In the mastering by the master of political spin to feed the beast of circulation, the New York Times editorial board serendipitously posted a distortion of illusion on their version of missile defense, the day prior to the release of the Presidential Budget Request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2019. This opinion piece used unsupported facts and mislaid them for sensationalism, blatant conjectures, false assumptions, and uneducated statements along with obvious misreporting. In these eleven paragraphs, the intent comes across that the United States is inept compared to North Korea, which has been headlined by the New York Times regularly for follow on successes from an abundance of failures in ballistic missile testing, and that current U.S. missile defenses are not a deterrent to North Korea and do not bring stability, thereby the United States should do nothing to defend ourselves but rely solely on diplomacy and sanctions.
Since North Korea flew its first ballistic missile over Japan in 1998, 20 years of sanctions and diplomacy have failed. North Korea does have nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, displayed just last week, with ranges of up to 8,000 miles to threaten, hold hostage, and strike the United States of America. Moreover, the nuclear and ballistic missile weapon systems from North Korea are much more a threat to the international community as a proliferator and a real contested threat to the U.S. allies in region, South Korea and Japan, who rely on their defense and stability from some of these same missile defense systems that the New York Times is doubting as effective and “riddled with flaws.”
Taking a further examination of riddled flaws, the eleven paragraphs are skewed with dangerous illusions of missile defense desperate to distort the American public.
First Paragraph –An unsupported anecdotal statement.
Third Paragraph – Shot doctrine and test record of the three GBI generations deployed today shows 97%, with five successful tests out of the last six tests using the configurations of GBIs deployed today defending the United States. No other nation in the world can defend themselves against an ICBM attack like the United States. No other nation in the world can protect their allies against ballistic missiles like the United States.
Fourth Paragraph – Ignores what was accomplished by this test; successful detection, tracking, engage on remote, functionality of the total system. Also looks over the fact this test was of the SM-3 Block IIA, which is a variant of the Standard Missile-3 family that is still under development in an attempt to smear the currently deployed SM-3 variants, SM-3 IA and SM-3 IB, that have had 13 successful intercepts in 15 tests and 8 successful intercepts in 10 tests respectively. The SM-3 program has more than 30 exo-atmospheric intercepts. Further, this SM-3 Block IIA and the other SM-3 interceptors are not reflective of homeland missile defense, since GMD is the only missile defense system to currently defend against long-range ballistic missile threats targeting the U.S. homeland. And to note one of the two failures of the SM-3 Block IIA was not a failure as the missile was directed to perform another function by a U.S. Sailor in flight. Sensitivities to Japan, who has invested half in the partnership to develop the SM-3 Block IIA and does not allow disclosure by the United States at this point on the failure of the last test.
Fifth Paragraph – Assumes the United States learns nothing and makes zero improvements on its testing. Although the headlines from news outlets around the world say North Korea learns and improves through failed testing. This is the reason why the United States tests and continue research and development with the goal to achieve a system with a high probability of intercept. These are sophisticated systems and the United States does not test to show off a simple perfect solution. The United States tests to put these systems in the most stressing and most realistic scenarios to push the limits of the systems. As of note, the last six GMD tests reflecting the configurations of the operational fleet of GBIs have been successful five of the six times because we have learned from previous failures.
Sixth Paragraph – Ignores the most recent Department of Defense’s Director of Operation Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report which characterizes the system as effective and suitable. “The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element has demonstrated capability to defend the U.S. Homeland from a small number of intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threats with simple countermeasures when the Homeland Defense Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) employs it full sensors/command and control architecture.” – FY2017 DOT&E Annual Report released on January 23, 2018.
Seventh Paragraph – North Korea gets credit for previous failures and follow on successes while the United States is static. North Korea has made great progress in their ballistic missile capabilities by not being afraid to test/fail/test/fail/test/succeed. Unlike North Korea, the United States is not testing to show that the systems work, the United States are testing to stress the systems and advance them.
Eight Paragraph – No credit for any improvements to the U.S. missile defense systems throughout the testing and development.
Ninth Paragraph – Predicting and assuming that the Missile Defense Review, which is not out yet, will be negative towards missile defense. Better results have already been achieved. The system has continuously and steadily improved in capability and reliability since the original test bed deployment.
Tenth Paragraph – Missile defense is always part of the deterrent and is inseparable from all of the other elements that add to deterrence, it does not act alone as the deterrent. The NYT omits that the Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense program and the United States investment in it was a significant contributor to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Eleventh Paragraph – Let’s do nothing to defend our populations from nuclear ballistic missiles from North Korea and rely on tough sanctions from major powers that we have not been able to convince to do in 20 years. Missile defense systems allow an ability to negotiate from strength, not from weakness. Tightening up sanctions against North Korea could also potentially increase Kim Jong-un’s motivation to strike.
Today, limited in capacity, U.S. missile defense systems are deployed and operational defending the 300 million plus of the United States population, 120 million plus of the Japanese population, and 80 million plus of the Republic of Korea population from North Korean ballistic missiles, providing stability and peace.
Without United States investment, testing, development and deployment of missile defense systems – Israel, Japan, South Korea, NATO, the GCC would not have current missile defense systems defending their countries and populations today.
Missile Defense makes the world a safer place.