North Korea is shaping up to be a regular pain in the butt for the US. First, they shoot off four ballistic missiles near Japan as practice in taking us out. Then they threaten to hit US bases in Japan and now the Japanese are considering a first strike response. You can hardly blame them. But things are getting even more personal between the US and the NoKos. They’ve got Hawaii in their sights and our military now believes that they will have fully functional ballistic missile capabilities soon that can hit the Hawaiian Islands. The state is requesting an upgrade to missile defenses.
North Korea could potentially devastate America’s Pacific military bases, thus the dire need for this. The United States today relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii. That’s not going to cut it. Our Aegis system is used on Navy destroyers. If we install an Aegis Ashore system in Hawaii and station destroyers there, it would establish a permanent missile defense installation in the US Pacific that could protect the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast from a North Korean missile launch.
From The Washington Free Beacon:
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency in February test fired a new SM-3 Block IIA missile from Hawaii that successfully intercepted an incoming ballistic missile, but the Pentagon does not maintain a permanent missile defense installation or detection capabilities on the Hawaiian Islands.
The Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii hosts an experimental, land-based ballistic missile defense system called Aegis Ashore. The facility served as a prototype for the U.S. missile defense facility in Romania, which was declared operational last year, and another in Poland that will be completed in 2018.
Ariel Cohen, director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources, and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the Defense Department needs to immediately upgrade the Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii from experimental to operational to guard against North Korean aggression.
“Senior national security leaders have stated that the U.S. needs to work off the assumption that North Korea will have ICBM capabilities soon, and in this business ‘soon’ could mean five to 10 years, or earlier,” Cohen said.
“This question is, do we need to wait until North Korea successfully launches a test ICBM to know that they have that capacity? The answer is no … The [Aegis Ashore] is a proven system. Why would we protect our European allies before we protect the homeland?”
Converting the Aegis Ashore site from an experimental facility to a combat-ready platform would cost an estimated $41 million, which in the defense world is cheap. Keeping the homeland safe from North Korean aggression… priceless. We do this in Europe and we need to do it here. Defense officials have warned that North Korea is on the brink of producing an ICBM that could target the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced in January during his New Year’s address that Pyongyang had “entered the final stage of preparations to test-launch” an ICBM that could reach parts of the United States. He’s just itching for a fight.
Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon that the administration will likely look at defense and deterrence tactics to use against Pyongyang, rather than diplomatic engagement. Good, because diplomacy does not work with the Hermit Kingdom. “Our intelligence has been surprised again and again by technology developments by adversaries or attacks the US didn’t foresee,” Cohen said. “Hawaii has a particularly symbolic history of this given the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Let’s not be surprised this time, let’s be prepared.” North Korea has worked for years to improve its missile capabilities, launching an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles in 2016 while conducting its fifth nuclear test in September of 2016. The time to dance with North Korea is quickly approaching. We can’t afford to be caught off guard.