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Update on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge – July 14

July 14, 2014

Hamas has fired 100 rockets at Israel today. Since the start of the Operation Protective Edge, more than 1,000 rockets have been fired.

The IDF has targeted over 1,474 terror targets.

Hamas has attacked cities across Israel and increased their range to cities as far north as Zichron Yaakov, Binyamina, Hadera, and Haifa.

Take a look at this interesting graphic that shows the threat Israel is facing:



ISIS and the End of the Old, Old Order

June 26, 2014

By Jonathan Ruhe, Associate Director – JINSA Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy

Source: UK National Archives

Source: UK National Archives

Thumb through any of the recent articles on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and almost inevitably you’ll read something describing “the end of Sykes-Picot” and “the new Middle East order” interchangeably. To illustrate this point, detailed graphics will show you how the growth of ISIS is “redrawing the regional map” by sweeping over the lines arbitrarily penciled in nearly a century ago.

The word “order” is thrown around quite casually in most of these pieces. Though the academic debates are quite contentious, it is probably simplest to understand it as the ways in which states and other actors interact with one another regionally or globally. This is a function of many things, including the degree of economic interdependence and development between states, the ideologies their government adhere to, and the balance of military power between them. These various elements determine the stability of a regional order. For example, the interwar European order was highly unstable, in large part because it was split between states with sharply competing ideologies and economies, and because those least satisfied with the existing order were the most determined and able to amass the military might to overthrow it. Compare this to postwar stability in Western Europe, as erstwhile enemies became an economically-interdependent community of liberal democracies protected from each other and from the Soviet bloc by unchallengeable U.S. military power. These shifts were reflected in a new map of Europe after 1945, but explaining their causes goes far deeper than the lines drawn at Versailles, Saint-Germain and Trianon.

Similarly, change and instability in the Middle East is primarily about orders, not borders. At first glance, the current Middle East map largely resembles the contours sculpted by the Sykes-Picot Treaty and ensuing events around the end of World War I. The former French sphere of influence remains in the shape of Lebanon and Syria, and the British in the form of Iraq and Jordan. Moreover, like a century ago, the future status of Palestine remains unresolved.

However, the actual Sykes-Picot order was replaced decades ago. Anglo-French military and economic supremacy – which that treaty was designed to ensure, and which was also evident in British influence in the Persian Gulf – were discredited by World War II and destroyed by the Suez Crisis in 1956. This was replaced by a Cold War order centered on new actors, new ideologies and new conflicts. It loosely grouped U.S.-aligned conservative, oil-producing monarchies (and Israel, in parallel) against Soviet-backed pan-Arab socialist republics (including at times the PLO). Most major conflicts erupted along this fault line, rather than over the Sykes-Picot borders, including: the 1958 crises in Iraq and Lebanon, civil wars in North (1962-70) and South Yemen (1963-7), Israel’s wars with Egypt (1967-70, 1973) and Syria (1967, 1973, 1982), and Black September in Jordan (1970-1). The bloodiest conflict – the Iran-Iraq War (1980-8) – did not fit this pattern, yet neither was its outbreak or perpetuation symptomatic of the lines drawn by Sykes-Picot. (One casus belli – demarcating the Shatt al-Arab waterway – was a result of agreements signed both long before, and long after, Sykes-Picot.)

The precipitous collapse of the Soviet Union and rapid demolition of Iraq’s offensive military capabilities (at the time of the Gulf War, one of the largest and most battle-tested forces in the world) ushered in the current Middle East order. It is characterized first and foremost by U.S. military predominance. The United States has not hesitated to use force when it so chooses, whether for containment (Iraq in the 1990s), regime change (Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s), some gray area in between (Libya in 2011) or counterterrorism (Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen). The mere presence of such forces in the Persian Gulf helps also maintain the free flow of energy. Moreover, Washington has sought to translate this power into diplomatic and economic spheres – to resolve many of the lingering divisions from previous orders – be it brokering peace or trying to promote reform.

The shift between these three orders cannot be understood by looking at maps. (The best counterexample is the unification of Yemen in 1990, as South Yemen had little choice but to be absorbed by the anti-Soviet North once the former’s Soviet lifeline expired.) Three successive generations of cartographers could teach their children the same basic map of the Middle East – a luxury utterly foreign to three contemporaneous generations of historians. The ongoing cantonization of Syria and its spillover to Iraq may finally give the youngest cartographer gainful employment, but the historians have been busy for several years already.

This is because ISIS is not the one credibly threatening to change the Middle East order. The shift to a new Middle East, whatever it may be, would not be in the hands of them, Iran, or anyone else alone. Almost single-handedly, the United States created and maintained the existing order, and it remains the only country capable of sustaining it – or letting it unravel. Therefore, “the new Middle East order” is not an issue of whether the Syria-Iraq border dissolves. It is an issue of whether the United States maintains the core of its decades-old mission in the region: the mutually-reinforcing assets of a credible military presence, a commitment to the security of its allies and the promotion of a stable transition to genuine democratic reform. To call the chaos in Iraq and Syria “the end of Sykes-Picot” misses the mark. Their pencil lines may at last be erased, but what’s currently at stake has very little to do with the order they established. It has everything to do with the one we established.

