Friday News Roundup–October 16, 2020

Good morning to you from Washington, D.C., and a happy Friday to you. There are 18 days until the election, and, last night, instead of a previously scheduled debate, both candidates took to dueling town hall fora on separate networks. In a nation and time so polarized that the candidates for president no longer appear on the same stage, flipping between the networks carrying the candidates certainly provided voters with a clear contrast as they make their considerations. However, with millions of votes already cast and a race that has remained in the same polling ranges for months, we’ll wait to see if these town halls have any lasting impact beyond shattering the norms for presidential debates.

This week, CSPC hosted an online webinar “Building the Space Economy for Commerce & Security” to discuss how burgeoning commercial opportunities in space will shape economic and security interests. In the Diplomatic Courier, Joshua reviewed H.R. McMaster’s battlegrounds, which provides a masterful overview of international politics, but speaks little of his time in the White House nor the economic and fiscal challenges that will weigh on our national security.

In this week’s roundup, Dan reflects on the legacy of General Edward C. Meyer, who passed away this week but is remembered for his call to rebuild and reform the U.S. Army in the late-70s and early-80s. Joshua covers the first comments across the pond from the new MI5 directors about threats to the UK from Russia and China. Ethan covers how the U.S. Army is changing its orientation for great power competition. Michael asks some tough questions about just how far a fight over expanding the Supreme Court could escalate. As always, we wrap with news you may have missed.

Remembering the Legacy & Lessons of General Edward C. Meyer

Dan Mahaffee

Army Chief of Staff GEN Edward C. Meyer — Department of Defense Photo

The excellence of the U.S. armed forces can often be taken for granted. In bad times, with shrinking budgets, a broken body politic, and, in the worst cases, the rebuke of defeat, a military can be hollowed-out as material and kit wear down and morale and discipline collapse. As the 29th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Edward C. “Shy” Meyer led the army out of those worst of times. Even as times have evolved, the challenges remain similar. As the U.S. military seeks to transform itself for great power competition, there is much that can be learned from GEN Meyer’s leadership.

GEN Meyer passed away on Tuesday, in Arlington, Virginia, at the age of 91. His life was one of service to his nation. As a member of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 1951 along with the late-David M. Abshire, GEN Meyer served in Korea, Vietnam, and Europe before his time in the Pentagon, ultimately rising to Army Chief of Staff from 1979 to 1983. GEN Meyer is best remembered for his warning to Congress of a “hollow army” and his leadership in reshaping and rebuilding the force.

Following the Vietnam War, the discipline and morale of the Army were at a nadir. The political and social tumult of the 1970s and budgetary limitations in a period of oil shocks and recessions undercut U.S. military readiness at a time when Soviet power seemed resurgent. The Army had transitioned to an all-volunteer force, but much of the mindset was held over from the draft. Quantity still meant more than quality, but no one could match the Soviets when it came to quantity — and seemingly the only way to match the Soviet advantage in quantity was to go nuclear.

Even as GEN Meyer took the position of Army Chief of Staff, military readiness was already a hot-button political issue in the looming 1980 election. CSPC Senior Fellow James Kitfield examined the legacy of officers like GEN Meyer — who forged their careers in Vietnam and then led the reforms that built the modern American military — in his work Prodigal Soldiers. When I asked James about GEN Meyer’s legacy, he reminded me of the election year context:

GEN Meyer was under tremendous pressure by the Carter administration to stay quiet about the alarming status of the U.S. Army. But as a student of military history, Meyer understood that what makes the U.S. military unique was its oath of allegiance not to a monarchy, individual leader or political party, but rather to the laws and ideals expressed in the Constitution. To the extent it was within his power, Meyer vowed to make the civilian leadership aware of the peril the nation faced, and that included the people’s representatives in Congress.

Under GEN Meyer’s leadership, the emphasis was not solely on increasing budgets and rolling out new platforms. New doctrines had to be developed to harness technological transformations like precision-guided munitions, GPS navigation, anti-tank missiles, and advanced attack helicopters. These doctrines would be married with an emphasis on training — including opening the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, California. To ensure that the best force possible went through these training centers, the Army would tackle a lack of discipline and substance abuse in its ranks, while also reshaping recruiting efforts to target those who wanted to “be all that you can be.” Command and personnel rotations would be restructured to emphasize esprit de corps and end the practice of commanders revolving through various units. In 1991, when the United States and its coalition allies prevailed over the Iraqi Army in the blitz of Desert Storm, it was in large part due to the highly-trained, well-equipped Army rebuilt and reformed following GEN Meyer’s clarion call.

