build at least 36 Tu-22MB bombers domestically. Because China lacks some of the components for these aircraft, it will import them from Russia, a willing seller.

Thus, China will, by the end of this decade, have at least 36 to complement its H-6 bomber fleet. In other words, it will have a long range bomber force like Russia’s Dalnaya Aviatsia (Long-Range Aviation).

Dr Carlo Kopp’s question whether China would acquire such a fleet or not (in 2010, he said it “remains to be seen”) has now been answered.

The Tu-22M can carry a freefall nuclear bomb (like the ones that China’s H-6 bombers can carry) and 6 cruise missiles of various types – nuclear and conventional, anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles alike. Such bombers could be used to strike ground targets far away or to attack American ships in and even beyond the Second Island Chain in the Western Pacific.

In general, this demonstrates that China is now working hard to close one of the few gaps that remain between it and the US, and that it is on track to become the world’s largest military power by no later than the early 2020s.

Posted in Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Why America must always retain a large nuclear deterrent

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on December 30, 2012


Last month, while the US observed the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the opponents of a strong defense cynically used that month and that anniversary to call for America’s nuclear disarmament. They are wrong. The Cuban Missile Crisis, contrary to their claims,  proved that nuclear deterrence actually works. Moreover, America cannot afford to disarm itself – whether uni-, bi-, or multilaterally – and must always maintain a large nuclear deterrent.

This also means that any proposals to further cut the US nuclear arsenal – made by the usual suspects, the ACA, the Council for a Livable World, Ploughshares, the PDA, and the CATO Institute – must be completely rejected. Here’s why. Here’s also why a large nuclear arsenal will always be needed.

The needed size of the arsenal – i.e. how many warheads and delivery systems the US needs – is always driven by two needs: a) to be able to survive an enemy first strike in case it happens, and b) to be able to threaten the majority, if not all (100% is rarely possible) military and strategically important economic assets of an enemy. This means not only his ICBM, SSBN, and bomber bases plus the SSBNs and ICBM launchers themselves, but also his conventional military assets and important non-military assets.

Both of these needs must be met for deterrence to be possible at all.

An enemy will refrain from attacking ONLY if he concludes, after consideration, that the consequences of an attack (i.e. an American counterattack on him) would be too grave for him to start a fight. This is how deterrence, including nuclear deterrence, works.

The larger the enemy’s nuclear arsenal is (not to mention his conventional force), the larger arsenal is required to survive his first blow and to be able to threaten a decisive majority of his military assets.

If at least one of your potential adversaries has a large nuclear arsenal, you must have a large one, too, and one sufficiently sized to survive his first blow and to hold the vast majority of his assets at risk.

Furthermore, your arsenal must not only be large, but also diverse, and must consist of survivable assets. This means you must have a nuclear triad (so as not to rely on just one or two modes of nuclear delivery), and it must be equipped with survivable assets: very quiet SSBNs, widely dispersed bombers (some of which must be airborne at any time), and ICBMs in hardened siloes or on mobile launchers.

Currently, America’s largest nuclear-armed adversary is Russia. It has 2,800 strategic warheads (of which at least 1,492 are currently deployed and the rest are in storage and can be deployed anytime if need be) and untold thousands of tactical nuclear warheads. We don’t know how many, because Russia refuses to say, but the Obama Administration says Moscow has 10 times more of these weapons than the US has, i.e. 4000 to 400. Russia’s advantage in tactical nuclear weapons is balanced by America’s current lead in strategic nuclear warheads (the vast majority of America’s 5,000 nuclear warheads are strategic) and their delivery systems (450 ICBMs, a handful of B-52 and B-2 bombers, and 14 SSBNs capable of launching 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles each, and each SLBM can carry 8 warheads).

To deliver its strategic warheads, Russia currently has:

  • 434 ICBMs: 58 SS-18 Satan, 136 SS-19 Stilletto, 141 SS-25 Sickle, 74 SS-27 Sickle-B, and 18 RS-24/SS-29 Yars ICBMs. A single SS-18 can carry 10 warheads (plus 30 penetration aids), a single SS-19 Stilletto 6 warheads, and a single Yars 4 or more. The SS-25 Sickle and SS-27 Sickle-B are single-warhead missiles, although the SS-27 may be MIRVable. Collectively, this ICBM fleet could deliver at least 1,684 strategic warheads to the US if need be.
  • 14 SSBNs: 1 Typhoon class (capable of carrying 20 SLBMs), 1 Borei class, 5 Delta III class, and 7 Delta IV class SSBNs. All of them but the Typhoon can carry 16 SLBMs each. How many warheads they can carry depends on the missile type being carried. The R-29RMU Sinyeva can carry four warheads, while the R-29RMU2 Liner can carry twelve and the Bulava, scheduled to enter service next year, can carry ten. The sole Typhoon class sub has tested all of these missile types. One Delta III class sub, the Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy, is in reserve and awaits replacement by a Borei class sub. Collectively, the Russian SSBN fleet could, if loaded with Bulavas or Liners, deliver at least 2,240 warheads to the US.
  • Over 200 strategic bombers: 64 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, and 171 Tu-22Ms, each of which can carry 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on its wings, while the Tu-95 and Tu-22M can also carry nuclear freefall bombs. Russia is now growing its Tu-160 fleet, while the Tu-95 is reported by one source to be able to carry more than 6 cruise missiles. That source claims that the Tu-95 fleet can collectively carry 704 nuclear-tipped missiles. In any event, New START counts only bombers, not the cruise missiles they carry, and every bomber, no matter how many cruise missiles it carries, is counted as just one weapon.

So Russia has a huge strategic nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver all of it. (This is to say nothing of its even larger tactical nuclear arsenal.) To unilaterally disarm or even cut America’s nuclear deterrent further in the face of this huge Russian arsenal would be worse than an utter folly. It would be downright suicidal.

A much smaller nuclear arsenal – such as the one proposed by the forementioned pro-disarmament organizations (around 1,000 warheads and no more than 300 ICBMs and 8 SSBNs) – would be so small that it would be easy for Russia to destroy in a nuclear first strike. A mere 300 ICBMs, a few noisy Ohio class SSBNs at sea, two well-known SSBN bases, and a handful of bomber bases whose locations are also well known, would be far easier for Russia’s huge nuclear arsenal (see above) to destroy than 450 ICBMs, 10 SSBNs at sea (especially if they were SSBNX or Virginia class derivative boats), and bombers on patrol in the air.

A much smaller nuclear arsenal would also be unable to threaten (and if need be, obliterate) the majority (let alone all) of Russian military assets, including (but not limited to) its ICBM siloes and bases, SRBM bases, bomber and tactical strike aircraft bases, SSBN bases, subs at sea, and other (non-nuclear-related) military assets. That, in turn, would make such a small arsenal non-credible and thus end nuclear deterrence.

Thus, with further deep cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent, NEITHER of the two needs that must be met for the enemy to be deterred would be met. In other words, further deep nuclear arsenal cuts would undermine nuclear deterrence in two ways: by making the arsenal too small to be survivable, and by making it too small to be able to threaten most enemy military assets.

It needs to be underlined that an enemy will be deterred from attacking if, and ONLY IF, the US nuclear arsenal is large enough to survive an enemy first strike AND if it’s large enough to hold most (if not virtually all) enemy military assets at risk (which is determined by how many assets the enemy has; Russia has thousands of them, including those listed above).

A Russian arsenal of 434 (and counting) ICBMs, 14 SSBNs with hundreds of SLBMs onboard, over 240 strategic bombers, hundreds of tactical strike aircraft, dozens of AF/Navy bases, nuclear facilities, and goodness knows how many tactical nuclear weapon delivery systems cannot be held at risk by an arsenal of just a few hundred, or even 1,000, warheads atop a small number of delivery systems such as a mere 300 ICBMs and a few SSBNs at sea. Holding Russia’s huge nuclear complex at risk requires thousands of warheads – not a mere 1,000 or 300 – and a large fleet of delivery systems. The Heritage Foundation has concluded that the US needs 2,700-3,000 nuclear warheads to be deployed.[1]

And it wouldn’t be expensive. The entire nuclear arsenal – the nuclear warheads, their delivery systems, and the supporting facilities and programs cost only $32 bn per year (according to the Stimson Center) or $38 bn per numbers from a 2009 Carnegie Study[2], which amounts to only 5-6% of the total FY2013 military budget ($631 bn per the FY2013 NDAA) and just 1% of the total military budget. America’s nuclear arsenal is not siphoning money away from any other program – military or nonmilitary. Its budget is too small to do that.

So a sufficiently large nuclear arsenal can affordably be, and must be, provided to deter the enemy, as required by the US Constitution, which requires the federal government to provide for the common defense.