Developments in Iraq

June 23, 2014
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By Benjamin Runkle, JINSA Director of Programs

The recent developments in Iraq – in which a coalition of Sunni militants led by the Salafist terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized several key Iraqi cities, including its second largest metropolis, Mosul – have been difficult for Americans to watch. In particular, for veterans and families of those servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and to give Iraqis a chance at a better life, it is depressing to see their sacrifices squandered.

As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and somebody who has worked on Iraq policy issues in DOD, the NSC, in Congress, and at the RAND Corporation, I understand this frustration. But despite the temptation to issue recriminations and seek partisan advantage, for now it is far more important to fix the problem than to fix the blame. For contrary to the Obama administration’s favorite dismissal of calls for intervention in Syria and elsewhere, the current crisis in Iraq is not merely “somebody else’s civil war.” ISIS’s gains in Iraq represent a significant threat to America’s national security.

Even before the fall of Mosul, Tikrit, and Bayji, ISIS posed a clear and present danger to the United States. More than 11,000 foreign fighters are believed to have flocked to Syria to make jihad, including some 3,000 westerners, approximately 100 of which are Americans. This dwarfs the 3,000-4,000 “Afghan Arabs” that joined the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and later formed the backbone of al-Qa’ida. Additionally, from Aleppo in western Syria to Fallujah in central Iraq, ISIS controlled territory stretching more than 400 miles, the largest swath of land ever held by a terrorist organization. In January, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress that US intelligence had picked up indications of “training complexes” within Syria “to train people to go back to their countries and conduct terrorist acts.” Consequently, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and senior FBI officials have all stated that terrorism emanating from Syria is their greatest concern. ISIS itself evolved from the remnants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) network, which conducted attacks in Jordan (including the 2002 assassination of an American diplomat). In early May, Saudi Arabia arrested 65 suspected ISIS operatives believed to be plotting an attack in the kingdom, and on the 24th, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national who had fought with ISIS in Syria, shot and killed four people at Brussels’ Jewish Museum.

This threat has only been compounded by ISIS’s recent gains in Iraq. As the Iraqi Security Forces abandoned Mosul, a city of 1.8 million, they left behind logistics depots filled with U.S.-made Humvees, tanks, helicopters, rockets, and countless small arms which are now all in the hands of an organization deemed too violent for al-Qa’ida. Worse, perhaps, ISI looted as much as half a billion dollars from the Mosul Central Bank, making it the wealthiest terrorist franchise ever. Combined with the increased luster of a successful military campaign, this cash in hand will enable ISIS will attract even more foreign fighters to its banner and training camps. The increase in territory controlled by ISIS also gives it greater strategic depth, and thus greater freedom of action.

Since the 2001 9/11 attacks, both the Bush and Obama administrations have recognized the prevention of terrorist sanctuaries as a vital U.S. national interest. If the policymakers who allowed al-Qa’ida to establish a safe haven in Afghanistan before that attack can be (partially) excused due to a lack of imagination regarding the potential consequences, no such excuse exists today. Yet despite the temptation to immediately launch air and/or drone strikes against ISIS now that it occupies a definite territory, this would be a rash and pointless exercise. First, because the U.S. withdrew almost all its intelligence collection assets from Iraq in 2011, we do not have a good sense of whom to target. Moreover, although we can likely kill a fair number of ISIS leaders in the near-term, the lesson of our drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen show that without being able to hold ground or address the underlying causes behind the local population’s support for the terrorists, we will likely be starting an endless cycle that may buy time but will never be strategically decisive.

Instead, the United States and our allies must commit to a sustained campaign to defeat ISIS. Although President Obama’s speech at West Point last month was generally weak tea with regards to grand strategy, his proposed counter-terror strategy centered on building partnership capacity and fighting al-Qa’ida through local proxies is a viable course of action. Yet simply throwing money at the problem is insufficient. Although seed money is important, whatever proxy forces we support must be continually maintained like a garden, with trainers, advisers, and intelligence and logistics support provided in lieu of watering and weeding. This is precisely what the Administration failed to do in Iraq post-2011, and goes a long way toward explaining why the ISF performed so abysmally in the Battle of Mosul despite outnumbering the ISIS and allied Sunni militants by roughly 15-to-1. Such a campaign will inevitably require the reintroduction of some ground forces, not in a combat role, but mainly Special Forces conducting their traditional foreign internal defense mission and support personnel necessary for targeting and intelligence support. We need to do this not to redeem the sunk costs we have paid in Iraq in terms of lives and treasure, but to prevent the next 9/11. Consequently, we also need to begin to seriously arm moderate Sunni forces in Syria to pressure the ISIS on two fronts, lest it simply recede like water wherever it is pressured.

Although such a sustained military effort is necessary to defeat ISIS, it will not be sufficient. ISIS did not roll through the Sunni Triangle alone, but rather in coordination with various Ba’athist organizations and Sunni tribal militias. The latter of these forces supported us during the Anbar Awakening against AQI in 2006-2007, but were driven back to partnership with the jihadists out of desperation created by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s increasingly authoritarian and sectarian rule. Almost immediately once U.S. forces were withdrawn from Iraq in December 2011, Maliki began arresting Sunni political rivals, purging the ISF of professional Sunni and Kurdish officers in favor of less competent/more pliant Shi’a replacements, and using the ISF to violently suppress legitimate political protests in the Sunni Triangle. Consequently, in order for U.S. military support to have any lasting impact – as well as not be seen as merely defending Maliki’s sectarianism – it must be paired with significant, immediate political reforms by the Maliki government.

