Is America Safer Under Obama?

In recent weeks, former Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly proclaimed that changes in U.S. national security policy ordered by President Obama have made the country less safe.  In a speech at the Atlantic Council that was his first domestic address, Obama’s national security advisor, General Jim Jones, said the opposite is true: “I firmly believe that the United States is not only safe, but will be more secure, and the American people are increasingly safer because of the president’s leadership that he has displayed consistently over the last four months both at home and abroad.”

I discuss this debate in my New Atlanticist post, “National Security Advisor Jones: USA Safer Under Obama.”  The thesis statement: “While it’s absolutely necessary to debate how a given policy decision affects the security of the United States and its citizens, the current framing has been unhelpful.”

Unfortunately, I don’t see an end in sight.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    But they’re making these judgments in an honest belief that they’re in the best national security interests of the country.

    Ummm.. No. First of all, to the talking points:

    How often have we seen the argument for national security get pushed back with ‘but that’s not America!’? You need not look far; It’s happened in this blog ofteh enough.

    If we take the left at their word, and alas, some of the right, they’re making such judgements based on suppsoedly high-minded principles, and the national security interests of the country be damned.

    Then again, we have the reality outside the talking points:

    You know this place. Reality. Where President Obama adopts most if not all the anti-terror policies Candidate Obama complained so bitterly about and made so much political capital out of.

    Given what we’re seeing out of the Administration on these issues, I wonder. Seems to me the President is finding himself either being pulled away from his leftist rethoric by the reality fof the office, or by the national discussion you point to, or, more likely, both. On that basis, I suggest the ‘discussion’ has been more helpful than either side will admit.

  2. odograph says:

    Short answer: Obviously a multi-variable problem, impossible to extract the “who is President” factor.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    You think we are safer without a missle defense shield? How about a vastly reduced number of F-22s? How does the credibility of our nuclear shield look when all of our warheads are aging and will not be upgraded during the administration of Obama? What would Obamas response be if China decided to forcefully take Taiwan? He has shown real strength with North Korea, not.

  4. floyd says:

    As Larry the cable guy sez…
    “I don’t care who you are, that there’s funny!”

    What a headline!
    “Jim Jones Disagrees With Cheney”

    HEY, KOOL-AID!

  5. odograph says:

    Zelsdorf, do you feel safer with a reduced alert system for meteor impact? With reduced pandemic protection? With reduced oversight for prescription drugs? With a “frac’d” water supply?

    Either side can trot out their 1% risks and claim they need all the money.

  6. Eric Florack says:

    What a headline!
    “Jim Jones Disagrees With Cheney”

    heh. I must be losing my ‘caption contest’ touch. I never even saw that.

    Either side can trot out their 1% risks and claim they need all the money.

    True enough, Odo, but don’t you rate Iran and NORK to be a higher chance than 1%?

  7. odograph says:

    True enough, Odo, but don’t you rate Iran and NORK to be a higher chance than 1%?

    I have no idea how to rate those, largely because it is a cultural analysis. They are both very different from other nuke-holders. I’d guess that Iran has enough moderate/sane people to keep the balance. North Korea … not sane, but maybe facing an internal collapse before too long.

  8. Tlaloc says:

    You think we are safer without a missle defense shield?

    Absolutely and unequivocally. In the first place its never worked worth a damn while eating up a significant amount of money. In the second place the only reason for a missile shield is to be able to conduct a first strike while avoiding MAD against a nation with nuclear ICBM capability. It has nothing to do with defense and everything to do with offense.

    How about a vastly reduced number of F-22s?

    We have ample air power to protect the US. If we lack enough airpower to run around the world will nilly attacking nations then that improves our safety rather than decreasing it (like taking a gun away from someone drunk).

    How does the credibility of our nuclear shield look when all of our warheads are aging and will not be upgraded during the administration of Obama?

    It still looks like several thousand MIRV’d ICBMs. It is estimated we’ll have over 5,000 nuclear warheads in 2012, down from the close to 10,000 we have now. Russia currently has somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000.

    And by the way this 50% reduction in nukes was a program from Bush. If you want to get in a tiff about only being able to destroy the world 10 times instead of 20 then blame him.

    link

    What would Obamas response be if China decided to forcefully take Taiwan?

    I’d prefer not to go to war with China over Taiwan personally. I don’t see why we should. Nor can I imagine how you think such a war could possibly make us “safer.”