[1] Rebeccah Heinrichs, Baker Spring, Detterence and Nuclear Targeting in the 21st Century, the Heritage Foundation, URL: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/11/deterrence-and-nuclear-targeting-in-the-21st-century. Retrieved on December 25th, 2012.

[2] In its study, however – which was evidently aimed at exaggerating the cost of the nuclear deterrent – Carnegie wrongly included the cost of missile defense programs, which are not a part of the nuclear deterrent, and of nonproliferation/threat reduction programs, which are also not a part of that nuclear deterrent. Neither of these programs were spawned by America’s nuclear arsenal, their costs are not due to that arsenal, and are not related to that arsenal’s cost in any way. If these two nonrelevant categories of programs are excluded, the nuclear arsenal’s cost (in FY2008 dollars) is $38 bn, not $52 bn as Carnegie claimed.

Posted in Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Further defense cuts would gut the military

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on December 29, 2012


As the deadline to deal with defense spending sequestration nears, the opponents of a strong defense  are trying to lull the American people into a false sense of security by downplaying and vastly understating the threats posed to America’s security by Russia, China, and others, and such lowballing of these threats is supposed to justify cuts to America’s defense.

But they are lying, and in this article, I’ll show you why.

The fact is that over the last 12 years (and in China’s case, over the last 22 years), America’s potential adversaries, including Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, have been conducting military buildups that far exceed their legitimate self-defense requirements. I will demonstrate their military capabilities country by country and explain why they threaten the US.

Russia

Russia’s biggest military asset is its vast nuclear arsenal. Although reduced since the Soviet times, it’s still huge. Russia currently has 1,492 deployed and hundreds of additional nondeployed strategic nuclear warheads, all of which can be delivered to the US. Since the ratification of New START, which obligates only the US (not Russia) to reduce its nuclear arsenal, Russia has been building up its strategic arsenal up to New START limits, exactly as it said it intended to when New START was ratified in early 2011.

Russia currently has up to 472 intercontinental ballistic missiles: 58 SS-18, 132 SS-19, 144 SS-25, 74 SS-27, and 18 RS-24 ICBMs. The US has 450. Thus, Russia already has somewhat more ICBMs than the US is allowed to have under New START (434 vs 420). Russia plans to procure 400 new ICBMs by 2020 and to develop two new ICBM types – including a new heavy ICBM, the “Son of Satan”, i.e. a replacement for the SS-18 Satan. More on Russia’s nuclear modernization programs here.

The Russian Navy has 13 operational SSBNs (4 Delta III class, 7 Delta IV class, 1 Borei class, and 1 Typhoon class) ballistic missile submarines, with 16 missile tubes each. Their SLBMs have a range of over 10,000 kilometers, meaning they can reach any target in the CONUS while being in their home waters or even in homeport, and have had that capability since the late 1980s.

Russia’s Dalnaya Aviatsya (Long Range Aviation) has 63 Tu-95 and at least 16 Tu-160 intercontinental nuclear-capable bombers, each of which is capable of delivering multiple nuclear-tipped missiles and nuclear freefall bombs. Russia resumed their strategic flights in 2007 and since then, American, Canadian, and European fighters have often had to scramble and intercept them near American, Canadian, and European airspace. Russian bombers and their support aircraft have also held multiple exercises since 2007, most recently in June and July 2012 near Alaska and California, when the Russians said they were “practicing attacking the enemy”.

Russia’s Dalnaya Aviatsya also has 151 (171 according to Sean O’Connor) Tu-22M strategic bombers (plus another 93 in reserve) which, with aerial refueling, have intercontinental range, and yet, they are not counted as intercontinental bombers under New START (nor were they under SALT-II). The Russians made the Tu-22M air-refuelable despite Brezhnev’s promises (which Jimmy Carter bought) that they wouldn’t. To refuel them, Russia has Il-78 tankers.

Moscow has now begun producing additional Tu-160s from stockpiled components and is developing a next-generation strategic bomber, the PAK DA (Prospektivnoi Aviatsonnyi Kompleks Dalnoy Aviatsii).

Russia is now procuring Su-34 bombers to partially replace the Tu-22M fleet, with 16 in service and 200 planned in total, which will free the Russians to sell some Tu-22Ms to China (which has already tried to buy them once).

