"In Brief..."

 

 

 

 

A word from the Director …

Chaos, Terror War and Missiles: The Mess in the Middle East

In the summer of 1949, delegates to the Geneva Convention celebrated a hard-won achievement: The signing of the landmark “Treaty for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”

Today, 65 years later, their legacy is dead.

There was never really much hope for the delegates’ brave dream. As I write these words countless refugees surge across the Middle East, from one conflict zone to another in a vast, no-holds-barred terror war. Like a vicious human hurricane churned by Iran and other cynical players, it has swept up millions of victims in a region too poor to support even stable, pre-war populations. Of course, with the world now focused on the thousands of evacuees fleeing the war Hamas launched from behind Gaza’s human shields, the vastly larger tragedy has been, for the moment, forgotten.

How does Hamas’s terror war fit into the bigger, chaotic Middle East mess? As the chaos spiraled and grew over the last few months, Israel remained an island of stability. And then, three weeks ago Hamas, firing mortars, katyushas and Iran-supplied Tel Aviv-range rockets, tried to suck Israel into the hurricane.

And failed.

While hundreds of rockets have been launched toward Israel’s biggest cities, in Jerusalem children still fill the playgrounds, pizza parlors are full and in Tel Aviv, the Silicon Valley of Europe, business is brisk. To be sure, some of the closest Gaza-adjacent towns are largely empty. In Tel Aviv, the normal pace of city life has slowed and Air France, Lufthansa and most U.S. airlines did, briefly, spurn Ben Gurion Airport. There have been impacts. But unlike in the previous missile wars Israel has had to deal with, life goes on. And that is remarkable.

Missile Defense: Keystone for stability

There are many factors to thank for this remarkable reality – the indomitable spirit of Israelis, the ubiquitous military training, the IDF – but ask any Israeli and he will point to one dominant factor: Missile Defense. Every major city in Hamas’ range is covered by an Iron Dome: Of the hundreds of rockets launched, a remarkably small number have survived to hit their targets.

Multi-layer active missile defense – Of course the “Iron Dome” is only the innermost of a series of nested layers, designed to handle everything from Hamas’ short range rockets to medium and long range ballistic and cruise missiles. With Arrow 2 deployed for long range threats, David’s Sling in final development for medium range and Arrow 3 due to add another very long range layer, Israel’s comprehensive missile defense model is unique.

Passive missile defense – Steps toward EMP protection

On top of all this, Israel is now taking steps toward highly leveraging passive missile defense measures, preparing to take yet another serious vulnerability off the table by protecting its national power grid from EMP.

The Resilience Challenge

Israel’s outstanding missile defense architecture is a good example of resilience, which never comes easy. It is much quicker to exploit serious vulnerabilities than to correct them – an aggressor might acquire, say, a bootleg Pakistani WMD in a time far shorter than it would take to develop missile defense or EMP protection. And where geopolitical changes can happen quickly, the offense - defense gap can be particularly deadly.

This makes Israel’s remarkable resilience in the Hamas terror war a very unusual success story. And the investment – in active missile defense and passive EMP protection – is continuing. What are the forces driving this investment?

Mapping a Geopolitical Maelstrom

In a period of just a few years Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are no longer recognizable nations, with their territories now controlled by a kaleidoscopic mix of competing, marauding irregular armies. Hezbollah’s global activities are reportedly expanding. The new Al Qaeda offshoot, ISIS, now controls continuous territory stretching from deep inside Syria to inside Iraq, and is doing a brisk business in sales of electricity and oil from captured power plants, in both Syria and Iraq, where they now control Iraq’s largest power plant and oil refinery. Pakistan’s vicious Lashka terror organizations have become increasingly bold, and it is difficult to take comfort in Islamabad’s newest request for U.S. anti-terror funding, as government security forces are believed to actively support terror.

What unites these groups is their hatred of Israel, the United States and other Western powers, and their desire – and in many cases possession, of deadly, destabilizing offensive missiles.

Of all the flavors in this noxious, violent brew, ISIS is particularly alarming. Their explosive growth, their ability to acquire and effectively leverage their growing territory and resources, their radical world view – which includes, of course, destruction of Israel and its friends and allies – combine to make them uniquely dangerous. The U.S. worries that they may have acquired highly advanced, Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons – a concern with a serious, rather terrifying resonance given the intercept of the passenger flight over Ukraine, not to mention other recent, suspicious crashes.