While our military is hardly at a nadir like that of its post-Vietnam experience, there are tough questions ahead about the future of the force. One of the common critiques of the Army transformation overseen by Meyer and his colleagues was that the lessons of Vietnam were buried as the bureaucracy re-focused on plans for war along the Inter-German Border. The military, and the Army in particular, are now seeking to align with a defense strategy focused on China and Russia, yet also have yet to disengage from the small wars of the Middle East and South Asia — as Ethan describes further below. Our adversaries seek to match, if not surpass, the capabilities of our military, while new technologies continue to shape the contours of future conflicts. Hard questions about the size of the force, changes in doctrine, its overseas footprint, and its future platforms will come at a time of rancorous politics and squeezed budgets. Future leaders will need not only GEN Meyer’s vision, but also his willingness to speak truth to power.

MI5 Director-General’s First Public Remarks Highlight Threats to the UK

Joshua C Huminski

Ken McCallum, Director-General of MI5, Photo Courtesy of MI5

In his first public remarks since assuming the post in April of this year, director-general of MI5, Ken McCallum warned that “The national security challenges presented by Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other actors are growing in severity and in complexity.” Mr. McCallum, noted this week that the service is “looking to do more” to counter the intelligence threat from China. He added, “We face a nasty mix — terrorism isn’t going away, and state-backed hostile activity is on the rise.”

Mr. McCallum is the youngest-ever director-general of MI5, having served undercover for 24 years before assuming the post. His predecessor was Sir Andrew Parker. Mr. McCallum led MI5’s response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018. He holds a degree in mathematics from Glasgow University.

More broadly, the United Kingdom faced “threats “up to and including assassinations, as the Alexei Navalny poisoning reminds us; threats to our economy, our academic research, our infrastructure and, much discussed, threats to our democracy.”

Rather aptly, Mr. McCallum framed the challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing in climatic phrasing. It is worth quoting at length:

On state-backed hostile activity, I think we are looking at two lines that are going to cross: If the question is — which countries’ intelligence services cause the most aggravation to the UK in October 2020 the answer is Russia. If on the other hand the question is which state will be shaping our world across the next decade, presenting big opportunities and big challenges for the UK the answer is China. You might think in terms of the Russian intelligence services providing bursts of bad weather, while China is changing the climate.

The intelligence threat to the United Kingdom from China is not idle speculation. In September of this year, it emerged that a former Secret Intelligence Service — SIS or MI6 — officer was under investigation by both British and Belgian agencies for allegedly selling secrets to Beijing. Fraser Cameron who served SIS until the early 1990s, who now runs the EU-Asia Centre think-tank in Brussels, is believed to have a “willing relationship” with Chinese intelligence officials, having received payment from two Chinese reporters for information. The reporters were, in fact, Chinese intelligence officers. He denies the allegations.

In this comprehensive speech, he also noted that MI5’s focus was dominated by counter-terrorism — an issue which continues to demand attention. According to Mr. McCallum, since 2017 MI5 disrupted at least 27 plots, including three from far-right organizations. Mr. McCallum noted that the threat from the far-right was “sadly rising”, but unlike Salafi-Jihadist terrorist threats, there was no unifying or central movement. MI5 now has “lead intelligence responsibility” for terrorist threats which are “prioritised on the basis of threat and risk rather than ideology.”

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, he noted that the security service was working to defend institutions involved in the COVID-19 vaccine research. “I guess there are two bits we are on the lookout for: attempts either to steal unique intellectual property that’s been generated in that research or potentially to fiddle with the data.” He added, “And then the second risk we’ve got to be alive to is the possibility that the research is still high integrity and sound, but that somebody tries to sow doubt about its integrity.”