Russia also has a tremendous lead over the US in tactical nuclear weapons: it has untold thousands of them, while the US has only ca. 400, all of them old nuclear bombs in urgent need of modernization. Russia’s tactical nukes can be delivered by a wide range of systems: short-range BMs, torpedoes, artillery, and a wide range of Tupolev and Sukhoi aircraft.

Russia’s huge tactical nuclear arsenal (estimated by the Obama Administration to be 10 times larger than America’s) can be delivered by a very wide range of delivery systems, including short-ranged ballistic missiles, ship- and air-launched cruise missiles, surface warships (nuclear depth charges), artillery pieces, tactical strike aircraft (e.g. Su-24s, Su-25s, Su-27s/30s/33s/35s, and Su-34s). Russia has at least 1,040-2,000 deployed tactical nuclear warheads (according to various estimates listed here on p. 6), and 2,000-4,000 tactical nuclear warheads in total according to ASDEF for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon (p. 6).

Russia currently plans to significantly grow its arsenal of ICBMs and bombers. This year, the Russian Government tripled ICBM production, and by 2020, it will procure 400 new ICBMs – partly to grow the fleet and partly to replace older ICBMs. It is also developing a new heavy ICBM (to replace the SS-18 Satan), a new 100-ton missile with a “global range” and a conventional warhead, a new middle weight ICBM called the Avangard, and a new rail-based ICBM (which will likely be an RS-24 Yars derivative). None of these ICBMs will be limited by New START. Russia is also building additional Tu-160 bombers from stockpiled components. Because Russia was below New START ceilings, and because that pathetic treaty has many loopholes large enough to drive a truck through them, Russia is allowed to significantly build up its strategic arsenal. The US is not.

Overall, Russia plans to spend 21 trillion roubles (i.e. $770 bn) on new equipment during the next decade.

In tactical fighter aviation, Russia has several hundred modern, capable fighters: 293 Su-27, 15 Su-30, and 9 Su-35S Flankers, with a total of 30 Su-30s and 48 Su-35s on order. These enjoy parity with the F-15 and are decisively superior to the F-16 and the F/A-18, which have decisively inferior thrust/weight and wingloading ratios, radar, turning capability, and combat radius. The F/A-18 is inferior, and the F-16 barely equal, to the MiG-29, a Russian fighter first flown in the late 1970s, widely exported, and still in use (226 in Russian inventory) and being upgraded. The Russians are now developing (together with India) the Sukhoi PAKFA, a stealthy 5th generation fighter almost equal to the F-22 Raptor and decisively superior to all other Western fighters, current and planned, including the F-35. It is intended for high number production, with several hundred to be ordered by Moscow and Delhi, and sure to be exported around the world just like previous Russian fighters, including Flankers, were.

Russia’s SAM system network is even more deadly. In addition to very capable Soviet SAM systems such as the mobile Kub (SA-6 Gainful) and Buk (SA-11/SA-17 Grizzly), Russia also has deployed a large number of modern (1990s and 2000s’ era) S-300 systems which can easily detect and shoot down all nonstealthy aircraft, and a growing number of S-400 systems, which were first deployed in 2004. Their radars and missiles have ranges measured in hundreds of kilometers, and are cued by a very extensive network of radars.

Russia has also deployed huge numbers of modern point-defense systems such as the Tunguska, the Tor-M1, and the Pantsir-S1, which defend the forementioned SAM systems and other assets from precision guided munitions such as cruise and anti-air-defense missiles. This means that the default tactic of attacking enemy targets with cruise missiles like the Tomahawk and the ALCM or SAM systems with the AGM-88 HARM is no longer feasible. AirPowerAustralia rightly says it is “bankrupt.”

Russia is now developing an even more lethal, long-ranged SAM system, the S-500, which will also be a BMD system.

Russia’s Navy has 67 submarines of all kinds, including 24 nuclear-powered attack subs, 9 nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines, 14 ballistic missile subs (with a collective capacity to launch 224 SLBMs with 2240 warheads), and 31 conventional attack subs, mostly a growing fleet of Kilo- and Lada-class subs with air-independent propulsion which makes them quieter than most nuclear submarines. Russian nuclear and conventional submarines are quieter than any in the world except those of the Virginia and Seawolf classes. Yet, many American defense cutters want to cut or even stop Virginia class submarine production.

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Graph source: Office of Naval Intelligence.