    He has shown real strength with North Korea, not.

    Dealing with North Korea is going to require cooperation from Russia, Japan, and China (you know, those guys you want to piss off so badly). Obama is certainly much better at presenting the american position in a light that is palatable to foreign countries.

    Look I understand, you desperately want to have another CNN war to watch on TV. That shit’s viagra for you guys. But frankly it’s just not worth the costs of putting your repeatedly failed policies into effect.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    True enough, Odo, but don’t you rate Iran and NORK to be a higher chance than 1%?

    The chance of the BMD system helping us against either of those threats is 0.

  10. odograph says:

    How about a vastly reduced number of F-22s?

    An Iranian acquaintance was just telling me that in Iran-Iraq, ancient US F-4s could shoot down the latest MIGs with ease. Who really deserves an F22 as their opponent at this point?

  11. brainy435 says:

    Yeah, Tlaloc, its hard to see how a MISSLE shield would keep us and our allies safe from unstable regimes who like to blatantly disregard UN resolutions by improving and launching MISSLES.

    Head-scratcher right there.

    It also seems to me that if someone calls you on a statement you make and your answer is “I have no idea how to rate those” maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be throwing around those statements in the first place. Since they seem to be “above your paygrade” and all.

    Regardless, switching from an agressive policy that has been proven to work for 7.5 years back to an enforcement system that killed a few thousand American civilians seems to me to be much less safe.

  12. spencer says:

    We will have some sort of answer on 9/11.

    If on 9/11 we have not been attacked by foreign terrorists the Obama administration will have kept the US safer than the Bush ” now you have covered your ass” administration did.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Look I understand, you desperately want to have another CNN war to watch on TV. That shit’s viagra for you guys

    Come on Tlaloc, Bit has police explorer training, show some respect to a man who has been there and done that

  14. Eric Florack says:

    I’d guess that Iran has enough moderate/sane people to keep the balance. North Korea … not sane, but maybe facing an internal collapse before too long.

    Well, I suspect rather the reverse. IN neither case, we seem to agree, are the sane ones in charge currently. Problematic of itself. NORK seems to me of the two of them to have a higher chance of having someone sane involved with the replacement of the currently respective governments.

    An Iranian acquaintance was just telling me that in Iran-Iraq, ancient US F-4s could shoot down the latest MIGs with ease.

    No chance, I suppose to your mind, of that being the kind of false bravado we’ve all seen so often in that part of the world?

    Dealing with North Korea is going to require cooperation from Russia, Japan, and China (you know, those guys you want to piss off so badly). Obama is certainly much better at presenting the american position in a light that is palatable to foreign countries.

    (Sigh) I recognize, Tlaloc that this is a huge effort, but think, now; If that’s true why isn’t the NORK situation under control? Why in fact has their Nuke program gone into high gear since January?

    You’re naught but a political agenda, looking for a reason to exist.

  15. cian says:

    General Petraeus seems happy enough with Obama’s decisions as Commander in Chief. Maybe there’s been a big sea-change in recent times, but last time I looked, the right had him on a pedestal so high you were like to grow dizzy just thinking about him.

  16. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Tlaloc, F4s would not have a chance against Mig 29s or Su-35s. You ever get to observe the cobra maneuver performed by Sukoi or Migs? F4s are 1960 technology. Ad gin is still spouting anti-American rhetoric he learned at the feet of some college professor communist. Anjin, I wish upon you the Phillip Nolan experience. The Iranians my have a population that could be considered moderate, however their government is certainly not. The stated goal of that government is the destruction of both, and I want to note that, both Israel and the great Satan, the United States. They understand the suicidal nature of their goal. That is part of the insanity but it does not change the fact it is their goal.

  17. Wayne says:

    Spencer
    9/11 resulted from the Democrats and Clinton shackling out Intel agency and not attacking on the threat of terrorism. It was also in Bush’s first year which many of his agenda and appointments being block by the Democrats who still were angry with the Gore\Bush deal. Democrats still had control of the Senate to block any major change that the Bush administration wanted. It happened on Bush’s watch so he shares some of the blame but he was working with Clinton rules and Intel agency and non body armor military.

    Obama inherited a strong Intel agency with aggressive gathering tools with complete awareness of terrorist dangers. The Dems are in complete charge of Congress. If another 9/11 happens then the question is did Obama weakening of our defenses contribute to it. If so then it is all on him and the Deomcrats.