Particularly alarming is their evident desire to acquire WMDs. They reportedly already captured “reduced effectiveness” chemical weapons, and more recently nuclear material. And there are some media reports that they claim access to bootleg nuclear weapons. This last, whether true or not, is an indication of a chilling objective. And it is worthwhile to remember that ISIS, a Sunni terrorist group, has nuclear-armed co-religionists nearby, in mostly Sunni Pakistan.

The message

In this environment, Israel’s efforts in recent years to expand its missile defense systems seem prophetic. And given the long term objectives of Iran, ISIS and other regional and trans-national terrorist groups, the new push for basic EMP protection is also timely.

International security concerns

Of course, Israel is not the only missile and rocket target in the sights of the world’s terrorist organizations. GRAD rockets and Polish anti-aircraft missiles have been reported in the Ukraine conflict, and Ukraine rebels are apparently good students of Hamas’s “human shield” policy, with katyushas reportedly based in kindergartens.

And in addition to the global threats implied by Middle East and other nearby terrorist organizations, the U.S. also has growing missile threats to worry about. With its recent missile testing, North Korea continues to send the world reminders of the unstable powder keg festering in Southeast Asia. And, perhaps even more important, both Russia and China are reportedly vigorously modernizing their nuclear weapon fleets.

This last is particularly disturbing news for the United States which, under current defense budget and policy conditions, is not in a position to match these upgrades from its historic competitors. And with disturbing stories of physical and manpower issues for the U.S. nuclear deterrent continuing to show up in the press, analysts have begun expressing growing concerns over the direction of the U.S. – Russian – Sino balance of power.

Among all of these grim news stories, there do remain a few bright spots.

In the U.S., concerns over the efficacy of the advanced U.S. missile defense system have sharply declined after a successful new and important missile defense test.

And in Israel, in spite of the regional geo-strategic terrorist superstorm, the tiny nation’s prophetic missile defense investment is reaping a bountiful crop, as Iron Dome helps ensure life can go on, with minimal disturbance, in the eye of the hurricane.

Thank you for supporting Israeli Missile Defense.

Avi Schnurr
Executive Director, IMDA

avi@imda.org.il

 

 

  Operation Protective Edge

 

 

The Iron Dome missile defense system has achieved a 90 percent interception rate during Israel’s current operation to stop Hamas rocket fire. During Israel’s previous operation in November 2012 the system achieved an 85 percent success rate. Seven batteries of the system are currently deployed throughout the country to protect Israel from Hamas’ deadly missile salvoes.

During Operation Protective Edge, in addition to targeting cities in Israel’s center, Hamas has fired longer-range rockets capable of reaching the northern city of Haifa. Iran has been implicated as the supplier of the longer range M-302 rockets. Several of the missiles were found this past March aboard an Iranian cargo ship intercepted by Israel in the Red Sea (for more details visit: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0709/Iran-connection-Why-are-Gaza-rockets-reaching-so-deep-into-Israel-video).

 

 

Reuters 07/10/14

 

Israel and the U.S. reach agreement over Iron Dome spending

 

The U.S. and Israeli governments have reached an agreement to spend more than half of the funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system in the U.S. The agreement calls for funds going to U.S. component contractors to be increased to 30 percent this year and 55 percent next year. Previously only 3 percent of funds for the system have been spent in the U.S.

 

 

Business Week 05/28/14

 

ISIS conquers large areas of Iraq

 

The U.S. is concerned that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) may have obtained U.S.-made Stinger missiles during its lightning takeover of large parts of Iraq. Iraqi intelligence officials said that ISIS fighters captured two large weapons depots containing approximately 400,000 items, including missiles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. They said that a quarter of the stockpile was sent to their fighters in Syria.

ISIS insurgents are also believed to have acquired nearly 40 kilograms of uranium compounds from a supplies apparently kept at Mosul University. (For more details visit http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/09/us-iraq-security-nuclear-idUSKBN0FE2KT20140709).