By including, and explicitly identifying, the China threat alongside Russia and Iran, the Director-General may hope to gain more freedom of movement against Moscow. Downing Street is particularly sensitive at the moment to discussion of Russia’s involvement in British politics and Brexit, after the Intelligence and Security Committee’s recent report, and allegations that Prime Minister Johnson and the Tory party is uncomfortably close with Russian oligarchs and their money. Shifting the narrative away from terrorism and toward nation-state intelligence threats more broadly, will allow Mr. McCallum and the service to pursue Moscow’s threat, as well as the threat posed from Beijing.

Moreover, Mr. McCallum’s remarks are likely an attempt to increase transparency and communicate more clearly with the public about the threats facing the United Kingdom. Arguably, much like the United States in the 2016 election, the British public did not fully appreciate the threat posed by Russian dis- and mis-information operations. As was and is being seen in advance of the 2020 election, the U.S. Intelligence Community is much more proactive in communicating what is happening, what they are doing to counter Russian interference, and what the interference aims to achieve. Mr. McCallum is aiming to achieve a similar result — a more informed populace and, ideally, a more animated parliament that is keen to provide the necessary resources to act.

The Army resets crawl-walk-run for GPC

Ethan Brown

The U.S. Army is finally adapting how it prepares its maneuver units for warfare under the Great Powers Competition paradigm. Simply, this means responding to the incessant demands of the previous two decades of conflict and refocusing on the quality of its troops. “Operational Tempo” is a term bandied about in defense policy and higher headquarters circles which, like the phrase “lethality”, is often uttered without proper context. Simply, the phrase fails to effectively express the depth of meaning and significance in casual conversation.

In the Global War on Terror era, operational tempo refers to the number of deployments a service member or unit faces under the expeditionary tempo bands (to use Air Force lingo). Many units are not deployable, per se, such as administrative, finance, or certain cyber squadrons. Those units receive deployment taskings from their higher headquarters, who receive the manpower requests from combatant commands abroad, who’s mission requirements require those specific operational specialties. Sometimes these are one-off or a case-by-case basis, while often it is a recurring need, but not enough to substantiate placing a unit in expeditionary status. Other units, like special operations, infantry, flying squadrons, and your standard carrier strike groups, deploy on a repetitive, ops-calendar cycle.

This type of rotational cycle means repetition, repetition, and some more repetition. Beginning after my third deployment, I knew which of the transient bunks at each stopping point were most comfortable for a two-hour layover power nap, and those bunks remained reliably intransient for my next three trips. My phone also auto-connected to every AAFES/USO wifi on the way to Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere (I know, I should have used better device/network discipline, but I’m wiser now). My teammates and I had an unspoken contract on where in the C-17 we would always sit, to facilitate where hammocks were hung or air mattresses would be unrolled. The transit phase for those who lived in this high ops-tempo simply became a muscle-memory.

Even though the U.S. is supposed to be disengaging from endless wars, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy made it clear this week that operational tempo remains “extremely high, even as the number of forces are coming down”. As such, Secy. McCarthy, in tandem with Army Chief of Staff General James McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grintson, addressed some glaring issues within the Army regarding that operational tempo, and how they plan to address it.

Ordinarily, such an event serves as little more than a buzzword primer at a pontification opportunity (see: lethality). But to hear the idea’s being pushed downward from top Army brass offers a modicum of optimism for a beleaguered and tired service-branch. Secy. McCarthy quantified a review which has taken place over recent years, and summarized the key points for how the Army will better prepare its soldiers for future warfighting:

  • [Unit] commanders will have more flexibility to determine what training their soldiers need, a departure from big Army dictating so many individual soldier currency requirements
  • Focus training on the basics of individual, squad, platoon, and company-level training, as well as key-leader development
  • Reducing the requirement to conduct brigade and battalion live-fire exercises, and most significantly, reducing deployment durations and increasing dwell-time between these rotations

So let’s unpack these key points. The first point is not some new radical idea, where unit commanders (a position I heard over and over as ‘the most influential billet for an officer’, I’m inclined to agree) are given primacy over mission requirements. Ostensibly, former Air Force Chief of Staff General Goldfein pushed a similar agenda when he took over in 2017, eliminating hundreds of overarching requirements regulations, freeing up squadron commanders to drive their units to expeditionary proficiency, and it worked. These unit commander types are held responsible for mission success, so when big mil dictums occupy the bulk of training schedules, the quality of product or service will invariably wither. An Armor company commander should understand implicitly the skills that his maneuver, motor company, and support functions will require in order to be mission effective, which often has little or nothing to do with ancillary training provided by TRADOC in the form of mind numbing blackboard/canvas/Army portal computer based training. Which takes us to the next point…