It is true that since 2011 the United States has possessed little leverage over Maliki as his governance descended into autocracy. But deploying an initial tranche of trainers/advisers would provide us with more leverage, and if paired with significant outreach to assure our formal tribal allies (presumably we still have their cell phone numbers) that this is strictly an anti-ISIS measure whose continuance will be predicated on last political reform, then this intervention can be done without appearing to take Maliki’s side against Iraq’s Sunnis. If Maliki remains intransigent, a bigger decision will have to made: whether to accept that our counter-ISIS campaign is only a stopgap measure necessary to buy time for more positive developments in Baghdad, Syria, or beyond; or to withdraw all support for the ISF and instead base our counter-terror efforts out of a region that would gladly host U.S. forces . . . Kurdistan. This latter outcome would open a separate Pandora’s Box of challenges in terms of regional diplomacy, but the reality is that if Maliki remains in power and refuses one last effort at national reconciliation, there will be no Iraq to save. In that case, Kurdish independence would be a de facto reality anyways. As steadfast as the Kurds have been in support of U.S. interests in the region, this option should only be considered as a last resort – and may be sufficient to either scare Maliki straight or to provoke his political coalition into dumping him.

One option the Obama administration must avoid despite its attraction to a certain set of foreign policy pundits, self-proclaimed realists, and professional contrarians, is to ally ourselves with Iran to resolve the issue, a possibility Secretary of State John Kerry raised and quickly backed away from. This partnership would be disastrously self-defeating for several reasons. First, given that a proximate cause of Sunni acquiescence to ISIS’s campaign stems from fear of Persian dominance of Baghdad, openly working with Iran to resolve the current crisis would merely pour gasoline on this sectarian fire. As General David Petraeus recently noted, “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias,” which Sunnis understandably perceive as being tools of Tehran. Second, America’s regional allies are already disturbed by U.S. outreach and concessions to Iran on nuclear-related issues. This concern will only be exacerbated by any implicit partnership with Iran in Iraq. Legitimizing Iranian intervention in Iraq will only further drive both domestic Iraqi and regional Sunni actors away from the moderation upon which hopes for regional stability depend.

Finally, suggestions that we can come to a modus vivendi with Iran in Iraq ignore that Tehran has significantly different interests at stake there. Simply put, Iran can live with a Shi’a-dominated government in Baghdad that only holds sway over a rump Iraq, which is essentially what it has accepted in Syria. The Quds Force battalions that were rushed into Iraq as ISIS swept through the Sunni Triangle were not deployed to Baghdad to blunt a Sunni offensive there, but rather to the Shi’a holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Making these cities – and their holy sites and religious seminaries – dependent upon Iranian protection allows them to influence/intimidate the Najaf Marja, whose quietist theology of non-interference in politics challenges the ideology underpinning the ayatollahs’ theocratic rule in Iran. As always, the ayatollah’s greatest concern in Iraq is not maintaining its territorial integrity or defeating ISIS – which has been purposely left untouched by the Assad regime in Syria in order to justify their barbaric suppression of that country’s rebellion as a fight against extremism – but rather to keep Najaf’s religious institutions from threatening their threadbare legitimacy with the Iranian people.

Given that a favorite criticism by those who believe the Bush administration’s liberation of Iraq itself was the “original sin” that set in motion the forces that led to the present crisis has been that it handed Iraq to Iran, it is beyond ironic that many of these same voices now suggest working with Iranian forces in Iraq should be U.S. policy. But as they say, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds . . .

In the end, there may be no “good” or easy options for the United States in Iraq. But as the course of Syria’s civil war demonstrates, international crises seldom self-correct to our benefit in the face of U.S. inaction. American indecision is far more likely to produce an even greater deterioration in the quality of our policy options.

Historians will sort through the causes of Iraq’s collapse and ISIS’s rise to power and apportion blame for this fiasco in due time. The threat ISIS’ gains in Iraq to U.S. national security are sufficient that it is imperative the Obama administration chooses a path now, rather than to cede initiative to an enemy that seeks to put America and its allies in its crosshairs.

Israel’s Defense Budget Dilemma Looks Familiar

June 3, 2014

By Benjamin Runkle, JINSA Director of Programs

I have begun to retype my notes from the recently completed Generals and Admirals Trip to Israel in preparation for drafting the trip report.

This year’s delegation participated in more than thirty briefings with senior Israeli political leaders and military commanders, to include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff LTG Benny Gantz, the Chiefs of Staff of the Israeli Air Force and Navy, and the Commanders of Israel’s four regional commands. One recurring theme that came up in several of the meetings was one familiar to those of us who have been closely following debates about the U.S. defense budget over the past three years. Specifically, as Israel faces a greater diversity of operational threats and increasing regional instability, it also faces significant cuts to the IDF budget.

cutsAn op-ed by Amos Harel that appeared in Ha’aretz while the delegation was in Israel — and was passed from general officer to general officer on the bus while en route to Central Command headquarters — conveys Israel’s dilemma. Without commenting on Harel’s political analysis (i.e. his depiction of the IDF as having cried wolf in the past) I have to say that the parallels between the IDF’s budget crisis and that of the U.S. military (especially our Army) is striking. Just as LTG Gantz had to halt training exercises – the only flexible component in the IDF budget – in order to “close the budget gap,” budgetary pressures have forced the U.S. Army to raid its “readiness” accounts in order to produce immediate savings. In 2013 the Army cancelled six rotations at its premier training centers and limited 80 percent of its forces to basic home-base training at only the squad level or below. Whereas LTG Gantz complained about the government’s failure to approve the IDF’s multi-year plans, a common criticism of the 2011 Budget Control Act (a.k.a. “sequestration”) is that by mandating across-the-board cuts, the ensuing uncertainty prevents the Services from conducting effective long-range planning on issues such as weapons procurement and force structures.

