Last May the State of Hawaii’s Legislators sent a letter asking for better missile defense of Hawaii from North Korea to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, their entire Congressional Delegation and the Pacific Combatant Commander, Admiral Harry Harris (Link to the letter). Since the letter was sent on May 23, 2016, North Korea has conducted 23 ballistic missile tests and one nuclear test. North Korea has escalated the situation in both its capability and intent, through its statements and its testing to strike the United States of America. Reflecting that escalating increased capability in its nuclear capacity and ballistic missile technology, the Congressional Research Service – an office within the U.S. Library of Congress – released on April 26 an ominous assessment of the North Korean threat and was reported on by the Washington Times on May 3 (Link). Further, last week the President of the United States brought 100 Senators into the White House in a rare request to have them briefed on the North Korea nuclear ballistic missile threat to the United States, including Hawaii and the continental United States (Link). In summarizing the threat, the capability and the need for more missile defense for Hawaii, the Commander of the Pacific Command that can best assess North Korea’s threat to Hawaii and the Region over anyone in our Nation, Admiral Harry Harris addressed and testified before Congress last week to state.
“I believe that our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaii today. But it can be overwhelmed, and, you know, if — if Kim Jong-Un or someone else launched ballistic missiles, ICBMs against the United States, and then, you know — somewhere we would have to make the decision on which ones to take out or not. So that’s a difficult decision. I think that we would be better served — my personal opinion is that we would be better served with a defensive Hawaii radar, and interceptors in Hawaii. I know that that’s being discussed and I don’t want to get ahead of those discussions. But I think we ought to study it for sure. and then make that decision as a department, what the best way forward is. But Kim Jong-Un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion.” Admiral Harry Harris – April 26, 2017 – House Armed Services Committee
One representative of the Hawaiian Federal Delegation over the past year has led to bring more missile defense capability on to Hawaii. Two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 were sponsored by U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii which require MDA to begin planning and design for a new BMD radar in Hawaii and brief Congress on MDA’s plan to ensure missile defense capabilities in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific region stay ahead of the North Korean threat (Link).
This week on May 3rd, the same Hawaiian State Legislators led by Representative Ken Ito, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts, and Senator Clarence K. Nishihara, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, are revisiting the safety of Hawaii and concerned about the increased North Korean threat to Hawaii, held a briefing on the issue. MDAA participated in this briefing, as we were in Hawaii this past week. (Link to the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s article.) (Link to the Hawaii News Now article.)
There is a consensus of Hawaii public concern as well as the Pacific Combatant Commander of the United States that more needs to be done to increase the ballistic missile defense of Hawaii from the North Korean ballistic missile threat. The state of Hawaii – its 1.4 million United States citizens, home of the Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Army Pacific, the Pacific Air Forces, and the Pacific Command – as the closet state and major U.S. population to North Korea, makes it a priority target for North Korea. Having additional missile defense capability in Hawaii changes the calculus of North Korea, adds an additional stressor to both China and North Korea in the intent of the United States to not tolerate a nuclear ballistic capable threat from North Korea, and most importantly gives more confidence and safety to those that live on the Hawaiian Islands.
With Hawaii dependent on its economy of seven to nine million tourists annually, why would the federal delegation of Hawaii not do everything it can to make Hawaii safe from an increasing dangerous North Korean threat during a time of escalating high tensions, that will continue to increase before it resolves. Why not better defend Hawaii now and provide Hawaii with an emergency activation of its capabilities already deployed on the islands, the sensors and interceptors that could go operational within 24 to 48 hours? Why not have a temporary solution available now and in place now that will enable time and study for the United States Government to choose the best solution and defensive design for the Hawaiian Islands against future threats. Why not have the best defense possible, that is available for Hawaii now?