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LYONS: ‘Transforming’ America becomes disarming America

Chipping away at the military jeopardizes security

It was not clearly understood by many Americans what President Obama had in mind when he stated in his 2009 inaugural that the time had come to start "remaking America," in effect, "transforming America." As we have now seen, one of the key transformations is the unilateral disarmament of our military forces.

Is it a belief held by Mr. Obama, based on his Marxist upbringing that views American power as historically regressive because it is capitalistic, hence imperialistic; therefore, the erosion of American power should be seen as historically progressive. Clearly, eroding U.S. military capabilities at a time when we are being challenged by a multitude of increasing military threats is unconscionable. With the Middle East in turmoil, the potential for hostilities breaking out in the Western Pacific between our allies and China owing to China's imperialistic actions in the South and East China seas is real. These threats are magnified by the decline in U.S. military power brought about primarily by our self-imposed draconian budget cuts.

Strategically, our main military threats emanate from China and Russia, but we cannot overlook their proxies, North Korea and Iran. Further, we cannot fail to address the Islamic threat represented by the Muslim Brotherhood's "silent jihad," in which they have been able to penetrate virtually every key government agency involved in national security, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such penetration has enabled influencing our policies and war-fighting strategy to the net disadvantage of our fighting forces.

Russia, despite its economic weakness, clearly represents a serious strategic challenge to America. Russia has underway modernization programs for its conventional, strategic and theater nuclear forces. Its stated goal is to modernize virtually its entire strategic missile force by 2021. President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would procure more than 400 new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by 2020. Further, even the Obama Administration has acknowledged that Russia will deploy "several substantially" MIRVed new strategic missiles, including the MIRVed SS-27 ICBM and new Borey class missile submarines carrying 10 MIRVed Bulava SLBMs.

The Obama administration has also confirmed the deployment of a new Russian KH-102 long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missile. Russia has announced the development of a new B-2-like stealth bomber and a fifth-generation ballistic-missile submarine.

Aside from Russia's strategic modernization programs, Moscow follows the Soviet practice of arms-control violations that go unchallenged by the Obama administration. Russia consistently disregards treaty obligations that interfere with achieving its nuclear-weapons objectives. They also conduct no-notice strategic force exercises in violation of treaty commitments. For example, they conducted no-notice simulated Bear "H" bomber missile strikes against our facilities in Alaska, California and Guam. During the period of Feb. 17 to 21, Russia conducted the largest strategic and tactical nuclear-weapon transportation exercise in 20 years, which involved a heightened "alert status" of their nuclear forces. It is not known if advanced notice was provided.

The exercise just happened to coincide with the visit to Russia of Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. It is unclear if she raised the subject of the exercise.

Besides the Russians, we must recognize the greatest long-term threat to the United States comes from China, which has been modernizing and expanding its strategic nuclear and conventional forces for most of the past 20 years. In November 2011, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense James Miller estimated China's nuclear inventory to be a few hundred weapons. Mark Scheider, from the National Institute of Public Policy, believes it to be between 400 and 500 today. The former director of Russia's strategic forces, Gen. Viktor Esin, stated that Moscow thinks China has between 1600 and 1800 warheads. With more than 3,000 miles of underground reinforced tunnels for China's fixed and mobile ICBMs, Russia's estimates appear to be more realistic. Remember how at the end of the Cold War, we greatly underestimated the size of the Soviet strategic forces.

We know from Department of Defense reports that China has a wide variety of advanced strategic missiles, including the DF-31 and DF-31A mobile ICBMs, that are now being deployed as well as the SLBM JL-2 carried on the Type 94 SSBN. The new class 96 SSBN is under development and can be expected to carry MIRVed missiles.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that China has a large force of medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, including the anti-ship ballistic missile that is clearly targeted against our attack carriers. Many of these missiles have nuclear options. China's "no first use" declaration is carefully worded and in fact commits China to "nothing." According to some experts, China will use nuclear weapons if its leadership thinks it is in its interest to do so. Both China and Russia have considered "limited" nuclear-attack options, including employing electromagnetic pulse as the primary means of attack.

With the modernization of Russia's and China's strategic nuclear and conventional forces, we clearly are headed in the wrong direction. Mr. Obama's June speech at the Brandenburg Gate proposed further reductions in U.S. nuclear forces to about 1,000 deployed warheads. While the offer was subject to mutual reductions by Russia, Mr. Obama has not ruled out unilateral reductions. Incredible. The House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon stated, "The

president's desire to negotiate a new round of arms control with the Russians while Russia is cheating on a major existing nuclear arms-control treaty, strains creditability." So does not including China in any future strategic arms treaty.

With our unilateral disarmament, we are jeopardizing our national security. Is this how we want America transformed?

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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