The Edmond Sun

Opinion

February 12, 2014

Mounting threats demand missile defense

EDMOND — The South Korean government just confirmed what the world hoped was a baseless rumor. North Korea has indeed restarted its Yongbyon plutonium reactor and is now actively generating nuclear energy from the facility. Refined plutonium generated by such a reactor can be used in the development of long-range nuclear weapons — a decades-long goal of the Kim regime.

This development serves as a stark reminder that America must continue to invest in missile defense. North Korea remains bent on creating and possibly even launching ordnance capable of hitting the United States and its allies. In light of the regime’s longstanding propensity for erratic and highly irrational behavior, this goal clearly demands an American response.

But diplomacy has repeatedly failed to dissuade the regime. America is left to dictate the future of its own security. Fortunately, modern missile defense technologies are capable of defending our nation against this mounting threat.

America’s missile defense program is the brainchild of Ronald Reagan. When he announced the initiative in 1983, critics dismissed it as pure science fiction, a “Star Wars” fantasy. But since then, missile defense technologies have proven themselves time and again. These systems work.

The first major missile defense breakthrough came in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm. American soldiers successfully deployed the Patriot System to intercept incoming Iraqi scud missiles and protect allied military encampments.

Our soldiers saw the power of missile defense for the first time. Since then, the federal government has poured serious resources into developing new technologies.

Those dollars have paid off. The American military now has a number of proven systems capable of detecting, tracking and shooting down a wide variety of missiles.

In September, two medium-range ballistic missiles were successfully intercepted in the first operational test of new systems called “THAAD” and “Aegis.” This display was all the more impressive because the sailors, soldiers and airman who conducted it were not given specific details about when or where the test would occur. It came out of nowhere. And the systems still performed flawlessly.

Then, in October, the latest version of the “BMD” missile defense system successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile during a test. The BMD runs on naval ships. It can be positioned close enough to global hot spots to counteract rogue missile launches, but far enough away from the action to keep our military personnel out of harm’s way.

THAAD, Aegis, BMD and other systems are ready for action. And there are several more technologies in earlier stages of development that could prove even more effective than these three.

We need these technologies now more than ever. The rogue missile threat has never been more acute — and it’s growing each day.

It’s not just North Korea. Rogue nations and groups that seek to enhance their international power can do so most readily through asymmetrical means. They will co-opt militant groups to act as agents of conflict, utilize cyber warfare and pursue weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed, Iran supports Hezbollah, regularly deploys its elite, disruptive “Qods Force,” and actively pursues nuclear weapons. This strategy has propelled it to the forefront of international politics and enhanced Iran’s regional power in a way that mere conventional arms could not.

The United States needs to properly prepare itself. As the missile threat evolves, so must our capabilities. That means continuing to invest in both the refinement of existing, proven systems and the development of new, more effective technologies better matched to future threats.

Missile defense was once dismissed as a fantasy. It’s now proven itself to be very much a reality. We have technologies that work. We must continue to develop them to meet the mounting missile threat.

RICK NELSON, a vice president at Cross Match Technologies, is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he directed the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program from 2009 through 2012.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results