While I was aligned with the Ranger Regiment, a premium was placed on individual marksmanship with fire and maneuver skills by my Joint force partners. There were times when my supported platoon would be missing multiple team members who owed their annual cyber-awareness training, MEDPROS, or other HHQ-driven mandates. Give a company commander the authority to secure block-training dates which syncs those requirements across the entire unit, then your soldiers have much more calendar space available to conduct actual warfighting skills. Focusing on those basics through the lower-levels of maneuver units is a sure-fire means of achieving proficiency in combat skills.

To alleviate any confusion on organization sizes, and how that plays into this analysis, let’s talk about the third point of reducing battalion and brigade exercises in favor of lower echelons conducting those live-fire training events. The Army has spent the last couple of decades relying heavily on the Combined Training Centers (the National Training Center [NTC] at Ft. Irwin, CA and the Joint Readiness Training Center [JRTC] at Ft. Polk, LA) to prepare its forces for all manner of overseas taskings. These consist of wargames for maneuver commands which offer an Afghanistan/MENA/EUROCOM environment, with tactical problem sets against grey forces (other US Army personnel as OPFOR) that must be solved through effective command and control and, you guessed it, fire and maneuver.

The typical U.S. Army Battalion is a command which varies from 300–1000 soldiers in various combat and support functions, as well as its core C2/command staff element. A Battalion presides over three to six maneuver companies- your basic maneuver element of 60–150 personnel. The Brigade will consist of two to five of these Battalions with additional support functions forming the standard U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team. Moving either a Brigade or Battalion to the NTC or JRTC sites is a monstrous endeavor, both in cost and effort. Despite the superlative efforts of the training staff at those CTC commands, it is incredibly difficult to effectively simulate a brigade-level fire and maneuver exercise. Due to the COVID pandemic, the Army has already absorbed the reality of losing those CTC training events this year, and plans to scrub several NTC/JRTC rotations in the coming fiscal year for Brigades and Battalions alike. It is much easier to move a company across the country, and provide those lower-level command teams and warfighters point training. Under Secy. McCarthys guidance, the command and control training normally ‘achieved’ at an NTC rotation will now be conducted via virtual and augmented simulations, despite limitations inherent with this method. Yes friends, even the Army is coming to terms with Zoom fatigue.

This paradigm shift doesn’t suggest a lack of strategic value in training those higher echelons on fire and maneuver, but the point is that those units don’t precisely perform that function. The training for war hasn’t changed dramatically, rather, who is being trained in a new strategic environment indeed has.

Here is the root of the matter- war has changed. It isn’t presently changing or evolving, the GWOT era rotational vacations to cozy, perma-FOBs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are already a thing of the past. Most of us will not miss those old familiar transient bunk beds. Russia and China are all the rage, yet the defense industry seemingly has a nostalgic addiction to chasing fragmented extremist networks in the name of national security. Agnostic of that comfort in familiarity, the national security paradigm has evolved, and the Army is overdue for some of these changes in training, deployment cycles, exercises, and force support architecture.

Contentious opinions suggest that the next conflict involving Russia or China will require Brigade-sized maneuvers and massing conventional troops in the anti-counter terror model (read here for the Special Operations role in that fight). Certainly, we cannot eschew the necessity of higher commands on these potential battlefields, but no good strategist pursues a land war in Asia. The use of the Battalions and up will not change, but if the company-level units lack proficiency in basic warfighting skills, the senior command and control functions cannot hope to compete effectively in a ‘new’ conflict paradigm.

