NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for a new Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative to counter growing nuclear and conventional strategic threats posed by China.
Mr. Pompeo, preempting the Biden administration’s forthcoming nuclear posture review, said a new, more robust strategic deterrence system, based on advanced weapons and capabilities, is needed to maintain peace.
“A Strategic Defense Initiative for our time, the SDI II, which should exemplify former President Ronald Reagan’s vision of defense in depth, is mandatory,” Mr. Pompeo said, writing in the journal The National Interest.
The former secretary of state under President Donald Trump also warned that U.S. policies of unilateral restraint will not be matched with similar strategic restraint by China or Russia and will only increase the danger of war.
“Deterrence arises from strength and never from weakness, because weakness invites belligerency,” Mr. Pompeo said. “Unilateral restraint in the maintenance and disposition of forces does not support deterrence, for deterrence cannot arise from unilateral restraint if such restraint circumscribes power in the face of burgeoning threats. Unilateral restraint can signal weakness, which may begin a dangerous cascade of responses by nations that believe they are unbound.”
President Biden is said by officials familiar with the nuclear posture review to be considering a range of limits on U.S. nuclear weapons and other strategic forces at a time when China is fielding hundreds of new strategic missiles, including an orbiting nuclear-tipped hypersonic weapon that can attack from space.
Russia also is building new missiles and other exotic strategic arms, including a nuclear-armed drone torpedo capable of destroying entire port cities.
Outlining what are likely to be key elements of Republican national security policies for the 2024 presidential election, Mr. Pompeo, a likely presidential candidate, stated said the nuclear triad of ground- and sea-based missiles and bombers must be preserved.
Some Biden administration officials have argued that the United States could eliminate its ground-based nuclear missiles and shift to a deterrent force of nuclear missile submarines and bombers. Mr. Biden also in the past has advocated a policy that the U.S. would not be the first nation to use nuclear arms in a conflict. Mr. Pompeo said a no-first-use policy would increase the danger of non-nuclear attacks using chemical or biological weapons.
Current plans for large-scale nuclear force modernization must not be halted, Mr. Pompeo stated. A force of at least 150 new B-21 Raider bombers, at least 12 Columbia-class missile submarines and 400 or more new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles are urgently needed to maintain deterrence against threats from China and Russia, he argued.
Additionally, Mr. Pompeo called for building and deploying a new Long-Range Standoff Cruise Missile that can be launched from vulnerable and aging B-52 bombers until the new B-21s can be deployed.
New strategic defenses, including space-based missile defenses, also must be built as part of Strategic Defense Initiative II.
The first SDI under Reagan helped bankrupt the Soviet Union and led to the collapse of that regime in 1991. For SDI II, new sensors and anti-missile systems in space are needed to counter China’s arsenal of hypersonic missiles, which are capable of maneuvering at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound.
Confronted by the threats of devastating missile attacks against U.S. satellites by both China and Russia, “the United States has no choice but to deploy [anti-satellite] systems expeditiously,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Pompeo also criticized some current senior defense and military leaders who he said appear more interested in pursuing social engineering and “woke” politics than in strengthening the fighting capacity of the military.
“Military leadership is required, but many of our nation’s civilian officials, and some of our flag officers, appear more concerned with progressive politics and sociological constructs, which should have no presence in our armed forces,” he said. “A primary mission of our military should be the fielding of crucial weapons in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
The United States needs to block the possible emergence of a China-Russia alliance. That can be done by following the Reagan-era model of reaching out to the Russian people and seeking the ouster of what Mr. Pompeo termed “kleptocratic elements within the Kremlin that seek power through volatility and subversion.”
Ideologically, new efforts must be made to counter China’s communist rulers who are seeking global hegemony and the defeat of the United States as part of an updated Cold War, he said.
“Chinese nuclear forces represent a palpable threat in that their rapid expansion in capabilities is woven into conventional and regional strategies that seek to displace the United States as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr. Pompeo said. “America’s position, once considered unalterable, is the foundation for peace in the Indo-Pacific and must be preserved.”
Beijing will use its growing nuclear power as a final component in the Chinese Communist Party’s spectrum of power designed to intimidate and control.
“In response, America must induce economic costs for China if it does not agree to negotiate meaningful limits on its offensive nuclear capabilities, which must include its hypersonic weapons,” Mr. Pompeo said.
The recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill requires spending millions of dollars to study the protection of critical U.S. infrastructure from the effects of a nuclear-detonated electromagnetic pulse attacks.
“What is actually necessary, however, is a multibillion-dollar program to build national EMP preparedness, to harden our electric grid, which will protect our military assets, infrastructure, businesses, and people,” Mr. Pompeo said.
GOP lawmakers seek answers on COVID origin report
Republican members of Congress recently wrote to the Biden administration seeking more information about a report written by a Marine Corps researcher who asserted that the virus behind COVID-19 pandemic came from bat virus research conducted at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that a document from Maj. Joseph Murphy, made public by the group Project Veritas, reveals details about a research proposal for a Pentagon contract from the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance. The alliance proposed using a lab-modified SARS virus to inoculate bats. The proposal was rejected by the Pentagon but funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases until halted in April 2020 — at the height of the pandemic, the report said.
Maj. Murphy also said he believed the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and triggered the pandemic.
Mr. Johnson wrote to determine if the Pentagon is investigating the findings of the report and wants to know if the research and engineering office received the Marine’s report.
“I further request that your office provide a briefing on the findings of any investigation into the allegations contained in the disclosure,” he stated. “I also request to speak with U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Murphy to discuss his disclosure as soon as possible.”
In the House, six Republicans, led by North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, wrote a similar letter to Mr. Austin, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky regarding Maj. Murphy’s report.
The lawmakers stated that two years after the outbreak of disease in Wuhan, China, the origin of the virus behind the pandemic remains unknown.
“Recently, new information has come to light, detailing just how this may have occurred and by what methods a cover-up may have evolved,” the letter states, referring to Maj. Murphy’s letter to the Pentagon inspector general.
Based on the new information, the House members asked whether the August 2021 report by Maj. Murphy, at the time working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was kept on a top-secret computer system to prevent public disclosure and why.
Carrier strike group, Marine flattop in S. China Sea
The aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson and a Marine Corps amphibious ready group including the flattop USS Essex, recently concluded training operations in the disputed South China Sea.
The warships conducted several days of training operations that included simulated maritime strike missions, marine interdiction activities, anti-submarine warfare drills and refueling at sea exercises, according to a Navy statement. The exercises ended Sunday.
The Navy and Marine Corps operations countered China’s claims to owning most of the South China Sea and a requirement laid down by Beijing that all vessels entering the waterway must obtain China’s prior permission.
The Marines practiced air operations using AV-8B Harrier jump jets, MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor transports, UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper and the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.
“Our ability to quickly and effectively integrate with an amphibious ready group, such as [Essex] ARG, demonstrates a diverse level of naval lethality that is unlike any other naval force,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander of Carrier Strike Group 1. “The long-range strike capability of the Vinson Strike Group, combined with the Essex ARG’s potential to deliver a payload of Marines to any maritime region, greatly contributes to the U.S. strategic ability to continue defending a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In addition to the Vinson, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, and three guided-missile destroyers, the USS Michael Murphy, USS O’Kane and USS Chafee, took part.
• Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter @BillGertz.