Russia’s destroyers and cruisers, including 4 nuclear-propelled ones, can launch many anti-ship cruise missiles to sink American warships. Arleigh Burke and Ticonderoga class combatants can protect against this threat, yet, under the Obama Administration’s plans, 7 of the youngest Ticonderogas are to be decommissioned prematurely with 20 years of service life remaining.

Russia’s hackers, meanwhile, pose a significant threat to US computer networks, although their attacks have not been as prominent as Chinese hackers’ attacks.

China

China, a nascent superpower, poses a military threat no smaller than Russia.

While pro-disarmament organizations (which have an incentive to lowball China’s nuclear arsenal and thus lie) and US intelligence agencies lead by pro-China bureaucrats have been vastly understating the size of Beijing’s arsenal, it’s real size is at least 1,800 warheads (as estimated by retired Russian general Viktor Yesin, who maintains close ties to the Kremlin), and up to 3,000 warheads, as estimated by Professor Philip Karber of Georgetown University.

China has:

1) 36 MIRVable DF-5, 30-40 MIRVable DF-31/31A, and an unknown number of MIRVable DF-41 ICBMs. The DF-41 can carry 10 warheads; the DF-31, up to 4; the DF-5 can carry an unknown number, but certainly at least two, since it can also carry a single 5 megaton warhead. Thus, China has at least 67 (and probably many more) ICBMs capable of reaching the US. The figure of 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs comes from 2009; since then, the DF-31 fleet has certainly grown significantly.

2) 72-144 SLBMs deployed on 6 ballistic missile submarines, 5 Jin class boats and one Xia class sub. The old Xia class sub will soon be replaced by a 6th Jin. Each of them can carry 12, and up to 24 (on Jin class boats), SLBMs. The Jins’ missiles can carry 4 warheads each. Since all of them are nuclear-powered, they can sail anywhere. The Jins’ missiles, MIRVable JL-2s, have an 8000 km range, allowing them to target anything on America’s West Coast when positioned just slightly east of 150E longitude. They can target Seattle and NB Kitsap while still being west of Hokkaido.

3) 440 nuclear-capable H-6K, JH-7, and Q-5 bombers, with 1 warhead each. The turbofan-powered H-6K and JH-7 can also carry nuclear- and conventional-armed cruise missiles with multiple-thousand-kilometer range.

4) 20-40 MIRVable DF-3 and 80 DF-21 MRBMs, as well as 20 MIRVable DF-4 IRBMs with a 7,000 km range. This allows them to target Hawaii and all targets throughout Asia, but (excepting the DF-4) not Guam or Australia.

5) A large number of DF-11, DF-15, and DF-16 SRBMs (with 1,600 stationed opposite Taiwan) and DH-10 cruise missiles. whose range is 4000 kms. Some of them may be nuclear-armed.

In total, China has 1,800 nuclear warheads according to former Russian strategic missile force chief of staff Gen. Viktor Yesin. China, of course, has the means to deliver far more than 1,800 warheads.

The Chinese Air Force has the following modern fighters: 200 J-10s, 76 Su-27s, 76 Su-30MKKs, 140 J-11s, and 360 modernized J-8II interceptors produced in the 1980s. Yet, GlobalSecurity.org says China plans to order hundreds more Flankers, and AirPowerAustralia projects that by 2015 China will have 550 Flankers. Beijing is also in talks to buy Su-35 and Su-33 fighters from Russia. Flankers are, of course, nuclear-capable.

China is now developing three new fighters. The first, the J-15, will be a modern Flanker variant intended to operate from China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning (on which it has already performed takeoffs and landings). The second, J-20, first flown in January 2011, will be a stealthy 5th generation air superiority fighter, long range interceptor, and theater strike jet which can also serve as a reconnaissance and ASAT weapon launching plane. The third, J-31, will be a smaller, more agile stealthy air superiority fighter capable of operating from land bases and aircraft carriers alike. The J-20 is to enter service in 2017-2019, and the J-31 in 2020 or later.

The J-20 and J-31 are also sure to be exported; China’s J-10, J-11, and JF-17 are also on offer for export.

The venerable F-15 can barely hold parity against China’s Flankers and J-10,, as it flies much faster and much higher but is outclassed in terms of radar and airframe age, and barely holds parity in agility, with similar T/W and wing loading ratios as these Chinese fighters. Even the F-15, however, will be outclassed against the J-20 and J-31.