Moreover, since the JINSA delegation’s return to the States, Defense News reports that Israel’s Defense Ministry has suspended planned procurement contracts, slowed work on major R&D projects, and warned of a wave of defense industry layoffs to come if the budget shortfalls persist. Interestingly, Israeli Treasury officials credit the Ministry of Defense (MoD) with improving efficiency “in its effort to squeeze more spending power from the non-fixed portion of its budget,” a goal that still generally eludes our Defense Department. However, Treasury still insists “that MoD could and should reform procedures governing the amount of money it spends on pensions and rehabilitation,” a statement that echoes the question of U.S. military personnel costs that was at the center of debate regarding last winter’s Ryan-Murray budget proposal.

These budgetary crises emerge from related corners of each country’s political landscape. In Israel, the success of deterrence and defensive measures since 2006, and the perception of Israel as an oasis of calm amidst the Middle East’s growing turmoil made possible the mass protests in 2011 that called for the prioritization of domestic over defense spending. In the United States, a decade of war has left the public weary of international entanglements and eager to conduct what President Obama termed “nation-building at home.” Indeed, there is no easy answer to the hard choices posed by the Scylla and Charybdis of increased threats to national security in the near-term and the long-term threat posed by America’s ballooning national debt.

I don’t know whether it is reassuring or disconcerting that our ally Israel faces a similar dilemma.

Regenerating Leverage in Nuclear Talks with Iran

May 21, 2014

By Jonathan Ruhe, JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Policy Analyst

As talks resumed last week in Vienna, significant differences remained between the United States and Iran on a comprehensive settlement over the latter’s nuclear program. This is unsurprising. First, there is minimal mutual interest on this issue. Tehran’s leaders have staked much of the regime’s credibility on their country’s self-proclaimed right to such a program. This is highly problematic for the United States, since ensuring Iran’s “right” could allow Tehran to retain the capability to develop enough fissile material for a nuclear device.

Second, productive diplomacy is severely hamstrung by the long history of distrust between the two sides. U.S. negotiators will want ironclad assurances Iran cannot cheat on a final deal, given its previous track record of deception over its nuclear activities. Meanwhile, Tehran has a tendency to view such intrusions as Trojan horses for subverting the Islamic Republic, especially on an issue as critical as the nuclear program. This calculus makes Iran unwilling to compromise if it has little to fear from the failure of negotiations.

Third, there is a worrisome imbalance of leverage at the negotiating table. Iran has been building economic and military leverage against the United States. This includes a refusal to discuss its ballistic missile programs as part of a final deal, despite their potential as delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads, and despite being subject to U.N. Security Council resolutions which it agreed to address in a comprehensive settlement.

Simultaneously the United States is doing nothing to address Iran’s rebounding crude oil exports. The interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program (the Joint Plan of Action [JPA], implemented January 20) paused relevant sanctions, but Iran’s exports during the interim quickly exceeded the agreed limit of 1 million barrel per day (mm b/d; chart reproduced from report by JINSA’s Gemunder Center Iran Task Force):


Because oil export revenues are the lifeblood of the Iranian regime and its nuclear program, sanctions targeting these revenues helped push Tehran to the negotiating table in the run-up to the JPA. However, beyond the suspension of such measures, the Obama Administration has further tied the hands of U.S. negotiators by publicly refusing to countenance further sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, even though they would only enter into force if a final deal falls through. By reducing Iran’s fear of the failure of diplomacy, this inaction only feeds its unwillingness to compromise.

There are ways to begin rebuilding U.S. leverage heading into the final stretch of negotiations. (The JPA interim period ends July 20, though its six-month timeframe is renewable by mutual consent.) While political momentum for new sanctions stalled earlier this year, American policymakers could reinvigorate the public discussion of available options. The existence of such a debate – even if the Obama Administration does not join it – could improve the prospects for an acceptable final deal, by highlighting how failure to achieve one would be more costly for Tehran than for Washington.

Specifically, the United States should explain how the world can live without Iranian oil more readily than Iran can live without an acceptable final deal. A credible argument for the feasibility of this maximal form of non-military pressure could help convince Iranian negotiators to agree to a deal which their American counterparts could sell at home, even if doing so makes it more difficult to sell back in Tehran.

There is recent precedent for driving significant Iranian exports from the global oil market, as the above chart illustrates. Oil sanctions removed roughly 1.5 mm b/d of Iranian exports from the market between their announcement in early 2012 and the JPA being agreed in November 2013. This was offset by decreasing U.S. net oil imports (driven by rising North American output) and production growth from Gulf Arab states (many of whom are even more troubled than the United States by the prospect of a nuclear-capable Iran). Over this period, the 11 largest suppliers to the United States simply shifted most of their erstwhile U.S. exports to Iran’s customers.