  18. Tlaloc says:

    Yeah, Tlaloc, its hard to see how a MISSLE shield would keep us and our allies safe from unstable regimes who like to blatantly disregard UN resolutions by improving and launching MISSLES.

    That’s because the Iranians and North Koreans are smarter than you, apparently. Look, lets say the BMD system worked (i.e. alternate reality). Now you are Iran and you decide for whatever reason you are going to try and nuke the US. Are you going to use an ICBM (which you don;t actually have, but hey we’re already in alternate reality land so lets pretend both NoKo and Iran have ICBMs)?

    Its not like our missile shield is a secret. How stupid do you think the Iranians are that they’d deliberately attack us against our blatantly known defense, oh and with an attack that is imminently traceable back to them?

    If they wanted to nuke us they’d put the bomb in a cargo container, not an ICBM. It avoids our hypothetical defense and makes it hard to know who hit us.

    It also seems to me that if someone calls you on a statement you make and your answer is “I have no idea how to rate those” maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be throwing around those statements in the first place. Since they seem to be “above your paygrade” and all.

    Maybe you should learn to read before throwing around such accusations. *I* never said anything about rating threats. That was odograph.

    Regardless, switching from an agressive policy that has been proven to work for 7.5 years back to an enforcement system that killed a few thousand American civilians seems to me to be much less safe.

    What policy was it that worked? If you are talking about the war on Terror consider that we’ve lost more Americans to that then we did to 9/11. Hardly consider that to be working. Bush’s “war” has failed to net us any meaningful successes. Osama’s still out there and free. AQ is still operating. The Taliban are still a power. Iraq is still a country where the ruling sect murders the opposition (although we did swap which one was on top, go team!).

  19. Tlaloc says:

    (Sigh) I recognize, Tlaloc that this is a huge effort, but think, now; If that’s true why isn’t the NORK situation under control? Why in fact has their Nuke program gone into high gear since January?

    Gee, cause it takes time to get the US, Russia, China, and Japan on the same page? Especially when all of them are scrambling to deal with a global recession/depression?

    You think?

    Look if you want to pretend that he-man action movie stuff works in real life, that’s fine. The adults (at the other table) understand that it takes time to get disparate parties with different agendas to agree on a solution and implement it.

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Tlaloc, F4s would not have a chance against Mig 29s or Su-35s.

    Is there some kind of filter that forces you gus to read “odograph” as “Tlaloc”? It’s not like the names are really similar or anything…

  21. Eric Florack says:

    Gee, cause it takes time to get the US, Russia, China, and Japan on the same page?

    So why was it under control until The One ™ took office, then?

    Look if you want to pretend that he-man action movie stuff works in real life, that’s fine.

    Clearly, your attempt at insult not withstanding, it did in fact work.

  22. sam says:

    I’d feel safer if Eric/Bit and Zels/Lessthanzero were in North Korea.

  23. brainy435 says:

    Crap, you jutting your nose into odos insistance that hes not qualified to back up his own assertions threw me for moment. However, William Cohen disagrees with your naieve notion that the missle shield is of no use regarding Iran and NoKo in todays Washington Times.

    You calling missle defense a failure doesn’t make it so. And in light of the aforementioned naivety you, in particular, calling it a failure means absolutley nothing.

    Rogue states can always hit us in unconventional ways. But if knowledge of the system is such a deterrent, why are the NoKos and the Iranians spending large sums of money neither has building missles with farther and farther reaches? Maybe they see a value in such devices? And if they are going to build them, maybe we should have an answer for them? Crazy, I know…

    Only someone willfully blinding themself can’t see the success of no attacks on the US, 50+ million people liberated, WMD facilities exposed and shuttered, an international nuclear black market exposed and shut down, etc.

    “If you are talking about the war on Terror consider that we’ve lost more Americans to that then we did to 9/11. Hardly consider that to be working.”

    Really, that’s your argument? I guess WWII was a failed policy since we lost more people fighting the Japanese than died at Pearl Harbor…

  24. steve says:

    “So why was it under control until The One ™ took office, then?”

    Prevailing sentiment in FP circles seems to be that Kim Jong-Il’s recent stroke is driving much of this. Whether this is due to a lack of order at the top, or KJ is having dementia issues post stroke is unclear.

    Why were F-22’s and the FCS going to make us more safe? Gates is aiming towards more personnel and fewer big ticket items as it looks like asymmetrical conflict is more likely. War with Rusia or China seems much less likely.

