No, we cannot defend ourselves. NORAD can track the missile from its heat signature on blast off, through its flight around the world to its point of detonation in some American neighborhood, but there is no button to push to launch missiles to shoot it down at anytime in its flight.
What are all those missile fields that we have all over Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas?
Those are offensive missiles. They serve as a deterrent against anyone launching a massive attack against the United States. They can't shoot down a missile. All they can do is be launched in retalitation for the destruction of an American city. Sound crazy? Its the aptly named MAD doctrine - Mutual Assured Destruction.
The United States is unable to defend itself from any missile attack? That's incredible!
Yes, even as recently as March 6, 1996, Secretary of Defense William Perry told Congress, "We have no capability to shoot down any ballistic missile fired at the United States."
The facts of the matter are sad, yet true. Not one American neighborhood, not one of America's dedicated sons or daughters serving in the military, not even NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain installation, is defended against an attack from a ballistic missile. Yet, according to several polls, most Americans mistakenly believe that they are defended against ballistic missile attacks! Understandably, most of them, especially America's veterans who have personally paid the price for our liberty, get very angry when they learn that this isn't true. Do we need a defense? Ballistic missile threats can come in a variety of forms: from the politically incorrect and unthinkable massive first strike launched from Russia to a single missile with the "poor man's nuke", a biochemical warhead, sent from a terrorist rogue nation.
What about our massive nuclear missile arsenal and continued arms negotiations as a safeguard and deterrent?
Arms control is a great idea, but sadly is only works to lull Americans into a false sense of security. Although the U.S. has zealously fulfilled its obligations under START I and the ABM Treaty, Russia has not fulfilled its obligations. What obsolete weapons Russia has dismantled under START I, have largely been done at the American taxpayer's expense. On September 5, 1995, the Russians tested their TOPOL-M missile that will replace all the aging SS-25s that we are so kindly getting rid of for them. Russia currently enjoys a three to one advantage over the United States in nuclear warheads.
As for the ABM Treaty the Russians have made a mockery of it by building the biggest anti-ballistic missile network in the world. They have over 100 missile batteries ringing Moscow. If we did send a retaliatory strike (only in theory thinking of course) against any Russian launches, they wouldn't suffer much damage due to their large civil defense shelters and missile defense.
But the biggest threat comes from the people you can't negotiate with - the terrorists who seek by hook or by crook to get nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Even one of the biggest proponents of nuclear deterrence, Secretary of Defense, Bill Perry admits, "Nuclear weapons in the hands of the rogue nations or terrorists are especially dangerous because, unlike the nuclear powers during the Cold War, they might not be deterred by the threat of retaliation." Terrorists follow their own mad doctrine.
The Berlin Wall is down, the Cold War is over, where is the threat from Russia?
Leaving aside the turbulent nature of Russian politics, what are the people in control of the Russian nuclear forces saying? Russian First Deputy Navy Commander Igor Kasatonov: "Our priority is the new generation of more accurate strategic nuclear missiles of the kind which can be launched from submarines." And they are building the new class of submarines to house those missiles. Military Space Forces spokesman Igor Safranov was reported in Tass as saying that 90 of the 154 SS-18 silos in Russia will house the newer TOPOL-M missiles. "Russia hopes to replace all its outdated missiles in the coming years."
Pardon me, but who are these new missiles for? Real defense never lies in the goodwill of your present or former enemies, but in the ability of a nation to take accountability for the sovereignty and security of its borders. In the end, only Americans can answer for their defense or lack of defense for this great nation.
But the Russians aren't even pointing their missiles at us.
That is pure smoke and mirrors. Under the "Broad Oceans" agreement, both the United States and Russia aimed their missiles into the oceans. These missiles are aimed by computer. Tap a few figures into the computer and the missiles are aimed somewhere else. 60 Minutes did a story on the Russian missiles and, on nationwide TV, millions of Americans heard Russian General Igor Sergayev say it only took minutes to retarget their missiles. Any American leader who promotes the direction Russian missiles are aimed as a point of peace is sadly misleading the American people into a false sense of security.
Intelligence estimates say the terrorists are 10 to 15 years from being able to hit the United States with a ballistic missile. What is the hurry to defend against them?