The United States could make a strong case for driving the remainder of Iranian exports from the market if it is not satisfied with a potential final deal by July 20. Thanks to forecasted further decreases in U.S. net imports and expanding Gulf capacity, the Department of Energy (DOE) projects global spare production capacity will double by the end of 2015. This is crucial, as spare production capacity influences expectations of potential future disruptions, and thus the risk premium added to the price of oil. Generally speaking, spare capacity and risk premium are inversely proportional, as evidenced in the red (price) and blue (spare capacity) lines in the chart below.


Using DOE forecasts as a baseline, removing all Iranian oil exports by July 20, 2015 (green line in chart), would merely slow the growth in projected global spare production capacity through the end of next year. All else being equal, this could be expected to have a negligible net effect on oil prices. By showing how the world can live without one thing Iran’s regime cannot, articulating an argument along these lines could help the United States regenerate crucial leverage for reaching an acceptable final deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

JINSA Again Honors America’s Military Heroes

December 12, 2012

by Roger Aronoff, Contributing Editor

This week [Dec.3] I attended an annual event put on by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which honored six young military heroes. The six represented each of the five branches of the U.S. military and the U.S. Special Operations Command. They were honored “for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the War on Terrorism,” and each received a Grateful Nation Award from JINSA. JINSA is a Washington-based think tank that focuses on issues of the U.S. and Israel in national security.


The 2012 Grateful Nation Award Recipients

The honoree of the evening was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was awarded the 30th Annual Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award. Graham serves on the Senate Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget and Judiciary Committees. He has long been a strong advocate for the men and women of the armed services. Sen. Graham served in the Air Force for six and a half years before he first won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1994. He served as a Staff Judge Advocate during the first Gulf War, and continues to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Graham is a colonel in the Reserves, and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School. Graham, who was introduced by a previous recipient (1997) of the Scoop Jackson Award, outgoing Senator Joseph Lieberman, reminded the audience that Congress continues to have Israel’s back. You can view all of the past recipients and the history of the award here.

To continue reading this article, click HERE.

The Future of U.S. Army Missile Defense – Threats, Geopolitics, and Technology

November 16, 2012

Peter Huessy, the founder and president of the defense consulting firm GeoStrategic Analysis and a Visiting Fellow at JINSA, addressed the JINSA co-sponsored symposium on “New Technologies for the U.S. Army: Future Prospects and Policy Implications,” October 18, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The following are his edited remarks.

I want to thank JINSA and the Reserve Officers Association for their sponsorship of this event. What I’m going to talk to you about is the future of Army missile defense technology. And first I want to talk to you a little bit about the threat. I’m going to talk about these five points that I believe are the key threats, some of which the Army has laid out in testimony on Capitol Hill.

One, we have to preserve key capabilities.

Two, we have to understand the missile threats in relation to geography.

Three, we have to understand the nature of the threat we face. It is what Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former head of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, called a “poisonous coalition,” and that coalition consists of the terror affiliates and the terror states, and their supporters, many of which are now possessing and using missiles of all ranges.

Four, I will discuss the Army view of things; the Army and missile defense policy and role; and the threat environment; and what are the concerns of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.

Five, I will speak about two Army technologies and future capabilities, including JLENS, and the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, that you might find of interest.

Let me start with the Congressional committees. This is a very important point, and it was made back in 1986 as well, and that was, the committee report said, do the utmost to preserve key capabilities in times of fiscal austerity.

One of the things preserved from the 1980s and 1990s drawdowns was the technology related to the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). As you know, in the 1991 Gulf War JDAMS and smart bombs made up only a small percent of all munitions. By the time of the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, I believe close to 90 percent of everything we used were guided munitions similar to JDAM. And that’s the point here.

There’s a new book out, The Curse of Geography, by Robert Kaplan. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed back on the 14th of October of this year, Kaplan wrote, “Countries that make up the heartland and rim lands,” which is basically Central Asia, writ large, “are locked in a deathly geographical embrace of overlapping missile ranges.” I think it’s an extraordinarily interesting way of talking about what we are facing in the world.

And I urge you to get his book and read it because, as Kaplan was quoted back in 2006 in a Wall Street Journal article by Bret Stephens, “The United States is behind the power curve when it comes to post-launch.” It’s an interesting way of talking about missile launches. And, at that time, as you know, we were just in the process of deploying what are now over 1,000 ballistic missile interceptors of all kinds.

[The enemy is] Pakistani and Arab intelligence agencies; impoverished young students bused to their death as volunteer fighters from Pakistani religious schools; exiled Central Asian Islamic radicals trying to establish bases in Afghanistan for their revolutionary movements; and wealthy sheikhs and preachers who jetted in from the Persian Gulf with money, supplies, and inspiration.

– Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud

When it comes to the nature of the threat, I previously mentioned Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was a Northern Alliance leader murdered two days before 9/11. Massoud had a good read on what we would be facing in Afghanistan. His description of the enemy I cite here comes from the book, Ghost Wars, by Steven Coll:

A poisonous coalition: Pakistani and Arab intelligence agencies; impoverished young students bused to their death as volunteer fighters from Pakistani religious schools; exiled Central Asian Islamic radicals trying to establish bases in Afghanistan for their revolutionary movements; and wealthy sheikhs and preachers who jetted in from the Persian Gulf with money, supplies, and inspiration.

