North Korean State media announced Kim Jong-un’s order to mass produce solid-fuel rocket engines and warhead re-entry vehicles for their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) (Link). This North Korean strategic messaging is a direct response to the United States, during a heightened time of U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises (Link), to specifically overmatch the United States limited number of 44 U.S. Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) to defend the United States – with Hawaii being the most vulnerable – and to overmatch and overwhelm the limited number of U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors deployed in Guam today.
The United States is restricted by current policy that does not enable the expansion of the 44 GBIs, or the deployment of GBIs beyond the two sites in Alaska and California. The United States has invested in discrimination sensors, called the Long-Range Discriminating Radar (LRDR) and the Medium-Range Discriminating Radar (MRDR), and an advanced Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) for the GBI, due to be deployed starting in the 2021-time frame, in order to increase the reliability of the system and thus reduce the current shot doctrine, with the end result of increasing the number of ballistic missiles 44 GBIs can defend against. The United States has also restricted its use of both developing and operations of deployed systems of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), (SM-6), and THAAD to provide an underlay capability to intercept ICBMs, through testing and further development of inherent capabilities in these systems.
The ill-advised North Korean statement and timing – as a reflective response – will have consequences, as it is clearly not in the best interests of China or Russia to have the United States expand its missile defense capabilities and deploy an underlay regional and strategic mobile capability to defeat ICBMs. The more severe consequence is the leadership of the United States President and the Department of Defense, that clearly articulated a change of military policy on Monday night (Link) along with billions of investment in missile defense, to enable winning and complete dominance by taking away prohibitive and restrictive policies and authorizations of previous administrations.
One of the most significant outcomes of both the increase in the missile defense budget and winning the “overmatch,” will be a sizable U.S. investment, development, and deployment of breakthrough technology – to forever change the “overmatch” being applied by North Korea strategically, and China and Russia regionally – will be boost phase missile defense with directed energy weapons on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. Once developed, a speed of light weapon that can shoot infinite shots, at the fraction of the cost of a gallon of diesel, to destroy everything a missile – of any range and type (ballistic, hypersonic, or cruise) – is carrying before it disperses.
We as a nation must be adherent to the reality of the North Korean nuclear ICBM capability and its increasing capacity in mass production to overwhelm and overmatch our capability. We must continue to test rigorously and abundantly our current and future missile defense capabilities to increase the reliability of our systems today and to develop and deploy rapidly our new systems.
We must have more capability and capacity to enable our Department of Defense to win and win smartly.
The consequences of North Korean actions is force functioning the United States to compete and win.