Two responses are needed here. First, 10 to 15 years is an estimate. No one in the defense agencies, nor the President himself, can or will guarantee that we have 10 to 15 years to prepare for the certain eventuality. You do not build your defenses and insure your national security by underestimating your enemies.
Second, under a secret agreement between President Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin, Russia is allowed to sell ICBM launchers as "space launch vehicles" to any country. Rogue nations included. Supposedly this would allow Russia to compete in the weather satellite market.
Saddam Hussein knows which way the wind blows. The prospects for Iraqi nuclear proliferation have never looked better. Hussein has said, "Our missiles cannot reach Washington. If they could reach Washington, we would strike if the need arose." With the ability to buy a space launch vehicle, who can guarantee that he won't launch whatever he wants - nuclear, biochemical or conventional warheads? Remember, a warhead need not have a nuclear bomb in it to spread radiation, just radioactive material. And Saddam has that already.
What about the Patriot missiles we used in Desert Storm? Aren't they protecting our troops in Korea?
The threat to American troops serving abroad is a "clear and present danger", not ten years down the road. Thirty five thousand American troops are stationed in South Korea. Right across the border, North Korea has over a million troops poised to attack. North Korea has no illusions about the strength of the South Korean and American ground troops or American air superiority. However, they know that their ballistic missiles are capable of wreaking major havoc.
Can the Patriot missiles deployed in Korea protect our troops if they didn't protect them in Saudi Arabia? Regardless of their effectiveness, we have to few Patriots to defend against a massive missile attack from North Korea. Is an attack from North Korea imminent? What worries many analyst is, "Why haven't they attacked already? What do they have to lose?" North Korea's crops have been wiped out by drought and floods, their people are starving and their only trade outlets are with countries in little better position that their own. Even in a best case scenario, are we depending on North Korean political stability and bountiful crops or a strong defense to protect our troops?
How good is the Patriot system? Their greatest use during Desert Storm was in creating an illusion of security that kept Israel from retaliating against Iraq. When the United States sent Patriots to Israel to help with their national defense, the first thing the Israelis did was replace the guidance software. Next they began their recently completed drive to build a more accurate radar guidance system and a much more effective warhead. Our Patriot missiles still lack this accuracy and effectiveness.
We've spent billions on Star Wars. Was that money wasted or is there something to show for it?
That money wasn't wasted. Recently, it has been politically easier to call for more research that it is to call for deployment. For instance, the more research has been done for the Navy's Upper Tier AEGIS system. This missile has been "dumbed down" to stay within politically expedient boundaries. The missiles have been slowed down and cannot fly as high as necessary to defend against incoming ballistic missiles. For a tiny fraction of what we have already invested in AEGIS, we can outfit 22 guided missile cruisers with the available technology, radar and command and control system to defend our shores.
The space probe Clementine went to the moon and collected many times more data than that collected by the memorable Apollo program and at much less the cost. This space probe used and proved the capability of hardware designed for the Brilliant Pebbles program. Brilliant Pebbles is the space-based sensor system capable of detecting and tracking ballistic missile launches. Early detection greatly increases the AEGIS system's ability to neutralize missile threats.
Bottomline: We have the technical and financial capability to deploy a non-nuclear missile defense There is no reason to hold Americans hostage as our national nuclear missile deterrent.
Isn't a missile defense program cost prohibitive? Shouldn't we use that money for social programs, the elderly and the sick?
We have the foundations of defensive missile programs in place. The effective range of our defensive missiles can be quickly increased by stripping the "dumbed down" attributes from them and providing our ships with early warning detection. By increasing the range of effective defense, America can not only defend here borders, but also those of our NATO allies. We can take a lesson from Humpty Dumpty, if a missile from a rogue nation strikes a major American city, all the social and health care programs in the world can't put the city back together again. When one weighs cost, one must also weigh the more costly alternatives.