I think it is the single most important statement ever made in terms of for us understanding terrorism.

We’re talking about a coalition of not only states and intelligence services and militaries, but as you can see here, “impoverished young students bused to their deaths as volunteer fighters from Pakistani religious schools; exiled Central Asian Islamic radicals.”

If you remember, Benghazi was the source of more fighters in Iraq, coming through the Damascus airport, and then through the ratlines into Iraq to kill Americans and fellow Iraqi Muslims, than any other place on the globe. And yet, we often assumed those who were fighting in Iraq were in-country insurgents. We were told they were all locally grown because they didn’t like the presence of the “crusaders,” meaning the United States.

They were coming from many places, which tells you this was also organized outside Iraq. They were coming from Iran and Libya, primarily, and they were coming through Syria. As the Iraqi government said over and over again – they would write the Syrian government and request that the ratlines be shut down. And Syria would ignore them. And the U.S. government would respond that the issue is between the two governments.

The “surge” in Iraq was the response to the fact these ratlines were sending thousands and thousands of jihadis into Iraq. That is what we’re facing even now. The Arab Spring turned into an opportunity for the forces of freedom to gain power or the forces of totalitarianism. I think the latter are winning.

I also want to point out that there are other countries that are not Islamic that are part of this coalition. In 2009, Robert Morgenthau, then the attorney for the City of New York, indicted two Chinese companies for helping Iran with ballistic missile and nuclear technology transfers.

And this is what’s key, Morgenthau did not say nuclear energy. The indictment, according to Morgenthau, lists “nuclear weapons technology.” Most of the headlines in much of the media report that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon. Then why were these two Chinese companies indicted for supplying the very technology that you use to build a nuclear bomb?

Also in 2009, Larry Kudlow interviewed Morgenthau. In that fascinating interview it was discussed how Venezuela, Iran, and China, are working together. And I urge you to go and look up the Wall Street Journal op-ed.

For a class that I taught at the National Intelligence University as a guest lecturer on nuclear terrorism, I wrote the following:

Once we recognize that terrorism is a tool of state-craft, used by governments, intelligence services, militaries and other state entities, we can see al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Abu Sayef, FARC, and ELN for who they are: tools of our mortal enemies rather than as reform seeking jihadis or guerrillas looking to redress historical grievances. And terrorism, just like in the Cold War, is the most convenient weapon for governments precisely because it breaks the string of attribution that would otherwise make retaliation and deterrence possible.

Terrorism is the most convenient weapon for governments precisely because it breaks the string of attribution that would otherwise make retaliation and deterrence possible.

Why is terrorism used today? It allows states not to have anything attributed to them. And missiles happen to be one of the primary means of using or threatening the use of force, whether it’s Hamas or Hezbollah or the Taliban or al-Qaeda, as you’ve seen through all of North Africa and the Middle East. Missiles, as the former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Uzi Rubin has pointed out, are the coin of the realm when it comes to these countries.

Robert Kaplan says the same thing. He says if you take every country from North Korea across the southern rim through India, Pakistan, all through the Middle East and North Africa, the one commonality in the defense establishments of these countries is the deployment and purchase and production of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, short- and long-range. And that is the commonality of these folks.

We often hear about the Haqqani network or Taliban or al-Qaeda in Pakistan. And we’re told they’re in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as if there is no relationship between terror group and state entities.

They get help and sanctuary and weapons and money – apart from the heroin crop – from the Pakistani governmental intelligence agency ISI. And yet, we rarely hear that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror and is basically sending Haqqani and al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters across the border to kill Afghanis, Pashtun tribesmen, and of course coalition soldiers including Americans.

So, with that background, it is enlightening to see the massive proliferation of missiles between 1990 and 2009. If you trace where many of these rockets and missiles come from, they often come from states, governments, particularly Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. These rockets are going all over the world and they are the proliferation we face.

Now what is the U.S. Army’s view of this? They make a kind of interesting point. They say this is an era of “persistent conflict.”

The proliferation of weapons technology includes missiles. There’s a rapid change in the arsenals. There are varied threats. They are aimed at population areas and areas as well with fixed military assets. They require the Army to be very maneuverable and have wide-area security, as opposed to just point defense.

And one of the most interesting things in the Army’s own document that recently came out on missile defense, was that the U.S. Army supports the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to “detect, deter and prevent attacks,” against the continental United States. This gets into the issue of, who protects us: the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Army, Homeland Security, the FBI, police, first responders, which we haven’t made a very clear demarcation. And it’s one of the areas I’ll get into about some of the threats, where I see some of the emerging technologies being very helpful.

Terror groups are used by states to augment the state’s power to attack surreptitiously and without attribution, which makes deterrence very difficult.

The Army also sees global threats from “empowered non-state actors.” That’s a quote. I would turn it around. The terror groups empower terror master states and vice versa. My view is that terror groups are used by states to augment the state’s power to be able to attack surreptitiously and without attribution, which makes deterrence very difficult.

And even in the case of Hamas and Hezbollah, where their rockets rain down on Israel. I don’t know if any of you have been in Israel and have been to Sderot or Ashkelon. When I was there last, in Sderot, the police chief showed me a large shed filled with nothing but the parts of hundreds of rockets that had been launched from Gaza.

