Foreign adversaries planning the next big war now have two examples of the United States being unable to cope with revolutionary violence in the homeland.
During the 1960s, the New Left, anti-war, Black liberation and counterculture movements spawned rioting, looting, burning, killing police and 4,000 bombings.
Today, Antifa and Black Lives Matter are stoking revolutionary violence — 4,000 bombings haven’t happened yet, but the revolution is just starting.
Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and Tehran see the U.S. government helpless to stop mayhem in America’s cities, mayors and governors cowed, police “taking the knee” in token surrender, revolution right outside the White House.
Tyrannies never tolerate much if any peaceful protest, let alone violence. They ruthlessly crush dissent.
For example, China killed at least 10,000 of the Tianamen Square peaceful protesters, according to a secret U.K. estimate. Human Rights Watch estimates North Korea has 120,000 concentration camp inmates and killed 400,000 suspected of disloyalty.
Dictatorships know America’s free and open society is potentially a wartime Achilles heel.
The USSR planned operations by elite Spetsnaz and GRU special forces to paralyze U.S. warfighting and nuclear retaliatory capabilities at home, including by vaporizing the White House and Pentagon with man-delivered “nuclear suitcases.” (See GRU Col. Stanislav Lunev and KGB Col. Oleg Gordievsky’s testimony, House Armed Services Committee, Jan. 24, 2000; Oct. 26, 1999 and Col. Lunev’s book “Through the Eyes of the Enemy” 1998).
Ninety days and counting of mass violence in U.S. cities must be inspiring among hostile foreign Napoleons a Renaissance planning special forces operations designed to win a war — even before the outset of war — by defeating America at home.
Enemy special forces could blackout national electric grids, crippling U.S. power projection (the national grid supplies 99% of electricity used by CONUS military bases), coordinated with an Information Warfare campaign blaming Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Then the real aggressor — Russia, China, North Korea or Iran — could make their overt move against the Baltic states, Taiwan, South Korea or Israel.
The president and Pentagon would be reluctant, and perhaps deterred altogether, from a major war opposing overseas aggression with a crippled military, while believing, mistakenly, that the United States is already facing an existential threat from domestic terrorists.
Security at U.S. military bases and even for U.S. bombers, ICBMs and submarines is designed for a 1950s “Ozzie and Harriet” America where Antifa and Spetsnaz were unthinkable.
Enemy special forces masquerading as domestic or international terrorists could shootdown bombers and tankers. Modern shoulder-fired SAMs like Russia’s SA-7, SA-14, SA-16 and SA-18 have proliferated around the world (50,000 manufactured) and can range outside peacetime security zones for USAF bases.
ICBMs can be shot-down during boost-phase by snipers armed with hunting rifles or shoulder-fired SAMs.
Submarines, both ballistic missile and attack subs, could be targeted in their berths by armed drones (like those used by Iran to destroy the Saudi Abqaiq-Khurais oil refinery in 2019), by shoulder-fired missiles, or even by armor-piercing sniper fire. Just one hole in the pressure hull of a submarine would render it inoperable.
The loss of just a few, or even one, bomber, tanker or submarine to “terrorists” during “peacetime” could become enormously consequential when Russia, China, North Korea or Iran make their “big play” overseas. Even unsuccessful attacks on U.S. strategic forces or critical infrastructures by “domestic terrorists” could deter or significantly slow U.S. reaction to overseas aggression, until the homeland is assuredly secure.
The present worldwide advertisement of U.S. homeland insecurity in places like Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., coincides with a revolution in special forces super-weapons:
• China’s Pterodactyl drone can fly 15,000 miles, from Beijing to Chicago and back, carrying smart bombs while jamming radars and conducting electronic warfare.
• China’s CH-500 unmanned mini-helicopter carries laser-guided missiles, can shoot through windows and destroy tanks.
• Russia’s rocket-propelled grenade launchers like the RPO-M lob a thermobaric warhead, giving one lone gunman firepower equivalent to a 152mm howitzer firing high-explosive shells.
• Russia and China both have battle robots armed with guns that can deliver high-explosives.
• Russia and China both have sniper super-rifles that can fire armor-piercing rounds over 3 kilometers.
• Even Iran has armed drones that can travel hundreds of kilometers and deliver strikes with great accuracy. Such drones could be equipped with a non-nuclear EMP warhead and programmed to follow powerlines to blackout electric grids.
Most of Russia and China’s special forces super-weapons are available to client states North Korea and Iran.
Some super-weapons used during a “Gray-Zone War” inside the United States could give away the game that attacks are not from Antifa. But the best, most effective, weapons could be used last, just before the conflict goes big and overt, becoming a major war against the United States or allies.
Another military disadvantage of being a free and open society is that bad guys can easily stockpile special weapons within U.S. borders long before hostilities.
America must not become a “surveillance state” like China.
However, we do need better security for military bases, including “Iron Dome” anti-missile/drone defenses and hardened shelters for submarines.
America’s life matters.
• Peter Vincent Pry, director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, served as chief of staff on the Congressional EMP Commission, and on the staffs of the House Armed Service Committee and the CIA. He is author most recently of “The Power And The Light” (Amazon.com).