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Missile Defense of Guam - no time to waste, no time to lose, Virtual Roundtable, August 17, 2023

“Good afternoon from Alexandria, Virginia. Nice August summer day. Aloha, Hafa Adai. I’m Riki Ellison, I’m the founder and chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. We have been founded for 20 years, always fun with the Oppenheimer movie. I did get a chance to get lectured by Edward Teller and had some time with Edward Teller back in 1980 when they were forming the Strategic Defense Initiative with the High Frontier and the President, Ronald Reagan. So this is our 53rd virtual congressional series. This is on a great topic. It is on the missile defense of Guam and the urgency that has to be behind it. Guam Missile Defense is about deterrence. It is about preventing a world war. It’s not fighting the world war, it is preventing a world war by changing the Chinese calculus and what they can and can’t do in the Pacific. The last World War we were in, both Guam and Hawaii started that World War. Both Guam and Hawaii weren’t prepared, weren’t defended, and both commanders as you know, were Admiral Kimmel and Major General Short were removed from command.”

“That’s why it hasn’t changed the importance of the United States ability to project power, in the Indo-Pacific region has not changed, it’s from those two locations. And Guam is the closest in the second island chain to the threats that we face. So without hesitation, without doubt, that has to be defended across the multilayered system.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023

“This is an activity in defense of our homeland. And I think Admiral Nimitz would probably roll over in his grave given his headquarters is there and his former quarters are there if we didn’t approach it that way as we go forward with Guam. The other thing is that I think it’s the confluence of potential adversary activity that really, given Guam’s location, is so important. Last year, just from a missile perspective, China, Russia and DPRK did the most launches they’ve ever done in history, right? That’s an easy talking point, excuse me, but this year and on similar paces, I’m not as concerned about the numbers. They are what they are.”

“It’s the capabilities that they’re demonstrating and whether it’s longer ranges, faster speeds, more maneuverability, solid rocket motors versus liquid rocket motors. And demonstrating in all domains, just not in the missile domain, but in the maritime domain you saw a couple of weeks ago, we had a combined surface action group from Russia and China flow up through the Bering Sea, and then down further south, back into the mid-Pacific. We’ve had continual activity in the South China Sea and the maritime domain from the PRC and the Second Thomas Shoal with the Philippines and trying to continue to impose their will throughout the AOR on things that they believe they lay claim to. I think you also see though that the activities and the growth of the PRC alone, my words, remain shocking.”

“And I don’t think it shocks everybody else. Inside the military it’s shocking because I don’t know why you create a military means at that magnitude and that level of capability unless you intend to use it. Deterrence matters and that’s why we’re talking about today and what we’re doing. But in my mind, the capabilities, just not defensively, that they continue to get after, but offensively they can range much further than just Taiwan. And you look at shots from DPRK towards midway last year, you’ll look at the capabilities that China continues to get at to try and range Hawaii, well past Guam. I think this is a right discussion about what do we do about Guam. So I don’t see inside the theater over this last 14 months anything other than to endorse the necessity, the urgency, and the speed to get after placing land-based air and missile defense capability on that island.”

  • Major General Brian Gibson, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023

“You got to understand that threat. You have to have a strategy and policy in place that drives your operational military plans. Those are also in place, that drives your requirements. There are clear requirements that have been established here for the defense of Guam. There’s a program of record, but we’ve gotten to the stage that while initial budgets have been requested from the Hill, we’re behind in the execution already and roles and responsibilities haven’t been set out. And so if I was going to offer advice to the people in charge of the Pentagon today, it’d be one, the pace at which we’re moving is not fast enough, and it’s easy. And I was in roles like that to be defensive and say, I’m working fast, I’m doing things fast. But the real pacing item is how are you competing against the threat? And is that reasonable or unreasonable? That’s not the right metric. The right metric is are you moving at the speed of relevance to deal with the security conditions? And I don’t think anybody would agree we are.”

  • Mr. John Rood, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023

“The point I want to make though is, and I know our focus is here on Guam, but I think we’ve got to understand that the second island chain is a system and particularly the Marianas is a system. And we’ve had some successes in doing launch on remote and be able to disaggregate sensors and effectors and all the various things. And that environment in the Marianas is rich for being able to do that. And if we’re able to spread the pattern beyond Guam to the type of things that our opponent is going to go after, that’s winning for us. That’s winning because they have to expend more capability to try to degrade the advantage that we’re creating by defending Guam and the Marianas.”

  • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Jon “Ty” Thomas, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023

“I think the real challenges for us is getting to a cost-effective cruise missile system. To beat a dead horse, IFPC is always two years away from being two years away. I was actually listening to the Ohio Armed Services Committee staffers tell me, “The Army has told us they’re on track.” They made their decision not to push for a NASAMS. And then as soon as that was buttoned up, the Army announced to run a two year delay. Which is pretty common. I don’t want to be brutal here, but IFPC is very, very late to need. And I suspect at some point we’re just going to transition from a kinetic IFPC to a directed energy IFPC. And we’re not two years away from that. We’re even farther from Christmas, no offense. And I just think Navy systems and the Patriot are too expensive right now on their exchange rates of outgoing defensive missiles for incoming offensive missiles. It would be great if we could settle on some NASAMS. We apparently think that’s good enough for Kiev and Lviv and Odessa. It’d be nice if we could push them out there. It’s good enough to defend the White House, Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. I think it’s good enough for Andersen. The Andersen Air Force base in Guam. I would really push for that.”

“And we’re fighting an autocracy who has the first mover advantage. So our defense needs to be good as the Chinese offense. We don’t want them to have a capability for which we don’t have a deterrent response, a deterrent capability. And by that I mean a defensive capability and hypersonics. And I’m really worried that it sounds like we’re spending about 12 to 14% on hypersonic defense. This is in the non-black programs as we are in the hypersonic offense. That’s a real mismatch. And I get the feeling that we just don’t have a best of breed to bet on. And in the absence of that, we’re not. And we’re going to wait until I think I’ve heard a few times, it’s been mentioned here, 2035. I think the Chinese are going to hit hypersonic offensive capability before 2035. I’ve seen the Chinese move to the left in procurement. I’ve seen the United States kind of universally move to the right in procurement in terms of timeline. So I’m really worried about that delta. So we really got to get at that. If there’s one thing I would say get at, and this is not for the defense of Guam team, this is for the Missile Defense Agency team.”

  • Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023

“So I think one of the strongest positions was done by Lieutenant General Dan Karbler last week, the three star, the highest ranking space missile defense commander who said our biggest need, our biggest challenge is capacity. Our infrastructure that makes capacity is our challenge. That’s what we have to shift into for this urgency to work. And we’ve got to play with what we’ve got until the silver bullets come in. But there’s got to be urgency to play with what we’ve got and mass it until that time comes. Because that is what we have to have to slow China down and to change that calculus.”

“So I appreciate you guys coming in. We are going to continue to fight the urgency of hitting this thing with what we’ve got instead of delaying this thing out 15 years to 20 years. We got to go get it. So thank you ladies and gentlemen, thanks for listening and Hafa Adai, aloha and good afternoon. Thanks.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Missile Defense of Guam – no time to waste, no time to lose, August 17, 2023


Major General Brian Gibson
Commanding General, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Mr. John Rood
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy 
Department of Defense

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Jon “Ty” Thomas
Former Deputy Commander, Pacific Air Forces 
U.S. Air Force

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark Montgomery 
Former Director of Operations
U.S. Pacific Command

Mr. Riki Ellison
Chairman and Founder
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Click here to watch the roundtable recording

Click here to read the transcript

Click here to read the Washington Times article from the event

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