Defeating Kim's missile threat

The threat of a North Korean attack is rising. 

Last week, Kim Jong-un further provoked the United States by having his country "accidentally" release pictures of their plans to develop the submarine-launched ballistic missile Pukguksong-3 and the three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

While war should still be the last resort, not the first resort, we still need to be prepared.

U.S. Army major Jim Gant states in his book One Tribe at a Time that "less in more" on the battlefield to win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan.  But when it comes to successful ballistic missile technology, more is more.  As is more money, more testing, and more protection for the American people.

Ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) is the best defense we have against what is a clear and present danger in North Korea and Iran.  Neither regime respects mutually assured destruction in the way China and Russia view a nuclear conflict.

GMD as a system is proving itself to be more reliable with every test.  It successfully protected Hawaii earlier this year.  It is not 100 percent successful yet, and some argue that .400 is not good enough.  Right now, however, it's by far the best defense option we have, and we cannot allow officials to play batting statistics with the security of the American mainland.

Last year, a GMD development and sustainment contract was awarded in December 2011, which the agency last year estimated would cost $4.1 billion to execute through 2018.  The need to renew this contract and fund at a much higher level is apparent to anyone who reads North Korea's writings and understands what true lunacy we are up against.  Even libertarian-leaning congressmen like Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) have shown some support for this idea.

The results of a successful missile attack against the United States would be tragic on a massive scale.  Even an electromagnetic pulse attack from high in the atmosphere might disable the electrical grid for years.

The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack was established by Congress in 2001 the Department of Defense and other departments and agencies of the U.S. government on the nuclear EMP threat to military systems and civilian critical infrastructures.  The EMP Commission was renewed in 2015, with its charter broadened to include natural EMP from solar storms, all man-made threats, cyber-attack, and combined-arms cyber-warfare.

Furthering the U.S. response to a missile launch will be "fire and fury."  Remember that U.S. defense secretary James Mattis has said any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale."  GMD is not only an effective weapon against a real launch, but also a deterrent against a rogue state.

The Department of Defense will not just shoot down an incoming missile.  Our counter-battery fire will be devastating to the North Korean people.  No one wants this to happen.

As Ronald Reagan said in 1983, "the defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: the United States does not start fights.  We will never be an aggressor.  We maintain our strength to deter and defend against aggression – to preserve freedom and peace."

President Trump was, in his own words, "dealt a bad hand."  He's right, and it's time to fix that by going all in on missile defense funding.

Phil Kiver is an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a current doctoral candidate in strategic studies at Henley-Putnam University, and a freelance journalist. 

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