And you can see the rockets were made in all different sizes and shapes, all different technologies and talent. Some of them looked like they’d been made in your backyard. Some of them looked like they are more sophisticated with help from places like China and Iran.

But what’s interesting is these rockets often are fired by Hamas from Gaza. And the schoolyard, for example, which is a popular target of Hamas, the children no longer go to school there. The school is empty. The children go to school in private homes, which are much less able to be targeted. So, we are dealing with not only terrorism and coercion and blackmail, but also criminality and regular and irregular warfare, says the Army.

And these are asymmetrical threats, include ballistic and cruise missiles and unmanned drones. As you noticed, Hezbollah launched a couple of drones over Israel, primarily to see, I think, what the Israelis would do. And the Israelis shot it down. But, I think that was part of what you were seeing there. And whether the drone was produced by Iran or Syria, we’re not sure yet.

The Army needs systems that have a very fast decision time and without a single point of failure where if the enemy destroys one element the ability to see, sense and, hence, to intercept the incoming missiles is lost. Future systems should be joint and integrated with existing systems and must deal with the full range of air and missile threats.

And what’s interesting is that the Army says in Operation Iraqi Freedom we used 41 of 50 Patriot batteries deployed in seven countries. And today, we have seven of our 50 Patriot batteries and three of our three AN/TPY-2 radars that are deployed. And the Army then concluded that, in their view, there are three key areas in which this threat is very, very serious: the Korean peninsula and North Korea, the Persian Gulf, and the maritime environment. The Army said that maritime areas, particularly those where American forces are, but also the continental United States.

The Army needs systems that have a very fast decision time and without a single point of failure where if the enemy destroys one element the ability to see, sense and, hence, to intercept the incoming missiles is lost. Future systems should be joint and integrated with existing systems and must deal with the full range of air and missile threats.

Now what about Congress? I went through the House and Senate Armed Services Committee reports and this is what they suggested we do – buy more AN/TPY-2 radars.

See, it would be beneficial to share kill vehicles  – the maneuvering warhead that actually intercepts the incoming missile – between the Navy’s Aegis system and the Army’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense. Two committees said deploy an East Coast defense, which the House Armed Services Committee said could be the Standard Missile 1A or 1B, though there is no reason it cannot be the Standard Missile2Block III-B. It could be two- or three-stage Ground Based Interceptors (GBI). The committee estimated the cost to be between $1.2 and $3.6 billion. [Ed. Note: There is no reason such a deployment cannot be a compliment to the planned deployment of Standard Missiles in Europe for the purpose of defending the United States east coast and our NATO partners from Iranian missiles].

The House Armed Services Committee also said that GBI should be sustained, enhanced and upgraded, what they called “well-hedged.” The committee said that there’s a highly inadequate testing pace, that the two most important things to achieve are discrimination and kill assessment. And, finally, the committee reported that, given the pivot to Asia, there is particular interest in the Standard Missile and its applicability to the Pacific.

Also mentioned were the Israeli missile defense systems Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow – both issues of co-production as well as make an emphasis that the systems in Israel defend against specific threats from a particular geographic area that is known, as opposed to what the Army is looking at is 360-degree coverage in any place on globe.

Additionally, the committee was looking at how to achieve long-term modernization of Patriot through 2025, emphasizing the insertion of technology and what was referred to as “harvesting” technology improvements.

One of the assumptions is that Iran is not yet a threat to the United States because they have not built a nuclear warhead – that we know of. And that Iran has no delivery vehicle or an ICBM to attack the United States if launched from Iranian soil.

If you remember the threat reports from the CIA to President Clinton in 1997, which became the basis of the famous August 2001 threat assessment, is that al-Qaeda was interested in hijacking airplanes. And the assumption was they were going to hijack airplanes overseas and use them as bait or ransom to get back prisoners, which they have done historically. The PLO practically invented that.

And that was true. That’s what hijackers have always done, until they didn’t. They flew the airplanes into buildings. And so my view is, interestingly, it took America how long to figure out that airplanes can become missiles? In a matter of minutes that morning, for the folks over Pennsylvania who took down that airplane because they understood the terrorists weren’t hijacking the airplane in order to have a prisoner swap anymore.

And so it is with missiles. That people assume that there’s always a return address for an attack and therefore deterrence will work, always fascinates me. Yes, there is a return address until there isn’t one! Until, of course, rockets are either launched from the ocean or from crowded urban settings. It’s interesting. We know where the rockets come from in Gaza. We know they come from Hezbollah in Lebanon. But, does that deter them from launching them? No. In short, we have a return address, which is problematical because they hide the rocket launchers in the midst of civilian urban populations in order to deter counter strikes.

And if the attack comes out from the ocean, which is my worry about Iran, then the question is, when it does happen, will we know where it comes from? Will we know the freighter from which the missiles were launched? Maybe. It could be sunk. But how do we know who the patron of the attack is? And, so the question is, the deterrence connection in terms of attribution breaks down.

The Russian Club K cruise missile system is a missile launcher that looks like a standard shipping container like you see stacked on freighters at sea and in all the ports of the world. They open up and an erector pops up and the cruise missile shoots out of it. And they are relatively cheap. The Russian government says it has no intention of selling this system to any bad guys.