The J-20, analyzed here, here, and here by APA, will be the best air superiority fighter in the world, ex aequo with the F-22, when it enters service. Its T/W and wing loading ratios are better than anyone else’s except the F-22s and the PAKFAs (as well as the Typhoon’s and the Rafale’s in terms of wing loading); its stealth shaping is far better than the F-35′s or the PAKFA’s, emulating F-22 design closely; and with lots of internal space, it can carry much fuel and ammo. Its size and design allow it to be both a fighter and a medium range strike jet, holding all American bases in East Asia (but not Guam) vulnerable. It could also be developed into an electronic warfare, anti-satellite warfare, and reconnaissance plane (if specialized variants are built), just like the F-111 was. (The J-20′s size is similar to that of the F-111.) Being very stealthy, the J-20 will be very difficult for S/X/K/Ku-band, and even for L-band and UHF/VHF, radars to detect.

The J-31 is an upgraded replica of the F-35, and can take off from land bases and carriers alike (it has a double wheel in the frontal section, like all other carrier-based planes). As China’s AVIC company has declared, it will be exported to anyone capable of paying for it.

China’s air force is also likely to acquire new long-range bombers in the mold of Russia’s Dalnaya Aviatsiya, and with former PLAAF commander Gen. Xu Qiliang (an outspoken advocate of airpower) now serving as Central Military Commission Vice Chairman, i.e. the highest-ranking PLA officer, the PLAAF will have significant leverage to advocate for a more modern bomber fleet, and a spokesman (Gen. Xu) lobbying for it at the top of the CMC. In 2001, China almost acquired a fleet of used Russian Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers, and the proposal was cancelled only because China’s influential domestic aerospace industry lobbied for modernizations to the Xian H-6 bomber instead and the PLA Navy lobbied for funds for aircraft carriers. Now, with its defense budget several times larger than it was in 2001, China will have more than enough money to acquire intercontinental bombers, especially since Tu-95s and Tu-22Ms will soon become surplus as Russia acquires Su-34 medium-range and PAK DA intercontinental bombers.

China’s navy has 68 submarines, including 6 SSBNs (1 Xia class and 5 Jin class boats). Most of China’s conventional subs are ultra-quiet, AIP-equipped diesel-powered attack submarines which can easily avoid detection. One of them, a Song class sub, stalked the USS Kitty Hawk in 2006 and surfaced just 5 miles away from the carrier, ready to launch torpedoes, while previously completely avoiding detection. Had it not surfaced, the USN would’ve never even known it was there, or that it was so close to the carrier. China’s nuclear submarines are far quieter than their noisy Han- and Xia-class predecessors were, and could circumnavigate the world without having to resurface.

China’s surface fleet is no less powerful. It consists of 14 modern destroyers (plus 5 additional ones under construction, including 2 Type 052C and 3 Type 052D vessels) and 19 modern frigates (with another 7 under construction). Their destroyers include the newest Type 052D Luyang III class of destroyers, the newest Chinese class, equipped with the Zhonghuashendun (AKA Chinese Aegis) combat system. It has 64 Vertical Launch System cells capable of launching SAMs, anti-ship, and anti-submarine missiles, and has a 130mm main gun, as well as smaller guns and CIWS. The armament of other Chinese destroyers is no less formidable. Building so many modern ships so fast has made China a world class shipbuilder, the Diplomat website warns. Chinese destroyers have modern air defense systems: some have navalized versions of the HQ-16/SA-17 Grizzly (Russian Buk) system, others a naval variant of the modern HQ-9 air defense system, and others a naval variant of the S-300, the SA-N-20. Thus, Chinese destroyers can easily shoot down nonstealthy aircraft and missiles. More on China’s newest destroyers here.

On top of that, China has a very large fleet of missile/attack boats and an arsenal of at least 100,000 naval mines. This will pose a serious threat to America’s already-overworked surface combatant and mine countermeasure ship fleets, most of which is deployed in the Persian Gulf.

Which brings me to China’s air defense systems.

