“The government has so far made efforts to ensure that defense against ballistic missiles is sufficient. We understand that we can protect the lives and peaceful existence of the people by increasing the ability to intercept missiles.” (Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, Parliamentary Upper House Hearing, October 13th, 2021)
This week China displayed a launch of a “space vehicle”, there are also reports of an unusually advanced Hypersonic Missile test by China earlier this year. Even North Korea is claiming advances with a hypersonic claim and photoshoot. In the face of this, Japan, the largest island nation in the “First Island Chain” , has very deliberately developed a way forward to work with the U.S. to defend itself from the overwhelming missile threat China, the most significant threat to security and democracy in the region. China’s massive regional power projection project, one belt one road , aggressively positions China against the U.S. and its pacific allies. Hyping up North Korea with its Hypersonic photoshoot last week, China continues to enable North Korea as a additional threat to the first island chain nations and U.S. operating bases therein. This Chinese support enables North Korea to conduct continued testing, proliferation and modernizing of their ballistic missile arsenal. Two days prior to the new Japanese Prime Minister’s announcement, Kim Jong Un put forth a mockup Hypersonic Glide Vehicle in Pyongyang. While this technology is highly advanced and is very unlikely to be domestically developed and produced in North Korea, it is likely that North Korea is leveraging missile capability as it frequently does as part of negotiations and strategic positioning. China is taking advantage of North Korea’s positioning to heighten security risks for the U.S. and its allies in the region.
Regardless of whether missiles fly from North Korea or China, hypersonic glide vehicles, sophisticated cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles present the risk of overmatch against the U.S. and its allies in the “First Island Chain”. (Sun Tzu)
Throughout the “First Island Chain”- from the Philippines to Taiwan to Japan, U.S. Forces must work in tandem with host countries in the chain. It is most strategic “high ground” location for both the United States including its Pacific Allies and China to place a siege on or off the Asian Continent. Strategic critical thinking on deploying real integrated deterrent on this first island chain with allies and partners is the critical point to create stability. That would include both offensive long-distance strike/fires capability coupled with missile defense capabilities to be fully and thoroughly integrated and operationally deployed leveraging Joint and combined abilities.
The precursor to this strategy exists in the Republic of Korea with stability and peace against the North Koreans by deployment of missile defense capabilities by the United States in partnership with the host nation of South Korea that can defend their power projection strike air bases on the Korean Peninsula. Today, United States Army Patriot Missile Defense systems possessing the Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile are technically and tactically integrated with the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. The Launch on Remote, Engage on Remote capability provides the defensive fires necessary to defend long distance strike capabilities, command and control nodes, and logistical assets across the Korean Peninsula as deemed critical by the Joint Forces Commander (JFC). Like the United States/South Korea framework, the United States and Japan also possess the Patriot Missile Defense System. What is required is a THAAD capability to provide the endo/expo- atmospheric capability to provide defensive fires against the medium range ballistic missile threat. Integrating these capabilities will set the conditions on Japan as part of Northern Island Chain, setting the conditions for increased long range strike capabilities, offensive precision fires, and an integrated tactical network of defensive fires. Patriot with MSE Launchers and THAAD should be deployed together on the first island chain to set the best conditions for long distance fires and integrated deterrence.
“Reports of a recent Chinese test of a hypersonic ‘Fractional Orbital Bombardment System’ should be a cause for concern for the United States and our allies, but it should be not be viewed in isolation. In addition to this advanced hypersonic missile test, which reportedly circumnavigated the globe and is capable of delivering a nuclear payload, the Chinese Communist Party is dramatically increasing its nuclear warhead stockpile and ICBMs, and is threatening U.S. allies with nuclear first strikes. It’s time for President Biden to step up to the plate and make the necessary investments in U.S. nuclear and conventional capabilities to confront the CCP, and take all necessary steps to break the Chinese civil-military fusion complex.” Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL)
The First Domino has fallen.