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“Defending U.S. Homeland From Alaska” Virtual Roundtable. November 15, 2022.

“Alaska has been at the core of our national security for the U.S. Homeland all the way back in 1957, when we put forth the first ever DEW line sensor chaining. We put the first Nike Hercules in play to defend this country from a major threat. Here, that has been dismantled as that war, the Cold War, was complete. Now we have moved into a situation where our homeland defense on ballistic missiles was driven by North Korea, and driven by a couple big movements in the late ’90s, in ’95, when President Clinton stated in an intelligence report that the threat would not be on the United States until 2010, but he omitted Alaska and Hawaii.”

“Today, we face a North Korea that, in just three months, since August, has fired a volume of 48 ballistic missiles. Each one of those ballistic missile tests are helping them on their ICBMs, on everything, on their reliability and their future capabilities to be able to strike not only regionally but strategically. We’ve also seen, even today, we’ve seen Russia close to over 4600 ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missiles in the Ukraine War. They’ve struck, today, at Kiev. We’ve seen the same up in Alaska in NORTHCOM, where Russian Bears continues to infringe upon our airspace on a regular basis, to do that. It’s a critical mission right now at a critical time.”

“We are concerned that there are good things coming for the defense of the United States homeland. We have E-7s that are being purchased that are able to do some overhead persistent cruise missile defense capabilities, sensing. We have a couple over horizon radars that are coming forward. We have a brand new interceptor called the NGI, Next Generation Interceptor. These are not coming for a couple years.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022

“As we talk about missile defense, we need to be mindful of ballistic missiles, short range, intermediate, medium range, intercontinental, as you mentioned from North Korea, cruise missile defense, and then we can’t forget the hypersonics.”

“But up in Alaska being unique, it also enables force and power projection. Alaska sits up in a strategic area in our globe because not every aircraft has enough gas to go from the continental United States over to a forward base over in the Pacific region. They stop for gas in Alaska or the tankers launch out of Alaska and do air refueling.”

“The trajectory, as I mentioned, for most threats coming to North America, clearly comes in and along Alaska. We spend a lot of time thinking through the ballistic threat. But from a cruise missile standpoint, aircraft also fly on gas, or ships take the shortest route or submarines. If we were to see an attack in North America, really Alaska provides a very strategic geographic context to be along that route.”

“But if you don’t train and continually bring the hardware, the personnel, the support equipment into an environment like Alaska, you end up with a force that may not be as ready to exercise those defenses.”

“When you put Alaska in context up in the northern tier, in that northwest corner, we like to say the 10:00position, if you’re looking at a clock, and why is that 10:00 so important? It’s just over 50 miles from Russia. A lot of folks forget that. When you think about the trajectory of ballistic missiles coming from North Korea, they fly pretty much right along the axis, the great circle right along Alaska. Fostering our ballistic missile defenses up there, fostering our air defense from a fifth generation capability or other fighters is extremely important.”

  • Major General (Ret) Kevin Huyck, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022 

“So part of the problem, Riki, with the testing in my view is we’ve got a cultural problem that we don’t tolerate failure. We learn more from failures in testing than we do from successes. But for whatever reason, if we have a GBI flight test and it doesn’t intercept, that flight test probably had 250 objectives and we met 249 of them and learned a bunch and got a bunch of data, but because we didn’t hit, all the press is going to go off on the Department of Defense about how they’re wasting all this money, which is crap.”

“But back in, I go back to the early days of the space business, when we were trying to launch our first ISR satellites, 12 of the first 13 attempts failed. They kept going. They kept testing and the 13th one went into orbit and gave us this great capability. We were willing to accept risk back then because we knew we had to. Nowadays, they don’t want to take any risk. So the tests are a bit more scripted than I’d like, but I really feel strongly that we need to pull an old GBI out of the hole and see what happens.” 

  • Brigadier General (Ret) Greg Bowen, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022

“If the adversary gets significant offensive hypersonic capabilities and capacity, it will not matter whether or not we have offensive. You can create a deterrent defeating effect if your adversary has no defense against your system. We’re not going to be able to fall back on mutual assured destruction in hypersonics as our defense here. If the Chinese can aggressively destroy our capability and capacity throughout the Pacific with a prompt strike and we have no defenses, they’re going to begin to understand there is no actual deterrent.”

“Look, the Navy’s not going to, the DOD, Department of Defense and MDA are not going to say that today, but any solution that’s based on shipboard systems is clearly placeable ashore where you’ve already put some of those shore based systems.”

  • Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022

“The Billy Mitchell quote about Alaska being the most strategic place on the earth from a military perspective. That’s kind of on par for the course for anyone from the delegation, but the fact that we have the amount of combat air power there, the fact that Greeley is there is not by chance, and so it is something that, at the end of the day, if we don’t make those investments into the state of Alaska, and don’t get me wrong, Guam’s important, but if you look back at military history in World War II, where was the only place that the US actually fought on its own soil? We have to look back to history to understand those points, and I’m not saying Alaska’s going to get invaded, but it is a vital power projection platform for the United States from the northern hemisphere. It gives you the ability to project into both Russia and China, as well as North Korea, and leaders have to take a very close look. Our adversaries have to take a very close look at the forces and the capabilities that are there.”

“I think on NGI, test, test, test, that was a key thing we worked on. Failure is not failure. Get something out there. If it blows up, if it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Keep testing. It’s how Von Braun did it, and we’ve gotten too far away from it as a country and gotten too risk averse, and I thought General Huyck’s comments a few months ago, several months ago, about, Congress also has to assume some risk as well in terms of funding its programs. You can’t go fast if the money’s not there to do it, and so in that regard to my former colleagues on the hill, pick some things, ride or die with it, and believe in it, and just try to get it out the door.”

  • Mr. Jason Suslavich, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022

“We’ve got to fight with combat ready capability and driven capability, and Alaska’s a critical point, and if we’re going to spend that kind of money in Guam, we definitely need to spend that kind of money in Alaska, defending our homeland every possible way we can until the silver bullets come, and the silver bullets aren’t coming fast enough, we have to get this thing done. So thanks for opening up that discussion, debate and ideas to the audience and to Washington D.C. So appreciate your time and effort. Thank you very much for giving your time. Defense always wins championships.” 

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, “Defending U.S. Homeland from Alaska”, November 15, 2022

Click here to view the round table discussion on “Defending U.S. Homeland From Alaska”, November 15, 2022.

Click here to read the full transcript on “Defending U.S. Homeland From Alaska”, November 15, 2022.


Major General (Ret) Kevin Huyck
Former Director of Operations
U.S. Northern Command

Brigadier General (Ret) Greg Bowen
Former Deputy Director, Global Operations, United States Strategic Command
Former Commander, 100th Missile Defense Brigade and 49th Missile Defense Battalion

Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery
Board of Directors
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Mr. Jason Suslavich
Former Director of National Security Policy
U.S. Senator, Dan Sullivan

Mr. Riki Ellison
Chairman and Founder
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.