Not to get all Commonweath Russia all the time tovarsich, yet one of the cool kids at The Committee on the Present Danger reduxes the Red Storm Rising and makes a great case that
fully funding defensive systems are key as Russian missile threats grow.
China militarized islands in the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over ocean territory of Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan. Free navigation of international waters and billions of dollars of sea-borne trade is menaced.
Aircraft, tanks and troops battle in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. Terror attacks increase in Asia, Europe and across the Middle East. North Korea builds more nuclear weapons, and some experts believe Iran’s weapons cache already includes nuclear warheads.
The world teeters on the brink of Armageddon, and no nation is doing more to push it over the edge than Russia has already done by annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine, threatening Baltic and Eastern European nations, and by using major military assets to defend Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s aggressive challenges to the established order in Europe and the Middle East, together with a demonstrated willingness to change borders with force, are direct threats to the United States and its allies. And, as it was during the Cold War, the backbone of those threats is Russia’s arsenal of strategic and battlefield missiles.
To insure that global perception of Russia’s missile power is crystal clear, Moscow routinely flies Tu-95 bombers, armed with cruise missiles, to the edge of American, Canadian, British and Scandinavian borders. New missiles are deployed and tested, and treaties are ignored. The most recent transgression was just last month, when the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was again violated by the Kremlin.
On 2 September, Russia tested the SC-X-8 missile, a variant of the “Kalibr” nuclear cruise missile, with new capabilities that do not comply with the INF treaty. That test was followed by twenty-six SS-N-30 cruise missiles, launched on 7 October from Russian navy ships in the Caspian Sea. The previously unknown missile struck targets in Syria, 900 miles distant!
These events were foreshadowed in July, when General Joseph Dunford testified at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said Russia is the greatest national security threat faced by the United States today, adding, “And if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”
Congress and the Pentagon got that message years ago, and Patriot, Aegis, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile-defense systems were funded and built. American allies, especially those directly threatened by battlefield and cruise missiles, got the message too. THAAD will be purchased by Oman and the United Arab Emirates; Aegis was bought by Japan; and Patriot, the most widely deployed missile defense system, now has a consortium of 14 partner nations: Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Of all the Patriot consortium, no nation has greater reason to dread Russia’s missile arsenal than America’s NATO ally, Poland. Galvanized by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Poland’s accelerated search for a missile defense system culminated with selection of the Patriot system. Polish president Bronislaw Komoroski called the creation of a missile shield to defend Polish airspace “the priority of priorities,” a requirement so urgent that Washington has agreed to deploy U.S. Army Patriot batteries in Poland until the first two of eight new Polish batteries arrive.
Now, more than ever, Eastern European nations and other allies desperately need reassurance that the United States will continue to provide them with the most advanced and modern missile defense systems in the world. That need means that the Senate must join the House and ensure full Patriot modernization as the two bodies complete work on their 2015 defense spending bills.
Any cuts to the Patriot funding as requested by the U.S. Army would not recognize today’s geo-political threats and advances in offensive missile technology, concerns that drive the Patriot consortium to continuously upgrade and modernize their existing Patriot systems long before new missile defense systems may become available to replace them.
If instead, Congress sends our allies a mixed message about America’s commitment to help them defend their territorial integrity, President Putin will get that message too.