You've heard the medical ads that say "early detection is best." The same holds true for ballistic missile defense. For instance, the Brilliant Pebbles program that detects a missile's launch is very cost effective when you reckon that it would take one or two defensive missiles to knock down an ICBM in its boost phase. However, if we wait for the missile to complete most of its flight, it will have released its ten warheads. To knock down the separate warheads with theater missiles, means sending up enough missiles to knock down ten warheads, plus any decoys. All work on boost-phase defenses, unfortunately, was halted in 1993.
Isn't missile defense a Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal issue?
Definitely not. It's an issue with which every American needs to be familiar. We must get beyond the emotional rhetoric, the attempts to wish away the hard reality of life on planet earth and face the facts. We live in an environment of nuclear proliferation. Twenty six countries have nuclear capability. Several more are desperately trying to gain it.
Neither Republicans, nor Democrats have been able to consider the problem without political overlays. Americans need to see to it that necessary programs for deployment are implemented and that expedient and well-managed programs are set in place to make it happen. We've had enough of wasteful programs that buy votes, but divert necessary defense funding! Remember, your taxes are your financial investment in your country's future. Why not track them like any other investments you make?
I thought Star Wars was all ideas and no real technology. What is the most expedient defense, built with off the shelf technology, that I could hope to see implemented?
The programs that will give us the "best bang for the buck" are the sea and space based programs. These will allow the United States to knock down missiles in the most efficient manner - in the boost phase. The missile debris, probably containing radioactive or dangerous biochemical agents, would fall back on the offending nation and not in our backyards. The quickest to deploy is the Navy's Upper Tier system. By retrofitting the guided missile cruisers presently deployed, wide area defenses can be provided.
The second area is the Air Force's Brilliant Pebbles "eye in the sky" satellite system. Both of these defensive systems can be deployed before the end of the decade, once proper attention is placed on them. The space-based laser and kinetic energy defenses are also very real possibilities for our national defense umbrella.
For safety at home and for our troops stationed overseas, the Army's THAAD is a ground-based theater defensive system that is a much needed replacement for the Patriot system. It would give the United States both security and missiles that slip through the Navy's defenses and defend troops overseas from missiles that are fired within the combat theater, such as in Korea.
For a good, quick education, a must reading is Defending America, a report by the Heritage Foundation (202-546-4400), and its recent update. These reports clearly spell out the reality of ballistic missile defense. Though it is factual and put together by some of the best minds in the industry, it is very understandable.
What can I do to help get America properly defended?
We asked ourselves that question and decided that the strength of America's citizens rests in uniting our voices. The future of America's defense looks bleak, unless you make your voice heard.
On July 4, 1995, Gene Vosseler founded Citizens For A Strong America. Gene traveled across the country in 1988, lecturing and debating on strategic defense for Gen. Daniel Graham's High Frontier. He found then, as he has found today, that Americans are unaware of our lack of defense against ballistic missiles. The threat has only grown in the intervening years. With the capability of achieving a missile defense so close at hand and yet the political will to defend weakening, Gene realized that the time to make our defenses a reality is now.
Gene joined forces with Henry Kriegel, former Executive Director of the Committee For A Free Afghanistan, which brought the Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan to the forefront of the news and to the personal attention of President Reagan. Gene and Henry have pulled together a dynamic team, including community activist Lonnie Burkholder, to coordinate the nation-wide network of CFSA chapters started by like-minded individuals. CFSA unites Americans from all walks of life and political persuasions in demanding the secure defense of our nation.
What is Citizens For A Strong America doing?
Citizens For A Strong America is a non-profit organization. We have received our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. To meet our goals of educating as many Americans as possible, Gene will be going out on the lecture and media tour during the summer and early fall. Gene is a dynamic speaker, as responses to his recent radio appearances all over America have born witness. Calls and letters poured in after his May debate on C-SPAN in support of ballistic missile defense.
Local chapters across America have mounted letter writing campaigns to their local newspapers and Representatives to make defense a number one issue. The chapters are supported by the national organization with updated news and training.
If you feel the need to awaken America to the need for a strong defense, join us. Even as you read this, those who wish to see America weakened are trying to expand the coverage of the ABM Treaty to ban theater weapons. Since the Senate is not consulted on these unilateral concessions, your voice is not being heard. Have a say in your future and that of America's children. Will you act to keep Liberty's torch burning bright?