    North Korea- What would you do? Have you looked at the war game scenarios? Have you thought about what South Korea wants? We are based in their country after all. If you have not, The Danger Room has a very brief and easy to read description. We would have a failed state on our hands, millions of refugees and loose nukes/unaccounted plutonium. North Korea has the links to know how to sell this stuff. If you do a risk benefit analysis, one can certainly see where unaccountable nukes may be riskier than nukes under the control of N. Korea. China is the key here IMHO.

    7.5 years? Our southern borders are wide open. Any terrorist who wants to cross can do so.

    Steve

  25. odograph says:

    I am not a fighter plane expert, I have no problem admitting that. I don’t think my comment above was really a claim of expertise, just relaying a comment and asking a question.

    I think the serious question, and the reason we cut back on F22’s, is that the world has fewer fight-plane adversaries at this point.

    Our problems with Russia and China are more likely to be economic going forward.

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    Obama inherited a strong Intel agency with aggressive gathering tools with complete awareness of terrorist dangers.

    That he plans mainly to use against pro lifers, returning vets and people who believe in the last parts of the Bible.Ya we are a lot safer now.

  27. Eric Florack says:

    Prevailing sentiment in FP circles seems to be that Kim Jong-Il’s recent stroke is driving much of this. Whether this is due to a lack of order at the top, or KJ is having dementia issues post stroke is unclear.

    Yes, I’ve seen that speculation as well, and it’s valid, far as it goes. But this addresses motive. I’m addressing opportunity.

  28. odograph says:

    (Heh, for a little cash we could probably get all the disable codes we need for MIGs, if we don’t have them already.)

  29. steve says:

    ” I’m addressing opportunity.”

    You are saying a demented KJ would care who was President? He might very well not even know. Do you have evidence or just speculation? he opportunity required having the stroke first.

    odo-Put Danger Room on your regular list. It will update you on weapon systems and it is fun. If you like it, there are a number of heavy duty sites also. The F-22 will still be produced to the tune of about 180 (?) units, memory unit needs upgrade alas, and the f-35 will probably supplant it. More versatile. We need transport, cargo, tankers and drones more now.

    Steve

  30. Eric Florack says:

    You are saying a demented KJ would care who was President?

    Of course.

    He might very well not even know

    Well, sure, I grant that’s possible but to me, it doesn’t seem totally likely. Judgement call.

    I think we can both name crackpot leaders both historically and also fairly reacent history, who were totally looney-tunes, and yet were pretty well awareof world affairs. Indeed, I can’t think of a despot who was disconnected from such matters for very long, particualrly one seeking international presteige like KJI has a history of doing.

    There’s the pattern of the thing to consider as well. He played this same game with Clinton, particularly in the second term, too, but not so much with Bush.

  31. Grewgills says:

    He played this same game with Clinton, particularly in the second term, too, but not so much with Bush.

    Really? Were there more NORK nuclear and long-range missile tests from 1993-2000 or from 2001-2008?

  32. An Interested Party says:

    Obama inherited a strong Intel agency with aggressive gathering tools with complete awareness of terrorist dangers. The Dems are in complete charge of Congress. If another 9/11 happens then the question is did Obama weakening of our defenses contribute to it. If so then it is all on him and the Deomcrats.

    It’s so nice to see that the Dolchstoßlegende is alive and well on this comment thread…I wonder how many people hope that Obama fails in everything that he does or secretly wish for some kind of terrorist attack on this country so they can say, “I told you so!”

    That he plans mainly to use against pro lifers, returning vets and people who believe in the last parts of the Bible.Ya we are a lot safer now.

    Do be sure to drop us all a line from whatever reeducation camp you are eventually sent to…that is, if you can…

  33. Tlaloc says:

    So why was it under control until The One ™ took office, then?

    Were you just not paying attention? The North Korean nuclear project did not start in Jan 2009.

  34. Tlaloc says:

    You calling missle defense a failure doesn’t make it so.

    True but I call it a failure because it is, well, a failure. Actually it’s a FAILURE in all caps. Over 100 billion spent and it still routinely fails to intercept missiles with homing devices inside. Even if it worked to spec the Russians already have a missile that defeats it, and it was never intended to handle more than a handful of incoming at once. Plus, as above a ballistic missile strike is the least likely source of a nuclear attack since it’s expensive and technically difficult while leaving an obvious return address.