What future specific technology might assist to deal with this threat? There is a system called JLENS. It’s the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. It has completed two tests, April 25 and September 21, where it demonstrated the ability to work with both Navy and Army systems, specifically the Patriot and the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6). The SM-6 mates the legacy Standard Missile airframe and propulsion elements with the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

JLENS is a pair of tethered aerostats carrying aloft highly accurate long distance radars. You could have two systems deployed over the Persian Gulf. You could deploy one over the Korean peninsula. You’d have a 550 kilometer 360 degree coverage.

JLENS can detect missiles, aircraft, and ships. It also can detect swarming small boats, which is one of the problems we’re facing in the Persian Gulf from Iran. And the fire control radar is integrated with a whole host of systems, both Army and Air Force, as well as Navy.

And what’s interesting is that JLENS can see over the horizon, which is, I think, critical.  It can track low flying cruise missiles, 24/7, 360 degrees. The aerostats are tethered to a fuel supply so the weight of the JLENS is very little, compared to other technologies.

The area that [the commander of U.S. Pacific Command] wants to protect from ballistic missiles is not just the Straits of Hormuz, but also the Malacca Straits. Far more trade and oil traffic goes through the Straits of Malacca than Hormuz yet piracy from the coast of Somalia has now reached this key region east of India.

One of the points the Army made it that the system would give U.S. commanders the capability to engage threats such as road mobile short-range missile launchers to shipping in strategic waterways. And what’s interesting is yesterday the head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), who spoke at the conference down in Eglin Air Force Base, said the area that he wants to protect from ballistic missiles is not just the Straits of Hormuz, but also the Malacca Straits. Far more trade and oil traffic goes through the Straits of Malacca than Hormuz yet piracy from the coast of Somalia has now reached this key region east of India.

And if you’ve ever seen it, you have to go north towards Singapore and then down through this area of over hundreds of kilometers, and then back up through Java and then into the Pacific. That area is now becoming a hotbed of what off the coast of Somalia we saw six years ago, which is piracy, 90 percent of which is commercial.

These pirates have law firms that they have contracted with, which will call up the ship owners and say this is what the ransom is. You can wire it to this bank account, which is done on a regular basis.

I think 10 percent of the piracy is political. One expert says you have to understand the pirates of Somalia are not pirates. They’re not sailors. They’re desert tribesmen. And they see tankers as nothing more than lost camels at sea. So it makes a lot of sense, given the tradition, of grabbing those things because they’re not owned by anybody except for whoever owns that portion of the desert or, in this case, the oceans.

Could JLENS help deal with an EMP threat? Could it help with a missile launched 300 to 500 kilometers off our coast in an EMP mode?

And I want to tell a story that occurred back in 1999. Twelve members of the House Armed Services Committee, six Democrats and six Republicans, met with Russian officials in Vienna. They were talking about Kosovo. The Russians were not happy about what was going on, as many of you know.

And the senior Russian leader at the meeting had said nothing over the entire day’s meeting. And Congressman Curt Weldon asked the individual if he would like to say something. And he said, “Yes, you’ve treated us terribly since the end of the Cold War. We live in tents. We have no money. We’re trading vodka and potatoes for food.” And then he said, “Just remember, we can launch a missile from a submarine off your coast.  You will not know what happened. And we can explode a warhead 70 to 100 miles above your country and it will generate an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) that will kill tens of millions of your people, and you won’t know what happened.

And he spoke that in Russian, and Curt then translated it for the other 11 members of the House Armed Services Committee, at which point most turned white. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, who was one of the participants in the meeting, said right after they got that bad news the individual’s deputy said, “If that one doesn’t work we have plenty of spares.”

Interestingly, the House then two years ago passed what’s called the Grid Protection Act. Rep. Yvette Clarke from New York, Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett from Maryland, and Rep. Bennie Thompson from Mississippi – two Democrats and two Republicans – got this bill passed unanimously. It has even been brought up in the Senate.  But it was to protect America’s electric grid against an EMP. But you could help do this with missile defense with JLENS because it would give you that wide area view of the oceans and protect us.

I think it’s pretty important that the Army sees these emerging threats. It’s very similar to what’s going on with Iran. Iran, as you know, has tested in an EMP mode, rockets launched in the Caspian off a barge, and they also did it in the Indian Ocean. And they exploded it 70 miles above the earth’s surface.

And our intelligence community said that must have been a failure. The Air Force said no. When they testified and gave the information to the Rumsfeld Commission, they said no, it wasn’t a failure. This was an EMP-mode test.

It has been reported and was included in Morgenthau’s brief that Iran is helping build ballistic missile bases in Venezuela. And it just so happens that the Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile, if launched from Venezuela, can reach Miami, some 2,000 kilometers distant.

And so, you put two and two together.

When I look at the major key requirements for what the Army says it needs in the Persian Gulf, the Korean peninsula and maritime protection, JLENS fits the bill exactly. And it is ready to go. They need to do a real world test that they’ve done in this country, with the Navy and the Army elements.

My plea is for those of you to take a look at this, even in an era of downsizing and reduction in the defense budget, this is a technology that ten years from now when it’s deployed, I hope, we will look back and say thanks, I’m really glad we sustained it and maintained it and produced it.

Thank you all.

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