Just 12 years ago, China’s air defense network was mostly obsolete, consisting mostly of SA-2 and HQ-2 short-range air defense systems. This has changed. China now has a huge, impressive arsenal of S-300 series (both S-300P and S-300V series) and HQ-9 highly mobile long-range air defense systems whose radars are highly resistant (nearly immune) to jamming and which can detect and shoot down aircraft and missiles (including cruise missiles) from a long range. (Russia, of course, has an even more impressive and more extensive arsenal of S-300 series, S-400 (deployed in 2007), and heavily upgraded legacy Soviet air defense systems like the Buk (SA-11/17 Grizzly)). On ships, China has deployed, as stated above, modern HQ-9 and HQ-16 air defense systems. With SAM systems like these, China can declare and enforce  no-fly zone over all of Taiwan anytime it wants to. These air defense systems also make China’s (and Russia’s) airspace firmly closed to all nonstealthy aircraft, leaving only the B-2, the F-22, the F-35, and the planned Next Generation Bomber as the only aircraft which can enter that airspace safely and survive in it. Their long range air defense systems can defend themselves against anti-SAM missiles like the AGM-88 HARM and against cruise missiles, and to aid in such defense, they’re protected by short-range air defense systems such as the KS-1. These systems’ radar is also highly resistant to jamming.

China’s anti-ship and anti-land conventional missiles are no less deadly. The deadliest are arguably the ChangJian-10 (CJ-10) and the DongHai-10 (DH-1o) land attack cruise missiles, which have a range of 4,000 kms, i.e. enough to reach Guam. An aircraft-carried variant has a range of 2,000 kms. The HongNiao-3 has a range of 2,000 kms. Their anti-ship missiles have ranges varying up to 550 kms, but they can be launched from various platforms, including ships and aircraft. China also has the DF-21D ASBM with a range of 2,700 kms.

While the Danger Room’s claim that China’s plan to beat the US is “missiles, missiles, and missiles” is a huge exaggeration, missiles comprise a large, deadly, and cheap part of China’s arsenal, and if used against anyone, would devastate the victim due to payload, range, accuracy (low CEPs for modern missiles), and speed. If scheduled defense cuts, including sequestration and Obama’s planned nuclear arsenal cuts, continue, China and Russia will both individually overtake the US militarily in all capabilities and in total military power by no later than the early 2020s, and probably earlier.

North Korea

North Korea is not a global peer competitor to the US. However, on a regional scale, it is a huge military threat.

It maintains a large, though mostly outdated, conventional force. But its real strength is its ballistic missile force. North Korea has hundreds of SRBMs capable of reaching all targets in South Korea and Western Japan, and further hundreds of MRBMs with enough range to reach all of Japan (including Okinawa). It also has an unknown number (probably dozens) of Musudan (BM25, AKA Taepodong-X) and Taepodong-1 IRBMs with a range of 4,000 kms (enough to reach targets as far as Singapore) and has now demonstrated an ICBM capability with its Unha-3 missile that successfully delivered a satellite to the Earth’s orbit. This demonstrates that North Korea has overcome the tech hurdles that contributed to the failures of its previous ICBM tests. North Korea now has a capability to deliver nuclear warheads to the US if it has managed to miniaturize them, and there’s no reason to believe it hasn’t. William C. Triplett warns that it’s a matter of one year before it happens.

Besides its small nuclear arsenal (13 warheads), Pyongyang also has 2,000-2,500 metric tons of chemical weapons and quite possibly biological weapons as well. To deliver chemical munitions, it has ballistic missiles as well as a large artillery fleet aimed at South Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s suicide midget submarines pose a threat to ships, while its air defense systems – not as modern as Russia’s or China’s, but nonetheless long-ranged and jamming-resistant – can shoot down any nonstealthy aircraft. Thus, its airspace, like that of Russia  and China, is firmly closed to any nonstealthy aircraft. Only B-2s and F-22s can safely operate in it.

Iran

Iran’s most powerful weapons are its ballistic missiles. The most numerous in its inventory are Fateh-110, Zelzal, Scud, Hwasong, and Shahab-1 and -2 SRBMs, with a range not exceeding 1,000 kms. Because Middle Eastern states are so close to each other, ballistic missile flight times in that region are measured in single minutes. Iran’s SRBMs could thus be used as first strike weapons.

Iran also has a number of MRBMs of various types (Sejjil, Ashoura, Shahab-3) with ranges between 2,000 and 2,500 kms, i.e. enough to reach all of Eastern and Southern Europe.

According to one leaked US State Department cable published by Wikileaks, Iran also has bought 19 Taepodong-X (BM25 Musudan) IRBMs (which have a range of 4,000 kms) from North Korea. If that is true – and it likely is – Iran already has the means to target all of Europe, including Dublin, Lisbon, and Madrid.

Iran’s nuclear weapons programme is accelerating. It is now installing additional centrifuges which will allow it to 1) produce more enriched uranium faster; and 2) enrich enough uranium to weapons-grade (i.e. to 90%) by next summer. This would mean Iran would, by next summer, have enough highly-enriched uranium for a single nuclear warhead (although it would then still have to build a miniaturized warhead to be able to mate it with a ballistic missile).

