Admiral William E. Gortney the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command spoke publicly in Washington D.C. at the Atlantic Council on “Protecting the Homeland”.
Listed below are a few important and relevant statements by Admiral Gortney in terms of ballistic and cruise missile threats and homeland missile defense.
On Aerospace Warning
“When I look at the aerospace warning mission, quite frankly, the challenges confronting us is the Russian long-range aviation and the Russian cruise missile threat from submarine, sub surface platforms, and surface platforms. It is a little challenge for us because for 57 years NORAD has been in a defensive crouch where Soviet and Russian long-range aviation would have to come into our battle space and we would have to deal with it. But Russia is still delivering qualitatively a much better military than the quantitative military that the Soviet Union had. They have a different doctrine and you are seeing that qualitatively better military and that doctrine being played out as a whole of government approach in the Ukraine and now in Syria.”
“As it comes to the defense in the homeland piece for it, they have read our play book, and are putting forth, they are fielding cruise missiles that are very very accurate and very long range to the point now where that they can, in long range aviation, never leave Russian airspace, in range with conventional and nuclear warheads. Targets critical infrastructure in Canada, the United States, and the Pacific Northwest and never leave Russian territory in order to do it. A very different mission set for us. It forces us to catch arrows rather than going where we need to go which is to shoot the archers.”
On Homeland Missile Defense
“In the homeland defense mission one of the challenges that we have quite frankly is ballistic missile defense, that is our primary mission. We are postured 24/7 365 days out of the year to deal with anything that might come out of North Korea at the homeland. The challenge we have is that we have fits and stops as we have invested in this weapon system. In 2017 I’ll have 44 missiles in the ground most of whom will be up in Alaska at Fort Greely. The real challenge is that we are on the wrong side of the cost curve in ballistic missile defense mission. We are posturing ourselves to shoot down not very expensive rockets with very expensive rockets. Whether it is in the ballistic missile defense of the homeland or the theatre missile defense, when I was in Bahrain I lived under the Iranian theater missile. The challenge is still that bullet on bullet. Very expensive wrong side of the cost curve. We need technology, we need policy, we need capabilities that keeps them left of launch, never lets them launch, kills them on the launch pad, gets them in the boost phase and not relying on the endgame which is where we are today.”
On North Korea’s Intentions for its Nuclear Arsenal
“I agree with the Intel community that we have assessed that they have the ability, they have the weapons, they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can reach the homeland. As the defender of North America, United States officially ballistic defense I think the American people expect me to take the threat seriously. And that is what we do, its pragmatic, it’s the right approach. The question is when will he use it? Why would he use it? Those are all questions that no one really understands. Cause no one really understands the great leader. I live Longley when the predictable great leaders father, yeah some of you guys got that.
“But we are ready for him and ready 24 hours a day should he be dumb enough shoot something at us. Again he is solidifying his power base his form of non-judicial punishment is pretty interesting shooting people with anti aircraft guns. And I just think he is just not predictable and so we can live with some pretty ugly opponents as long as they are predictable. This guy we just can’t, I just can’t predict. Now fortunately I just have to deal with the receiving end to get the real answer you need to talk to Harry Harris in PACOM, its his problem that ends up here. But I tell you its just a very unpredictable unstable situation over there. People forget that the peninsula its an armistice, so when we look at phases of war, phase zero, phase one, the escalation, the crisis, the decisive, phase 4, the restoration, where are we on the peninsula where’s the armistice in that. Sure isn’t phase zero. They are somewhere between phase one and phase two. And the South Korean government is not putting up with it anymore. And so it’s pretty unstable there in the peninsula.”
On Investment in Ballistic Missile Defense
“I’m pretty comfortable with our shot doctrine its pretty well modeled by NDAA and won’t go into specifics of that cause we are in an open forum I’m pretty confident that we are going to knock down the numbers that are going to be shot at us. The challenge is, and I’m not going to make excuses for how we got to where we are, I couldn’t even paint that story for you very well, the politics, the decisions why they were made, and funding but we are where we are and I am completely in line with Admiral Syring, and what we testify for and what we have in the current NDAA is the proper funding in three areas. The first and they are not in order they all have to be done concurrently. First is that we want to make what we have as best as we can possibly make it. So that modernizing it, its operation and its maintenance and the testing of it we want to make what we have as the best we can possibly make it. We want to invest in better sensors; those are necessary investment no matter where we go. We want better sensors so that we can see better and that gives us makes us allows us to make better decisions with what we have. And then we need the necessary investment in the future to get us on the correct side of the cost curve. To engage this particular threat, and what’s important about that is those technologies not only will play out not only in the missile ballistic defense for the homeland but the theatre ballistic defense for our forces that overseas that live under those threats today as well. And fortunately in the NDAA as it is currently standing all those investments are in there for NDAA and we are grateful for our legislatures to put that in there and we will be ok. The challenges with sequestration for NDAA is that they do not have the big opts and maintenance accounts that the surface can go to, to make the bad business decisions that the law forces us to make. They will have to go to those new starts. To go into the sensors and they are going to go into that getting on the correct side of the cost curve for those particular missions.”
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