On that note, and perhaps not coincidentally, just a few weeks ago the Army quietly pulled the plug on its Asymmetric Warfare Group- a warfighter-driven pseudo think tank within the Army modernization command, intended to rapidly apply lessons learned from the ‘new’, unconventional battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq (circa ‘03-onward), and quickly provide that data to big Army decision makers in order to adapt task organization and tactics. The ASG’s conjoined twin, the Rapid Equipping Force, died alongside the AWG. The REF was intended to- you guessed it- rapidly equip soldiers with newly adopted, commercially sourced equipment suited to the climes of counter-terror. It wasn’t a huge secret to those of us in the Joint Force family, who brushed the AWG and REF on occasion, that the Army has been trying to bury these two enterprises for some time. Rather than helping evolve the warfighter TTPs, the AWG and REF were closer to a gatekeeper on battlefield tendencies, while the knowledge of battlefield realities remained organic to the maneuver units returning from theater…”well, on my trip to Kandahar last year”…

It’s not a new Army, but the United States and the defense department certainly face a new type of battlefield- one that behooves proficiency at the lowest levels, and demands simple competency at higher echelons. Improving troop quality, focusing on basic skills, reducing the time spent on repeating deployments, and enabling commanders to prepare their soldiers for conflict are undoubtedly a positive shift in Army planning.

Stopping Nomination Escalation

Michael Stecher

General Turgidson argues that we must not allow a judicial review gap!

When Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts was undergoing his confirmation hearing in September 2005, he described the role of judges through a memorable metaphor. “Judges are like umpires,” he said. “Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role….It is my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.” This is a common view among lawyers — especially among the legal elite that sets the philosophical tempo for the class.

The anger generated by the all-but-assured confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the refusal of the Senate to take up the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 virtually guarantees that this view is a thing of the past. The choices that political leaders make next will set the terms for this new phase in the judiciary’s history and how destructive that new phase coming-into-being will be.

The “balls and strikes” view is a fundamentally small-c conservative view of the role of the courts and law in society in the United States. It might refer to an actual time that existed in our history, though to be humble we should recognize that it might not.

Armed with the power of declaring the laws to be unconstitutional, the American magistrate perpetually interferes in political affairs [emphasis mine].

That statement, while sounding quite contemporary in its understanding of the role of the judiciary, was written by French polymath Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. He also astutely noted that lawyers serve the role played by the aristocracy in Europe: “They have nothing to gain by innovation, which adds a conservative interest to their natural taste for public order.”

Nothing against lawyers and I am not so cynical as to claim that every decision a judge makes fits neatly into political paradigms. The Supreme Court, however, has been called upon to make decisions that are closer to politics, whether this dates to Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Baker v. Carr (1962), Roe v. Wade (1973), or Bush v. Gore (2000). The corresponding trend has been that the votes to confirm justices have become closer and more attuned to partisan politics.

With the exception of Judge Bork, whose nomination failed, and Justice Thomas, whose nomination was nearly derailed by the allegations that he had sexually harassed Anita Hill, the prior generation of Supreme Court justices were all confirmed with large bipartisan majorities, while the current generation was confirmed on largely party-line votes. The last Supreme Court justice confirmed by a Senate controlled by the party in opposition to the president was Thomas, 12 nominations (including Harriet Miers who withdrew, Garland, and Coney Barrett) and nearly 30 years ago.

This could be historical happenstance because there have been so few cases of Supreme Court nominations. We cannot know, for example, whether Garland (or someone else) would have gotten a hearing if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016 but the GOP had retained the Senate. Contemporaneous statements by some Republicans suggest they would not have, but democratic politics is always at least partly about posturing.

That is why it is similarly hard to know whether a theoretical Biden administration and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would agree on a strategy to try to add justices to the Supreme Court or use some other legislative method to try and change its partisan makeup. They would face a lot of pressure from liberal activists and commentators who are furious at the display of partisan power and hypocrisy, but that might not be enough to bring 50 members of the Senate along with the idea.

I would be out of my league to tell Democratic Party leaders whether that is a Good Idea or a Bad Idea, but it is critical that they consider what comes next. After the experiences of Garland and Coney Barrett, the state of play for nominations to the Supreme Court appears to be that the Supreme Court has nine seats and, when a seat opens, a president whose party also controls the Senate can appoint a new justice. That is certainly how Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) meant it when he said in May, “Well, Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different.”