    So not only is the thing a boondoggle but even if it did work it’s of no real use. The vanishingly small number of circumstances where it makes any difference don’t come close to outweighing the massive cost.

    Rogue states can always hit us in unconventional ways. But if knowledge of the system is such a deterrent, why are the NoKos and the Iranians spending large sums of money neither has building missles with farther and farther reaches? Maybe they see a value in such devices? And if they are going to build them, maybe we should have an answer for them? Crazy, I know…

    They build them for a variety of reasons none of which have anything to do with BMD. The most likely use is simply as a threat towards their neighbors. It’s ridiculous to say we should spend money on a protection that doesn’t work in order to protect us from missiles that can’t hit us (Neither the Iranian nor the NoKo missiles have that kind of range).

    Only someone willfully blinding themself can’t see the success of no attacks on the US, 50+ million people liberated, WMD facilities exposed and shuttered, an international nuclear black market exposed and shut down, etc.

    Well we had no attacks on the US for most of our history, and most of our history we haven’t been in Iraq, so maybe something in your math doesn’t add up. Particularly when you look at the rate of terrorist attacks on Americans which have skyrocketed (remember our troops are Americans too, you might not care about several thousands of them dead and tens of thousands maimed, but I actually do).

    The other claims are similarly specious.

    Really, that’s your argument? I guess WWII was a failed policy since we lost more people fighting the Japanese than died at Pearl Harbor…

    The point of WW2 was to stop the Axis, and it worked. The point of the “War” on Terror was to reduce the number of terrorists as well as the number of attacks on Americans. It failed miserably in both regards. It’s not my fault your side chose a stupid metric to judge their “war” on.

  35. anjin-san says:

    I wonder how many people hope that Obama fails in everything that he does or secretly wish for some kind of terrorist attack on this country so they can say, “I told you so!”

    Cheney & some of the dead enders we see here can probably be included…

  36. The Strategic MC says:

    “True but I call it a failure because it is, well, a failure.”

    I’m pretty sure that the last failure of a BMD interceptor component (either launch vehicle or warhead) was back in 2004 or 2005. There have been many successful tests since then. I don’t recall that you made mention of any of this. I know, inconvenient facts, and all that.

    “…(I)t still routinely fails to intercept missiles with homing devices inside…” My response to that is simple: B.S. We solved the “missile” intercept problem way back. The test that you refer to was in either 2000 or 2001. The only thing that the various components of BMD have done routinely in the last few years is work.

    Better stick with the cost argument; billions spent and no demonstrated effectiveness in a real world scenario. Just like all that money spent during the last 50 yrs on SAC and the nuclear triad. Money down the drain, I tell you!

    “The most likely use is simply as a threat towards their neighbors.” So, in the case of N.K., you develop a multi-stage missile (TD2/X) with intercontinental range (>6000 mi) to threaten Tokyo, which is, what, less than 1000 miles away? I think that they want to get the attention of someone much farther away, don’t you? Impressing a farsi-speaking customer who wants to make threats outside of his own neighborhood is seen as an added bonus.

    BTW, couldn’t help but notice the preplanned routes of rhetorical retreat in your statement: “True but…”; “Even if…” Dude, it’s either a “FAILURE” or it isn’t.

  37. Eric Florack says:

    The North Korean nuclear project did not start in Jan 2009.

    Of course not. But it was as close to a state of dormancy as no matter.

    I know, inconvenient facts, and all that.

    (cough, Patriot missles, cough)

  38. Tlaloc says:

    I’m pretty sure that the last failure of a BMD interceptor component (either launch vehicle or warhead) was back in 2004 or 2005. There have been many successful tests since then. I don’t recall that you made mention of any of this. I know, inconvenient facts, and all that.

    Uh…no. Here, educate yourself:
    CRS report on BMD from 2007

    I’ll save you too much effort and quote a bit from the summary:

    The data on the U.S. flight test effort to develop a national missile defense (NMD) system is mixed and ambiguous. There is no recognizable pattern to explain this record nor is there conclusive evidence of a learning curve over more than two decades of developmental testing. In addition, the test scenarios are considered by some not to be operational tests and could be more realistic in nature; they see these tests as more of a laboratory or developmental effort. Success and failure rates (and their technical causes) have shown relative consistency through this period.

