Dear Members and Friends,
Last week, the United States Combat Commander for the Pacific, Admiral Timothy Keating (PACOM) and Northern Command General Victor Renuart (NORTHCOM) put forth a request to defend the United States and their areas of responsibility, most notably Hawaii from a North Korean long range ballistic missile, this request comes after the North Korean government threatened to launch a No Dong 2 missile in the direction of Hawaii.
This military request has been approved by President Obama and the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates and efforts are under way to prepare United States missile defense assets and deployments to defend Hawaii against a successful long range ballistic missile test that may take place within the next few weeks from North Korea.
The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James “Hoss” Cartwright testified before the United States Senate last week and when questioned if the President asked Congress of the likelihood of a successful shoot down of a rogue launch, he stated, “90 percent-plus.”
Deployment of US Missile Defenses assets includes the decision to deploy the Sea-Based X-Band Radar from Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii which was not deployed earlier this year when the North Korean’s tested their last long range ballistic missile. The X-Band Radar is the best sensor our nation has at our disposal and is capable of enabling the 21 ground-based interceptors (GBIs) located in Fort Greely, Alaska, and the three interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to successfully defend the state of Hawaii as well as the territory of the United States.
These 24 ground base interceptors are also integrated with other major sensors in California and Alaska, as the complete system is commanded, controlled at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The interceptors offer 24/7 protection and have the ability to look, shoot and look in excess of four times if necessary to ensure redundancy and absolute protection with intercepts reaching far into space.
This is without a doubt the most proven and the best protection that the United States has to defend and protect Hawaii and the United States from long range missiles. These ground based interceptors are proven against long range missiles and have had seven successful intercepts over the past eight years. Each of these interceptors is equipped with missiles equipped with the most capable kill vehicles which include in them, the most sensor capability and the best ability to detect and respond to countermeasures than any other deployed US missile defense system, adding to our military’s confidence of 90 percent plus in the defense system we have in place.
In addition to the ground based interceptors two other layers of US missile defense systems have been deployed in and around Hawaii; the Sea Based Missile Defense System based on US Aegis warships (a short to medium range defense), and the THAAD system (a terminal defense system). An additional THAAD unit will be deployed in Oahu alongside the current THAAD system in Kauai. Both the THAAD and the Aegis have had extremely high success records on intercepts during their testing phases. However, none of these systems have been tested or qualified against long range ballistic missiles and the extreme speeds they present. Thus, these systems still have a capability and can offer additional layers of defense to further ensure safety after the ground base interceptors have engaged.
As North Korea continues to progress its nuclear long range missile capability, it is to be noted that the terminal phase intercept systems such as THAAD, Patriot and the SM2 missiles on Aegis ships become ineffective if the incoming missiles have a nuclear weapon, as interceptions inside the atmosphere will cause fallout and a possible electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) explosion that would cause immense electronic damage and stoppage of modern day life in wide geographic areas.
It is of great concern to our nation that North Korea will have a good probability of proving a successful flight of a three staged missile, which would allow and incentivize them to produce more missiles at this range in an unknown rate. The North Korean’s last test in May came very close to a three stage success that would have been able to deliver payload to the middle of the United States. This reality, along with the future coupling of nuclear weapons on these North Korean missiles, not to mention the situation in Iran, must drive the United States to continue to deploy our ground based interceptors as this system is not just meant for today, its value is for our nation’s future.
We must be grateful and appreciative for decisions to deploy and field missile defenses made by the previous administration of President George W. Bush to allow and enable President Barack Obama’s administration the real capability to defend the Islands of Hawaii and the United States of America today against a rogue nation threat. For many critics and members of Congress including the current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said the Bush administration move “violates common sense by determining to deploy systems before they have been tested and shown to work.”
Today, the citizens of Hawaii, our nation and President Barack Obama are grateful that we indeed have systems in place to include the ground based interceptors, the THAAD, and the Aegis that are defending and protecting them from a North Korean long range ballistic missile.