Changing those rules brings risks. It is not hard to imagine a scenario in 2021 where the Supreme Court crosses some red line for Democrats — eviscerating Roe v. Wade is the most commonly referenced example — that would make the pressure on theoretical-President Biden unbearable. He might add 2 additional justices to bring the rough partisan balance back to where it was before Ginsurg died with 5 conservatives (Alito, Coney Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas) and 5 liberals (Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, Nominee 1, Nominee 2), with Roberts as the swing vote. That would not, however, set a new stable norm that there should be 11 justices on the Court; the next Republican president and Senate majority leader would almost certainly respond by adding two more seats to counteract the norm violation of going from 9 to 11.

Nor would either party necessary feel bound to respond proportionally. Why add 2 justices and not 4? If Biden adds 2 and then one of the conservative justices retires and he replaces him or her with another liberal, the next Republican president could also add 4. There is no stable point at which the parties would stop this escalation spiral. Any veneer of apolitical umpiring would be torn away and the federal judiciary would be revealed to be what its critics already allege: a third legislative house made up of jointly appointed life peers, a terrifying looking-glass version of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords armed with a sense that they have an unfettered right to interfere in the affairs of elected lawmakers.

This is not the first time that court packing (or whatever euphemism you might prefer) has come to the top of the agenda. In President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first term, the Supreme Court struck down many pieces of New Deal legislation, culminating in FDR threatening to increase the size of the Court through legislation. Whether because of political pressure, an interest in preserving the “balls and strikes” norm, or a sincere change of heart, Justice Owen Roberts began siding with liberals in late 1936, preserving the New Deal, and FDR withdrew his plan. Both sides backed down and deescalated and the episode is now called the “switch in time that saved nine”.

We need just such an off-ramp now. Last month, we could have hoped that the Senate would stick to the “Garland Rule” and not take up Coney Barrett’s nomination. That would have created a norm where now election years are off-limits for Supreme Court nominations, but that moment has passed. Maybe the next time an anti-abortion ruling comes to the Court, the conservative majority will break ranks and produce a new switch in time, but I am skeptical. Nor is it reasonable to assume that Democrats will surrender in the face of a Supreme Court that is deeply at odds with public opinion. The question is not what happens then, but what can be done to keep things from getting out of control after that.

News You May Have Missed

Chinese App “Tuber” Allows Access to YouTube and Facebook — But Only Briefly

Eric Dai

For a period of about two weeks, Chinese netizens were able to bypass the Great Firewall and view censored versions of certain websites through an app called Tuber. The app, created by the government-backed Chinese cybersecurity company Qihoo 360, required users to register with their real-world identities and phone numbers before granting them access to otherwise-blocked websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and the New York Times. Content on those websites was censored, however — a search for “Tiananmen” on YouTube using the Tuber app, for instance, yielded no results. The app stopped working and was removed from the Huawei app store on October 10; no reason was given by Qihoo 360.

Facebook is Banning Anti-Vax Ads

Oscar Bellsolell

For a long time, Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg himself) has stood for freedom of speech, avoiding to prohibit any type of content from being posted on their platform. But after this year’s pandemic, the company has changed its position and has been trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 related fake-news. Now, Facebook will be going one step further and will not allow advertisers that discourage vaccination, or that spread misinformation on vaccines’ safety and efficacy. However, posts uploaded by the anti-vax community — increasingly active on Facebook and Instagram — will not be removed from these social networks. That said, Facebook will still allow the display of ads advocating against legislation concerning vaccination.

Kim Jong Un Rolls Out New ICBM

Thomas Triedman

North Korea unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile during his parade on Saturday, which marked the 75th anniversary of the reign of the Workers’ Party. The ICBM was carried out on a 22-wheel transporter; its size and shape indicate that the missile is designed to carry a larger payload. But this missile might not be more threatening than smaller missiles, and its larger size only makes it more easily identifiable by satellites. Additionally, because this missile requires liquid fuel, American intelligence might have time to spot it before it could be launched. After the unveiling of the new weapon, Kim Jong Un gave a speech, vowing to increase his national security in the face of “hostile forces” without ever explicitly mentioning the United States. He also referred to his nuclear stockpile as an effective instrument for “war deterrent” rather than “nuclear deterrent” — a minor change in language that symbolizes a “softening of his rhetoric,” analysts say.

The views of authors are their own and not that of CSPC.

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