    Analysis of flight test data shows that the U.S. effort to develop, test, and deploy effective BMD systems based on this concept has had mixed and ambiguous results. The actual performance in war-time of one kinetic-energy system currently deployed by the United States (i.e., the Patriot PAC-3) is similarly ambiguous.

    It is a failure. Period.

    I think that they want to get the attention of someone much farther away, don’t you?

    I have no doubt that they’d love to have everyone paying attention to them. But that’s really not particularly important to the topic. Sabre rattling is one thing, assuring their own destruction in order to have a 50-50 chance (and that’s still probably over estimating their chances) of damaging a US city is quite another.

    BTW, couldn’t help but notice the preplanned routes of rhetorical retreat in your statement: “True but…”; “Even if…” Dude, it’s either a “FAILURE” or it isn’t.

    Uh, I have no problem with recognizing when someone says something true. That’s called intellectual honesty. Try it.

  39. Tlaloc says:

    Of course not. But it was as close to a state of dormancy as no matter.

    And your evidence for that is…

    (cough, Patriot missles, cough)

    This is really one of those times you should have kept the mouth shut and merely been thought a fool. The Patriot system is Theater or Tactical Missile Defense. Not Ballistic Missile Defense. TMD doesn’t have a great track record by any means (if you recall the first thing a Patriot brought down in our latest Gulf War was a British Helicopter) but it is way way better than BMD. It has had some real world successes and is worth continuing.

    But as above it has nothing at all to do with the current discussion.

  40. brainy435 says:

    So.. when confronted by someone saying recent BMD tests confirm that the system is a success despite early reports of failure you respond by pointing to one of the early reports of failure? OK, then.

    You don’t scrap programs because they don’t work immediately. We used to do this thing in the country called “taking risks.” Some people even died for those risks. Nice to know that people will stop at nothing to remove a risk if the proponents of said risk are of the wrong political persuasion. That’s all this is, politics. If it was a fact based argumnent, more recent testing would have to enter the equasion somewhere.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/05/us.missile.test/index.html

    When my sub launched missiles in the late 90s at Iraq and Kosovo we had a decent number of them fail… at 1 million bucks a pop. These were mature, proven systems. Are those programs failures, too, then?

    This system, as it ever was, is about deterrence and last ditch efforts to save lives. They won’t take down every missle in a large strike, even if they work 100% as designed… which they won’t. If we convince our enemies that they will have to spend more than they planned because we can destroy a good percentage of their attack they may think again or push back the attack and allow other scenarios to remove the threat. Or, if they do launch the system will spare a good number fo the strikes targets. I think that’s worth a good chunk of change and definitely worth the risk of development.

  41. The Strategic MC says:

    Sorry, no sale.

    You speak in absolutes (“Actually it’s a FAILURE in all caps,” remember?), yet the report that you cite: “The data on the U.S. flight test effort to develop a national missile defense (NMD) system is mixed and ambiguous” is, well, ambiguous.

    Where is the “FAILURE” in that?

    “(I)f you recall the first thing a Patriot brought down in our latest Gulf War was a British Helicopter.”

    Actually, it was a RAF Tornado F/B and that incident was ultimately attributed to an IFF failure on the British plane. This isn’t any where near a legitimate indictment of the PATRIOT missile or it’s point ballistic missile defense capabilities; It had a near-perfect kill record against Iraqi SRBMs during OIF.

  42. Tlaloc says:

    So.. when confronted by someone saying recent BMD tests confirm that the system is a success despite early reports of failure you respond by pointing to one of the early reports of failure? OK, then.

    Early? I pointed to a CRS report from 2007. It evaluated the progress to that point of BMD and found essentially an empty set.

    You don’t scrap programs because they don’t work immediately.

    They’ve had twenty years and 100 billion dollars. It took us only 11 years to go from the first US spacewalk to putting a man on the moon.

    We used to do this thing in the country called “taking risks.”

    Taking risks is only a virtue if you take intelligent risks and if you are willing to cut your losses when a risky proposition fails.

    When my sub launched missiles in the late 90s at Iraq and Kosovo we had a decent number of them fail… at 1 million bucks a pop. These were mature, proven systems. Are those programs failures, too, then?

    They’re nothing to brag about. But again here’s a program where it has worked sometimes in the real world, maybe not enough. We can hash out the cost vs benefit. With the missile program it has never worked there is no benefit to weigh against the massive costs.