As a result of the ISIS takeover of large swaths of Iraq, the radical Islamist group now controls territory on both sides of the former Syria-Iraq border. Earlier this month ISIS took control of the Abu Kamal border crossing from rival Syrian rebels. The terror group has also taken over Syria’s largest oil production facility as well as six other oil and gas fields, and has captured a military airport and an army base (for more details visit http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/08/world/meast/syria-civil-war/).


 

Fox News 06/16/14

 

Pakistan asking for more anti-terror money, while security forces support terror

 

The Pakistani government is negotiating with the U.S. for more funds to fight terrorist groups in its northwestern provinces. At the same time, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) is widely suspected of aiding the Haqqani terrorist network and the Pakistani Taliban in their fight against coalition troops in Afghanistan. According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. had already given Pakistan $11 billion in aid for its efforts to fight terrorist organizations in its territory.

 

 

Business Week 07/16/14

 

 

 

U.S. missile defense system succeeds in important new test

 

 

The U.S.’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system successfully downed a simulated enemy missile, in the system’s first successful intercept test since 2008. The system provides the U.S. with its only defense against long-range ballistic missiles. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director James Syring called the successful test “a very important step” in MDA’s work to improve the effectiveness and reliability of the system.

In related U.S. missile defense news, reports continue to surface of safety failures and low morale at the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman 3 ICBM bases in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Concerns have been increasingly voiced that ICBM support systems have been neglected, despite the Air Force’s claim that the system remains safe and secure. The Minuteman 3 was originally deployed in 1970 to counter threats from the former Soviet Union (for more details visit http://jacksonville.com/military/2014-07-11/story/airmen-morale-problems-guard-nations-aging-missile-system).

 

Reuters 06/22/14

 

Polish made MANPADS seen in Ukrainian conflict

 

According to the Ukrainian ministry of defense, separatist rebels possess Polish made Grom man portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Ukraine published photographs of a MANPAD seized from rebels who attempted to attack a military aircraft in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Grad missiles fired by Pro-Russia rebels killed at least 19 Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine. The troops were attempting to secure Ukraine’s porous eastern border with Russia. The Ukrainian defense ministry said that the missiles were fired from a Grad launcher ten miles away (for more details visit http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/11/at-least-19-ukraine-troops-reportedly-killed-in-attack/).

The rebels have also been accused of using human shields in the Ukrainian conflict. A Katyusha missile launcher was found on the grounds of a kindergarten (for more details visit http://zik.ua/en/news/2014/07/05/lysenko_terrorists_place_katiushas_even_in_kindergartens_503416).

 

Jane's 05/20/14

 

North Korea increases ballistic missile tests

 

Over the past month North Korea has conducted half-a-dozen missile and heavy artillery tests. The launches included several ballistic missile tests. Pyongyang has been condemned for the testing by the UN Security Council. North Korea’s National Defense Commission defended the tests as a valid exercise of self-defense. South Korean officials have confirmed about 90 missile test firings by the North since February: ten have been ballistic missile tests (for more details visit http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/10252010/More-missiles-fired-from-North-Korea).

In response to the North’s aggressive stance and increase in missile tests, South Korea successfully tested earlier this year its own ballistic missile capable of striking most of the North. The new missile has a range of 310 miles and can carry a warhead of up to 2,200 pounds (for more details visit http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/world/asia/south-korea-tests-missile-that-can-strike-most-of-north.html?ref=world&_r=2).

Concerns over China’s military buildup continue to grow. Beijing’s growing missile arsenal poses a significant danger to U.S. forces and military bases in East Asia (for more details visit http://nationalinterest.org/feature/chinas-missile-forces-are-growing-it-time-modify-the-inf-10791).

 

 

Global Post 07/21/14

 

Russia announces development of new, unique ICBM

 

Russia is developing a powerful new ICBM capable of penetrating almost any air defense system, according to Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister. The new missile, Sarmatian, is expected to comprise the majority of Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces by 2021. Work on the project is advancing ahead of schedule.

Additionally, new missile systems will comprise 98 percent of Moscow’s Strategic Missile Forces by 2021 (for more details visit http://in.rbth.com/news/2014/07/04/rearmament_of_russias_strategic_missile_forces_to_be_completed_by_2020_36453.html).


 

Moscow Times 07/01/14