The most hotly disputed issue is that of an Iranian ICBM program. Disarmament advocates and missile defense opponents falsely claim that Iran will not have an ICBM capable of reaching the US for many years to come and that an East Coast missile defense site is unneeded. They’re wrong, however. The US intelligence community has consistently projected that Iran will attain such capability by 2015 (although that does not mean testing such a missile). While the CRS says Iran is “unlikely” to reach such capability by 2015 without significant foreign assistance, such assistance is likely to be provided by China and/or North Korea, both of whom are notorious proliferators of ballistic missile technology. Furthermore, the year 2015 is just 2 years and 15 days away. The year 2017 is just 4 years and 15 days away. Even if Iran’s ICBM development slips by a year or two, this still leaves the US little time to build an EC missile defense site – which means the decision to build it must be made now.

Also, according to experts such as Gordon Chang and lawmakers such as Sen. Schumer, Iran IS actually being heavily aided in its long range missile development effort by China. Chang says that China has even sold Iran a DF-31 ICBM.

What about America’s defense capabilities? Can’t we protect America with what we already have?

The answer is no, we can’t. Here’s why.

The only aircraft in the US military’s entire fleet capable of surviving in contested airspace are 180 F-22 fighters and 20 B-2 bombers. Because in-theater bases would likely be attacked with missiles by China, North Korea, or Iran, that leaves the US with only 20 aircraft (B-2s) that can strike from over the horizon AND survive in enemy airspace. B-52 and B-1 bombers and F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 aircraft have huge radar signatures and would be extremely easy for enemy air defense systems to shoot down.

The USN has shrunk dramatically over the last 20 years, from almost 600 ships in 1989 and over 300 in the 1990s to just 287 today. The Navy has only 10 carriers, 33% fewer than at the Cold War’s end (15). With so few ships and so many missions and commitments, the Navy can meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their requests for submarines. The DOD now wants to scrap 7 among the Navy’s youngest Ticonderoga class cruisers, which means giving up more firepower than that provided by the UK’s entire surface combatant fleet. The world hasn’t shrunk at all since 1991, and neither have America’s commitments and missions – in fact, the world has become more dangerous and more missions have arisen – yet, the Navy’s ship fleet has shrunk by more than half.

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The USN has only 29 amphibious ships, meaning it cannot transport more than one Marine Brigade into a theater with its supplies.

As a result of underfunding the Navy, even without sequestration or any other further defense cuts, the USN’s surface combatant and submarine fleets will decline precipitously over the next 2 decades.

America’s ASW capability has declined dramatically over the last 2 decades, primarily because the GWOT misled politicians and bureaucrats into thinking that capabilities not needed to fight terrorists were not needed at all. Consequently, ASW capabilities were underfunded, and now, the USN can’t detect Chinese Song class submarines.

America’s entire nuclear deterrent is overdue for a wholesale modernization, yet disarmament advocates, now falsely posing as fiscal conservatives, are clamoring for that effort to be dramatically reduced or even cancelled. This would cause the nuclear deterrent to wear out completely through atrophy even without any new cuts. The fact is that America needs to replace all three legs of its nuclear triad – ICBMs, bombers, and submarines – and doing so would cost very little. A single ICBM costs only $70 mn; a single Next Gen Bomber will cost only $440-$550 mn; and a single new SSBN would cost only $2.4 bn if derived from the Virginia class of attack submarines. The US also needs to modernize its warheads (starting with the B61 tactical warhead providing a nuclear umbrella to America’s allies, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, threatened by Russia’s huge tactical nuclear arsenal and its repeated, frequent threats to use nuclear weapons preemptively against them). The facilities which design, produce, and maintain America’s nuclear warheads also need to be modernized or replaced. The current facilities date back to the Manhattan Project’s days.  Yet, disarmament activists want America to forego any such modernization.

Therefore, any further deep defense cuts – whether by sequestration” or in a “targeted”/”strategic” manner, will gut the US military and pave the way for both China and Russia to become militarily superior to the US, in all aspects, by no later than the early 2020s, and probably earlier than that. And this is not an exaggeration.

If further deep defense cuts are made, 10 years from now, I will be proven right.

Posted in Military issues, World affairs | 2 Comments »

 
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