    I think that’s worth a good chunk of change and definitely worth the risk of development

    You are talking concept, I’m talking execution. Sure we can say the concept is worth a shot. Guess what? It’s had a shot. It’s had a huge shot and it has failed miserably. Time to let the dream go.

  43. Tlaloc says:

    You speak in absolutes (“Actually it’s a FAILURE in all caps,” remember?), yet the report that you cite: “The data on the U.S. flight test effort to develop a national missile defense (NMD) system is mixed and ambiguous” is, well, ambiguous.

    Where is the “FAILURE” in that?

    The failure is that this isn’t a 6 month report on a test program. After two decades and 100 billion dollars the evaluation is “mixed and ambiguous.” That most definitely equals fail unless you plan to give the project several centuries to really get up to speed.

    Actually, it was a RAF Tornado F/B and that incident was ultimately attributed to an IFF failure on the British plane. This isn’t any where near a legitimate indictment of the PATRIOT missile or it’s point ballistic missile defense capabilities; It had a near-perfect kill record against Iraqi SRBMs during OIF.

    Neat.

  44. The Strategic MC says:

    “The Patriot system is Theater or Tactical Missile Defense. Not Ballistic Missile Defense.”

    Actually, and more accurately, PATRIOT is one component of the Terminal Phase Defense element of BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE. It provides for point defense of high value targets (i.e., population centers, critical infrastructure and military installations, etc). This TPD role is essentially the same in both National (U.S.) and Theater (forward deployed) defense roles.

    Please, look it up. In the interest of “intellectual honesty” and all that.

    “This is really one of those times you should have kept the mouth shut and merely been thought a fool.”

    Touche’, my condescending friend.

  45. brainy435 says:

    “Early? I pointed to a CRS report from 2007”

    The commenter you were replying to said the tests had failures in “2004 or 2005” and there had been more recent tests that were successful. You cited a report that was RELEASED in JANUARY 2007. Which more than likely used a lot of the 2004-2005 data, along with some 2006 data, depending on when the drafts were completed. Hence, it was a report that AT BEST proved the commenters admission about failures and did nothing to address his assertion that more recent tests have been a success.

    “They’re nothing to brag about. But again here’s a program where it has worked sometimes in the real world, maybe not enough. We can hash out the cost vs benefit.”

    They’ve actually gone through the testing phase and made it TO the real world, how long did that take? How much was spent? You do realize that their objectiven is much easier to achieve, right? Progress has been made and the program has has successes, so it continues. In your own words “[w]e can hash out the cost vs benefit.” If you don’t like the outsome of that discussion, TS.

    You keep bringing up the FAILURE with no proof other than what you alone know and some report that in no way refuted the assertion you were trying to refute. THAT’S a “FAILURE.”

    And we all noted the complete lack of any comment on the article I linked that actully makes my case, as in the program has worked successfully. You can argue that its not as successful as it should be for the money, but not that it’s a FAILURE. Well, not and be intellectually honest.

  46. The Strategic MC says:

    “It took us only 11 years to go from the first US spacewalk to putting a man on the moon.”

    Actually, it was only 4 years (’65-’69) from Ed White to Neil Armstrong.

    You’re welcome.

  47. The Strategic MC says:

    The term to use is Overtaken By Events.

    The CRS report from 2007 is almost 2 and a half years old and the underlying data (which, btw, is “mixed and ambiguous”) is most assuredly much older than that. In fact, I would argue that 90% of the real progress in BMD has been made since 2005. One year, at best, of this significant progress was captured in the 2007 CRS report. The shootdown of the Russian satellite last year by a sea-based SM-3 is one example of undocumented progress.

    Multiple, successful tests in all phases (Boost, Mid-course and Terminal) of BMD. We continue to refine both solutions and products.

    Progress is rarely ever linear in nature, as technological breakthroughs allow for exponential advances. So it was with manned flight and the development of the atomic bomb. So it is with BMD.

    As I said earlier, complain about the money and make your case on CBA grounds if you must, but bring a mo’ betta’ game if you’re gonna’ criticize technical merit and attempt to re-define “FAILURE.”

  48. The Strategic MC says:

    Progress is rarely always linear in nature

  49. Tlaloc says:

    Actually, and more accurately, PATRIOT is one component of the Terminal Phase Defense element of BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE. It provides for point defense of high value targets (i.e., population centers, critical infrastructure and military installations, etc). This TPD role is essentially the same in both National (U.S.) and Theater (forward deployed) defense roles.

    Please, look it up. In the interest of “intellectual honesty” and all that.

    Okay I looked, and I couldn’t find anything that backed up what you said. You should probably provide some support links.

  50. Tlaloc says:

    You keep bringing up the FAILURE with no proof other than what you alone know and some report that in no way refuted the assertion you were trying to refute. THAT’S a “FAILURE.”

    “Some report”? You mean the report by the Congressional Research Service for congress that summed up the advances made (or in this case not made) by two decades of work on the Missile Defense program? Is that the report you mean?

    Well, you know, actually that seems like kind of substantial support for my argument. By the way, where’s the supporting evidence of yours that you seem to feel out weighs it? I seem to have missed it.

  51. Tlaloc says:

    The CRS report from 2007 is almost 2 and a half years old and the underlying data (which, btw, is “mixed and ambiguous”) is most assuredly much older than that. In fact, I would argue that 90% of the real progress in BMD has been made since 2005.

    That strikes me as very convenient. Feel free to back up your statement with some evidence.

    As I said earlier, complain about the money and make your case on CBA grounds if you must, but bring a mo’ betta’ game if you’re gonna’ criticize technical merit and attempt to re-define “FAILURE.”

    *shrug*
    Actually I’m pretty okay sitting on the side with all the evidence. Wait… no, yeah I’m fine with that.

    BTW you are correct about the Apollo timing, I was mistakenly thinking of the span from the first orbital flight to the moon landing.

  52. The Strategic MC says:
  53. brainy435 says:

    “‘Some report’?”

    Yes, the one you linked that proves the case you were trying to refute but in no way proves your own. THAT report.

    Try again, this time try and prove your own point.

    It’s especially nice how you blatantly refuse to acknowlede any evidence pointing out how badly misinformed you are on this subject while ignorantly bunkering down with assertations that you are on “the side with all the evidence.” How terribly dishonest and pathetic.

  54. Grewgills says:

    Yes, the one you linked that proves the case you were trying to refute but in no way proves your own. THAT report.

    I must have missed that part of the report, could you provide an excerpt?
    MC’s care rests on much of the progress having been made during or after the assembly of the linked report. I haven’t had time to wade through the link MC provided.

    MC could you provide a more specific link to support your argument to save me some of that wading? Is there one report that gives both results and more data on type of test? The few I have scanned gave some results but no specifics on the tests. Were there homing beacons? How much trajectory info was pre-provided vs calculated after launch etc?

  55. The Strategic MC says:

    The link provided is a primer on BMD, in response to an assertion that PATRIOT wasn’t a BMD component; It was not intended as a one-stop validation of my support of BMD. On the site, there are some press announcements regarding recent BMD testing, but I don’t endorse advocacy pieces as valid links.

    The mda.mil site doesn’t provide detailed test data, so that’s not the place to go. BTW, any detailed telemetry data would be, and is, classified.

    Yes, homing beacons were used earlier this decade prior to our development of the layered acquisition sensor network that we currently employ. This was a sustainable argument, oh, about 5 years ago. Time to go find another “gotcha”.

    The majority of my information comes from my personal experience with BMD, both in the AEGIS program and staff duty at a couple of major fleet HQs; I was on site when we shot down the satellite last year. Though now retired from active duty, I continue to work in the field; I welcome well-informed discussions on the subject.

    Anyway, you have to wade through a lot of Google searches to pull down the data. It’s there, but there is no current, open source, compilation of current test info of which I am aware. Recommend that you search by BMD component (i.e., THAAD, EKV, ABL, etc) as opposed to concept.

  56. brainy435 says:

    You missed a lot more than that. You apparantly missed the whole argument. Tlaloc linked that report in response to another commentator stating that there were failures in the 2004-2005 timeframe, but that there had been more recent successes. Tlalocs report was released in Jan 2007 using data that at best covers some of 2006 because the government moves slowly. So he proved that the commentator was correct that there were failures in 2004-2005 timeframe. He in no way proved that there had been no recent successes… mostly because he can’t, as the CNN article from Dec 2008 I linked pointed to many recent successes.

    Good God, this isn’t rocket sci… oh, wait.

  57. The Strategic MC says:

    Bubblehead (I say this with both admiration and respect), this whole conversation has been “interesting”, to say the least.

    Kinda combines elements of both Tom Sawyer and Uncle Remus.